If you’ve ever edited your own writing, chances are that you have likely been amazed at the number of mistakes in your work. Even more maddening are the times when you continue to find glaring errors in what you had felt was a polished piece. Repeatedly spotting new problems in the same work starts to make you wonder if you are incapable of reading all of the words in a sentence or wondering if someone is playing a trick on you by adding mistakes on purpose, just to mess with your mind (and sanity)!
The continual discovery of new errors is a frustration that Julie and I have been facing since we began editing our manuscript. Although we knew that our first draft was far from flawless, I think what surprised me the most wasn’t the grammatical errors and typos that we found, but was rather the number of statements that were utterly nonsensical!
It is easy to forgive typos, laugh off word repetition, and shake your head at a massive run-on sentence. It’s even easy to accept certain grammatical errors if you don’t consider yourself a master of syntax. However, what I found particularly stinging to my pride was discovering that what I had originally thought was a powerful statement, turned out to be not only weak, but also didn’t make any sense!
If you’re a writer, you likely know that repeatedly proofing your work can be a real PITA (pain in the a**) and very discouraging, at times. Be that as it may, editing is an absolute must if you’re serious about producing something awesome that you will feel proud to share with the rest of the world. As a creative writer, you have to accept the fact that you will need to edit what you write, more than once and – more importantly – it is imperative that you have someone else proof it, too.
Whomever you choose to proof your work should be someone who not only has an incredible understanding of the English language, but he or she also needs to be able to work around/with your creativity. When writing a story, especially in the first person, not every character speaks or describes a situation or his or her surroundings using proper and perfect grammar. Some characters may be so rebellious that they will end some sentences in prepositions or *gasp* will occasionally split infinitives.
That being said, this doesn’t mean that you can continuously commit grammar crimes in the name of creativity. There is always a balance that needs to be maintained. In other words, if you’re going to flip the bird to syntax, it should be intentional and you should know why you’re doing it. Otherwise, you’ll be found guilty of linguistic ignorance and your sentence will be a grammar lesson that you’ll be wise not to forget.
Thankfully, Julie and I are very lucky to have a wonderful copyeditor who has exceptional grammatical skill and the ability to recognize that shackling some characters to every grammar rule in the book would snuff out their spirit.
Beyond the proofing done by you and your copyeditor, make sure that you let a few regular readers (you can trust) experience your work in its flawed form. They may not circle all of your typos, but what they will point out are plot holes, and parts of the story that they found hard to follow, hard to believe, or that simply didn’t make sense to them. No matter how great or small, almost all of the feedback that you will obtain will be valuable. It will help you to figure out what changes need to be made and it will put your end goals into greater perspective.
The proofing process of our manuscript has been a real eye-opener for me and I am grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way. The support we have received, as Julie mentioned in her last post, has been incredible. I hope you have an equally wonderful support team behind all of your creative endeavours.
Thanks for reading and all the best!
P.S. Thanks to my father-in-law for introducing me to PITA 😀