A Good Proposal Includes Good Editing

Welcome to 2014.  Here’s hoping you managed to maintain a semi-regular writing schedule through all the holiday activities.  But whether you have or haven’t, now is a good time for self- evaluation.  So, where do you stand on your proposal?  Are you sticking to a regular writing schedule?  Are you (for the most part) defeating all the obstacles that might derail you from reaching your goal?

  Right now it’s January, and the writers’ conference is early May.  Counting From the end of this month, that gives you about 1 weeks of preparation.  Think about what you’ve done, and how long it’s taken you to reach this point. 

  Now, how many more pages do you need to finish?  Does that seem doable?

  Did you allow time for editing?

  Even if you are regularly reading at writers’ group, it’s still a good idea to find an editor to evaluate your work.  While weekly reads are helpful to virtually all of us, no one hears the whole project.  Writers’ groups have unavoidable holes in the system that preclude anyone from picking up a plot twist in chapter three that conflicts with one in chapter 23. 

  And that might sabotage a potential book deal.

    And as we all know a pair of unbiased trained eyes can see mistakes or flaws that we have glossed over because we “see” what we intend to write instead of what we actually put on paper.

   Working with an editor will also make you a better writer.  Finding an experienced editor, even one who only reviews part of your book, can provide valuable insight into the subtle nuances that can take your writing to the next step.

 

  An editor might pick up more than you think.

  A successful self-published writer once told me that he went over and over his manuscript, thought he had all the mistakes covered.  After publication, he said he found more than 70 mistakes. 

  And no amount of great writing can make up for that.

  Wait a minute.  Did I say pitch?  Sure did, and it’s often a neglected part of what we do. 

  Think of a pitch as a type of audition.  Nailing that is key.  If you don’t, you won’t get to the next level.  Years ago I heard an interview with the late Phil Hartman, who for eight years appeared on Saturday Night Live.  He talked about his audition for the show and the interviewer said something to the effect of, “In the audition, you have to be better than you ever are during a performance.”

  So have you thought about your pitch?  If not, start now.  Think about the most important aspect of your

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A Good Proposal Means Good Editing

Welcome to 2014.  Here’s hoping you managed to maintain a semi-regular writing schedule through all the holiday activities.  But whether you have or haven’t, now is a good time for self- evaluation.  So, where do you stand on your proposal?  Are you sticking to a regular writing schedule?  Are you (for the most part) defeating all the obstacles that might derail you from reaching your goal?

  Right now it’s January, and the writers’ conference is early May.  Counting From the end of this month, that gives you about 1 weeks of preparation.  Think about what you’ve done, and how long it’s taken you to reach this point. 

  Now, how many more pages do you need to finish?  Does that seem doable?

  Did you allow time for editing?

  Even if you are regularly reading at writers’ group, it’s still a good idea to find an editor to evaluate your work.  While weekly reads are helpful to virtually all of us, no one hears the whole project.  Writers’ groups have unavoidable holes in the system that preclude anyone from picking up a plot twist in chapter three that conflicts with one in chapter 23. 

  And that might sabotage a potential book deal.

    And as we all know a pair of unbiased trained eyes can see mistakes or flaws that we have glossed over because we “see” what we intend to write instead of what we actually put on paper.

   Working with an editor will also make you a better writer.  Finding an experienced editor, even one who only reviews part of your book, can provide valuable insight into the subtle nuances that can take your writing to the next step.

 

  An editor might pick up more than you think.

  A successful self-published writer once told me that he went over and over his manuscript, thought he had all the mistakes covered.  After publication, he said he found more than 70 mistakes. 

  And no amount of great writing can make up for that.

Help With Rewriting

  There’s no great writing, only great rewriting.

  Depending on your perspective, that’s either, an adage, proverb, truth or cliché.

  Or maybe it’s just an ugly fact of writing. 

When I started writing for newspapers some 20 years ago, I’d routinely spend hours on a column, then put it away late at night, thinking it just needed a few adjustments here and there.

  Then I woke up the next day, reread the copy and think, ‘Who broke into my computer and destroyed my near masterpiece?’

  I’d spend several more hours redoing the column.

  I finally recognized that rewriting was part of the process. 

  So that’s step one, recognizing that rewriting is part of the process.

  Step two, after rewriting, take some time off.  That may involve a few hours, possibly a day or two if that’s possible.  If you are on deadline, you may have to limit it, but returning after just a few minutes away can change your perspective.  You might be amazed at how much you can improve on what, just a short time earlier, read as an almost completed work.  Many times, that will do it for you.

  Step three, if you’re still struggling to reach the finish line, ask a fellow writer who is familiar with your work.  If you continue with self-evaluating, you risk tiring of heavy rewrites, and sacrificing a scene or a chapter, ‘just to get this one done.’  It’s a common trap, and doing that cheats the reader and yourself. 

That brings us to step four, certainly an option, not one you’ll need often, but possibly necessary to get through a rough spot or two.  Hire a professional editor. 

I know of one successful writer who did that after running into some difficult sections.   The writer said she only used one occasionally, and not for the whole book.  But the effort produced results.  The author said, “My editor never gave me bad advice.”