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What's Your Biggest Editing Challenge? (1 Viewer)

Justin Attas

Senior Member
What's something you find you make the most mistakes with when you do your full read through? Is it tense confusion? Dialogue tags? Just plain old typos?

For me, it's its! I constantly mix up which "its" to use in the heat of my writing flow. I know "it's" is a contraction and "its" is possessive but it's (lol) hard to remember when I'm typing away. What's your biggest editing challenge?
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
It's hard when you're typing away, but when you edit surely you can very easily tell if 'it is' is a valid substitute?

It's always hardest to edit my own work, but I don't think that is what you are asking. The toughest part of editing my own work is deciding how much information makes a sentence and when I should start a new one.
I can play safe and make short, choppy sentences. I can think these things are related and put them together.
No, wait a minute.
I can play safe and make short, choppy sentences, or I can think these things are related and put them together.
 

Cephus

Senior Member
I do a very minimalist first draft and always add a lot of words in revision. I'll just leave myself notes to add things that I didn't want to flesh out the first time through.
 

RD Meyer

Senior Member
Always get a proofreader. I'll read through a story I've written several times and not find that I've left out words or made mistakes that I couldn't see(it's into its, your into you're, etc).
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I do a very minimalist first draft and always add a lot of words in revision. I'll just leave myself notes to add things that I didn't want to flesh out the first time through.
I quite often write what I feel is a minimalist first draft, but when I have edited I find it is actually much shorter. Mind you, I also often find that the shorter, edited, version contains more information better expressed. I was banging out the basic idea thinking about the plot line and the things that struck me. When I go back I am looking for stuff like the order of ideas, concision, assonance, consonance, rhythm; I am writing up the ideas, but in doing so I often reduce the word count.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Always get a proofreader. I'll read through a story I've written several times and not find that I've left out words or made mistakes that I couldn't see(it's into its, your into you're, etc).
Yes, the hardest bit of editing is actually seeing what needs changing, it is not just things like omissions. I realise I have done things like putting related things at the opposite ends of sentences, something I regularly point out in crits, and read it through several times without noticing. I find that the more I edit the more sensitive I become to there being something wrong, then I work out what it is.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
My two biggies are useless adverbs and calling names in dialogue.

I removed 600 adverbs in a revision of my latest manuscript. I evidently LOVE "actually" and "really". That was AFTER I removed 900 superfluous words in my first proofread.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about calling names in dialogue, though. You can read experts who say "Don't do that", because people in real life seldom call the other party's name in conversation ... so it's not "REAL". Other experts discuss dialogue and advise, "Dialogue in fiction should be dramatic, not how people really speak."

Well, calling names in dialogue IS more dramatic. So I do it, but when I revise, I cut it down to less than I originally included. In a long conversation, I'll throw one in here and there to keep the speakers straight. I don't use dialogue tags unless they include a helpful reference to emotion or stage direction.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I like the idea that dialog tags need to contain more than one bit of information. I quite often look at the tag and think 'That is not needed, that is the way she talks, not him'. Then I get nervous and wonder if it is something only I would notice, do the readers know my characters well enough this far into the story? My guess is they do, and if they don't they should wake up! I'm not editing this for my benefit, I know the story.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Using the wrong words. Their, instead of there or they're. Were instead of where or wear. Drives me crazy!
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Using the wrong words. Their, instead of there or they're. Were instead of where or wear. Drives me crazy!

You are not alone in that, it's very common as far as I can see. I found some old school books a while ago when we moved, including spelling tests. I think I felt that if a word was in a spelling test is was probably a difficult one designed to catch you out, there were lots with unnecessary things like 'wh' 'gh' or 'ph' in them for 'w', 'g' and 'f' :)

At least you are aware, that will probably mean you get on top of it in time.
 

Tiamat

Patron
"Funny or stupid?"

I ask myself that question several dozen times on every draft. Sometimes I'm wrong. Also I'm really great at just leaving out entire words from sentences, then filling in the blanks when I'm re-reading without ever noticing that they're missing.
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
Keeping sentences reasonably short. It is entirely possible to write a page-long sentence in my native language and still be both grammatically-correct and make sense, but I've been repeatedly informed that it's not common or good practice in English and confuses the readers.
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
Keeping sentences reasonably short. It is entirely possible to write a page-long sentence in my native language and still be both grammatically-correct and make sense, but I've been repeatedly informed that it's not common or good practice in English and confuses the readers.

CW, short sentences are good for a punch. But I confess to a love of long sentences, I think because that is how I sometimes talk! LOL.
 

James Leggott

Senior Member
That's in interesting one. I had to think about it for a moment.

Is it only a problem for non-fiction? Or can it be a problem for fiction as well?

I can't comment about non-fiction, I've only written fiction (as that is what I am interested in).
 
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