Posted by: nancyisanders | March 22, 2010

Editing According to Humphrey

Hi My name is Humphrey. I’m a cat. You may already know that. But what you may not know is that I’m also a writer. And today, I want to tell you about putting on your editor’s hat.

Do you like to edit your own manuscripts? You know—self edit? Come on…really?

I don’t.

I mean, it’s just not the cat’s meow.

But I know I should. I know I’m supposed to. I know it’s what a cat’s gotta do to learn how to be a successful writer. So I decided to break my habit of neglecting this part of my writing life.

The first thing I did was get myself an editor’s hat. You know—first you wear the writer’s hat and then you take that off and put on your editor’s hat? Right? Well, I didn’t have an editor’s hat. So I went out and got one. Like it? It even has a little mouse at the top and this twirly thing to twirl around. It’s purrfect for a cat like me. You should get one, too!

After I finish my first draft of my manuscript, I set aside some time to edit. And now I make sure it isn’t the drudgery it used to be. I make sure it’s fun!

I put on my silly editor’s beanie. It gets me in the mood to have fun, dude. Then I get out my special highlighter pens. I splurged and bought some wa-ay cool ones that I can use to make neon colors and decorate all over my manuscript. (They don’t even have a cap to lose, but click like a ballpoint pen.) Since I have neon yellow and neon pink and neon orange, now I’m HOPING to find mistakes in my manuscript just so I can mark ‘em on my page and turn the boring black and white little marks on the paper into bright, fun, colorful pictures.

I know my weaknesses, too. So I made a list of ‘em. Here are the first three, for starters:
1. Don’t always use punctuation correctly.
2. Weak verbs.
3. Poorly constructed paragraphs without a clear beginning, middle, and end.

I also printed out some self-editing checklists from how-to-write books, and articles I found on the Internet. These lists remind me to check for realistic dialog, show don’t tell, and lots of other important stuff.

I take my highlighters and have some fun! First I look at every single sentence I wrote in my first paragraph. I highlight the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence in pink. I highlight the punctuation in that sentence in yellow. Then I make sure to check that I used that punctuation correctly.

If I’m not sure about the punctuation rule, I look it up in my reference books. But hey—my reference books aren’t bo-o-oring like yours might be. Oh no! First I made specially decorated book covers for each one of ‘em so they’re bright and colorful, not scary-looking or over-the-top academic. Then I got my highlighters out and really decorated the pages I use the most to remind me what the rules are that I most often forget. Plus, I got sticky notes in all shapes and sizes to stick on the pages I look up over and over again. I want to save my energy for chasing mice, not for flipping through the pages looking up the same rule I’ve used a zillion times before. Like I said—I want this self-editing thing to be as fun as a cat can have it.

So hey—how about you? Are you having fun when you self-edit your manuscript? If not, do something about it. Make it fun, like I did. Now editing’s my favorite part of writing. Not! But really, it’s way more fun than it used to be. Especially when I put on my editor’s hat. And nibble on tunafish…but that’s another story.

-contributed by Humphrey, Nancy’s writing buddy


Responses

  1. What a great way to edit, by having fun. Thanks for the helpful information which every writer can use on their work starting today.

    • Thanks, Terri! And congratulations again on your great new success! -Nancy

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful tips on editing. I really find editing the hardest part of writing. I will definitely follow your advice about editing.

    Take care and talk to you on Thursday.

    Irene

    • Yes, editing is hard, isn’t it Irene? That’s why I try to make it fun. Smile. -Nancy PS I’m looking forward to having you take part in my teleclass on Thursday, too! I love it when you join in.

  3. My favorite way to make editing fun is to use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. There’s nothing like fancy reports highlighting the problems to help me plug my way through tightening my manuscript.

    • Hi Jay, thanks for sharing! I hadn’t heard of this before, but it sounds helpful. Do you use it a lot? -Nancy

  4. LOL! What can I say? You’re a genius, Nancy. Humphrey is a very “mighty motivator”. Meow!

    • Hi Val. Ha ha ha! We should have an editing session with Sugar and Tootsie and Humphrey! -Nancy


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