That Editor’s Ear

Sorry not to have posted here in a little while. I don’t know what came over me. I have told myself off.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to post here aside from apologies and saying that I’ve been writing a lot (which I have) until, oh, about two minutes ago.
It’s about editing. Now, we all know, as writers, published, unpublished, almost published, that editing’s essential. It’s what changes a story from a good idea into something that others can understand. It makes something good, better, or something very dodgy into something wonderful and cohesive. Editing’s where the work is.
This is my editing process:
1. I write the story, with a pen, in a notebook.
2. I type it up, making changes as I go.
3. I print it off and read it through, making changes as I go. This stage is repeated until I’m happy that it’s Almost There.
4. I read it aloud (and record what I read). – Often things stand out as being obviously wrong AS I’m reading* and can be changed there and then (and this can be anything from unintentional rhymes to structural problems or things simply not making any sense). 
5. I listen to it back. Make changes. Go back to stage 4. 
And so on.
And I just wanted to share with you what I picked up on at stage 4 earlier. Something that reminded me why reading things aloud helps me so much.
*This is what I’d written. And no, I’m not related to Yoda in any way.
“… and when the spots, the colour of clay, on his legs appeared.”

So there you go. Any editing secrets you’d like to share? 

6 Comments on “That Editor’s Ear

  1.  by  Mare Biddle

    Nik ~Great post! Your process is very similar to how I move a play through development. At step 4 I am fortunate to have actors read through the material, and like you I often find gaping holes or overwriting during this stage. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. That's the only way I know how to do this deal. 🙂

  2.  by  Lane

    For short stories, that's pretty much exactly my process too. I like the deliberation of writing longhand first. And using nice pens.Are you sure you're not related to Yoda? Or German?:-)

  3.  by  Michelle Teasdale

    I'd never have thought of recording it and listening to it back, what a brilliant idea. Do you have a dictaphone or similar? I am currently re-writing and editing my first draft, I printed out a hard copy at the end of the draft wand read it with a red pen in hand. The major work (and it IS major!) is largely being done on the computer, but I like the idea of hearing it read aloud.

  4.  by  Megan

    completely agree – reading back is essential. Sometimes I record too, but only when I can find my dictaphone, which is often in hidingplus – I've tagged you (I think)

  5.  by  Nik Perring

    Hi Mare, exactly. Must be exciting to hear it read by others!Lane – Hello! It's been a while – hope you're well. Yip, it's a good process to have. And nice pens are very important.Michelle – hi. Now, can I resist? No, I can't. I use my fingers just like everyone else. Seriously though… I used to use a tape recorder I bought for a tenner from Argos but now I use this software (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) and a cheap USB mic.Jen – Ha! Megan – I noticed I'd been tagged…I'd really recommend looking at Audacity – it's free and you won't lose it! I do have a dictaphone but I never use it.

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