Saturday, January 18, 2014

Edit, Edit, and Edit Again.

I wrote an earlier post about a lady I met, who was featured in a collection of stories about local women.  She had briefly read the work which she was asked to edit about herself, and confesses that she didn't.  She would have changed quite a few things, she said, and at the time, just couldn't do it, so it went to press with the story not quite to her liking.

The book was known to me - I recall some local publicity about its launch last year, but that was all I knew about it, so after my meeting with the lady concerned, I ordered the book from the Library and collected it on Thursday.

It was indeed a wonderful collection of stories of local women, but there were many errors.  Some were in the formatting, some clearly were spelling or typos.  One story told of the subject's early life in "Wynum" - this is an (almost) unforgiveable error as it is a suburb not 50 kms from the town which was the focus of the story - and the correct spelling is "Wynnum" - two 'n's.

The story of my new found friend was particularly interesting.  I can't know the detail of her life, but it was interesting reading, particularly as our paths had (almost) crossed some years ago.  She had been a student, and later a teacher at the same school my daughter attended for seven years, and where I was the editor of the school newsletter.  In the story it spoke of the headmistress of the time this lady was a student - a lady who was "famous" locally as the first headmistress of the school - which had opened in 1931.  When my daughter was there, in the 1990's, there had only been two headmistresses in all that time.  I digress - the point I was making is that the name of the first headmistress was spelled incorrectly in the book.

I had a strong urge as I read through the book of interesting stories to make marks on page where I found errors (ever the word police as my family call me)  - some were quite hilarious.

"Editing"  is always a big issue for writers.  One can do read their work  over and over again, correcting, and still miss errors.  It is difficult that a writer spends hours at their work, and generally gets very little money if any, but to get a quality editor costs a small fortune, which is why many writers take short cuts.

When I was studying at university we were encouraged to have "Critical Friends" - other people who were writers but with the talent to be able to "critique" one's work.  I now have several of these!

You can ask a friend, or a family member to read through your manuscript, but you need someone with expertise in writing, grammar, etc.  I have heard so many writers say that they asked their son, daughter, sister etc to "check" their work, and I am sure a few errors are identified, but one needs a qualified and quality editor and proofreader.

When you are ready to print - get just one printed at first so that you can examine the "finished" piece - in the book that I mentioned above there were quite a few formatting problems.  Sentences and paragraphs not sitting on the page correctly.

Another friend of mine announced at a writing group, that she had published her novel, so I bought it for my Kindle, and was aghast when I started to read it.  The errors were everywhere.  I phoned her and went to her home to help her.  Apparently she had done a Spellcheck with the Word document but it appears she did not SAVE it, so the original-full-of-errors-document was posted to Smashwords   We spent some time checking it. 

The Internet is providing much more help and one site that should be of help is Grammarly - but just doing a Google search should help with place names and even people's names.  I searched for the college that was mentioned in the story of my friend and found, of course, the correct spelling of the headmistress of the time.  Not too difficult to do.

(ps  I know I need good editing!!!!)

I am posting on another Blog here reminiscing about my round Australia drive in 2012-13. 

1 comment:

peter petterson said...

That's what I've been told - edit, edit and edit again. That is the problems with non-fiction. Always the possibility of errors.