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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Editing while reading!

How many of you suffer from the same affliction? Automatically editing the work you're reading.

 On the one hand, it's darned annoying being brought out of the story because you see a silly misprint or an unimportant blunder like the same word used more than once in a short space. On the other, I feel rather proud that I can catch those sticky little problems; that they do jump out at me. (HummJust wished I could see them as clearly in my own work.)

It's strange, isn't it, how easy we pick up the mistakes of others. I've trained my eye to watch for incorrect POV and overly long sentences. For dumb clichés and the multitude of sentence structure problems that face us all as we produce our masterpieces. For example—the misuse of words, which is one of my own particular curses. Oh, and punctuation errors. I'm still having to Google questions about where to place comas and what constitutes a sentence. (Not that that seems to be much of a worry anymore. – Oh goodie – just thought of another blog – on sentence fragments)  

Recently, I read a novel written by a New York Times Bestseller and found what I considered quite a few tricky areas: rambling sentences with over 40 words, repetition of words and descriptions that were way out there...slowed the story big-time.

I guess because I read a lot of work with the intention of writing a review, I try and overlook silly, small irritants. I concentrate on whether or not the book was entertaining—if it held my interest. And because the characters to me are paramount in a four or five star novel, I really hope I'll make a connection. If the author is a good friend, I'll even keep track of any corrections that could be done and write them down to send them on. I know how much I've appreciated this type of support myself.

Problem is, once a person learns something; it's pretty darn hard to unlearn it. From now on, unless a book can pick me up and carry me along, where I loose the need to read with my editing eye and just get into the fantasy and magic, I guess I'll continue to edit while I read. 

The last sentence has a whopping 42 words!!! And just so you know, it did start out with 56 and I couldn't help myself…darned if I didn't edit it. J

Mimi Barbour is the author of:

The Vicarage Bench Series - spirit-travel humor at it's best.
The Angels with Attitudes series - angels playing cupid.
And the new Vegas series - action-packed romantic thrillers.

Twitter: @MimiBarbour







  1. Hi Mimi, you've described one of my worst habits now, editing as I read. And when I see eratas in a bestselling author's book I'm really disappointed. That convinces me to read a manuscript one more time before uploading it. BTW I highly recommend having the computer 'read out loud'to you.

  2. I don't really "edit" books I'm reading. My sister who is my first editor, though, says she has caught herself editing books she reads now which she finds annoying. Good post.

  3. Mimi, you are so right. Being a writer can ruin your pleasure of certain books. when I worked for a newspaper, we were not allowed to edit our own work, but had to trade with others. We know what we mean, so it's hard to catch the errors. I'm lucky I have good critique partners, but I still catch mistakes in the books. Sigh.

  4. Oh this is a problem I've suffered from ever since I was first published. Nearly every book I read seems to have editing errors, typos, 'head hopping' or some other 'sin' that I've learned writers should try to avoid at all costs - trouble is I miss so many of them in my own work, you hit the nail right on the head there. I guess that's why we need a good crit partner!

  5. That's one thing I hate about being a writer -- the constant editing as one reads, i.e., "no, the author should have expressed that this way..." and I automatically re-write the sentence or whatever. It sure takes away from the pleasure of reading.

  6. Guilty! If a book is well written I can ignore a few errors or wordy sentences. If I find a lot of errors, I don't care about the story. A few, well-placed fragments can perfect. A lot of fragments close together get on my nerves.