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  • Writer's pictureMJ Rodriguez

The Fun of Editing

Well, I’m editing my book, Where the River Goes. It’s a rather long process, and I hope to have it ready to publish sometime this spring. Today I attempted a book blurb. That seems to me like one of the hardest parts of preparing a book for publication. I must write it over and over to get it right, and even then, I’m not sure about it.

I started the editing process by going through a long list of words to delete. Or to change for a different word. Or to change the structure of the sentence to make it sound better. Words like ‘that’, ‘just’, ‘like’, ‘then’, ‘that’ and ‘look’ seem to be sprinkled through my WIP like nobody’s business. It’s amazing when I type in a word in ‘Find’ on the Microsoft Word toolbar how many times I use the same filter words. Have to get rid of those pesky little rascals.

Other words like variants of ‘to see’, ‘to think’, ‘to watch’, ‘to seem’, ‘to notice’ and ‘realize’ are often guilty of taking the reader out of the head of the POV character, which is not good. You want the reader to stay with the POV character to keep them involved in the story. Don’t want to lose your reader, do you?

Another important step is to skim through the pages to see how many times I use a character’s name when I could use a pronoun. Wow! I do that way too often. I recently read a book that often uses the name of a character several times in one paragraph. Way too often. It bothers me as a reader, so I don’t want to be guilty of this.

The next step is to run the whole story, a chapter at a time, through the Hemingway app, which is a free program. This app points out the frequent use of adverbs and passive voice. It also tells you if your sentences are difficult to read and when a phrase or word has a simpler alternative. This is especially useful when a writer tends to use too many adverbs, or, like me, uses the passive voice too often.

Another app that can be helpful is Grammarly. As an English teacher, I don’t really like this app, but in some cases, it will catch errors for me like the wrong use of a word, a misspelled word, or a comma error. I often disagree with it, so I don’t always use it, but it does sometimes show me errors I have missed. It’s worth using most of the time. You can use the free app or pay a little for the premium which gives more details about sentence structure and other things.

Presently my book is with my first beta reader. This reader will look for plot holes, inconsistencies, and unrealistic scenes. If she notices any errors, she will note those as well. As an avid reader, she (my granddaughter who recently graduated college and has a career in marketing) is invaluable to me. She totally understands my need for complete honesty to improve my writing and make my book the best it can be.

Then I have two other beta readers who will read it to find errors, plot holes, ‘show, not tell’, and such. One is a retired English teacher, the other a librarian at a local public school, and both are writers. I would trust these people with my work any time. Their voluntary help is invaluable to me.

One of the best things I have done as a writer is to join a local writers’ group that meets monthly for critique sessions and other beneficial programs for writers. We encourage each other and celebrate the accomplishments of members. Sometimes we meet between monthly meetings for special critique sessions. We also attend conferences when possible and share information with others who can’t attend.

Isn’t writing fun?

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