Every writer should be an avid reader first and foremost. While it is important to read a great deal of work in one’s own genre, it is just as integral to read outside of one’s genre as well. Not only to see what else is out there but also for exposure to other author’s styles.
As a reader (and I assume you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be here) you likely know how irritating it is to stumble across a short story or novel that has a great premise but obviously wasn’t edited. Nothing makes me want to throw the tablet or book across the room faster. So why wasn’t the work edited? Any number of reasons ranging from the author was impatient to they just didn’t know any better, or perhaps English isn’t their first language.
We all agree editing is an important step that should be repeated as often as necessary, but I’m the first to tell you editors are miracle workers. Line editors, developmental editors, book doctors…they all deserve medals! A rushed book shows a lack of editors rather clearly, and a well-polished book never reveals their delicate work.
My own editing skills are far from ‘good’. As much as I enjoyed English class in high school, as much as I can express my feelings better on paper than with my words when it comes to self-editing, there’s a lot I still need to learn. Knowing this, when I think I’m finished with a piece of fiction, I turn to those wiser than myself. One friend can pick a boring piece out a mile away, another always sees ways to make mundane occurrences just a little bit different, while another friend is driven crazy by my faulty punctuation. I feel sorry for them all when I hand them a raw piece of fiction, but they truly are a lifeline for me. Then I turn to my wife, who became a line editor after many years teaching English. She’s more patient with me than some, but I’m sure I’ve driven her crazy too.
I tell you all of this to preface a public declaration of writing goals for the year. No, not resolutions, I don’t make those. But there are certain milestones I’d like to hit this year.
- I plan on finishing the fourth(!) draft of my paranormal romance by the end of February. I have a potential publisher in mind that I hope will accept it.
- I’d like to finish my science fiction manuscript and have it submission-ready by the end of summer
- I’d like to sell my science-fiction short story ‘The Supplement’ to a professional market.
- Over the course of the year, I’m striving to improve my writing by making it more immersive, tighter and as a result, make it stand out in an ever-growing crowd.
I found a quote today that sums it all up rather nicely.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
That’s what I’m shooting for, one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time.