Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Self-Editing & Those Invisible Foibles

Posted on Oct 28, 2015 by Lisa Ricard Claro   19 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

fireworks3Thanks to everyone who commented on last Wednesday’s post, an interview with Martha Graham-Waldon, author of the soon-to-be released (11/14/2015) memoir Nothing Like Normal–Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia. The winner of Martha’s book, chosen via Random.org, is Sioux Roslawski! Congratulations, Sioux, on your win.

 

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Photo courtesy of Ryan Blanding via Flickr.com

Over this last year I’ve done a lot of manuscript editing for other authors, both copyediting and developmental editing—so much, in fact, that I’ve been urged to hang out my editorial shingle (more on that in a few weeks). Turns out I’m good at ferreting out and correcting problems in works written by others. So, now the million dollar question: if I’m so darn good at it, why do I have so much trouble seeing the problems in my own work?

One of my worst habits is showing and then telling what I just showed. It’s as if I don’t trust my ability to show, so I add a bit of help in the form of a telling phrase. My critique partner pointed this out multiple times in the rough draft of Love Built to Last and continued to catch me on it through two subsequent manuscripts despite the fact I now take special care to avoid doing it. I have no trouble noting this issue in work I’m editing for others, but when I review my own manuscript it may as well be invisible.

What is it about our own work that makes it tough to see the problem areas? Lord knows I have no trouble finding flaws when I look in the mirror. If I could take that critical eye and turn it toward my writing, my critique partner would have little to do. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. No matter how flawless I think it is when I send it for that first critical once-over, it always comes back with notes out the wazoo. I read what my critique partner has written and think, “Crap! How did I miss that?” (and that…and that…)

I wonder if it’s because our written work is a lot like our children—we know they aren’t perfect, but because they’re ours it’s easy to overlook imperfections. (Whichever one of my kids is reading this is thinking, “What imperfections? She must be talking about my siblings.” Ha.)

The best solution is to incorporate into our personal editing process methods by which we can find and fix those habitual mistakes. If you’ve been writing a while, you already know most of the tips: set your completed work aside for several weeks before editing, use the find/replace feature on overused words and phrases, print the document and edit with a pen, read the work aloud, read the work backwards, etc. But what if you’re already doing all that and your bad habits still survive?

Here are two links that might be useful. Both are on the website of author Jerry Jenkins. The first is 21 Self-Editing Secrets that Can Supercharge Your Manuscript  and the second is A Guest Blog from Stephen King-Yes, that Stephen King, the latter being a redux of Mr. King’s 1986 The Writer magazine article titled “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully in Ten Minutes.”

As I work to develop a method to search and destroy my own bad writing habits, I will continue to pay homage to the sacred triumvirate of Reading, Writing, and Revision. Eventually, osmosis is bound to set in and reverse some of my bad habits.

Oh, and wine…wine could help.

And chocolate. 🙂

If you’re a writer, what’s your worst writing habit? If you’re not a writer, what mistakes drive you nuts when you read them in published work?

Thanks for hanging out—see you Friday for Observations from the Tub!
Lisa

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last in eBook or Print, go to AmazonBarnes & NobleBlack Opal BooksKobo, or AllRomance.

19 Responses to "Self-Editing & Those Invisible Foibles"

  1. Comment by Rob
    October 28, 2015 at 8:03 am  

    I tend to make spelling errs: scared/scarred, canvas/canvass. What I hate in reading is having to start reading a sentence over again to “get it.” (I’ve been known to write those “huh?” sentences myself, as you know.) I’m glad to hear you are going to start editing. I think you’re great at it. That piece you looked over for me got picked up, so I know your good at it. I’m a big fan of rewrites and editing; I think that’s where the real writing takes place. I don’t feel like I’m writing unless I’ve got my dictionary, thesaurus, and usage books sprawled out on the desk. Each piece I send out has at least 60 hrs work. I wish they paid by the hr.

    • Comment by Rob
      October 28, 2015 at 8:18 am  

      Great links. I wrote “get it” with quotation marks. Haw Haw . . . Haw?

      • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
        October 28, 2015 at 8:47 am  

        Haw…lol

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 28, 2015 at 8:46 am  

      Thanks, but I can’t take any credit for your work being successful. As I recall, with only a couple exceptions, it was damn near perfect when you sent it to me. I agree with you about the revising and editing. And I’ve yet to figure out a way to explain to non-writers how something that is so much work can be so satisfying and fun. It’s something only other writers completely understand.

      • Comment by Rob
        October 28, 2015 at 9:00 am  

        Thanks. I needed to hear that. I don’t think writers succeed until they embrace the editing process. It may sound strange but I enjoy that part the most. It’s when I feel like a real writer.

  2. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    October 28, 2015 at 12:09 pm  

    Oh, well, here we go, being all twinsies again. Because I find it MUCH easier to find the flaws in other people’s writing and darn near impossible to find my own! And for the reason you suggested re: our writing being like our kids. It’s so hard to tear down that which we love.

    As for my own foibles, I’m well aware that setting is my downfall, that characters sometime fall into big*ss plot holes, and that I love funny scenes that do absolutely nothing to move the story along. Still, I have to rely upon the kindness of beta readers to find my foibles. (But my head gets awfully sore, from smacking it and saying, “D’oh. How did I miss that???”)

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 7:55 am  

      I can attest that your funny stuff is super funny. As for us being twinsies again, well…that happens more often than not, and I’m just happy to be in such great company. 🙂

  3. Comment by Claudia
    October 28, 2015 at 2:27 pm  

    Super sharp post! I can’t see my own errors, though when pointed out I see them clearly. Yes, I think our work is our baby, and love of the story (and what we want it to do) keep us from seeing clearly. My sister in law just found a program that reads your own work back to you as she listens…says it is helpful. I am have not checked it out yet.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 7:56 am  

      That talk-back program sounds interesting, Claudia. I hope you’ll find out what it’s called and come back and share it with us.

  4. Comment by Lynn Obermoeller
    October 28, 2015 at 8:35 pm  

    I love what you said… it is hard to see your own mistakes. Mine tends to be “tense” I use multiple throughout, but I’m getting better.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 7:58 am  

      It’s funny how we each have our own “thing/things” that we habitually do. The frustrating part for me is when I’m positive I’ve fixed that stuff, only to have it come back to me with proof that I didn’t!

  5. Comment by Sioux
    October 28, 2015 at 10:57 pm  

    I think I have problems sometimes with writing convoluted sentences, with the end result leaving the reader wondering, ‘What is that phrase modifying?’

    Laziness. That’s also something I deal with.

    Thanks for having the drawing. I am sure I will enjoy the book.

    As far as your own work, I think it’s the same syndrome when we fail to read our work aloud. If we read it silently, our brain fills in what is missing, without our even noticing it, and it often doesn’t get added on paper. As we are editing our own work, we know what we MEANT to put in there, and we know all the swirling thoughts that went into the creation of scenes and chapters… and we assume that all that richness IS down on the page.

    Sometimes it’s not…

    (And congratulations in advance. I figure that sometime very soon, we’ll get an announcement about your new editorial business being launched… as if three novels aren’t enough to keep you busy? 😉

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 8:00 am  

      You’re right about our brains filling in for us, I think. That certainly makes sense. And I do hope you love Martha’s book! AND, you’re right about the editing business. It’s in the works. lol

  6. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    October 29, 2015 at 1:34 am  

    Hmm, I’m not a writer but maybe it’s similar to proofreading? I can’t proofread my own stuff to save my neck but I seem to be pretty good at catching problems in ARCs I read for authors.

    I also think that once you’ve read something multiple times it’s very difficult for your brain to not just skip over things. At least I think that’s why I have trouble proofreading my own stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I will read over an email, blog post, etc. and then later find where I’ve made some sort of typo – either grammatical or spelling. I get very frustrated when that happens but there’s usually nothing I can do about it at that point. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 8:02 am  

      Yes, that is so frustrating! I proof my blog posts multiple times, but it never fails that after I post it I’ll see something that needs fixing. I hate when that happens! lol

  7. Comment by Pat
    October 29, 2015 at 9:35 pm  

    Self-editing certainly isn’t easy. Our eyes and brain trick us into thinking we’ve put on paper what we meant to put on paper. The links look helpful. Thanks, Lisa!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 8:03 am  

      There are actually a lot of other great posts on that site, too. I hope you’ll find them helpful!

  8. Comment by Tammy
    October 29, 2015 at 9:52 pm  

    I’m so glad you mentioned this phenomenon, because I stop seeing my many mistakes, too. For me it’s like the way I cease to notice the messes in my house. I think once I’ve looked at it for so long, my brain just shuts down and says, “enough already!”

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      October 30, 2015 at 8:04 am  

      Nice comparison with the messes. I hadn’t thought about that, but you’re right!


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