Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing in 140: Making Friends with Your Internal Editor

I used to advocate killing the internal editor, but I now see the importance of making friends with her. The IE often whispers things like, "Scene needs development," "Show more," or "That’s flat dialogue." Instead of halting your writing flow, make friends with your IE and take notes of what she says. I'm currently working on a novel that’s filled with IE notes I will handle in REVISIONS, not in the writing stage. I like having a book DONE, not perfecting a chapter for weeks. We need to learn how to listen to our IE, see how she just might be right, make note of what she says, and MOVE on in the story. Doing so will enable us to get a book DONE and have great notes for revision.

How do you "make friends" with YOUR internal editor?
Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less.

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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  1. Our internal editor should be our best friend when we're writing. She (or he) can save us a bundle if we pay attention and act on her advice. How? The internal editor works for free; all we have to do is listen, make notes as Shon suggests, and go back to do the fixes when we're done. The external editor, on the other hand, charges for her time. The more work she has to do on our manuscripts, the bigger her bill. If we've paid careful attention to the internal editor, we'll whittle that external one's invoice down to size.

    Great post, Shon!

  2. I've been using my "internal editor" to help with critiques and improve my own writing ... before my critiquers get to savage it.

  3. Hi Shon,

    So good to "see" you here--I've missed you & am celebrating your list of accomplishments!

    I've battled my IE for some time now, and whew, am I weary! Seems there's no end to her whiny complaints. So...thanks for offering us/me a new way of handling her. What a novel idea: to have her working on my behalf, instead of vice versa. :)

  4. Another great tip, Shon. I have been making notes like that for a long time now, especially when I am stuck on what a scene or dialogue exchange needs, I just know it needs help. Then I highlight that section so I make sure I go back and fix the problem.

  5. Good idea. When I think I need to delete a scene or some other thing in the story but I'm not sure, I open a word file and cut and paste it there in order to review later.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  6. Even when I'm in the editing phase and doing read-throughs, I tend to mark things that make me stumble or question as I read, maybe make a quick note, then later I go back and address those things.

    On the other hand, when I'm editing for someone else and hit a rough spot, I address it in the side notes right away.

  7. This is a terrific tip. I've just started doing something similar myself, by opening a file I call the Naff list. Anything the IE has to say goes in there, with a page reference. Then I can put it to one side while I get on with the imaginative work.
    Our IE is a very useful friend - and it's good to be able to make the best use of it!
    I'm tweeting this.

  8. That's a great point: if we do listen then maybe the IE doesn't need to SHOUT ;-) It might be a lot easier to get through the draft work then.

    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

  9. It's funny...initially this post was going to be about killing off the IE, LOL, but then I began to reflect on what I've actually been "doing" these last couple of months, which is using her to take notes and move on, and I began to see that she's actually a great person to have around when things get a bit sticky for me the writer.



The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.