Tool For Tuesday: Get An Editor.

Today’s post is the first in a short series about self-publishing’s do’s and don’ts. But why is getting an editor also important for those who aren’t considering self-publishing?

Because we can always use with an editor to edit what comes out of our mouth, right? I hope you can find a way to make space between what you’re thinking and what you end up saying today. Here are four reasons why it’s vital to edit your words:

For clarity – so there’s no miscommunication

For brevity – so your listeners don’t roll their eyes in boredom

For entertainment. Land the plane! In other words, don’t repeat what you see as pearls of wisdom but all your listener is thinking is, Land the plane! Land the plane! Get to the point!

You give a reminder once, fine. Two times, you’re pushing it. Three? You’ve strayed into the Annoying Zone.

Same goes for writing. A reader asked me, “Why do I need an editor? I write well enough.”

Here’s the perfect example that comes from someone who’s a very fine writer:

“When Jimmy got to the playground, the other kids threw rocks at his bicycle and smashed his tires. He had stones thrown at him and they ran after him.”

What is wrong here? The final “THEY.” What does it refer to? The writer is really referring to the other kids, but the way the sentence reads the stones ran after Jimmy. (This might be OK if they were the Rolling Stones.)

We need an editor to catch the mistakes that we might overlook. All writers need editors. If you are about to launch a book via self-publishing and you want to keep your costs to a minimum, you can get by and do most everything yourself except editing. For my book, The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle, I had at least four editors. And even after they worked on my book, I still found mistakes. A nice reader from Canada wrote, for example, to politely inform me that Canada’s Independence Day is July 1 not July 2 as I’d written. Now, that would be the job of a copy-editor but still…

Editors remove the trash from your writing. They help you find the diamonds. They polish your prose.

Don’t be defensive about your writing. Don’t say, “Well, what I was trying to say is…” No, no and no. Say what you want to say.

Stephen King’s formula is 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. You need to train for a lot of miles before you run a race. You need to write a lot and then edit it down. And sometimes you need someone else to go over it.

Tool for Tuesday: Get an Editor.

Here are some other blog posts on editing.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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4 Responses to Tool For Tuesday: Get An Editor.

  1. 2nd Draft=1st Draft – 10%. And sometimes in the 2nd draft someone suggests (and you agree) to expand a scene, round it out, spend more time with details. So you do, and it isbetter.
    So now it’s the 3rd Draft= 2nd Draft workover + 2%, then overall – 10% or more.
    Such fun, doing the writing AND the math! ;=)

    • dianabletter says:

      Ha ha, you ARE funny, Marylin, writing + math = one dyslexic mess for moi. Sometimes we have to add more material, you are right! I think sometimes I write a lot of back story that I can then cut and weave into the scenes. Thanks for pointing that out!

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