Written for idiots by an idiot. “Hi. My name is Kimber, and I am an editing jerk.” The first step is admitting you have a problem. Trust me, I think I am allergic to editing. Every time I have a finished product (at least of the longer variety) I invariably break out in an abnormally short attention span and the intense itch to write something, anything else in order to avoid the inevitable.
It truly is idiotic. Spend months, even years, on a project and then leave it to collect dust in my C drive because I don’t want to put the final weeks of work in? What the hell is up with that?
Well, since I have grabbed the editing bull by the balls this past week, I figured I would compile a list of ideas to A) Capitalize on those popular “list” ideas that everyone seems to be rocking on their blogs, B) Maintain my editing momentum while very craftily taking a break from editing, and C) inspire others to proof read in new and exciting ways (You want fries with that).
So without further ado…
1. Sit your butt down and read it over once. This one sucks and is the most intimidating to me. You will have to address all those plot holes, clunky turns of phrase, and the spots where you just kept writing to get to the next exciting scene. You hated writing it, now you loath reading it, and guess what? Your future readers will think it blows goats, too. Fix it.
2. So glad that part is done. Now change your fonts, or print it out, and read it again. Personally, I refuse to use the ink and paper. I can hear the trees and squids screaming even as I type this. Of course, my eyes bug from all that computer reading. I got a pair of yellow-tinted aviator glasses that cut back on some of the blue waves. They also make me look and feel wicked cool when I am editing. Especially since I put them on over my prescription glasses. I know you’re jealous.
You are probably getting bored now with the whole story. While you are reading any of your work, make a master list of mistakes you make frequently. I recently substituted “pole” for “poll” and “rein” for “reign.” Both were during December, so I could blame Santa-itis, but I will add them to my list because I can’t blame the fat elf if I do it again in July.
3. Sooner or later you will have a long, lovely list of embarrassing mistakes you trip over time, and time again. Use that handy-dandy FIND and/or REPLACE function in the right-hand corner of your word doc and seek those little buggers out with a flame thrower.
4. Put that baby on your Kindle. If you don’t have an e-reader, well, duh, get one. Amazon has an easy-enough how-to page for doing this. Or Google it. The meat and potatoes are; you can use their WiFi to transfer documents for a charge, or you can convert to a PDF and plug your device in. Open the device storage bank thingy (You want a computer nerd? You’re fleecing the wrong sheep. You want advice on Kama Sutra, managing your chronic illness, or how to grow Hemerocallis from seed; I’m your girl). Open your computer drive with your document and click and drag it over. I found that the type was ant-sized after I did this. I changed my font to about 20 on the PDF, transferred it, and then I was winning.
5. Read it out loud. Do it for your lover, your dog, or that freaky stuffed clown in your grandparent’s basement. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, have your significant other, your talking dog, or the clown read it out loud to you. If the dog does it, suddenly your book will seem a perfect fit for the children’s section of your library. The clown automatically makes it erotic, of course.
6. Get a grammar checker. These seem to stretch far and wide in terms of price and ability. I recently picked up the White Smoke version and so far do not believe they were just blowing white smoke up my ass. It acts a little glitchy, but I may need to ram up my ram. Ouch. It makes me go over things nice and slow, which definitely helps pick up on the missing words and overused phrases (Who, me? Trite and clichéd? I don’t know the meanings of the words).
7. Make your friends read it, but only after you’ve done a fair job of looking it over. Otherwise, even the best intentioned BFF will get freakin’ sick of you if you keep sending her steaming piles of literary dog shit. I know this. I am probably one pile of crap away from having my half-a-heart necklace with “BE FRI” stamped on it thrown back in my face.
8. Make your enemies read it. Tie them up and torture them if need be. They probably won’t offer a ton of constructive criticism, but it will be an entertaining and much-needed break for you. After all, by number eight you’ve been working your editing ass off. Show your asshole neighbor the meaning of a bad night. You deserve it!
9. Stand on your head and read it one last time. Try not to throw up; it will go up your nose.
10. Format in compliance with your target publisher. For the love of all that is sweet and fattening, refrain from slitting your wrists as you catch sight of the same-old sentences once again.
11. Oh, look. We got to eleven! Congratulations! Send that MF on its way, and (finally) get cracking on something fun, fresh, and new. At least, it will be the first couple of times around… Rinse and repeat.