The Nasty but Necessary Business of Editing

When teaching students what is involved in the writing process, we stress the importance of rough drafts, proofreading, and revising. They don’t always get why rewriting is necessary and so there are the expectant protests and groans when they are told to proceed with the revisions. Usually, this includes peer editing. The extent of the revising pertains to changes in spelling and punctuation. Plot is rarely affected.

As a writer, I don’t mind revising my work. When I allow myself a few days of contemplation aimed at what I’ve written, I often come up with questions and concerns. For example, one of my characters has said something that is inconsistent with his personality. And so the revisions begin.

The real tension develops when I let others read my work. This tension heightens when a professional editor gives me advice on how to make my work more effective. This is that time in a writer’s life when he has to brace himself for friendly but, at times, harsh criticism.

Luckily, I have educated myself on the process of removing my personal views from my professional views. The editorial evaluations I have received hit hard in a depressing kind of way at first. I begin to question myself on: (a) whether I should rewrite the work entirely; or (b) whether I should have written this work at all?

Then, I calm myself and begin to think intelligently about the suggestions made to me. And you know what? They actually make sense. Now I begin to say to myself things like, You should have known better.

And this is the case with my next novel soon to be published. The person with whom I communicated about polishing my work said some valuable stuff. He suggested, for instance, I change the point of view since the story is really about a character whose point of view I did not use. He also suggested I make one of my characters, who has medical problems, emotionally stronger to appeal more to my readers since people tend to like courageous characters in their stories.

There were many other things I took to heart from the editorial evaluation; things that, I believe will make my book more powerful; certainly more attractive to my audience.


About randycoates

Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.
This entry was posted in Editing, Publishing, Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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