Monday, July 15, 2013

7 Steps to Effective Copy-Editing

Most writers need an Intellgent Editer [misspellings intentional]
Like most writers, I loathe editing. It is boring, time-consuming – but necessary. Copy-editing requires detachment. Which is difficult, since we all tend to get attached to our work – an issue I addressed earlier using the lens of Behavioral Economics' IKEA Effect.

Humans struggle with new tasks: assuming I would edit better as I grew more experienced. This seems universal. But not with editing. Months later, however, I still sucked at copy-editing.

I realized a truism: “I had no process for efficient and effective editing.” And processes at work – from checklists to project management flow charts – make me more effective than many.

But how do you bring in rational process so it does not kill the creative sparkle? I think I succeeded. But it required discovering a free online copy-editor called Pro Writing Aid (http://prowritingaid.com/).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Don't Badger Readers with the "Never-Ending Plot Line"


Learning from Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, Terry Pratchett and C.K. Chesterton

Creative writing, like all arts, lacks rules: There is no algorithm that will provide a reliable best seller every time. There are conventions, of course -- writers workshop saws like "show, don't tell" and "kill your adverbs -- find stronger verbs" for instance.

In practice, there is considerable lee-way; readers read the story, and not the mechanics. For instance, many Postmodern novels break the "Third Wall," and announce that there is a narrator telling a story -- Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, a captivating literary science fiction read ruined by legions of leaden high school teachers, comes to mind. This technique earns tisks during writer's workshops. Yet, Vonnegut's wonderful character, the hapless Billy Pilgrim, and creative treatment of the themes of the pointlessness of war keeps me rereading the story every few years.

By the way, Vonnegut enchants, makes me laugh and covers an immense theme in 288 pages. That's writing. But there are, of course, trends in publishing. At present, most Fantasy -- from Urban to High Fantasy -- suffers from the Multi-Tome-Epic-Arc plague.