01 02 03 Amorina Rose Writes: It’s now or never, my writing can’t wait! 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

It’s now or never, my writing can’t wait!

Unless you are an Elvis fan the chances are you might not recognise this play on words but seriously who doesn’t know Elvis? But as true as that might be knowing all his songs is a different matter.  There are always things we are not prepared for, unable to remember, or just don't know. I am an English teacher and know a certain amount where grammar is concerned but do I know all that is necessary? I wish! Consequently editing is a huge job particularly since grammar is only a small part of the whole. And though my background is useful there is still so much to learn.  It seems writing the piece is only the beginning but editing our work is a very long middle section and a long way to travel to get to that publishing ready-stage finale.

The ladies and I are writing our little hearts out on not just our own work but another project which is a joint effort.  We have plans to test the market in both our writing and self-publishing in one foul swoop with an anthology of short stories.  It has taken a while but we have almost finished the content and are now looking at covers, book titles and various other things including marketing.  However firstly we need to edit and recognising that, we have a production line going and it works really well but what is distracting is the question of when is enough enough.  Now remember the title of this post is It'now or never, my writing can’t wait, well, I want to change that to a writer’s editing is never done.  Just when you think you have it all done, have reached the end of the line then along comes another mistake. (No, I am not changing the title for real, I like it too much!)

This reminds me of the naivety of most people who think a teacher’s life is easy because we get all those holidays.  It is, or rather would be, if the holidays weren’t taken up by planning, keeping up with personal development in more areas than the brain can keep track of, researching and the list is endless.  Such is life where editing is concerned.  I was so naive! So I thought I might have a closer look at this formidable necessity that dogs writers every step and hit my first obstacle.  Editing apparently has more than one definition.  There is Content Editing, Copy Editing and Proofreading.  What the heck is the difference? I am aware I should know this and I do sort of. Research here I come, again.
I found the following article interesting because it uses a visual to explain it.  This I thought was a rather clever idea especially for someone like me who needs it spelled out.  I’m not sure if the play on those two words is English teacher humour or writer humour? Okay, maybe it’s not either and I should give up my career as a comedian and concentrate on writing.  That’s right I am concentrating on writing which explains why I am off the planet most days. There is so much more to it.  I am not complaining but just stating the fact.  So I was intrigued with the idea of visual and found it very helpful in clarifying a few things.  It comes from a website that focuses on helping self-publishers to present the best work possible before it hits the reader.  Personally I have not used this service but I was impressed by the manner in which they explained how they help the author better present their work.  Unfortunately our small group has limited funds to do the things we want but having the information at hand is another way of helping ourselves until we can do more.  As always I will provide a link at the bottom of this post and the sections in italics are direct quotes from the website. 
Editing from what the articles explains needs to be considered firstly at a macro level and then we need to work our way down to the micro level, and this conversation definitely resonates with me.  The website uses a Colorado scene where for miles around trees, lakes and mountains dominate.  This displays a macro level that becomes our content editing stage. The editor looks at the message and if the manuscript is well-written. Basically the editing is questioning whether “the theme or plot of the book well-developed and organized? If it is a novel, is there good story-telling and snappy dialog? Does the story move at a good pace? Are the characters original and believable? Are the sub-plots well-integrated?   These are certainly mighty questions and they need to be asked as is whether or not the book is “written for the right target market and will it grab attention?” The work is reviewed and returned with suggestions to “re-write, move, delete or add sections” and as you can note this is very subjective unlike the next forms.
From this stage or from that wide panoramic view we move to a location where we can see the “individual trees, leaves, rocks and dirt path".   This is known as the copy editing stage and focuses on grammar, syntax, sentence structure, accurate word choices, verb tense, capitalization, punctuation, missed and repeated words, paragraph and sentence length. You guessed it - the fun stage and just for added kicks this may include reorganizing chapter titles.  There is more to it as well but I am already frightened so will shut up now and move on quickly.  I can see why people need professional help and I am now praying extra hard that a lottery win will occur. 
What becomes most interesting and was new for me is the fact that professionals do the page layout and formatting before moving on to the final stage of editing which is proof-reading.  I would have thought proof-reading came before this but now it makes perfect sense that it comes at the end.  Our panorama at micro level has shifted to a single leaf.  This is it, the final moment before the book goes on stage to the waiting audience and the focus is on “finding any overlooked misspellings and typographic errors, along with checking the accuracy of page numbers, the table of contents, running heads, labels and captions on figures tables and other inserts. Formatting issues are also caught at this stage, e.g., bad breaks due to hyphenation, too much or too little word spacing and/or line spacing, widows (a single word on a line by itself) and orphans (a short or final line of a paragraph on the top of a page), as well as inaccuracies in running heads or page numbering.”  
Wow, and wow again.  I can see the benefits of having someone take over and do the things needed.  Whilst I cannot recommend the website below as I have not used their services myself I can gives thanks to them for generously providing a clearer picture of what needs to be done.  I for one am most grateful to have the opportunity to read about these things as thinking along professional lines makes me want to be more professional.  If I take more care as I write and the ladies and I keep working together then perhaps we may lessen some of the editing load whether for ourselves or for the professionals.  For more on this topic and general information go to. 

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