And the Saga (of Self-Editing) Lives on . . .

Today, we will continue to take more steps on the way to fine-tuning our written word. Once again, I am here to share a quote with you. These brief notes tend to attract my attention for their succinct message as far as the core focus, as opposed to depending on either my extensive texts or lengthy write-ups by others. Hoping that you will enjoy today’s post enough to come back for another visit, I leave you with my best wishes.

[*] Be A Verbal Sniper

“Editing is little like being a verbal sniper—you’re going back to readjust your aim continually. So I don’t necessarily like to get too far in front of myself without having edited the piece. Sometimes I’ll reread and edit 30 times or more. (Of course, you’ll probably still catch typos in this writing!)”

Dr. Barbara Oakley, bestselling author of A Mind for Numbers and former Army Captain

And the Saga Goes on . . .

After an absence of a couple of weeks, I would like to greet you, dear reader, with the following quote. The authorial sentiment in the paragraph below reflects my professional view as an editor and a writer. On a personal level, I could not agree more with the thoughts expressed.

Question: Where do you find yourself, once you have a draft of one of your writings awaiting its next step? Moving in the direction of self-help only or both – self-editing and in search of professional assistance? Your answer will begin to get you on the path toward the fulfillment of your self-designated objective (make sure it is not because of someone else that you decide to opt for one of the alternatives – own your choice / decision). Happy reading!  (Note: The following text is a quote in its entirety. The active link on “Alane Mason” is my addition.)

[*] Do It, Swallow The Medicine

“I tend to edit heavily and repeatedly as I go along, so I don’t make the distinction, at least by myself. For the books that I’ve written for a larger public, however, I’ve had the help of an immensely gifted editor (Alane Mason, at Norton), so there I do separate out the tasks: in effect my own writing/editing; and then a further editing after receiving her suggestions. I tend to hate the latter experience, though I recognize that it is almost invariably good—a bit like swallowing disagreeable but essential medicine.

Stephen GreenblattHarvard Professor, author of  The Swerve, that landed on the bestseller lists and won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award

“[S]anding a piece of wood, again and again, until it’s perfectly smooth.”

The following text is a quote in its entirety. It articulates a sentiment with which I am in complete agreement. At times, we need to hear / read a common-sense advice from widely recognized authors. So, I introduce (or re-introduce) to you one who in her own words (see below) also happens to be a gracious writer for taking an editor’s work seriously and with trust – as required, but also realizes that professional labor’s value.

“For me, editing is as important as writing. No, probably even more important. I’ve never been able to sit down and write the perfect sentence. I re–write constantly – it’s almost like being a carpenter sanding a piece of wood, again and again, until it’s perfectly smooth. My best and oldest friend is my first editor; she’s ruthless, clever and amazing. I don’t trust anyone like her.”

Andrea Wulf, bestselling author of Invention of Nature, Brother Gardeners, Founding Gardeners, Chasing Venus, and the co-author of This Other Eden.

Self-Editing: Your Own Editing Tips for Yourself

You might have considered this matter before, perhaps after a glance at the flood of online editing tips available to anyone with internet connection and an electronic device to write on. ’15 Best Editing Tips ‘, ‘7 Tips to Become the Best Writer that You Can Be’, ’10 Editing Tips You Cannot Do Without’, and so on, and so on. How one comes up with those numbers is still a mystery to me after my 40+ years of professorial experience. There is no magical checklist when the self-editing or professional editing process is concerned. Language-specific rules, yes. Red alert-areas, AKA areas to avoid, yes. Grammatical security blankets to cuddle with, yes. But a specific number to sum up ‘editing tips’, no.

Enough on this matter! What I would like to leave you with today is a simple request: Put yourself in the shoes of those online editing-tip-distributors (no offense intended, and myself included) and come up with your own “checklist” as far as what YOU would like to see in your written text. Remember to ask yourself the question “why” along the way.

Enjoy the self-empowering process of introspection when it comes to your own writing endeavors!

“Self-Teaching”: Commas

This week, I am going to leave you with a reference to a site; namely: Major Comma Uses.

Some of us have the tendency to use commas excessively, whereas others among us hardly ever resort to them. While we have to keep in mind that the concept of poetic license does indeed exist, it does not give us a license to kill written English.

The site in question also offers a valuable insight into other language areas, such as “Parts of Speech”, “Sentence Structure” and “Usage”, and provides “Exercises”. Should you decide to review them, you could always come back to see if my text here follows the standard rules . . .

Working with an Editor

A scenario: You have determined that your written work should be professionally edited before reaching the public, and have contacted a professional of the field.

A few points for consideration on your behalf should include the following:

  • Your exact thoughts before you have taken the initiative to work with an editor
  • Your primary concerns after your initial contact with an editor
  • Your specific expectations from the editor’s work
  • Your expectations from yourself

Please feel free to share your thoughts on today’s post in the “Comments” section. Thank you for listening. Enjoy your writing endeavors!


Questions . . .

This week, I would like to raise a few questions with you — assuming that you have a writing, saved as a draft with the intent to publish it (in a book, on social media, as a submission to a journal, etc.):

  1. What exactly do you want your written work to accomplish (the target readership and your content’s relevance / relatability)?
  2. Assuming you have a set timeline (self-imposed or otherwise), how much time are you willing to allow yourself for proofreading and / or self-editing as far as surface errors before you make it public?
  3. Will you be going over the draft to determine the extent to which it needs to be improved with specific regard to content delivery?

While these questions come to you in the form of an actual inquiry, their intended purpose is to encourage you to make peace with the vital steps that should be taken before any written work is offered to the public-eye. The aim, as stated on this site before, is to achieve harmony between the three C’s that are integral to and in writing: Clarity ~ Coherence ~ Cohesiveness. Grammatical accuracy and correctness are a given, and as such, are not added here as components of this “clean writing”-formula.




Unscrambling . . . Continued

Continuing with language parts . . . on their way to complete sentences (or questions, if you would so prefer). The same conditions apply as last week’s workout (!) Clarity, coherence and cohesiveness for the final product. As for content and context and the subject, your call!  As before: Compound as well as single sentences have the green light.

Sentence / Question statement parts appear below in the form of nouns, verbs, adjectives / adverbs and / or fillers (a brief insight into these meaning-enhancers was present on last Friday’s post).  Like last week’s scrambled words, each one of also today comes from a murder mystery novel by Lisa Jacksson. I hope you will enjoy this activity.

Toward sentence or question statement #1:

  1. mind; hope
  2. can (either in its indicative or subjunctive mood); think; be; respond; hope (please note that this word also appears above in a different language function)
  3. straight; not; clear (or in its negative form)

Toward sentence or question statement #2:

  1. chance; trouble; focus
  2. shake; decide; have; focus (another red alert); be
  3. but; another; aloof; icy; even; always


Unscrambling . . .

Assuming that we all remember the language parts of focus from a post a while back, a workout with words comes in today. Below, you see a group of sentence elements that await your tender-loving care to be transformed into complete sentences. Any conditions? None other than aiming at clarity, coherence and cohesiveness when the final written product is concerned – with the content and context as well as the subject word reflecting your desire. Compound sentences and single sentences are equally welcomed.

I have grouped the parts separately as far as nouns, verbs, adjectives / adverbs and / or “fillers” (words that have the capacity to enhance meaning of any sentence or question statement, including interrogatives, AKA question words). Each word comes from a murder mystery novel by Lisa Jacksson. I hope you will enjoy this activity.

Toward sentence statement #1:

  1. lamps; night lights; room; shadows; corners; atmosphere
  2. turn; give
  3. low; a few; large; intimate; muted

Toward sentence statement #2:

  1. music; whisper (watch out for this noun as it reappears as a verb also); room; breath; fog; teddy (hint: in the said novel, not as in a Teddy Bear . . .)
  2. whisper; stare; buy
  3. soft; cold; black

Toward sentence statement #3:

  1. edge; thoughts; makeup; whore
  2. realize; be; look; want
  3. closer (or use “farther”, if you would so like); perfect (or “not perfect”); right (or “not right”); now; how; nothing (or “everything”); like (or “unlike”)