Writing and Editing

Some writers hate editing. Some writers love editing.

Editing is sometimes lumped with revising. Somewhere in the mix there’s proofreading.

I say the above and someone will jump all over those words and hack at them with indignant vigor.  The thing is, I read a number of definitions on-line. Some from educational organizations, some from supposed experts, some from a guy named Bernie.

I am neither an editor nor an academic. My grasp of grammar is at best tenuous. I tend to write in a passive voice without realizing it (case in point: “to write” . . . or is that passive? Perhaps it’s just my flair). I sprinkle commas as if I had a leaky bag of them. I use punctuation to add pauses, emphasis, pace, and drama to my writing . . . all without knowing for sure if the punctuation I use do all that.

For instance, I often employ “. . .” to indicate a pause or hesitation. I started doing that because I did not like “…” which, as I remembered reading, could indicate a break in speech or writing. Now I read ellipsis –  “…” or “. . .” – indicates missing text, and an em “—” should be used to indicate pauses, although in researching it, some places indicate an en “–” is more appropriate. I don’t recall where I read it but there are also the dash “-” and double-dash “–” camps.

And don’t ask if any of those come with or without spaces on either side of them. That too is subject to conflicting advice.

The point is that I don’t have a firm grasp about any of that. I presume editors do (I’m sure I’ll hear about that too).

BUT . . . if I don’t — and I freely admit I don’t quite grasp who holds authority on these fine points — do my readers? Unless, of course, they are self-declared grammarians or actual editors.

When I write the following:

She raised the gun . . . then changed her mind, and instead stabbed him in the eye with her épée.

I’m going for a certain pacing as I read that, but my lack of understanding of proper punctuation rules–better yet, my own made-up rules–may cause readers (regular readers, not editors; they know everything) to be confused (passive voice, should rewrite) rather than get what I intended.

Both “. . . ” and the comma (,) are used incorrectly.

Now, while I am likely to have written (hey, lookee there – another passive voice) the above on the first pass, and thought nothing of it upon re-reading it, if all of a sudden I had to submit that for review or publication, I might rewrite the sentence thus (by the way, this very sentence would be flagged for wordiness):

She raised the gun but changed her mind. Instead, she used her épée, stabbing him in the eye.

or . . .

She raised her gun but changing her mind, she instead stabbed his eye with the épée.

OK, about both of those . . . I have a strong desire to add a comma after ‘gun’ because I want a pause there, but that is grammatically incorrect. Note how far I’ve traveled from the original sentence. A sentence that had the exact pacing I wanted, but would make an editor cringe.

I might rewrite it like so:

She raised her gun, changed her mind, stabbed him instead with her épée.

But, again, not the pacing I want. How about:

She raised her gun. She lowered her gun. With a snake-like strike, she pierced his eyeball with the épée.

An editor might ask how snakes manage to hold the épée.

So, why am I writing all this? I sent my submission to Viable Paradise.

I debated for a while if I should send my brilliant short stories or the first few chapters of one of my novels.

The short stories provide varied and wonderful examples of my amazing range as a writer. Chapters from my novels show I am a mature writer, capable of executing longer story arcs and pacing that maintains the reader’s interest and attention.

I opted to send the first five chapters of my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel.

BUT . . . HOWEVER . . . as people might know, what I had was a first draft; a stream-of-consciousness writing example which, while amazing in its own right, is fraught with errors and sloppy writing (but still a highly enjoyable read, I tell myself).

Enter two days of editing, revising, and proofreading. Whatever you want to call it, the process was thus . . .

1) have Melisa read it. She is very good when it comes to finding and pointing out mistakes I make. And not just when it comes to writing, but that’s another story.

2) run it through Grammarly.

3) review and research their suggestion, flagged passages, and highlighted possible errors.

All the while, I want to get as close to the 8,000 words requirement as I could. That limit included a required synopsis for the rest of the novel.

Four chapters would leave me well short of 8,000 words. Five chapters had me going over the word count limit by about four hundred words.

Guess what . . . I cut two hundred and sixty words.

By now I lost most if not all readers, but for them who hung around, this is the revised, edited, and proofread first five chapters of my 2014 as yet untitled NaNoWriMo novel.

dalise_NNWM-2014-for blog

That’s the format they want for the submission. I removed the epilogue in case new readers get a hankering for the rest of the novel; would not want to spoil the experience for them. By the way, my grammar checker tells me I should use epilog instead of epilogue. It’s my little bit of rebellion against the rigors of made-up rules.

For them who are interested, the workshop requires a cover letter telling a bit about myself and why I want to attend the workshop. I won’t attach it here because it has my address and signature, but below is the body of the letter. I include it because I was looking for examples of what to write, and found none.

~ ~ 0 ~ ~

351 Pleasant St., Suite B157
Northampton, MA, 01060-3900

Dear Esteemed Somebody,

Enclosed please find my application fee and submission manuscript for the 2015 Viable Paradise writer’s workshop.

I’m an old guy who had put other priorities in life ahead of his interest in writing. An engineer by trade, I have always enjoyed writing as a hobby. In the past four years, I’ve increased both my output of, and my passion for, fiction writing.

I’m now at a point where taking my writing any further requires serious, knowledgeable, and honest feedback and guidance. My primary goal is becoming a better writer, but I also aspire to eventually find my path to publication. I understand the two goals are often complementary, and I’d like for that to be so in my case.

The majority of my writing consists of short stories, but I’ve written two novels (both NaNoWriMo efforts) and have a third one in the works. I write primarily to satisfy my own reading needs. It is a given, then, I find all my writing both enjoyable and worthy of repeat readings. I understand this has little bearing on whether others would find my writing so, but I believe it’s a good start.

Were I forced to pick favorites, I prefer writing short stories. You might then find it odd my submission consists of the first five chapters of my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel (as yet untitled). The convoluted reasoning I followed in reaching my decision reflects my belief that is where I need the most help.

Thank you for your consideration.

~ ~ 0 ~ ~

I don’t know if anyone will find that helpful, but there you go. Also, if you find any mistakes in the above and on the submitted chapters, please don’t tell me . . .  (or is it — ?) the package is already in the mail.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below. 

WAIT! . . . I should include a photo . . . 



Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.