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Literature Basics Week

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Dr. Editlove

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 9:28 PM by neurotype:iconneurotype:
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Lit Basics Week




Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the edit



It's a common misconception that the end result of writing is a finished product, which can then be sent out to magazines, nailed to a door, read aloud to your prisoners—whatever it is you usually do with your work.

The end result of writing is editing. And the goal of editing is to produce a finished result you can take pride in.

What editing is for

  • Resolving big errors, e.g. continuity, plot holes, inaccuracies, and other problems that will dampen the overall effect of your work.
  • Fixing details, e.g. grammar/spelling, ambiguous wording, and other technical issues.
  • Producing a polished work.
Editing gives you the opportunity to take your work and bring it up to scratch.

Why don't we do this on the initial write? Because getting the ideas down in the first place, and getting them all the way to completion, is a demanding process. Maybe you've written a piece about an improbable goal, but since you were on a roll you forgot to check the offside rules. When you go back and realize that the goal isn't valid, unfortunately, your player has to stop halfway through his victory lap and glare at the referee, instead of doing the Macarena. Or, for poetry, maybe a reread reveals that "holy shit" doesn't scan with the "act like you mean it," so it's time to find a better way to deliver your message.


Editing makes a work stronger. It may already be good, but who wouldn't want to make it better?

How to enjoy editing

  • Track Changes
  • Be yourself.
  • Understand what your work is in relation to yourself.
  • Care about the result.
A brief paean to Track Changes (which is not only available in Microsoft Word, I've also used it in LibreOffice): Track Changes is awesome. Let's say you like a passage but decide to edit it out because you're not sure it belongs. If you change your mind, you can go back and restore it with the click of a button. Sweet, no?!

Editing doesn't mean replacing yourself with a robot. I just got back some edits for a piece and, along with the criticisms, the editor put comments when she found something particularly hilarious, which is mildly gratifying and lets me know what not to touch. And then when I'm editing my own work, I don't have to play nice. My notes have included things like "were you on the drugs when you wrote this, where can I get some."

You may be asking how I can be such a bitch, even if it's only to myself. Surely that writing is a piece of my soul, crystallized into a form perceivable to humans?

...no.

Your work isn't you. It is produced by you, and representative of your skills, but it's not actually you. So why the hell shouldn't it be awesome?

I've said it above and I could go on saying it. There is nothing like a well-crafted result to make you feel good about the quality of your work. Being able to take your style and not just say, oh, this is what I write like when I've flopped out of bed, but this is something that I can't even believe I made because, ten weeks after the initial writing, it's still giving me—and other people—feels, that is pretty damn great.


Editing is not smashing down your pretty little writing house, it's bringing that house up to code and fitting it with better lights and pipes. If you're going to live in a world of stories, it might as well be one where the toilet flushes on the first try.


  • What is your current editing process?
  • In relation to writing, how much time do you spend editing?
  • Do you think your current combination is effective?


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:iconjcroxas:
jcroxas Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Have we ever had a 'how to make plushies' week before (or anything similar to that). I'd love to learn how to make plushies! :D
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(2 Replies)
:iconiingo:
iingo Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hopefully I can stay for a few Community Weeks again.
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(1 Reply)
:iconiingo:
iingo Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
waits for the next community week
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(2 Replies)
:iconidjpanda:
iDJPanda Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Student General Artist
Featured here. :eyes:
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(1 Reply)
:iconiingo:
iingo Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
guess who thought of ideas for new articles!!!??/

Imma get started on those drafts so i can come back for some time
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(1 Reply)
:icondivine-angel-heroine:
Divine-Angel-Heroine Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student General Artist
Thanks guys.
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:iconbrian-garabrant:
Brian-Garabrant Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
to many journals at once for me to take the time and look through them
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(1 Reply)
:iconbritlawrence:
BritLawrence Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014   Photographer
Why are you putting 100s of journals in our inbox at once ? :overwhelmed: 
I'm trying to read them and keep up but every time I get through 40 there's 30 more waiting :crying: rvmp

they're great journals, though. wish i would've seen them earlier! very useful
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(2 Replies)
:iconloretheawkwardweirdo:
LoreTheAwkwardWeirdo Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014  Student General Artist
Hi, I just wanna say that the journals featured here are so useful... I've been reading some of them, specially the ones related with motivation, traditional art and artist's toolbox, and I think they're very helpful with some things... thank you for making this for dA, it's very appreciated :)
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(1 Reply)
:icontruthistruth:
TruthisTruth Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I would like to help in your next "Project Educate". Can anyone help, or are there certain requirements?
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(1 Reply)
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