*Column Editor - Les Stephenson*
October 2006 Issue
Editing and Proofreading – Editing
Do you like the look of your completed work? Nothing is more satisfying to a
writer than freshly printed pages. Hardcopy is something special - it even
outshines a computer screen. The printer’s output signifies a finished
Wrong. What you’ve produced is an interim step, an opportunity to further
polish and refine. Don’t be fooled by “the illusion of perfection that the
printed page presents.”
Seize the opportunity for a thorough edit. Tackle the task on two levels:
Macro level. The big picture.
Micro level. The itty-bitty parts.
The term editing may be used to encompass the whole process or, more
specifically, applied to the macro level. Proofreading is the final surface
polish performed once the big things have been set in concrete.
Look at the big picture. Before you started writing, did you draft a plan of
the work you hoped to achieve? What was the topic? What was your theme? Were
there criteria you had to meet or include? How long should it be? No story
or essay can be completely random – there must be parameters, either
externally set or planned by you.
This is the stage when you look for answers to the big issues.
Content. Did you follow your plan? If not, why not? Plans are not rigid;
they need to be flexible. However, if irreparably broken, they need to be
rewritten as new plans. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you
know when you get there?
Relevance. Is everything you’ve written relevant to your topic or theme?
Don’t get carried away on side issues. Less relevant information or
excessive detail may be assigned to appendices.
Coherence. Does the story or essay flow smoothly from beginning to end? Is
there an introduction, body and conclusion? If it’s a story, consider
setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.
Paragraphing. Paragraphs are the key links in your chain that make or break
your work. Individual paragraphs should address one idea and consist of
related sentences. The story or essay needs to flow from one paragraph to
the next. Separate units of dialogue should be new paragraphs. One speaker
to a paragraph - no matter how short the paragraph.
Style. Is the ‘tone’ of your work appropriate for the topic or genre?
Sensual or erotic scenes would be very unsuitable for a children’s story.
Swearing and profanity could offend some readers. Is your writing active or
passive? Do you ‘tell’ rather than “show’?
Language. Have you used gendered language – lots of masculine nouns that
exclude the feminine or vice versa? Do you tend to overuse adverbs and other
words or phrases that may be superfluous?
References. Have you acknowledged direct quotations, paraphrases or other
citations in an accepted format? Non-fiction works usually include tables of
references or bibliographies.
Part 3. Proofreading.
Copyright © 2006 by The Muse Marquee. All rights reserved. All authors hold
individual ownership & copyrights of any material contributed. No
unauthorized usage of any published material within the Muse Marquee unless
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