Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Guest Blogger NIKOLAS BARON on Easing the Pain of Editing/Proofreading
Why Writing More Pages Makes Editing Easier
More Available Real Estate
When it comes to editing a large manuscript, anything that makes the process easier is welcome. There are many pages to get through, tons of ideas, themes, and characters, as well as different ways of tying it all together. But if you start with less words or pages, you could be making the editing process much more difficult on yourself.
Having more pages or words available for editing makes it easier to identify which pieces need to go and which need to stay. It may crush you to cut twenty pages of dialogue, but you know that what’s left is moving the story forward and essential. There’s more available real estate to see what you were thinking as you were writing the story and how you constructed it. If you have less material, there’s less information to build changes off of. Even more drastically, if you end up cutting more than you expected, you will end up having to rebuild much of the story.
I like to dump all of my thoughts down on paper and edit as I go. I detest squiggly red and green lines, messed up grammar and punctuation, and confusing wording. I have to change it immediately or I feel like I can’t press on. However, this leaves me with tons of material since I’m constantly adding to my manuscript. I want to fix as I go, but I end up gathering up changes that have created more words. This actually helps my editing process because I can look back and see that the changes I made were either useful or steered me off course. I have more flowers to pick from in my field of papers. This is a great problem to have when it comes to editing.
More Jumping Off Points for Ideas
Sometimes I have to resist the urge to cut material while I write. This comes in handy when I’m editing. While I’m writing and in the zone, sometimes I forget that later on, I may change my mind. I realize the ending I wrote doesn’t work or the characters would never say the dialogue on the page and now have to come up with new material. The fact that I didn’t cut out material before gives me more ideas to use for my changes. I could have deleted all that work but now I have a vantage point to start from.
If I end up having a bunch of material that seems to clash, I keep it because I may need new ideas or similar ideas later. I may end up cutting half of the material that doesn’t work and only keeping what does. When you go back to grammar check and proofread your work and realize that you have more available material of substance, you have a better chance of starting fresh with new ideas, or being able to reach into your inventory of material from before.
It’s Always Easier to Subtract than Add
One of my writing professors in college consistently told me that “it’s always easier to subtract than add.” When you have a finished book, a collection of ideas, it’s hard to go backwards to what you were thinking at the moment when you wrote a particular section. It can be done, of course, but it can also be a huge struggle. Taking away material that doesn’t add to the robustness of your storyline is easy. Bringing in new ideas that meld with your ideas that are already on the page and developing them is a ton of work. It’s like baking a cake. When you add way too much frosting, you can scrape some off and have a great cake. But when you add frosting and it’s the wrong color, you have to scrape it all off and start over with a misshapen cake.
When I’m proofreading my own work, I like to use online resources to help me find errors I might have missed or suggest more appropriate words that fit my style. Grammarly is a resource I really love because it learns my style the more I use it, provides a thorough grammar check, and gives me the tools to learn more about writing. It also helps me see where I can scrape off more frosting that I don’t need.
When it comes to writing, sometimes you have to resist the urge to edit while you write to make the proofreading process easier on yourself. Remember, it’s always easier to subtract than it is to add.
By Nikolas Baron
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Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.