Editing Made Easy
Dec18

Editing Made Easy

    So you’ve finally done it. You’ve finished your prized manuscript – the one you’ve spent months creating – and the temptation to pop it into a postal package and ship it off to a welcoming editor is tugging at you mercilessly.   I urge you to resist that temptation. For now, anyway.   After spending so much of your time and effort in producing what you have so far, it would seem a shame to rush things at this crucial stage in your manuscript’s life. Once the first draft is done, almost every writer realizes that an edit or partial rewrite is going to be a necessary task.   There are almost as many different ways to edit and rewrite as there are writers. Some prefer to edit as they go. There are those who prefer to chop and change storylines midway through the creation process. Others seem to race through the first draft and spend time polishing it up once they’re done. I’m one of the latter.   It makes no difference which technique you prefer, as long as it works for you. The point is to end up with a professional manuscript that an editor or publisher will hopefully buy from you in order to publish it.   So let’s take a look at 12 polishing techniques that could mean the difference between a sale and a rejection.   1 – Print it Out Seeing your words paraded before you on a screen is one thing. Reading your words in a different form means you will see it in a different perspective. If you write in long-hand, type it out. If you use a computer, print out a paper copy.   I realize this method gets a little heavy on the pocket, but seeing your work in a new light will highlight a lot of little mistakes and inconsistencies that would not be so obvious otherwise. Your work will benefit from the exposure in a different format.   2 – Read it Aloud Okay, so this might look a little silly to anyone peeking through your window, but the chances are, no one is looking anyway. The point of this exercise is to bring out the natural flow (or lack thereof) in your writing.   For this step, a notepad and a plentiful supply of pens are handy. As you read, don’t be tempted to stop and correct any redundancies, or awkward phrasings. Jot down anything you notice in your notepad, but keep reading. You will get to the fix-it stage later.   Nothing will benefit your writing more than hearing it read aloud. You’ll...

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Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homographs and Homophones
Dec16

Heteronyms, Homonyms, Homographs and Homophones

The English language is peppered with many anomalous words and spellings. Many seemingly-common words may look alike in terms of spelling, but have very different meanings when used in different contexts. These anomalies can make life difficult for a non-native to the language who may be attempting to learn it as a second language. However, it can also be just as confusing to those who have lived their whole lives speaking and writing English as native-speakers. Spellings and meanings differ, accents can summon a completely new meaning and a missing letter can create an embarrassing mistake! It seems that almost every source of research I looked up on the internet has a mild case of confusion over what words can be classified as what. So I took the literal meanings of each of the following definitions from the Oxford Concise Dictionary on my desk. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly confused types of words. Heteronyms Heteronyms are words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently, usually through accenting different parts of the same word. Heteronyms are specific types of homographs in which the different pronunciations are associated with different meanings. Basically, words with one spelling, but two pronunciations and two unrelated meanings. For example: Lead, pronounced LEED, means to guide. However, lead, pronounced LED, means a metallic element. Homonyms Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. In other words, Homonyms are words with one spelling and one pronunciation, but two unrelated meanings, such as bear or left or just or pole.   Homographs Homographs are words that are spelled the same but differ in meaning, derivation, or pronunciation. Basically, Homographs are words which have one spelling but two pronunciations and two distinct meanings or usages. For example: Consider the word tear. Does it rhyme with pear/pair/pare? Or with hear/here? Homophones Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, derivation, or spelling. In other words, Homophones are classified as words with two spellings and two meanings, but only one pronunciation. For example: Like pear and pair. And pare. These words are spelled differently but sound the same. The English language is riddled with such aural ambiguities. Unfortunately, many school teachers still teach that homonyms are words that sounds the same, regardless of spelling, such as to, too and two. This is technically incorrect – those three words are actually homophones, so please don’t email me and tell me that I’m wrong – I’m simply quoting from sources that I trust far more than I would trust myself. (Oxford English Concise Dictionary,...

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Dealing with Rejection as a Writer
Dec15

Dealing with Rejection as a Writer

“Dear Reject Writer, The brilliant, masterpiece-seeking staff at Bucking-Huge Publishing have decided to ruin your day and post you this pointless piece of paper. It is an official rejection of you as a person and as a writer. Basically, we thought your story sucked so much that we didn’t want to use your SASE to return it to you – just in case you personally had licked the stamps. In fact, we were afraid to touch it. We hired someone to burn it for us. We also hired the same person to prepare this form rejection letter, so you’ll never be tempted to think we read it at all. Once at the post box, the editorial staff will crowd around this soon-to-be-sealed rejection-letter-of-doom and chant curses upon your writing future, after which we shall laugh at you and call you names like Reject and Amateur, just to make us feel better, but especially to make you feel worse. Have a rotten day! The Editor”   Rejected – Personally! Many writers feel as though each rejection letter is deeply personal. Regardless of whether the rejection you receive is a form rejection or a personalized note trying to explain why that publication has chosen not to accept your brain-child – to a writer, the declining editor is the enemy. Seriously, the first thing all writers must realize is that rejections are NOT personal. I know many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement and even more won’t believe me right now, but it is true. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons an editor might reject a piece of work: * The publication is over-stocked with similar stuff right now * The manuscript was about the wrong topic for that editor’s preferences * The manuscript was too long/too short for that publishing house’s tastes. * That editor only buys horror. You submitted romance! * Your manuscript was addressed to the wrong editor. * There is no market for books about purchasing snow tires in the Australian Outback * The editor has spent the quarterly purchase budget, and so rejected everything that came in the door that month. The above examples are just a few things that could happen in any busy publishing office – and are also just some of the ideas that I came up with off the top of my head. In each example, the editor is in no way rejecting the AUTHOR personally. In each example, however, the editor is making a point of showing the author that his or her manuscript is simply not right for that publishing house on that day from a...

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