Tag Archives: Editing

What to inlude, what to cut, and what comes next?

I tried writing this post on a Blackberry Z10. It is possible, but only when no other technology is available. I’m back to the tactile keyboard for now.

I just finished a copy-edit (to the best of my ability and with the help of grammarly.com) on the fist completed sect of my rewrite. As I stated in a previous post, my intention is to follow the suggestions of the developmental editor closely. If material is considered superfluous, it is cut. Whenever the editor suggests that an idea needs more support or requires clarification it is done. The most time-consuming aspects of the rewrite process is keeping the content sequenced correctly and copy editing.

One has to give serious thought about how to begin a section of the book and what needs to be included. I’m discovering that some of the supporting content suggested by the editor, actually shows up in sections of the book other than the one I am working on at the moment. I looked back on my planning sheets prior to writing and discovered that many of my problems resulted from deviating from the plan and not asking myself the correct questions.  Reflecting on those planning sheets suggests a different approach might have been useful.

The next time I generate a plan for writing a work of non-fiction, I will include the following processes:

1. Establish a content development line, analogous to a plot development line in a novel.

2. Each time an idea or topic is included on the development line, the following questions should be posed:

a. Is this the next logical idea or topic that should appear in the book?

b. What do I need to know to write about this topic or express the idea?

c. What do I want the reader to understand from what is written?

d. What information or clarification do I need to provide to the reader?

e. Have I considered my audience as I am writing a section?

f, Am I leading my reader painlessly from paragraph to paragraph and sub-section to sub-section?

g. Have I included all that is necessary and cut out all that is superfluous?

3. Keep referring back to my plan and keep track of where I am.

4. Be consistent in following my plan, but don’t be married to it.

I think this checklist of questions would have been useful in the preparation of my first draft. If anyone reading this blog has a comment on the list of guiding questions provided, or anything they would like to add, please comment.

Until the next post . . .

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Developmental edit recieved – dealing with the fallout

As I write these posts, my goal is to inform the reader about the nature of a developmental edit and communicate the scope and range of my reactions and responses.  I want to relate the experience of a newbie writer going through the process of developing a manuscript to its full potential as accurately as possible. Six days ago, I received the result of my developmental editor’s review of the manuscript, and it was certainly an eye opener. I spent about eleven months producing a manuscript that essentially has to be taken apart and reassembled, and requires a fair amount of rewriting and rethinking .  Before beginning my narrative on the developmental edit, it was necessary to carefully review the comments and suggestions of the editor.

Initial reactions to the editors comments and suggestions ranged from discomfort to relief. The discomfiture comes from thinking about how much more work lies ahead before a manuscript becomes a book and a writer becomes an author. The relief comes from the quality of the editors comments and suggestions. I received a thorough editing effort, full of clearly presented well documented suggestions to guide me as I rewrite and restructure my work. The editor took time to carefully describe and explain what had to be done. The main issues to be addressed are logical sequencing of content , clarification of ideas, ensuring language is used to its full advantage, ensuring that words and formats are used consistently throughout the manuscript and ensuring that ideas were fully supported and documented. The results of the edit were fair, thorough and made sense, and a bit daunting.

My writing tools were rusty from disuse, to say the least. My knowledge of English, its grammar, syntax, rules for punctuation, and ideas about writing styles came from one freshman English course and whatever information about writing remained from high school many years ago  (the mid-1960’s). Until now, anything that I wrote was directed toward a specific audience or to fulfill the requirements of a specific assignment.  This was a first effort at writing for individuals who are not obliged to read anything I write. If I want to attract a readership, I need to get down to work.

In addition to all the structural and qualitative information provided by the editor, there was another important idea conveyed within the edit related to the task ahead. My job was to rewrite and restructure the manuscript into a thoroughly reader friendly and unambiguous written work . The first order of business was to rewrite, or more accurately, write the preface. The original preface for the manuscript submitted was not a preface at all, just my idea of what a preface should contain. I had done nothing to inform a reader about why the book was written and for whom it was written. I had done nothing to engage the reader in my writing or with the content to come. I spent five of the last six days writing a preface that I can use. The next post focuses on my efforts to produce that preface. Until then . . .

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