Beta you wish you were better at self editing.

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I’m a writer for gosh sake. Grammatical blunders stand out to me like turds in a punch bowl. I can spot formatting errors on a manuscript on the sidewalk from the roof of the Willis Tower. (For your information, that’s the tallest building in the U.S.) I can detect a homophone misuse better than a shark smells blood in the water…UNLESS it’s in my own writing. Dadgum,Β this chaps my chassy! I just wish I could write something and edit it myself.

Don’t get me wrong I love, love, love my beta readers and the valuable criticism they give. Even if I wrote a squeaky clean novel, I would still give it to them for their input. However, the times I wish I didn’t need them are for the edits that don’t require a full rewrite. Any time I want to clean up some dialogue, add a scene or give a few more details I have to give puppy dog eyes to my betas so they’ll give it another look or in a perfect world give it to a whole new set so the MS is new and fresh to their eyes.Β That’s what it’s all about really – fresh eyes.

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The reason we are the worst editors for our manuscripts is we are saying the words before we even read them.

We know what it’s supposed to say. Heck, we have it memorized. Taking a month or two break from your MS can help with editing but that is so much harder to do than people think. The only way I can do that is by writing something else and putting it out of my mind for awhile.

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I’m guilty of it. I’ve made a few small changes before sending to an agent. I read it over. I had my husband read it over and it looked great. WHY….why oh why do we not see our typos until after we’ve hit the send button? Is it because we have to psych ourselves out to hit it in the first place? Don’t think just do, we say. Hit send. HIT IT NOW! Once it’s out there I think I’d rather not see the blasted blunders at all because I’m on the verge of vomiting for about three days after I realize I’ve launched my own personal blooper reel into someone’s slush pile.

The moral of the story is, sending a manuscript quickly never feels as good as sending a pristine one. Besides, we all know the turn around rate. It’s not like sending your MS quickly will merit you a thirty minute response.

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Do breathing exercises, have someone talk you down, relive nightmares from the past, whatever you have to do to make yourself send only when your manuscript is ready. Preachin’ to the choir here.

How about you? Have you ever sent too soon? Has mercy and grace abounded to you and you actually got a request from it? Please tell me it’s possible. Tell me your horror stories too! (Horror is one of the typos I sent in a query recently. Guhh!! Two R’s in horror. Finger slipped, spell correct failed me and I was too eager to hit send. Caught it seconds afterwards.)

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13 thoughts on “Beta you wish you were better at self editing.

  1. “We’re saying the words before we read them” – that hit it on the head. I’ve often considered why it’s so much easier to edit someone else’s work; you just encapsulated it right there. Thanks πŸ˜€

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’m so glad you found me, so I could find you πŸ™‚ I know the suffering that is editing all too well. It never seems to be complete. I love what you wrote about already saying the words before we read them. I recently picked up my MS after a few months away and while staying away helped me see things I didn’t catch before, I read the entire manuscript in a matter of hours. I’m not that fast of reader, which tells me I was relying more on my memory of the words, rather than the actual words. Ugh.

    What genre do you write in?

    • I know just what you mean. I’ve read my MS 3 times this week but I’ve been reading Divergent for weeks! When people say they are on the 6th draft of their novel this has something to do with it. I write YA but am very excited to say I have a NA WIP!

  3. I have too many goofs to bore you with, but the one I found funniest was on my blog. I hit “PUBLISH” on my POST while screaming “NOOOO!” as I realized I spelled “ANNOINTING” with an extra N…The funniest thing is the BLOG I published just prior to this one was titled “Learning to Spell.”
    I still chuckle about it…that or I would go insane!
    Julie

  4. I’ve been working on a series of articles for one editor and saving them in Word and in Dropbox. The final draft of the article I sent today was saved only in Dropbox. I sent the editor the completely unedited mess in my Word file. Yikes! It was quickly sorted, but … Sigh.

  5. i’ve sent manuscripts and resumes out too soon. I sent a resume with a typo in the hopes of gaining an editorial job! Obviously, I didn’t get that job. But with the manuscript, I sent it before I cut the manuscript and some pointless subplots that beta readers spotted. I got rejected by some good agents (especially those who don’t take manuscripts over a certain word count) because I didn’t wait. I was too eager.

  6. As I’ve personally only sent one, half jokingly, to Byrd Leavell, I don’t think I’m really qualified to answer your question. πŸ™‚ I admire anyone who hits the “send’ button. (Just reread this three times to make sure that I don’t have any grammatical errors.)

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