Thursday, April 3, 2014

Editing Tips for Writers Who Don’t Know How or Hate Editing

By Marie Gilbert

Our monthly meeting of the South Jersey Writers' Groupbegan with a cheery hello to new members and latest news from members on submission rejections and acceptance. Yes indeed, our group celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly because with each rejection, we are marching closer to being published. We began the meeting with our Vice-President Krista Magrowski announcing her plans on future monthly meetings and her plans to teach us how to brand ourselves as writers. No, not that kind of branding… but how to get the right kind of exposure as a writer.

Krista also told us about upcoming guest speakers for the months of May and June. In May, Jennifer R. Hubbard, a local Philadelphia writer will talk about the ups and downs of writing and publishing and at the June meeting, Robert Repici, a screenwriter and member of the group will talk about dialogue with screenwriter. July’s meeting will be set aside to work on query letters and synopsis.

Krista brought up the topic of round tables and asked the members who had participated in a round table discussion if the round tables were helpful to the group. The final verdict will decide on if we keep the round tables as part of the monthly meeting. March’s round table subjects were on Twitter offered by Glenn Walker, dialogue offered by Laura J. Kaighn, and use of headers, footers and formatting in Word basics by Amy Hollinger.

March’s Topic

I was trying to think of a great title for the wonderfully informative workshop that Krista gave to the group this past Thursday. Editing your work can be a real pain in the… buttress of your writing process, but in the end; might save you lots of unnecessary revisions. The problem is lots of writers aren’t sure just how to edit, and in fact, would rather have their teeth pulled sans anesthesia, but this is where Krista’s presentation really helped everyone at the meeting.

Krista concentrated on the four types of editing: developmental, substantive, copyediting and proofreading. Developmental editing focuses on thorough analysis of characterization, setting, plot, conflict, dialogue, style which includes structure of plot, motives, subplots and pace.

Substantive editing focuses on order of events, chapters, plotlines and climax and if the story flows smoothly from one chapter to the next.

Copyediting focuses on the mechanics of writing where you’re checking every sentence and phrase and fixing misspellings, grammatical errors and punctuations.

Proofreading focuses on factual and arithmetical errors, inconsistencies in style and language, and just about everything else you missed the first few times reading through.

This brings us to Editors and the magic they use to make our stories better? Editors, like surgeons, look at our work and skillfully remove the tumors that keep our stories from working properly, but remember that different editors handle different types of editing.

An editor’s primary goal is to sharpen the story, eliminate uneven scenes, dialogue, faulty logic and imprecise writing. What does this mean for the writer? In the end, an editor’s work saves you time and money and helps get your story ready for the world of publishing. Sure, hiring an editor can be costly, but your editor can provide valuable insight and on the way help you learn the editing process, which you can incorporate into all your stories.

Krista also shared some helpful self-editing tips for writers to use during each phase of their budding novel, poem, shopping list, etc., but the gist of this presentation was to remind us that although we feel our book is the next best seller with a movie deal down the road, it won’t make it past the starting gate if it’s full of errors.

Below are some links that Krista shared to help us with editing:

The Editing Checklist at Fiction Writers' Mentor

Darcy Pattison's 12 Writing Fiction Checklists at Fiction Notes

An Editor's Checklist at The Editor's Blog

Krista has also suggested some useful readings:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne and Dave King

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming your First Draft into a Novel that Sells – James Scott Bell

The Elements of Style – Strunk and White

The Artful Edit – Susan Bell

What I wanted to add to this post is the importance of writers belonging to a group like the South Jersey Writers' Group. If you’re a writer, the last thing you want to do is isolate yourself from other writers. Luckily, with our group, our members are offered a wealth of information through Workshops, Write-Ins, Blogfests or with the source links posted on the SJWG Meetup page. And our monthly meetings are your chance to hobnob with other writers of all stages of writing and… we serve great coffee.


  1. Hello South Jersey Writers,

    I happened on your blog as I was looking for blogs that feature opportunities for short story writers like myself.
    I currently have my latest offering at my blog
    which is largely a faith-based blog designed to inspire and encourage.
    The story is behind my most recent post, see Wendesday April 2nd.
    I have participated in the Fiction Writer Group on Linked_in since last summer, and a subgroup, Writers 750 which has a monthly short story thematic. I have temporarily left that group and looking for "the next step" as it were.

    Some of the submissions to that group, will be in anthologies which will be released by the group moderator over the course of this year, and posted on Amazon.

    I would like to continue appearing in the occasional anthology, but also would hope to eventually derive passive income from this venture.

    Regretably, no groups like yours exist in my area, and your summation of the talk by Krista on editing, was a very worth-while read! I describe myself as a substantive editor largely.

    -If by reply you can recommend short story venues that are free or low-cost to contribute, I would be most appreciative.
    Springtime Regards from a Michigan Writer
    David C Russell, blogger name Mellow Roc

  2. I always learn something new attending South Jersey Writer meetings. Thanks to everyone for their input and thanks to Marie for this very informative encapsulation of our monthly meeting. ~Victoria Marie Lees

  3. Enjoyed this rehash of the meeting. Like Marie's fun voice in the review. Thank you.


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