About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for EDITING

I’ve been looking for my niche with this blog.  I’ve asked myself, “Am trying to be funny, informative?”

Honestly, I want to help other writers by contributing what I know, not bore anyone into a grammar coma. 

The only problem with this goal is that a majority of my experience stories are crazy.  Because crazy things happen to me.  Frequently.  I learn by going splat.

Contemplating what blog material would be considered “safe” to a broad audience, I consulted my CP, Sarah.

“Would it be inappropriate to blog the O incident?” I asked her.  “Too over the top?”

“No, that would be awesome!” she responded with a laugh, giving me the green light.

That said, I will leave this post up for a little while and then I will bury it where no one will ever find it.  I may be blog-dinged for skipping “E” but so be it.    

Now, to give you a true story why E is for EDITING… Read FAST.

Two years ago I wrote a full length story for an online website.  While coming to the end of the novel I was invited to participate in a guest spot on another member’s page.  A weekly serial, authors would post a chapter where the submission could draw attention and gain readers.  And as luck had it the week I’d signed up for happened to correspond to the chapter where my couple had become intimate for the first time.  

            Being that my genre is romance, writing the love is what I do, including the physical parts.  My previous story had contained only one short scene involving what a fellow editor calls, “tingly bits”— but nothing hot or all-out, which made the guest spot chapter a first for me in whole new way—it would be my first full-on love scene.

            Yeah. *gulp*

            Going in, I had Sarah in my corner, an excellent mentor and beta reader, but of course, the nerves were still there.  Per our writing schedule, I was slated to submit the first draft to Sarah as early as possible so she could have plenty of time to work her editing magic.  We’d run through a draft as many times as we need to get it reading “clean,” bouncing it back and forth until we got a solid edited product.

            The week that the chapter was due I got invited out on a date at the last minute, trying to go out when I could, which wasn’t often.  Which unfortunately turned out to be a bad date—like record-setting awful.  I came home in a mood, feeling dejected and ironically on deadline to draft a love scene. 

            Those are the moments you suck it up, though.  You push past what’s weighing on you, buckle down and write.  That’s what you do.
            So I started typing and not too long after I hit my stride. The emotions flowed as if I if were channeling the energy from my crappy evening, converting the negative current into a positive one.  I suddenly wanted to imbue my hero with all the characteristics of a good man.  Tapping the keys with fervor, my love scene unfolded beautifully, my hero utterly perfect.
            I turned it in to Sarah, eager to see what she thought.

            About an hour later, the first edited draft hit my inbox, the little chat window popping up so Sarah could confer with me.

            Sarah:  Hey

          Me:    Hey, how’d you like it?

          Sarah:  Well…

            Oh no, not “well…”  Anything but “well,” the four-letter kiss of editing death.

             Me:  It sucked.
          Sarah:  No, NO.  I just need you to look it over.

            Scanning it, I ran through all the possible “well” implications; the point of view didn’t shift, dialogue tags were good, no misspelled words, hero did, um—awesome.

            My brow furrowing, I didn’t see what could be wrong.
            Me:  Sarah, I’m not seeing…??  The hero’s good.

          Sarah:  Um, yeah. The hero’s good.  You’re missing something with your girl.

          Me:  I don’t—

          Sarah:  I’m seeing your guy’s side but not…

            I scanned through again, focusing on my heroine. 

            Sarah:  I think you forgot her O.

          And I finally saw it.     o_O

          Me:  OMG.

          Sarah:  It’s okay.

          Me:  OMG, it’s so not. 

          Sarah:  It’s a real easy fix, I wanted you to see it before I sent the edit notes over, I put balloons where she can…

            I sat watching the screen, Sarah’s kindness a live-streaming echo as the roll call of accomplished authors this would never happen to reeled through my brain.

            Sarah:  Shelley? 

            “Yeah, I’m here,” I said from in-between my fingers even though she couldn’t hear or see me.

            Sarah:  Shelley?  Shell, stay with me—I know what you’re thinking.  This happens to everyone; it’s okay.  That’s why there are editors—we’re here to catch these things…

          Me:  How in the [heck] did I not CATCH that?!

          Sarah:  Uh, well—
            I stopped her before she could endeavor to answer with some play on the birds get theirs while the bees get gypped.

             Me:  In Third Person, MALE subjective point of view, Sarah!  UGhhgh!!

          Sarah:  LOL!  If I may assist…

           Me:  Save me, please. 
            The raucous laughter continued, Sarah sending over the draft with comment bubbles stuck like post-its all down the right column.  The multi-hued digital notes pointing to where I could place the lost O. 
            And this experience drove home the reason editing is important to me.  An editor does so much more than just check your spelling.  They look for continuity errors, correct phrasing, word choice, fluidity of speech and other—D'oh!—missing things.

            So it goes without saying, find a good beta reader, someone to be your pre-editor editor.  It's never a good idea to edit alone.

Okay, Sarah, I did it.  I told the tale. 

Here’s hoping I still get published after this pathetic confession. 
*Shelley crosses fingers, toes and eyes* 

And if I haven’t scared anyone away yet, please come back tomorrow:  F is for FLASHBACK.

-         SNG   ;0)


  1. Aww, see, that was perfect! People hear too many "make sure you put a comma here or else the sentence is confusing" editing stories. This one is real, relate-able, and funny. *high five*

    1. Thank you for all you do, Sarah - you SAVED that story. You're awesome. :0)