Editing is important when writing. Self-editing can slow you down as you write, and I’m just as guilty of that – if not guiltier. In any event, when you finish a piece, then find some trusted friends or family to look it over. Many of us write as we think or speak ourselves, and things like regional dialect sometimes bleed through.

Me, I have problems with “was” and “were,” and many times I just run with it and correct it later. That is, if I remember to do it. This is why I would rather have someone look over my work and check it.

There are guides available for sale to help the writer with these sorts of things and to give the writer the precision needed to get the word out quickly. I used this search string at Amazon.com to pull up all manner of results. Things of this nature can help a great deal, but you do have to put in the time to study it and improve your craft.

Granted, but if you paid attention in school, you wouldn’t have to do that. I can hear some out there smirking as they say this. While this is true, it is also true that there are some of us that put pen to paper that hasn’t sat in a classroom for some time. The finer points of this or that tend to diminish over time, and it is for this reason I suggested the Amazon search. Reference material never hurts. Just remember to actually refer to it.

An editor can improve the technical aspects of your work immensely, and if you can afford it then make use of it. One of my favorite opening lines is “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” This comes from the first volume in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Now, I don’t know if he sat down and wrote the line like that as a first draft. I dimly recall some interview many years ago in which he did say that. My point being, let’s say he started with “The gunslinger chased the man in black across the desert.” That is serviceable and conveys the image of a pursuit, but it’s a little dry.I could see an editor saying, “Let’s try it this way.” When you read “The man in black fled across the desert,” you automatically think about ‘well, he’s being chased by something.’ On the other hand, “the gunslinger chased the man” doesn’t really give as much room for imagination to spark. Once you read the second part that says, “and the gunslinger followed,” you think ‘why is there a gunslinger after him?’ Or, at least I did.

Somehow, without editing, I doubt the Dark Tower would be seven books. Or for that matter, Harry Potter. Proverbs 27:17 said it pretty well. “One person sharpens another.” While King Solomon wasn’t specifically referring to the writing process in this instance, the wisdom of another reading your work and sharpening it is paramount.

So, enjoy your writing, work hard at it, and let it shine. If an editor can make it shine brighter still, then make use of that resource.

Happy writing!

-JB Steele


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