I Love to Self-Edit
I can spend hours self-editing. I am constantly tweaking sentences and making other little adjustments. There is no pressure to create something new and I can make any change I want. To me, this process is relaxing and the best part of being an author.
I read countless posts where other authors hate to self-edit. They find it tedious and boring. I have also read posts from authors that meticulously self-edit for years. I suspect these authors have had more experience with critics dramatically pointing out their errors and it gives them much anguish. I have had some harsh criticism, but not at an extreme level. Perhaps that is why the process is still fun as there is no real pressure.
I make at least 20 passes before my book goes to my beta reader. The main improvement revolves around the flow. I try to ease the burden on the reader so they are not distracted by confusing sentences. Often this means moving, expanding, breaking up and combing sentences. While the same information is still conveyed, the sentences read much better.
Another aspect I check on is the logic. Last night, I discovered that I had been referring to rooms on a ship as bedrooms and not cabins. A simple search found all the instances where I had made this obvious mistake. Last week I found a subtle issue where the character was lying down and they walked away. I changed it to say they stood up and then walked away. While this may not seem like a major issue, it is a good example of something a reader should never encounter. Logic errors disrupt a reader’s concentration. A big error can upset a reader and translate to a bad review.
Another pass revolved around facts. Ideally, a book will be read by many people. These people will have wide backgrounds, vast experiences, and a completely independent perspective. So, it is very important to check every single fact before a reader gets it.
The majority of my self-editing starts by randomly selecting a page and start reading. I find all kinds of little things to change. During this time, I have no plan. Sometimes, I jump to another section and sometimes, I jump to another book.
Overall, this process is still fun. I do get a bit of a kick when I stumble across a good mistake. I clean it up and there is satisfaction over fixing the problem. Later, when I re-read that section, I can see the improvement. I think in a well-written work; the words seem to glide rather than bunch up.
Of course, with a big book, there are hundreds of opportunities to make all kinds of mistakes and eventually, the author has to stop self-editing. To me, that is a sad day. It is also a happy day because others can now view my work. Intimidating? Of course, it is, but all that hard work pays off with a nice compliment.
You’re the best -Bill
October 31, 2018
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