Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blog Editing

All of us hopefully know the difference between writing a novel you want to sell, and creating a blog post that you want to reach as many people as possible for free.  On the first one, you spend countless hours combing through the manuscript, spotting spelling mistakes, adjusting paragraph structure, and tweaking word choice until you have just the right mix to evoke emotion in your readers.

The second one can be a free for all.

The bloggers I know write their posts in a single sitting, and it usually just comes from whatever they're feeling at the moment.  Sure, we might give some thought beforehand about what we'll be writing - I keep my post ideas in a black and white journal - but we rarely go through the same kind of outline and planning detail that we will with our novels.

After reading a few of my posts, I wonder if maybe I shouldn't put more into trying to pre-plan what I write, or at least whether I should put more effort into editing them before they go live.  As any good artist, or even any number of bad ones, I like to go back to my stuff every now and then and re-read it.  Yeah, I like to say I'm carefully looking at what worked and what didn't, but we all know that wouldn't be but about 25% of the truth.  The rest of the time, I like to just look at what I wrote and think, "I hope this made someone think.  Plus, it's pretty good."

Everyone wants to believe that their stuff is masterful, but in re-reading my recent work, I know that's not always the case.  There's a definite quality difference between what I post on this site and what I write that I intend to publish for the public to buy.  The easy things to correct are the typos and mini-grammatical mistakes that are present.  The hope there is that not too many people noticed before I could make the correction.  However, there are other things that aren't as simple to fix.

I despise the redundant use of words.  There are words you have to use over and over, like their or likes, but others, ones that you don't hear a lot in everyday conversation, become clumsy if you use them too often in a short stretch.  One of my biggest editing tasks when I'm going back over a novel is to find those types of redundancies and eliminate them.  Sometimes that requires only a small change of words.  Other times, due to context, it takes a wholesale re-write of a paragraph.

Also, when editing a book, you can work on the flow much easier.  I rarely get so far that changing the flow is difficult.  Plus, the length of the story helps me put those changes into the proper perspective.  Unfortunately, a single blog post is just one short flowing stream, so changing it up might require doing the whole thing all over again, and honestly, I'm just not going to do that.

In order to avoid these mistakes in the future, I'm going to try to write my posts and let them sit for a few hours before I publish them.  That way, I can look at what I've written with fresh eyes. 

There are lots of things I write that need work.  Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame would throw away weeks of material that he thought wasn't worthy, which is one of the reasons his final product ended up being so good.  With blogging, I don't always take the time for that quality control, and I know I'm not alone.  Therefore, I'll try to look at things with a more jaundiced eye and not let "I just need to get something posted" take over my blogging life.  I won't always be successful, but it should improve the quality of work in the end.


  1. I think this is one of the reasons blogging has fallen out of favor in recent years. The fact is that it is difficult to ensure quality of what one reads. I hope to redouble my efforts as well, especially since I hope to sell a gargantuan number of copies of my new novel!

    1. I think it comes down to trade-offs. You can have much greater quality, but the time investment begins to go up. We've got to strike a balance to get it right(or at least better).