Tag Archives: Editing

Ruthless Editing

Editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading (Photo credit: the Italian voice)

Each of us is living a story. The question is whether or not it’s a tale worth telling.

As an editor, writing teacher and bibliophile, I’ve read quite a few stories. They can be wonderful … or they can be an editor’s nightmare.

Sometimes a story begins well. It’s exciting, with intriguing characters and grand adventures.  But then it seems to lose steam and trails off into uncertainty. Perhaps it begins slowly, then builds momentum, pushing all the action into the final few chapters. Or there may be too many secondary plots that don’t really help to move the story along, unresolved side issues that serve merely to distract the reader.

One way to help focus a story is to weed out the extraneous bits and pieces, the ones that don’t really matter within the plot, aid characterization or advance the major themes. When those sections are excised, the focus is placed more squarely where it should be, and the author’s purpose is clarified. Then the impetus of the writing and editing can be on strengthening the tale in a more purposeful way.

I’ve been looking at my life lately and noticing a few places where I need to do some ruthless editing—tearing out those things that don’t serve the story I want my life to tell. I want my life’s story to have purpose and meaning; so I must look at the time that I’ve been given and see what I want to do with that. What things has God given me to do? Am I being faithful with the gifts He’s given me? Do I even know what it is that I’m called to?

So, time spent online without a specific purpose? Time spent in worry or fear? Let’s reduce these from paragraphs to footnotes.

Time spent in reading, learning and training my mind? Time given to encouraging others, to expressing gratitude and thankfulness, to serving and helping others? Let’s expand those sections.

Editing can be a difficult, painful process. But it’s well worth it when it comes to honing your story.

So how’s your story coming along?

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Thursday Intermission

Welcome to this week’s Intermission. I hope you’re having a great week!

After taking some time off over the summer, I’m beginning my fall work schedule. I’ll be doing some editing from home for a company located in another state, which means any project discussions will take place over email or by phone. Let’s see, how can we more easily communicate editing changes? Perhaps Victor Borge can help.

Hmm… I can just imagine those phone conversations!

My work isn’t just about the mundane polishing of words on pages, though. No, it’s much more important than that. Remember, commas can save lives.

And a final reminder of why my job is so crucial:

Well, I must run. There’s work to be done!

Thanks for joining me. See you tomorrow!

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Ghostwriting: Acting on Paper

When our second son was young, he watched as I listened and took notes on a recorded teaching, playing the same thing over a few times to be sure I’d caught the nuances. He asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was trying to bring the man’s message–from videos, audio and lots and lots of notes– together into a book. But I needed to sound like the author, not like me. “Oh,” he said. “It’s like acting on paper.”

That pretty much sums it up. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a ghostwriter. My work involves other things, too: I also serve as an editor, proofreader, copy editor and writer. But ghostwriting is a little different, a bit more involved. When I ghost, I’m writing an entire book in someone else’s name.

Generally the way it works is that I’m given a stack of materials–essays or notes, teaching outlines, seminar handouts, audio or video recordings–that are to be made into a cohesive, coherent message. After I’ve grasped the main thrust and the intended audience, I can start to put together a draft. It needs to be organized and fact-checked, trimmed in some areas and expanded in others. The ideas must flow in a logical progression. Questions that might arise from what is presented must be answered.

Oh, and it also has to “sound” like the author, not like me.

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