Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If Only There Was an “Edit” Button

“Don’t worry, my work doesn’t need much editing!” is probably one of the worst lines I’ve heard from a writer. Whether a short story/novel/article/press release should be edited or isn’t the call of the writer but rather that of the editor. That’s why he or she is there in the first place. (Of course that’s not to say that everything that’s submitted should be edited—the best editors know when not to mess with a manuscript.)

In many ways, working in a magazine isn’t any different from working in the school paper. There’s writers to follow up on and the editing process is more or less the same. And yes, there will be typos! (And the presses will be late!) One thing I noticed though is that you shouldn’t edit your own work, especially if you just typed it a few minutes ago. Most likely, our brain is neatly hardwired into what we’ve written that we’ll fill in the blanks and won’t spot the missing participles or conjunctions. It’s usually best to pass on your work to someone else or better yet, switch editing duties with them as they’ll most likely have a similar failing when it comes to editing their own work.

Obviously, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. In the editing process, an extra “editor” is always good so the writer reviewing his work is fine but hopefully he’s not the only person editing it. Some writers also distance themselves from their work more quickly than others so their eyes are just as fresh when they finally undergo the editing process (and here’s a hint to would-be writers: write your manuscripts early so that when the deadline is looming, you can check up on it and proof it for errors!).

Lastly, I hate it when people use the excuse “there’ll be editors anyway to catch my errors” when they recklessly submit an unedited draft. Do you honestly think submitting an error-filled document will get you in the good graces of the editors? Editors should be the last line of defense, not the first.

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