Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

I mentioned recently, that I’ve been pondering why some writers couldn’t care less about the ins and outs of grammar and punctuation. In fact, some authors tend to view grammar and punctuation as a rudimentary part of the art of storytelling.

I disagree.

When an artist learns to paint, there are details he must study. I’m not an artist, but light and shadow seem important. Also, a painter must have knowledge of the primary colors and which colors to blend for a different shade. What about perspective? An artist must decide what is best to bring into the painting. Only then can he bring his vision to life on the canvas.

Likewise, a musician who does not start with the fundamentals will never be able to truly capture the music and make it his own.

Grammar and punctuation are similar to light and shadow for the artist and scales and chords to the musician. They are the basis for the art of storytelling. Knowing the far from rudimentary portion of storytelling is the first step toward mastery.

From an editor’s standpoint, an author who presents a knowledge of grammar and punctuation is an author who cares about his craft. He gets an edge up over the competition.

Editors will also be more understanding when an author breaks the rules of grammar and punctuation if the author first shows a clear understanding of the rule. After all, to break a rule effectively, one must truly understand it.

Authors who don’t under the rules are often misled. For example, there are authors who take out ever that in their manuscript. Why? Because they were told it’s a weasel word. However, some sentences require that for clarity of the sentence. This and similar misunderstandings are a sign to an editor that the author isn’t serious about the basics of his craft. How does it expose the writer? He didn’t care enough to learn the rule himself. He simply mimicked the misunderstanding of another.

In my pondering on this subject, I reached a conclusion: an author who does not study the basics of his craft must believe that he is a pupil in a lesser art.

Happy editing.


Post a Comment