Editing Is Like a Puzzle by R. Campbell

Hello readers,

I have a very interesting and informative post for all of you today. Whether you’re an aspiring author or not, I really think you should read this piece by today’s guest, R. Campbell. There’s a giveaway included so be sure to read on for more information.

Editing is like a puzzle. 

You take a piece of it and you tweak it, fix it or rotate it until the piece fits within your puzzle.  Or, if it doesn’t fit, no matter what you do, you may realize that that piece is from another puzzle.  Then, lay it aside for another day when you’re working on another puzzling project.

I’ve been writing for well over 20 years and at the beginning of my writing life, I focused on the short story and on non-fiction projects.  I wrote for local newspapers and worked my way up to pitching to regional and national newspapers and magazines.  My finest writing achievement in those days was getting a job as legman for the New York Times.

So, editing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Why?  Because for every story I submitted I had to ensure that it was as complete and correct as it could be.  I recall working on a Christian newspaper shortly before the paper went to press and we used blue pens to edit the 35 – 50 page paper.  They called it blue-lining.  Everyone had to participate to make sure that the newspaper was grammatically and factually correct.  If there was a question, we had to mark it and someone else (or you!) would come back to it and check that issue out and fix it in red.

I think this is where my dislike of editing began.

I could not be out chasing new story leads.  I was stopped from making new calls to get to potential business (for advertising; you know, I wanted the extra money from commissions!).  And, most importantly, I couldn’t talk!  We all just read and edited.  So, for hours, I was surrounded by people but it was as if I was alone.

So how can one be a writer and dislike being alone, or feeling alone?  It’s really hard!  LOL.

Over the years, I slowly began realizing editing was a necessary evil.  I took a 2-year writing course that drummed editing into my head and into each of my ten fingers.  I was told that the first draft was just that – the beginning.  You fleshed out your story and your idea in the editing/revising stage.  You separated the wheat from the chaff in this vital stage.  Uh-huh, sure.  In these two years, I did compile 4 short stories and with the help of a professional editor and my writing teachers, I put together “Leaping Out on Faith”, a collection of these stories that is well edited.

But, after many a tearful evening at the end of writing class, I threw all that I had learned away and completed writing my first full-length novel in four years and I wrote it organically (i.e. with no plan!).  I re-read it about a year after I wrote it and thought it was wonderful.  No one else read it because I knew it was perfect.  I sent it to agent after agent.  I sent it to publishing house after publishing house.  I submitted this story to 30 places. Nothing happened.

While 30 places is not an insignificant number, I now know that the average number of submissions before an acceptance is 100.  I also know (from reader comments because I self-pubbed this book) that this book had a ton of grammatical, structural and content errors that made reading it difficult.  But it took public book reviews to let me know I was not as perfect as I had imagined. Yet, the self-pubbed e-book of short stories has a 4-star Amazon rating and has very good reviews. Big difference!

With this in mind, for the second completed manuscript, I had a plan.

#1. It was written from a 6-point outline that gave me a roadmap of what the book was about from start to finish.  I mapped out the landmarks and knew the beginning, the middle and the end.  I had the plot worked out.  All I had to do was write in the meat and flesh it out.

#2. I had to understand how other writers dealt with editing and if they had a plan that I could adapt and follow.  As you know, there are TONS of writers and bloggers who share all about the editing process! Leti Del Mar has a great article on editing.  Her experience helped me a lot!  Read her advice here – http://wordswithletidelmar.blogspot.com/p/how-to-self-publish.html.

#3. Commit to editing my own work. While reading about how others did their editing was great I had to figure out how I would do it.  I decided to read through my first draft and make edits on hard copy.  Once I did that, I would enter the edits on the electronic version making additional edits along the way.  This effectively made that paper edit my second read-thru.  Once this edit was done, I printed the hard copy again of the 2nd draft and did my paper edits.  Then, when I went to input these edits on the electronic version, this effectively became my 4th read-thru.

#4. For my 5thread-thru, I knew I needed an editor to do this one.  The dry run editor would point out any structural issues, plot flaws, or inconsistencies missed.  The internet was my friend in this and I researched and asked for quotes and samples of work to find the right editor for me and this project.

#5. For my 6th read-thru, I review the editor’s changes and accept/decline the suggestions and then after this is done – off to the races!  It is ready for publication.  Well, once it is in the proper e-book format!

As you can see, this is a much different approach to crafting a novel and I have already received positive feedback from my editor about the work submitted (I’m on step #4!).  I am almost done and I am proud of the work I put into this editing process.

I hope this has helped you on your editing journey.  Hopefully one day soon I’ll meet you on a book signing line, or at a literary event!

Rochelle Campbell is a short story artist, author and blogger.  With the help of awesome bloggers, she is learning how to navigate her way through the indie publishing world.  Connect with her in the following ways:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/142GXch

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/15WkTlt

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/13CPWPH

Blog: http://notebookblogairy.blogspot.com/

Website: http://thenotebookblogairy.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeapingOutOnFaith

Twitter: @NoteBkBlogairy

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3434531.Rochelle_Campbell



Giveaway details:

Free Copy of “Leaping Out on Faith” e-Book.

Giveaway Link:


One thought on “Editing Is Like a Puzzle by R. Campbell

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