On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Drew Conry-Murray stepped up to bat.  If you don’t already follow Drew’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Drew:

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Thanks to Rachel for offering her blog page to other writers. I’m looking forward to learning some useful editing tips from my fellow scribes. Here’s a few that work for me.

1. Walk Away
When I write, I often find a gap between what I meant to say, and what I actually wrote down. It’s as if there’s a narrator in my head who provides context or assumptions that don’t always make it onto the page.

You can’t stand over a reader’s shoulder and provide that internal narrative as they read, so the best way I’ve found to close this gap is to walk away from a piece for a time.

Then, when you come back to it with a cold eye, it’s easier to see the places where the words don’t match your intentions.

For short blogs, I find even a few minutes away from the screen helpful. For longer pieces and fiction, I put more distance between edits—days or even weeks if possible.

2. Read Aloud
When I read to my kids at night, I know I’m in the hands of a good writer when the words flow smoothly and gracefully out of my mouth, even if it’s the first time I’ve read the book.

I decided to try reading my own work aloud (just to myself). It was a useful exercise because I found a lot of rough patches and clunky language. Reading aloud also forces you to slow down and pay closer attention compared to silent reading. The slower, more attentive pace makes it easier to find passages that need more work.

3. Paper Edit
I like to do a paper edit for short stories and novels. Once I have a rough draft I’m satisfied with, I’ll print a copy of the work, and then sit somewhere comfortable with a pen and go at it.

Something happens when words on a screen become words on paper. There’s a freshness and clarity with paper—and perhaps an element of seriousness—that pixels lack. Mistakes that I missed dozens of times on the screen leap forward in print.

Biggest Repeated Mistake
I think my biggest mistake was believing that the main character had to be noble and upright, as if I were writing a book of moral instruction. Messy, complicated people are more interesting.

Weakest Point of Editing
I think my weakest point of editing is that I’ll speed through sections of the work because I’ve seen it so many times. Instead of reading carefully, I just skim.

Work in Progress
I’m currently querying agents for a novel called Atlantis Rising. Set in 1887, it’s a paranormal thriller about the search for the lost kingdom of Atlantis. I also posted a short story, Crypto, on the free story site Wattpad [https://www.wattpad.com/story/37422090-crypto]. My novel Wasteland Blues [http://www.amazon.com/Wasteland-Blues-Scott-Christian-Carr/dp/1935738593/], a mad quest through a post-apocalyptic world, is available in print or as an ebook.

My blog is http://andrewconry-murray.com/ and you can follow me on Twitter at @DrewConryMurray

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to your blog, Rachel!

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Thank you, Drew, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

Three Quotes, Three Days, Day Two

Last month, my blogging sister and good friend Merril Smith tagged me for the Three Quotes in Three Days challenge.  Narrowing down my second quote was difficult.  I wanted something with a peaceful feeling to it.  One of my favorite idioms has always been, “Evil thrives when good men do nothing.”  But several years ago, I actually researched who said this for something I was writing, and I was shocked to discover that no one actually said it, at least not worded like that.  I was also surprised to learn that there have actually been several people who have said something with the same basic meaning.

For example, Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

But I think the closest such quote I’ve found over the years is by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.”

At any rate, since I couldn’t  locate the exact author of that idiom, for my official quote today, I’m going to have to go with my second favorite peaceful quote (which, by the way, is also the epigraph for my book, The Worm Has Turned.)

“An eye for an eye will make us all blind.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with my last quote.  But as for today, I nominate  Leesha.  Leesha is an aspiring author who writes for the adults as well as for the kiddos since the arrival of her sweet nephew.  Be sure to visit her blog at https://prolixme.wordpress.com/ for a fun time.

Time to talk:  Do you have a collection of favorite quotes?  If so, do you have them written down, or are they committed to memory?