Monday, January 30, 2017

Rigorous revising

     Somebody said it’s not so much the writing but the re-writing that can make a great book.

     I’ve always considered each task unique.  First I have to get the whole raw story down from beginning to end.  That’s Job One.  Then I flip a brain switch and go into re-write, revise, and polish mode.  Job Two.  Culling out unnecessary adverbs (as most adverbs are) and even trashing some adjectives, restructuring sentences for clarity, tightening up, stomping out typos, spackling holes, painting and wallpapering and furnishing and tidying up the whole story as best I can.

     It’s an almost endless process.  Each time I read through a manuscript I find something else needing attention.  I only know I’m nearing the end of the job when I change a word or phrase and then change it right back.

     It can be fun.  Like detailing your car, or dressing up in your best outfit.  But it can also be a difficult process because having poured your soul into the writing, you’ve lost a great deal of objectivity.  So a good tip is to let the raw manuscript cool off for a month before tackling revisions, at which time you will hopefully have regained a modicum of objectivity.

     When I was in the graphics business I learned early on that you can never proofread too much, and having a really competent proofreader on the production team is invaluable.  You don’t want to send an order for ten thousand color brochures for a client to the print shop with any possibility there’s a typo lurking therein, because if there is one, you have to eat the reprint costs to keep that client happy.  You can’t afford to do much of that and stay in business.

     Thank goodness my proofreader is Naomi.  She’s ruthless and absolutely thorough, with an utter disregard for my sensitive feelings.

     Which is exactly what I need.

     If you’re a struggling writer, I hope you have the indispensable asset of a good proofreader and editor on your team.


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