Yesterday I was busy going to softball and baseball games. I (like many of you) have very little extra time during the day (especially given the fact I work the grave shift) so when a day like yesterday occurs (two back to back games) I find it difficult to write. I missed the L post for A to Z but decided I will post something I wrote four years ago. The topic is still relevant and it happens to be an L so I thought why not. Later today, I will put up my “M” post.
I have random pieces of paper with lipstick kisses scattered wherever I frequent. There are lipstick kisses on the back of envelopes and napkins in the console of my car. My dresser has a few receipts painted with my lip impressions. Toilet paper sheets with my pucker stamp lie amongst the junk and waste in my garbage can.
How does lipstick kisses relate to writing? I’m not sure I would have connected the two myself if it wasn’t for a comment made by a friend the other day.
“I like you without eye shadow,” says friend.
“I like eye shadow. I like make-up,” says me.
The words left my mouth and then it hit me. Editing your work is like kissing an envelope. You need to get rid of the excess in order to look your best.
I tend to overwrite. I love to overwrite. But, I am aware that to become the best writer that I can be, I need to smudge out some of the words that flood my paper. If I don’t blot out the wordiness I risk looking like I tried too hard or not hard enough.
Can wordiness be the kiss of death? Do you have editing tips that you would like to share?
All writers edit. How we edit may differ. Some of us might play music while reading through the work in progress. Some may need complete silence. The purpose of editing is to re-read the work written in hopes of catching mistakes or improving the rhythm of the sentences.
How many times have you read through your work and thought, sounds good, only to have a critique partner point out that you repeated the same word twice? You have tons of run on sentences. You called your character Lori in the first paragraph and Cindy in the second. I have found that reading stories aloud helps highlight these types of mistakes.
Our brains are much quicker than our mouths. When we scan through works without reading aloud we tend to see what is supposed to be there instead of what actually is. Last night a Facebook friend sent me a brain test where all the words were jumbled but somehow I was actually able to make out exactly what the sentence said. Eg. Our M1ND5 C4N DO 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5. Were you able to read that sentence? Chances are you were. This is the exact type of thing that happens when we are editing silently.
Reading aloud slows us down. When we read our words out loud we are forced to read more slowly and pay closer attention to what we have written.
Reading aloud also allows us to hear the rhythm of our words. Words should have a flow and read effortlessly. There is nothing worst than having an interruption of your flow. It will stop a reader dead in their tracks and take away from the story.
Editing aloud might not help you catch each and every mistake but it will most likely help you catch a few more than you would have.
Do you have any editing tips you would like to share?
How many times have you edited your work? If you are anything like me, you have scanned over your manuscript too many times to count. It’s what we do. We write it, read it, adjust it, finish it and then come back to it. Upon coming back to it, we fix it, add to it, read it aloud and then send it off to someone else (usually a critique partner) to do the same.
No matter how many times we look at it ourselves, chances are someone else will see something we do not see. My critique partner and I were discussing this topic this past weekend. We shared thoughts on how amazing it is that we can’t pick up on things we write as easily as a fresh pair of eyes can. In her manuscript she chose a very creative name for one of her leading characters. She must have played around with the spelling before she decided on how she would spell it. As I skimmed through her words, I noticed that in some areas she had it spelled one way and then others a completely different way.
She noticed missing punctuation in my manuscript and a few missing or double usage of words.
No matter how many times either one of us checked our work there were still things we missed. I read once that when you are reading your own work your thoughts are filling in the gaps missing on paper. If it is not your thoughts it is easier for you to spot something missing, misspelled or overused. We all make mistakes, but it is better if we have another set of eyes looking for the mistakes we make. Four eyes, six eyes, eight eyes, are all better than two when it comes to perfecting your work.