Everyone loves editing, don’t they? No? I’m astonished. What could be more enjoyable than giving yourself the opportunity to reread your wonderful prose and to hone it into an even more compellingly readable piece of writing?
Well, a nice holiday obviously, or a trip to the shops perhaps, or sitting in the garden with a cup of tea, or doing the ironing, or even cleaning out the dog bowls.
Because the truth is that most people actually hate editing. I know this a) because people have told me, and b) because so many books are so badly edited.
There are two key components to successful editing. The first is the relatively easy one of correcting spelling errors, punctuation and typos. The second is the much more difficult one of deciding whether certain sentences, paragraphs, sections, even chapters, are really necessary and as good as they can be in their current form (or indeed in any form). Plus the related, opposite problem – is there something missing, a word, a sentence or an idea that would enhance the overall readability and sense of the piece if it was included?
Editing is not only about ironing out glitches in the language but about double checking the content and ideas, making sure that the article, story or novel is doing what you intend it to do, exploring the themes you want to explore, expressing the message, or telling the right story in the best possible way.
Yes, editing can feel like a chore, particularly after the creative delight of writing the piece, but surely it’s worth the effort to achieve a more readable, focussed and satisfyingly perfect result?
As well as honing your work it is useful to sharpen up your editing skills too. Practice makes perfect after all. As a light exercise, here are some examples of editing errors picked up from a selection of church newsletters (courtesy of my lovely mother-in-law). Enjoy!
Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
This evening at 7pm there will be hymn singing in the park opposite the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Weight watchers will meet at 8pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance.
Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5pm – prayer and medication to follow.
The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’
The pastor would appreciate it if ladies in the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.And my favourite:
The Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 6pm. Please use the back door.