First of all, welcome to my blog.
I’ve blogged often in the last three years especially on group blogs and mostly I’ve shared writing tips and my notorious word lists. I’ll do some of the same here but since this is my personal author website, I’ll also talk my own writing process, my books, other books I enjoyed reading and from time to time, I’ll host some guest authors too.
Like the rest of my website right now, the blog is a work in progress, waiting for me to get my grove on.
For this first blog I want to share two recent articles I read. One article has nothing at all to do with self-editing and yet clicked very nicely the Jami Gold’s article on the topic.
Jami Gold’s blog, Too Close? 5 Techniques to See Our Story Objectively, addresses tips to help writers self- edit their manuscripts objectively. Not an easy task when as Jamie pointed out, writers tend to read into the story what they know is “supposed” to be there.
“The author” knows what the character is dealing with emotionally. “The author” also knows the character’s motivations, the setting, the plot etc. But did he or she make it clear to the reader? And then there’s grammar and punctuation to deal with too.
The second article I read when my husband handed me a Wall Street Journal article called Read This As Slowly As You Can by Jeanne Whalen. Hubby thought I’d find it interesting. And I did, but for an entirely different reason. [If you’d like to read it, I found this same article on the Internet under the title: Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress ]
Jeanne Whalen’s main point is that due to social media and modern devices like tablets, we’ve become a world of “scanners.” With so much to read and so little time, we don’t always read for the pure relaxing pleasure of reading. We quick-scan for information. She suggested we return to our roots, sit down in a quiet place and actually read every word.
Well, a rosy light bulb went on in my head. Perhaps the developed habit of scanning is another reason why we miss things that should be edited! Scanning aids and abides our tendency to read into the manuscript what we know is supposed be there but isn’t.
MS Whalen listed the slow-reading benefits to readers but I think you’ll agree that some of them are beneficial to writers who are editing their work.
- Deepens empathy – understanding mental states and beliefs of others, which aids in building relationships.
- Heightens concentration
- Enhances comprehension, particularly of complex material
- Enriches vocabulary
- Reduces Stress
If we combine the ideas of MS Whalen’s article with those of Jami Gold’s blog, especially the idea of reading the manuscript out loud, I think we’ll all find a winning combination.
Reading out loud forces us to “slow down” and concentrate on each word and hear the emotion/empathy in the words. If the emotion isn’t there, if we don’t feel that scene, then as writers we’re alerted to the problem and we can fix it.
Let’s look at Enhances vocabulary. We know what that means for the reader. For the writer this might mean, discovering if you’ve used active verbs verses lame verbs, as well as picturesque descriptions that add emotion, atmosphere and clarity of scene.
As for Reducing Stress . . . for the reader it’s relaxing to escape into the world of a book’s characters. It’s adventure without fear. For writers reading slowly and out loud makes the problems jump out at us instead of hiding behind that awful culprit, “what we know is supposed to be there.” I’d say that equals less editing stress. 🙂
What special things do you do to enhance your self-editing process?