Saturday, April 1, 2023

Writers Should Edit Others To Become Better Writers



It can be challenging to edit the writings of another. You want to help the writer, but not take his or her work over. But the process of collaborative editing can lead to not only an improved text, but the editor becoming a better writer. Try it.

I used to edit books for a small press. I would begin by asking the writer what they intend for the book to say or do for a reader. I wanted to have a filter by which I could run any passage, sentence, or even a word through, knowing from what perspective and persona it should be coming from. One’s voice is unique and any one’s writings should have their own melodic DNA, unmistakably theirs, undeniably special.

Next, I look at obvious grammar, punctuation, and syntax. I look at word selection quality and consistency, and the repetition of words. Are they stating what they mean to say? Can they say it with fewer words and in a better way? Are they stylistically consistent throughout the manuscript?

I had the pleasure — and obligation — of helping to edit my son’s college essays. It was a treat, an honor, and a challenge to do so. Slowly but surely, I saw progress, as a good piece was transformed into something better, even greatness. We brainstormed and analyzed themes, sentences, even words. Sometimes an essay got scrapped and other times very little needed to be done to a well-crafted piece.

It is funny, how you can read something, like it, but still find fault with it. You fix it, sounds better, and new criticisms pop up. It gets edited again, and after reading it a third, fourth or fifth time, something sounds off or seems to be missing. You tweak further and further. At some point, you feel you are done and fear further changes will just shred it of any vestiges of its original charm.

The process of editing and talking it through with my son and wife made me realize that my writing could benefit from a red pen. No one edits me and I rarely edit myself or rewrite much of anything. I know I am not perfect, and yet, I find it hard to argue with my genius.

When you edit another and talk to them throughout the process, you are treated to seeing:

* Creativity in process
* How another thinks
* What blocks or supports another writer
* The errors and mistaken beliefs of others
* How the intention of one’s thoughts can be disconnected from what they actually expressed in their  writings
* How another approaches their subject

I find it fascinating but difficult to edit another. It certainly is a worthwhile experience that should leave you and the other person as better writers.

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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.2 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past decade, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, NewsdayThe Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:



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