The Challenges of Editing
Say what you mean and mean what you say
Those of you who write know how horrifying it can be to complete a document, send it in for print, read the publication and find errors. Often such errors are not apparent during the writing or even in the first edit, but they become very glaring once the article, story, or book is in print. Editing after you have put pen to paper but before publication is one of the most important singular aspects of informing the reader of your skills and dedication to the art of writing. For example, meanings can be misconstrued with the misplacement of a single comma or a series of commas. And, of course, the meanings of the words such as ‘there versus their’ or ‘here versus hear’ may certainly throw off the rhythm in the middle of a good read.
Editing your work has several phases, and all must be taken into consideration prior to parting with the project that has become your companion over time. The four categories of editing that we will talk about include editing for grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation, editing for continuity of thought, editing for your particular audience, and auditing for content which includes accuracy, relevance, reference checks., and form.
Editing for grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation
What we are actually talking about here is sentence structure ie, accurate sentence construction. These four elements comprise the units of sentences that become critical for communication with the reader – your audience. Although a single reader as an audience is no less important than a complete audience of many, it pays to think in broad terms when applying a uniform message and view it from a universal standpoint. All books cannot be all things to all people, but you will have, and perhaps will develop, different types of audiences. Using this perspective to guide you informs your word choice and organization, from sentence to paragraph to chapter to book.
Let’s look at a few examples:
When you are thinking about an audience of one – the reader – you may write:
‘If you ever think that you see a vessel from another galaxy, let your imagination run wild and
think about what they look like and where they came from. ‘
When you think about writing for a broader audience in more general terms:
‘Accounts of sightings of extraterrestrial beings have included descriptions that define color,
shape, and intensity of light.’
The two sentences above are talking about the same thing but from very different perspectives. Can you envision the type of audience each would resonate with? These same two sentences are used below as examples to emphasize the importance of grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation. Glaring differences become apparent when the statement is written poorly, and the meaning is lost.
‘If you ever think that you see a vessel from another galaxy, let your imagination run wild and think about what they look like and where they came from. ‘
—Did you ever think bad, about a vessel, and imagine an ET while letting yourself think wildly about details.
–Notice the stark difference in the same thought that is written with care and then written with
a lack of consideration for the reader. Here, the writer has chosen words poorly, has used
improper comma placement and has used abbreviations and adverbs improperly. This idea
has been expressed poorly without allowing any reader to understand its meaning.
‘Accounts of sightings of extraterrestrial beings have included descriptions that define color, shape, and intensity of light.’
—People said a lot of things. They put wrongly the notion of beings because of there color and shape.
–Here the writer has misplaced the meaning of the sentence, used ‘there’ instead of
‘their,’ and if this is the beginning of a paragraph, introduced the paragraph
with an incomplete thought.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Enable your audience to understand what you really mean.
Software editing packages
Lucky for us we have a variety of editing software packages to choose from. This helps with correct spelling, comma placement, verb tense, grammar, and unnecessary words within a phrase. Microsoft Word software now comes with Editor and this is useful once you have completed portions of your manuscript. I say portions because it is not a good idea to wait until your manuscript is complete before beginning the editing process. We must note that Microsoft Word or any other software will not correct the misuse of words that sound alike but are spelled differently such as there and their. GRAMMERLY is another editing software program that can be used while preparing your work. It is available online for a small fee. Some other editing programs include Adobe, Foxit, Wordrake, ProWriting, Firstediting, and KA-writing.
In addition, your publisher provides editing services or advises on how often you need to edit. Some choose to perform their own editing so as not to lose the energy that comes through, especially if they are metaphysical writers.
Editing for continuity of thought
Editing for continuity of thought is important in order to maintain the reader’s attention and provide the tools necessary for absorption of knowledge. If thought is interrupted by sentences that do not belong in a paragraph or by unnecessary paragraphs inserted between two that flow, the reader gets distracted. This distraction can lead to putting the book down in favor of some other form of entertainment.
The construction of leading sentences in paragraphs sets the stage for the information that is delivered within chapters. If you read the first sentence of each paragraph in a chapter, you will have a good idea of what that chapter can teach or inform. The rest is detail and delivers the flavor of the build, the essence of the experience. The author decides what, how, and when, within the context of the story, that he wants the reader to feel. I use word feel here because it is indeed what stories do, they make you feel. If motivation is the goal, then the author needs to make the reader feel motivated.
Each paragraph needs a before and an after in order to be viewed as part of the continuous flow of thought. That is not to say that an after paragraph or even a before paragraph may be prohibited from appearing at another place, a different chapter, in the book or story. It depends on how the plot or elevation of knowledge is layered or cantilevered within the book. The author decides this and lets the reader delight in suspense or revelation at will. The important thing to remember is that threads need to connect all of the information and the reader needs to be given the respect of interpretation.
Editing for a particular audience
Not every author will know exactly who their audience will become prior to writing a story. Yet, it is important that the author think about the people who might enjoy the book or story. We write for ourselves, but we also write for others. The ‘others’ that we connect to depends a lot on who we are and the concerns we have about life. For example, the writer of science fiction will have an imprint energy deep within their essence that allows a sense of knowing to come through. Those of us who decide to write about metaphysical phenomena cannot separate ourselves from our ancestral and soul energy. Therefore, we need to trust that the information we share will land where it is supposed to land and resonate with those who are ready for it and in some ways need it.
So, writing for your audience is about sharing yourself with others and hoping they will benefit from and enjoy what has been delivered to you throughout your incarnations and lifetimes. As you hone your craft, do not underestimate the importance of being you and your audience will develop. They will show up for you, even if you cannot see it clearly at the beginning of your project. Writing is a process and a responsibility that provides for both internal and external growth. Allow that to happen.
Auditing your content for:
The concept of journaling came into being for a reason and a purpose. Writing in a journal connects us to the events of the day and how we feel about them. In the process of conveying metaphysical concepts and happenings, it is important to get the details correct and on paper. A dream journal and a daily journal are quite useful for this as they solidify the experiences and the questions that you harbor about such experiences. When the process of writing takes over, you can revisit. Going back will help you to see and relive the feelings that emerged, the details that have become validated since the ‘happening’, and the solid belief of its significance. This makes for compelling writing.
When we write about our experiences or the experiences of others, we need to keep in mind that not everyone may want to know the entire family tree of the uncle in question. Allowing unnecessary information into your manuscript serves to dilute the real message. Those things that may seem important to you within the story, are not going to draw interest from the reader. Keeping this in mind as we relate stories is important.
For those of you who will relate the experiences of others who have written before you, it is important to deliver it with accuracy out of respect for the work that has preceded yours. Anything that is quoted word for word from another author needs to be in quotation marks and the book needs to appear as a reference either at the end of the book or at the bottom of the page where it is presented. The Harvard style of bibliography is appropriate and can be found at
The form your book takes is a personal preference as to font type and size, placement of chapter titles, and the presence of headers, footers, forwards, prefaces, about the author or other items. This is worked out as you self-publish or as you work with your publisher on presentation. My preference is a clean style consistent throughout the book. An artistic style however might choose to present a different look. If the look goes with what you are writing, the outcome should be a good one.
Creating Exciting Book Covers
The sea of books that surround you as you grace the corridors of a bookstore, shouts out the need for an interesting presentation that makes an eye-catching first impression. Your reader will be drawn into your world for a brief second, a most important second. Sight directed impressions often portend a revisit to the book and perhaps this second consideration will lead to a purchase. Book cover designs are important, so spend the time that it takes to draw the prospective follower closer to your work. The overall ‘look’ needs to be appealing and elements such as the choice of font, the placement and spacing of title and author can change the overall appeal. It will be worth your while to view several arrangements prior to finalizing the look. When your budget allows, procure the talents of a book cover designer. An added bonus would be if that designer has a connection to the otherworldly experiences that we often write about.
Sheila J Wood, PhD is an author and intuitive. As an author, her stories reflect her capability to understand the soul journey within people’s lives and uncover the energetic threads that connect all beings. As a medium and Akashic Records Reader, she provides a path for reconciliation of emotions around ancestral and past life events that may be casting a shadow during this incarnation. Although any issue may be addressed, modules have been developed around such issues as self-esteem and phobias. Her gifts as a seer and lightworker may help others to choose their best course during their time on Earth.