Editing – A Writing Essential

My fifth book, EXECUTION, left my hands and my house at the end of February. It was much like the feeling when a high school graduate leaves for college. The experience was a mix of joy, relief, anxiety, apprehension, and sadness.

For me, the creative process and solving problems are at the root of my existence, appearing in every phase of my life. Writing has intrigued me for years. I’m not sure if it was the romance attached—liquored up, cigarette smoking, intellectuals as per the 1920’s Algonquin Round Table, or the solitude to build my world free from pressure and judgment.

I wrote my first draft in 2010 and learned the basic craft of writing over the next five years. With each novel, article, critique, and blog post, I’ve learned more and know there is still much more information out there. The rewards showed up as tighter writing—making every word count, bigger questions, and the confidence to continue.

With EXECUTION, I became obsessed, for the first time, with editing. Previously, I had handed this task over to a few people, paid and unpaid, because I just couldn’t read the book again. This time, I felt I had elevated my writing awareness to a level that editing would be a no-brainer. I had been careful with my verbs, consciously became an adverbial minimalist, and scrupulously monitored my conjunctions and commas. Editing would be a piece of cake.

First, I did a word search of “was.” I removed passive voice structures and strengthened verbs, taking care not to be repetitive. Not too bad. Did notice that I used “really” and “so” quite a lot. I searched for them and changed words and/or sentences. Then I had a thought. To check on the variety of sentence structure, especially within the same paragraph, I could search on “and.” This took time—a lot of time, a lot more time than I thought it would—at least a month.

Now, I thought, I’m good. I have several online spelling, structure, echo, and grammar checkers*. I’ll try those. What could they possibly catch? As it turned out, quite a lot of minor but useful edits. This took another month to six weeks. For me, it wasn’t about the story, it was about writing better. I found it helpful and intriguing, which is why it may have taken so long. I pondered each change—seeing and learning. The results are that I am writing with more awareness and informed intention.

EXECUTION is finished. Yay!! Nope, not so fast. Next EXECUTION went off to my Beta Readers, then to professionals: line editor, formator, and voice actor for the audio recording.

EXECUTION is scheduled for release during the third week in April 2023.

*For aspiring writers, I have a paid full version of Pro Writing Aid, Word: Editor and Read Aloud, and free versions of Grammarly and Quillbot. Each one can catch errors that the others didn’t. So, chapter by chapter, I used all of them. HINT: If you edit in a different FONT than the one you used to write, it gives you the distance you need to be more objective.



Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

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