Monday, June 4, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

A Step in the Write Direction

June 4, 2012

Sorry I missed the last two Mondays. The first Monday I was in Oklahoma to visit my daughter and family, and to teach a daylong writers workshop. Met some neat new writers!

Came home on Thursday the 24th, but the Monday before, while touring the college my granddaughter will attend this fall, unfortunately a curb on campus refused to move and I took a flying tumble. Two weeks later I’m still sporting a black eye (which you can see on my new driver’s license!) and a bruised cheek.

Then I had a 300-page manuscript to type and two books to proofread, but here I am back and hopefully won’t miss any more Monday blogs!

Thought for Today: While singing a new song in church yesterday, with the words “You overcame,” several people stood up and raised their hands in praise. The man standing two rows in front of us, probably in his early 50s, was told a year ago he had six months to live as he has stage 4 lung cancer. A man down the row from us: His 4-year-old daughter just got a new heart a year ago. Then his wife, who also needed a new heart, didn’t get one in time and died several months ago, leaving little Penny and an 8-month-old son. And two teen-age girls, standing at the front row with hands raised, lost their mom also a few months ago—54 years old, she collapsed and died while getting ready for work at our district church office. My husband and I were both in tears, realizing—in spite of some things we’re going through—how much we have to be thankful for.

Make a list of your blessings today:

Laugh for Today (after reading the above, you may need something lighter): From the last paragraph of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: “...there ain't no more to write about, and I'm rotten glad of it, because if I'd 'a' knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't 'a' tackled it, and ain't a-going to no more.”

Question from Reader:

How do you feel when people edit your writing? I feel it's a personal expression and style and when people add or subtract words, and rephrase sentences it changes the style from yours to theirs. How much should editors change your articles? I know they can cut words because of space, but do they add and delete words, and change the way sentences are worded?

I write for our church newsletter and have never had a church secretary edit my articles. In the past they would turn them back to me if they were too long or short and I edited them. The current one is skilled and has taken to editing. She and I are engaging in positive dialogue about this and it may give both of us an idea of the editing standard.

My Answer:

Editing is a very iffy thing. When I do editing for writers, I never want it to end up sounding like me. I try to keep the writer's "voice," even though it wouldn’t be how I would write it. Also, when I edit I try to give them reasons for any suggested changes I make (and they are just that—suggestions). I also point out their strong points. No one likes to get a manuscript back with only negative comments and no positive ones.

I belong to a weekly critique group of professional writers. We bring enough manuscripts for each person to have a copy and we read silently. If more than one person makes the same suggestion, I take it seriously. Some I use and some I don't.

I proofread for a large publishing house. Previously, I got the edited copy to read along with the new printout, so I got to see the changes the editors made (now the editors make the changes on screen so I don't see the original). Probably 99 percent of the time the changes greatly improved the manuscript. And yes, sometimes they did delete words and change the way sentences were worded. HOWEVER, and this is important to know, they always send the edited copy back to the author for their approval.

If your church secretary is editing your articles, I would try to determine the reason why. Is she correcting something that is actually wrong, or just changing it because she likes to change things? If the article is going out under your name, it should sound like you.

Many years ago a publisher published my devotional book for S.S. teachers. They didn't send me back the galleys to proofread, so I didn't know until the book came out that they had replaced two of my devotionals with two they selected. These devotionals sounded nothing like my writing or what I would have chosen. People who knew me questioned their inclusion.

Again, the most important thing is that the article ends up sounding like you—how you talk, etc.

Hope this helps.

Readers, send me your questions and I’ll try to answer them in a blog.

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