Get Hooked On Writing!

Issue # 12 Monday, August 17, 1998

This Week's Author: Linda Davis Kyle

Linda Davis Kyle, author

Linda Davis Kyle is an American writer whose works have been published in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. She is the editor and publisher of WritingNow.com and the owner of Davis Kyle Writing Services .

Linda was also the author of Getting Hooked Issue #3 - Maximizing Your Research.

 

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Controlling Your "Inner" Editor

Appreciate the Grand View

In his book Rethinking Education, the late Roger J. Williams, Ph.D., world-renowned scientist and educator wrote,

"It is conceivable that an extremely myopic individual might spend a lifetime studying the Grand Canyon of the Colorado inch by inch and fail utterly to see its grandeur. Likewise, educators and scholars who are extreme specialists are myopic and may never see the ‘grand view’ of world knowledge as a whole. We too often encourage students to study world-knowledge bit by bit without ever appreciating that it all fits together".


Compose before You Cut and Change

Similarly, when you don’t force your "inner editor" (that editor-in-your mind) to take a nap when you are writing warm-ups or stories or articles, you may never see the whole work and how it all fits together. That eager editor will peruse and pick at every letter, every word, every sentence, and every paragraph. That editor will scratch out, add, and rearrange words. Your story or article will start to develop, then parts--and potentially all--of it will be swept away like the sand beneath your feet in the rushing tide at the beach. Beginning to write, then interrupting to inspect, to evaluate, and to rewrite line by line can destroy a work.

Finish the Piece, Then Put It on Hold

You first must allow your imagination to team up with your writing skills to produce a piece. If the word length of your story or article is within a range that you can accomplish during an allotted writing session and you have the time to write a complete rough draft of your article or story from start to finish in one sitting, it is a great advantage to the fine development of your work. Just write, write, write. Do not edit. If your deadline permits, it also will serve you well to put your manuscript away for several days to cool your passion for it.

Finally Invite Your "Inner Editor" to Edit

When you return to read your work, then you must wake "that editor-in-your mind" and invite that editor to edit. Now that you have written without evaluating or attacking your work and you have distanced yourself from your work by putting it on hold for a few days, you have greater objectivity, and you can read it with greater clarity. Now you must disown your work for the moment and thoughtfully rid it of as many flaws as you can. Think of ridding its flaws as a carnival duck shoot. Bag as many ducks as you can, and take home a teddy bear. In the case of your story or article, if you polish your ‘on speculation’ piece well enough, you will win publication and a check from the editor of your target anthology or magazine.


To Edit Your Own Work

In General--Ask Yourself

Does the title titillate its readers? Is the title suitable to the work and to its target market? Does your opening sentence grab the reader and hold attention?

About Your Story--Ask Yourself

Does the theme of your story build logically? Is your story the right genre for your target market? Will enough readers relate to your story to want to read it, or is its theme too specialized? Does the story develop in a believable fashion? Is your setting clear? Is the immediacy or time limit of your story short enough to make and keep the story suspenseful? Does the plot of your story unfold dramatically and hold the reader’s attention? Are your characters well drawn? Can you feel each character’s pain or joy? Do your characters speak with convincing dialogue? Are there sufficient conflicts and challenges for the protagonist to overcome? Do you have an endearing positive supporting character or characters and an unforgettable antagonist? Is the tone that you want in your story developed and maintained or changed as you desired? Does your story have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Does your story impact the reader? Does your story linger in the mind of the reader?

About Your Article--Ask Yourself

Are there sufficient eager readers who want to learn about your topic, or is it so specialized that only 14 people across the planet would have any interest in it? In other words, is the sale of your article supported by a market willing to purchase the magazine? Is the slant of your article an appropriate one for your target market? Are your points organized in a meaningful order? Does your work flow? Are your transitions smooth? Are your points well substantiated? Do you use too many words to make your points? Do you use the best words to convey your meaning? Is your message sharply focused, or do you wander and add extraneous information that perhaps is enchanting to you but is intrusive in the particular work in question? Do you offer enough new and useful information to merit publication? Does your conclusion wrap up your article well? Finally, ask yourself, have you entertained, surprised, astonished, or informed your reader with the information in your article?

The Proper Time and Place

Editing is important, but there is a time and place for it. It must not come too soon. Editing too soon is like weeding a garden before its tender sprouts are distinguishable from new weeds in freshly turned soil. Good plants can be killed with ill-timed weeding. Good stories and articles can be destroyed with ill-timed editing. When the garden is established--when the pea plants are clearly pea plants and corn plants or clearly corn plants--then the weeding can be done to the betterment of the entire garden. Likewise, you must allow yourself to develop your story or article to see its overall "landscape" before you begin to evaluate, eliminate, or rearrange material. The more you are able to do this, the better your stories and articles will be in their final polished forms. Given time to warm-up, time to write, time to cool down, and distance to gain clarity before editing, the grander the view of your final work will be.

Happy editing!


Next week:

Reading for Writers/Designing A Sports Car

by Amy Holman

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Text © 1998, Linda Davis Kyle.
Editor: Heather Chwastiak.
Production: Erin Grainger.
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