Monday, July 1, 2013

A Writer's Kryptonite

Like superheroes, every great writer has their weakness, something that can make their would be masterpieces into garbage. It happens every day. Some writers are excellent at developing every facet of their characters but lack the ability to create an engaging plot, or viscera. Some writers have an excellent concept of word choice, creating poetic text but lack skill in putting it all together.

So what is my kryptonite, you ask? I have often stated that my real flaw is in planning but that is not entirely true.  My real nemesis is what most people refer to proofreading. This can also be a tricky thing because proofreading does not mean what a lot of young writers think it does. In truth it is copyediting that does me in.

So what is the difference between the two? Well to answer that, we first need to talk about editing in general. Editing can mean many things but there are three basic tiers of editing that every writer should be familiar with: developmental editing, copyediting and proofreading.

Developmental Editing: 

Developmental Editing is what I consider to be "the fun stuff". This is where you, or a reviewer, looks at your story for flaws in the development in plot or character. Here you look for flatness in the characters, plot holes and consistency. This can be especially important in a series or a short story collection that is meant to be interconnected.


There is nothing I hate more than doing this. Most copyediting work done for  publishing companies is freelance and it is where almost every editor gets their start. A copyeditor has a sharp eye for detail, They miss nothing.
Copyediting is where an editor or writer checks for mistakes in grammar, spelling and looks for typos- in early drafts. This is grueling work, even with programs to check for such things. A good copyeditor misses nothing,
This is my nemesis for two reasons. The first is that writers should not trust themselves to do all their own copyediting. Part of this stems from personally difficulties but also from fact. The writer knows what comes next, so their eyes often miss things because the brain corrects them automatically.


Proofreading is often used interchangeably with copyediting by students and professors alike. Next to ironic, I would say it is the most often misused word in the English language, at least among academics.
Proofreading, also done as freelance work, is the last piece of editing done. When a book is ready to go for press or in the case of independent writers like myself, Smashwords or Kindle Direct, it goes through this process.
Here, the editor looks over the final document to make sure there is a consistency in style, font and punctuation. Typos are checked for if a draft has been typed up again.
Proofreaders also look for little things called orphans and widows- those pesky words that stop are start midpage.

In conclusion:

Editing, or copyediting is my weakness. I miss more typos than most and can probably blame my short attention span for that.
For those of you who also share my problem, I suggest looking into an editor or beta reader. They can be found on the web. Even sites like Fiverr and Elance have them. For now, I wish you all good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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