The Ego

As a published author, the focus of today’s post is nothing new to me. We write. We conclude that we have completed a flawless piece of written art. Not quite yet! I forget how many self-editing steps I take for each of my writings. Still, there are errors. Easily correctible mistakes that look at my embarrassed self. Why should such oversights not take hold of other writers? Of course, it should! If you work with a professional editor, trust that individual; for s/he has seen many an erroneusly compiled manuscript. However, make certain to do your part: self-editing. Also proofread with diligence the draft that your editor has sent to you. That draft is for your attentive reading, after all.

Enjoy your written draft, but do not assert that it is the best that can be done with it. The ego must rest throughout the process of writing, revising, proofreading, self-editing, but also during all the steps your editor offers you toward crafting your raw draft for the public eye.

Working with a Professional Editor . . .

When a potential author works with an editor, s/he should first be aware of the specific steps that professional is able to offer toward preparing a raw manuscript for publication. On this site, I have offered specific definitions right from the beginning of my layout design. My thought today is that repeating those descriptives will be a valuable reference to a writer who has decided to have a professional editor work on her/his writing before s/he assumes that the raw work at hand is ready to go to print – to be seen by the public eye, that is.

The following definitions concerning the Editing Discipline should be helpful:

A. Proofreading = Noting writing errors for the author’s attention and correction, with “noting” being the key term; i.e., not correcting any part of the original text

B. Surface-/Copy-editing = Correcting surface errors (spelling, CAPS, punctuation, footnotes) and immediately evident grammatical flaws (word order, tense discrepancies, pronoun discrepancies, preposition mistakes, etc.). In sum: Correcting syntax with a focus on technical quality

C. Content Editing = Correcting errors in semantics at the basic level; the focus being on how meaning is conveyed

D. Comprehensive/Substantive Editing = Correcting errors in semantics at the advanced level; again, the objective being to correct meaning out of its initial convoluted version

E. Ghostwriting = Writing for the author; writing to transform an author’s illegible original text into a legible presentation of syntax and semantics

Writing and Editing, 58

The focus of the following quote seems to be on newspaper articles. However, every observation and conclusion that Peter Drucker stresses with regard to the processes of writing and editing, directly relate to the same processes when any genre is concerned.

“Every first-rate editor I have ever heard of reads, edits and rewrites every word that goes into his publication . . . Good editors are not ‘permissive’; they do not let their colleagues do ‘their thing’; they make sure that everybody does the ‘paper’s thing.’ A good, let alone a great editor is an obsessive autocrat with a whim of iron, who rewrites and rewrites, cuts and slashes, until every piece is exactly the way he thinks it should have been done.” ~ Peter Drucker (1909-2005)

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This week’s quote describes me to a T.

“Learn to enjoy this tidying process. I don’t like to write; I like to have written. But I love to rewrite. I especially like to cut: to press the DELETE key and see an unnecessary word or phrase or sentence vanish into the electricity. I like to replace a humdrum word with one that has more precision or color. I like to strengthen the transition between one sentence and another. I like to rephrase a drab sentence to give it a more pleasing rhythm or a more graceful musical line. With every small refinement I feel that I’m coming nearer to where I would like to arrive, and when I finally get there I know it was the rewriting, not the writing, that wont the game.” ~ William Zinsser

Writing and Editing, 54

“How do you end a story that’s not yours? Add another sentence where there is a pause? Infiltrate the story with a comma when really there should have been a period? Punctuate with an exclamation point where a period would have sufficed? What if you kill something breathing and breathe life into something the author wanted to eliminate? How do you get inside the mind of a person who isn’t there? Fill the shoes of someone who will never again fill his own?” ~ Shaila Abdullah

Writing and Editing Fiction

“The trouble is, very few people, even in the least provincial communities, seem to understand that the motive for fiction, or the impulse from which it arises, is a serious one. They think of fiction as having no value except that of amusing and passing the time; and so it is impossible for them to understand why it could not just as well be pleasant and pretty.” ~ Maxwell E. Perkins