by John Robert Marlow

Writing is a bit like life: the more we keep at it, the better we get. We celebrate our victories—but often learn more from our mistakes. After a while, if we’re paying attention, we start to learn from other people’s mistakes.

As a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way. As an editor of novels, screenplays, and nonfiction books written by others, I’ve seen more mistakes than I ever thought possible. I see what writers do well, and how they go wrong. I’ve learned which techniques work (and don’t) in each format, which can be adapted to work well in more than one area—and which remain mistakes regardless of format.

The Self Editing Blog is my way of passing on that accumulated wisdom in a way that might save others time, money, and heartache.

Reading this blog doesn’t guarantee that your work will never need editing. What it will do is help take your work to the next level, allowing others—agents, managers, publishers—to more clearly see its inherent potential. In many cases, that could mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.

If you choose to seek the help of a professional editor before approaching reps or publishers, what you learn here will make that editor’s job easier, faster—and in some cases cheaper. This is particularly true when seeking a line edit—the last (and typically most expensive) edit performed on any manuscript.

What this blog cannot do is take the place of a professional evaluation of your particular work’s strengths and weaknesses, by someone who has read thousands of manuscripts or screenplays and millions of words. Likewise, it is no substitute for a “developmental edit,” which takes a flawed work that is not yet ready for marketing to agents, managers, or publishers—and helps turn it into one that is. (All of which basically describes what I do as an editor.)

Rightly or wrongly, you only get one chance at a first impression—and most of those in the business have little patience for projects that look like “fixers.” The more you know, the better your work will be. That’s what the Self Editing Blog is all about.

Go here for more on the relative merits of Self Editing vs. Pro Editing.

If you’re thinking about having your work professionally edited, stop by the Editing Services page.

Whatever path you choose with your work—novel, screenplay, or nonfiction book; self editing or professional editing—I wish you all the best.

Author John Robert Marlow is available for professional editing, development, and consultation. If you’d like help taking your work to the next level, contact John here.



copyright © by John Robert Marlow
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