A Writer is Only As Good as Their Editor…

Editing and proofreading is a professional service that every writer needs … even if you’re an editor yourself. Trying to correct and find problems in your own work is limiting. You need that second opinion, that second pair of eyes to see what your mind might skip right over because the mind convinces the eye to see what it expects to see, whether that’s what in print/on-screen or not. Words and images in print or online are forever, and they can and will come back to haunt you!

Typos, autocorrect, which can cause as many problems as it corrects by inserting an incorrect word just as often as the right one, especially synonyms like “rode” and “road”, aren’t the only concern. Awkward phraseology, verb tenses (an author’s nightmare–we think in present tense, but usually write in third-person past) can cause your reader to stop reading and move onto something else. There’s so much online to read!

Some genres and authors, both fiction and nonfiction, are using first-person present tense, which was a complete no-no in the writing industry when I was educated and have worked for many years. But every decade or so, experimental “new” ideas surface that are supposed to be unique and alternative. Have you ever heard, “There’s nothing new under the sun”? It’s a very true statement. It’s all been tried before and much has not stood the test of time.

We try to remain current and far-reaching for the future as writers, but it seems like the rules change all the time. There is this lackadaisical attitude that anything goes and typos, inaccuracies … well, they’re just to be accepted as “that’s the way it is–overlook them, and that’s not a misspelling, I’ve just created a new word!”

Styles change and words emerge, but as an avid reader, author, and editor I constantly stay in touch with what’s new in the writing industry to keep my clients on-track and in-sync with evolving trends. Yet, nowhere are typos, misused grammar, misspellings, and unclear syntax an attractive addition to a written piece.

The writing industry is more competitive and overcrowded than ever and that is going to keep escalating with technology. Write about what you care about, and just as importantly, care about the quality of what you write.

Best Wishes on Your Writing Endeavors!

–Deborah A. Bowman

http://www.clasidconsultantspublishing.com

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I love this soft watercolor that reveals my thoughts on editing…

I hope you always have smooth sailing working with your editor.

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Editors

I know that we are dreaded like the plague

And good writers all have been known to beg

For leniency, or “for just this once”

“Let me please have my participles in a bunch…”

It’s not rocket science or even a hunch

There really are tried and true rules

That adhere to the ‘Elements of Style’ clues

The bible, so to speak, on traditional editing

There is a right way and a wrong way for betting

On your words, finding your way

To take your thoughts and what you say

And put it in verse for another day

Or lovely prose with descriptive highlights

To tickle someone’s fancy and take them to new heights

In appreciating a well-edited dialogue

So your momentous scene isn’t bogged

Down, dribbling with boring facts

Or inconsequential IT hacks

Who’d rather be staring at patterns in binary

Who cares about your words? So secondary

To your science, technical, and professional views

If you can’t spill the beans on the most recent news

In your industry and do it justice

Your words are just tracks of scuffs

Showing you’ve been there

But you just didn’t care

About the right ways to present

Your latest new plot or business event

When you need to get the word out

By better means than just a shout

Editors can make it delectable–

Extract the extraneous, enhance the essential

Let your words speak for themselves

Letting your editor proofread and clarify

With accuracy and consistency

What you need to in-print upon the masses

For all time, literate passes

Through the online super highway

To express your desires, put out the fires

On the subject matter that you share with your peers

Releasing your fears, making the syntax clear

Yeah, an editor can do all that…

–© 2016 by Deborah A Bowman.

books and journals

Editing from yesteryear…

The Sky is the Limit!

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The sky is the limit if you but believe in yourself.

We write many books to collect dust on the shelf.

We want to attract readers, but competition is tough.

Finding the right promo can really be rough.

I see my dear friends, writers all, searching social media

To put out the word, reach for the sky, and tension relieve.

But I know we all would still write, even if nobody reads,

And put as much wordsmithing, editing, and proofreads

In every book, every blog, every post, every review

That we write for other authors to encourage and renew

Our humble opinions or assistance in a close-knit kinship.

WE ARE WRITERS!  

By Deborah A. Bowman

Tips and Trends on Book Writing, Regardless of Genre–Fiction or Nonfiction

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Books are my passion!

I’ve loved books, all kinds of books, from an early age. I love the feel of them, the weight of them, the promises and secrets they hold. I’ve seen a myriad of changes to books in my 20+ years of editing, newspaper writing and paste-up, and especially reading for my own enjoyment. I’ve read the classics and the quirky, the long and short, the profound and ridiculous. I’ve also seen trends change and writing evolve with each new generation.

Books and subjects tend to come in droves with similar information or fictional storylines. We went through formulated plotlines in romance where the author filled in a template, not deviating from the script. Now, it’s almost anything goes, and rules and formulas have fallen by the wayside. Here’s some recent trends that are taking over the industry:

  • Imaginative, unique cover designs, even on textbooks and nonfiction biographies, motivational/inspirational, and business books. Full-color covers with eye-catching designs.
  • Chapters no longer have chapter titles for fiction. Used to be a creative struggle to come up with catchy phrases that didn’t give away the next twist or turn in the plot, but not be vague either.
  • Short sentences; short paragraphs, and short, quick-to-read chapters or sections. The average reader wants to hurry through action-packed stories in the time it takes to ride the subway, bus, or carpool to work. Large books are daunting, heavy to carry, and overwhelming. eReaders have helped with the weight problem, but quick-reads are probably here to stay.
  • Series books are very popular, in short installments.
  • Dystopian futuristic disasters and fantasy books are in demand.
  • Erotica is not only out in the open, but explicit and HOT!
  • Confession nonfiction stories of lifestyle is available from celebrities and notorious villains.
  • Different point of views are assigned to each character in fiction with experimentation in 1st person present or narrated 1st person past tense instead of 3rd person past tense, where the author has access to all the characters’ feelings and thoughts simultaneously.
  • Political and historical nonfiction is written in dramatized novel-type language and flair.

The world has changed and so has our reading material.

Writers are filling shelves and tablets with new creative ideas. Something for everyone. We have turned a page in books and media.

Deborah A. Bowman

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@Writing @Editing @Publishing — Tricks, Tips, and Trends Newsletter

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Snowzilla 2016 hit Silver Spring, MD, part of the Washington Metropolitan D.C. area hard–30 inches of snow … cars, trees, a 5-foot tall fence just disappeared. Then I thought about how the weather affected business. Closed, no customers, hard-demanding work at home just to get out of your house–the driveway, sidewalks, cars, and roads came much later. My thought process continued, and I realized this storm affected all businesses … even writing and editing!

Winter 2016 newsletter

Deborah A. Bowman, author, writer-editor, proofreader, formatter, publisher

Wouldn’t It Be Great to Have a Magic Button on Your Keyboard That Corrects Everything? But Editing and Proofreading Need to be Done by a Human Being. Here’s Why!

Don't you wish you had one of these on your keyboard?

 

It would be wonderful to have a special button on your keyboard that would read your writing and correct every error, typo, wrong word, omitted word, added word, or verb tense. It would be really amazing if the “edit key” would automatically rewrite awkward sentences, paragraphs, or chapters. There are software packages that attempt to go beyond the rigidity of spell/grammar-check, but do they do a better job?

No, not really, or only marginally. The computer or software package would have to comprehend the content, distinguish whether the entire piece has a theme, rewrite sentences and paragraphs to support that theme, and draw a convincing conclusion.

How can the basic rules of grammar or spelling downloaded into a software package cover all the exceptions to the rules in language and enhance the quality of the writing? It is not possible. Technology cannot grasp ideas and concepts; nor can it recognize the effectiveness of an argument to convince someone to buy, sell, invest, fund a grant, or use your company. There is no way a machine can determine the feasibility of a fictional plot. It cannot keep track of consistency, clarity, or accuracy. Software certainly doesn’t know the twists and turns of your storyline or the research that only a person can select to support facts. A computer does not have the imagination to create stories and fantasies.

One example of spell/grammar-check or editing software is that it won’t highlight a word as long as the term is in the dictionary, whether it makes sense or not. How many times have you seen “from” as “form” in printed media? Probably a lot, and the list of misses on editing/reviewing software goes on and on. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

The human element cannot be replaced by technology. How many people realize that the little blue underline on WORD that supposedly points out grammatical errors appears when there is, perhaps, another way to present the same material? In other words, your writing may not be wrong at all or it could be showing you there is a valid mistake. That is what the human being can determine and the computer cannot. Use spell/grammar-check as a guide and look at what is highlighted in your writing, but take it with a grain of salt … or maybe a pound of salt.

It gets really upsetting, however, when WORD or another software program changes a word automatically after you’ve typed it. Many times it can be helpful, but many times it can totally augment the meaning of what you’re writing.

Verb tenses are difficult for ALL writers, including myself. We think in present tense, but we write in a variety of tenses, including third-person past. I leave the verbs for my last rewrite, and I’m always surprised at how many verbs need to be changed. This brings me to the rewriting/editing/proofreading process.

computer and pencils

My antiquated computer graphics is not near as antiquated as the books and especially the pencils and erasers in the cup. How I wish the pencils were red! I use a combination of traditional skills and new computer skills to write, edit, design, and format all types of printed media, including book manuscripts. As a fiction author myself, I enjoy many genres of books to edit, proofread, and review, including nonfiction, but I can’t edit or proofread my own writing successfully. I need another human being to see what my eyes will not notice, even though my eye has been educated and trained for many years to pickup on “glitches”.

If you write or even type something, it becomes engrained in your brain, basically memorized. It is an organic, biological function of your gray matter. It is something we in the present evolution of humankind cannot change. In the future, perhaps? But then, would we be more machine than human?

Where Are We Headed?

When you try to edit/proofread what you have written, your eyes see what they expect to see. You read over errors, typos, and other editorial problems. You can be reading it aloud–which I suggest so that you can hear discrepancies and determine if the writing flows smoothly–and actually say the word that you think is there, not the word that is in print. Mind boggling, but it is a biological fact.

The brain is like a computer (probably the old computer that I pictured above, depending on your age)–data in/data out–good, bad, or indifferent. Have you ever noticed that a person misspells or mispronounces the same words all the time? It was initially engrained in the brain that way so it’s what comes out. The more times you use a term incorrectly, the more engrained it becomes; therefore to you, it sounds and looks correct. Our minds, which are more connected to our conscious, unpremeditated thoughts, allow us to change what is engrained in the hard drive of our brains. You can change your mind, but not the organ which is your brain.

The important principle I want to point out is you should never be upset with yourself if someone else finds an error in your writing. It is not your fault; it’s human nature. To prevent this from happening, rely on a human being, preferably an editor who knows the rules and especially the exceptions to the rules for writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation, correct phrasing and terminology, and the correct tense of verbs. This is referred to as a copy editor.

A further step to make your writing the best and most professional it can be is to work with a content and development editor. Believe it or not, there are rules on how a piece should be written. In overly simplistic form: a theme, definition and support of the theme, and a conclusion. Having a plan to follow keeps you from writing yourself into a corner (writer’s block) or writing in circles (long, drawn-out passages with no action or support to the theme/plot). It’s very frustrating to know where you want to go with a writing project and not have a roadmap to get there.

Even though I have done all levels of writing and editing, from simple copyediting and proofreading to complete ghost writing, I can write myself into a corner or wander in circles just like anyone else. And I do believe the hardest thing for any writer to do is to cut their own words, but it is necessary to weed out the extraneous material that can confuse or lose your readers.

A suggested roadmap:

  • Write in chapters, sections, or all the way through, depending on how your mind works best.
  • Put it aside for as long as you can, from a few days to a few weeks. You might even want to work on something else to allow your brain to switch gears.
  • Read the material, correcting as many editorial problems as you can find; rewriting awkward phrasing or passages that could be misunderstood or ambiguous; look for discrepancies–Have you ever read a book where the character’s name changes halfway through the manuscript?–and don’t be afraid to cut, cut, cut if it does not support the theme, advance your plot, or add to the story/mission of the writing.
  • Description: I personally love poetic prose, but it can be overdone. Read your descriptive passages with a eagle eye, keeping what sets the scene or mood. If you have a descriptive passage, be sure and follow it with an action passage. If you have a ghastly, disturbing scene, follow it with something a little lighter, but keep it real. Some articles or manuscripts have to have disturbing revelations because it is the truth of the matter–be it in fiction, nonfiction, or any other media.
  • Editing: Now is the time for an editor. Always submit in double-spaced format. Very early in the manuscript, an editor will be able to tell you what level of editing you need–from copy editing to a massive rewrite to sending it back and telling you that is isn’t ready for editing yet. Hopefully, the editor will give you some suggestions or in all kindness, let you know if the writing field is not for you. I, personally, do a gratis reading of the first chapter or a single chapter of your choice to ascertain these issues.
  • Proofreading comes last, after formatting has been done, and is read only for typos and errors.

I know it sounds like a long process, but there are no shortcuts to literary acceptance.

Deborah A. Bowman, CEO, http://www.clasidconsultantspublishing.com

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