Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Work of Editing

So you have probably all seen the images showing how much time is spent actually writing. Sad but true, that even when we, as writers are working at our best capacity, we still find ways to be distracted. 

I work in an office that is almost exclusively used for my writing, yet, still I find myself moving containers, getting my tea where it is handy, straightening books, etc. Moving, organizing, and preparing are as much a part of the writing process as actually putting my fingers on the keyboard. 

Of course, I must do a bit of thinking - although sometimes this is done well before I make my way to the studio to work. It is done in a bathtub, hammock or even in bed. Sometimes while walking, doing dishes or making beds. 

Finally, I get words onto the screen.

All too soon, the creative process is over and its time to edit. And that part of the process is exhausting - both in time and intensity of work.

Recently, I was asked to edit an autobiography. The original had been published in Guatemala and now the author was prepared to publish in the U.S. She had searched for an editor, someone who would edit lightly so as to leave her voice. I apparently made the cut and was trusted with the work. 

Editing a piece of writing that is being translated is in itself interesting. Verbs are generally inconsistent due to tense issues. Present and past tense met and merged throughout the document and had to be fixed. As she had requested, I was mindful in my editing to her voice as a native Guatemalan. One thing I found immediately, editing lightly allowed me to be less ruthless than I am generally with my own work, especially with word choice and in particular regarding verbs.  

Another challenge was homonyms. These were varied and kept me on my toes. I was also made mindful of cultural differences in how individuals referenced each other. 

As I worked to finished the initial portion of the project, I gave much thought to the amount of time, but also to the final product. Editing is a must, but with this project there was no need to agonize for word choice.

I came to realize that the editing process is really made up of several different evaluations.
1. General grammar:
    Checking for correct spelling, capitalization, and sentence structure.
2. Format:
    Line spacing, font and size type
3. Story or plot line:
    Does the story flow? Does it keep the reader's attention?
4. Word choice
    Strengthening verbs or other descriptions, reviewing metaphors and similes. 

Editing is in itself an effort of love, a love of the process. 

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Serieswas written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception.The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.


Shirley Corder said...

Youch! Thanks for sharing the graph. Unfortunately all too true. I have to admit I love editing so can easily get caught up on that and not get any writing done!

Karen Cioffi said...

Jean, interesting article. I love the image; hadn't thought of the actual breakdown, but looks about right. :)

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