Editing – Where to start?


I have been doing some editing. I mentioned it before here. I am implementing a ‘Red Pen’ approach to editing. I have been receiving newsletters from, and attending webinars at, scrivenervirgin.com

I cannot recommend Red Pen enough. Anne Rainbow is a writer with a broad experience. Her system is logical, methodical and straightforward.

You can get onto the newsletters free of charge, and in themselves, they are an excellent resource. If, like me, you see the benefit, you can sign up for some webinars. They are far from expensive.

Anne has given me an approach to editing and an understanding of the process.

One thing that is immediately apparent is that an eye for detail is a real advantage when editing.

Regrettably, an eye for detail is something that I lack entirely.

Fortunately, help is at hand.

ProWritingAid is editing software. I access it through the web, although I believe there are ‘bolt-ons’ for Word and Google Docs. There is a free version, and then a paid version.

Without getting into all of the options, I copy and paste text into the webpage, press go and the software does an analysis for me.

It looks at spelling, grammar, how many adverbs there are, sentence length; the list goes on.

Put simply, it’s brilliant. In a few seconds, it highlights multiple things that require attention. In some instances, it might suggest alternatives.

It does not claim to replace the human process, nor should it. It does have an option to have a human look at the work for you (at a cost of course). For me, its value is in automating the ‘eye for detail’. Faced with the highlights, I must still decide how to deal with them, but at least I know that I have made a decision, not simply missed something.

It costs $35 a year. I will renew.

One thing that neither the Red Pen process, or Pro Writing Aid have been able to help with is WAS. WAS is my new acronym for Writing Avoidance Strategies.

It has got to the stage that I have even resorted to writing to avoid writing. I’ll explain what I mean next time…



6 thoughts on “Editing – Where to start?

  • Reply Patsy 25th January 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Weirdly I think I know what you mean by writing to avoid writing. If I’m ‘supposed’ to be woking on my novel, I’ll probably complete three short stories before even opening the novel document!

    As you know, I’m Redpen trained. I agree it’s an excellent editing system.

    • Reply Stuart 25th January 2016 at 5:20 pm

      Exactly that Patsy. I am determined to at least do the ‘big picture’ stuff on the novel next month.

  • Reply Enid 1st February 2016 at 9:34 am

    I’m with you about Redpen, Stuart, I doubt I would ever have had my first success if it wasn’t for Anne, not just because of her excellent editing guidance but also for the encouragement she offered along the way.

    I might look at the ProWritingAid (I need all the help I can get). I also think that writing is a curse, sometimes it comes easy but more often than not it’s an uphill struggle to put the words on paper.

    This month I begin editing my nano effort, a struggle in itself but someone’s got to do it.

    • Reply Stuart 1st February 2016 at 9:37 am

      Hi Enid. Today I’m tackling the NaNo one too. After another cup of tea of course…

      • Reply Enid 1st February 2016 at 11:27 am

        Think I might need something stronger -good luck

        • Reply Stuart 1st February 2016 at 1:43 pm

          I know what you mean. Good luck to you too.

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