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Editing January 31, 2013

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.

Editing is a critical part of story writing. It comes after the story has been written, but it is a lot like prep work for painting a room. To do it right, before you can paint you need to remove all of the furniture, then remove all of the outlet and switch plates. The window coverings and the hardware must go with decorations. Then you have to tape off everything and cover the floor. After a good two hours of work, the room looks like hell and you’re tired. But then the paint goes on. With just a roller and a brush the room is transformed in less than half the time it took to prep the room.

Editing is kind of like the painting process in reverse for me. I can sit down and write a story and lose myself in the writing for hours. It’s almost like I came into a room and painted everything, the furniture, the outlets, the windows and the floor. Then I get to the editing part. It takes careful reading while looking for more than grammar, punctuation and spelling. I’m looking to see how the sentences flow into one another and for inconsistencies from one part to another. I’m removing the furniture from the room.

Sample of preping my room for the paint job it already has.

While I’m removing the furniture from the story, I’m red-marking it. Marking down those repeated, misplaced, and auto corrected words. I’m striking out unnecessary sentences and I’m writing full new passages in the margins and when I’m done I’ve done the tape work for my paint job. Then comes the tedious part of going back to the computer and editing the file with the remarks. I highlight as I go to be sure I get everything and finally I have the draft that I feel is ready to give out to readers for their input.

My room is painted and it looks great with its new paint. Readers will often give me good advice on rearranging the furniture but the paint job is still there same as it was before I did my reverse pre-work. I just had the chance to do the fun part before the tedious part.


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