I’m in the final stages of publishing a new GAY MOMENTS story – ‘The Beach of Dreams.’ Whilst I’ve been working on this I’ve been reflecting on the challenges of editing one’s own writing. Of course I think we all realize that the advent of e-books has wrought the greatest revolution in publishing since the invention of the Guttenberg printing press. Now anyone anywhere in the world can publish their own stories on the net. The gatekeepers have been banished. However if there is a downside to all this it may be in the editing and formatting of e-books. There is a lot of junk out there in the ether! Sometimes I wonder if many of the books have been proof-read at all. This seems to be especially prevalent in the genre of gay erotica. Recently I was reading a story where the writer often confused tenses and genders – quite often a ‘he’ would become a ‘she’ – without becoming a drag queen! The hapless author also got the names of his characters mixed up so that in the story a boy would suddenly be fucking his brother instead of his boyfriend.
It has often been stated by writers and publishers on forums that writers should not attempt to edit their own books. This appears to be the received wisdom. Of course many authors don’t possess the skill or the experience to edit their own work. Another problem is caused by over-familiarity with the text. What I mean is that as we read through various drafts over time whilst working on a new opus we simply stop seeing mistakes on the page before us. Our brain becomes blind to typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Sometimes the best solution is to seek out a friend or a family member who can help – very often an extra pair of eyes is invaluable. Another option is to seek the services of a professional editor.
I carry out my own editing. I’ve had years of experience in editing and publishing the work of other writers, mainly in the drama field. This doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes when editing my own work – far from it!
Anyway, this is my method – when I am working on a new story quite often I will stop writing and as a kind of a break I will go back to the beginning and scroll through the text looking for potential errors. I always find some! I do this many times during the writing. Then when I reach ‘The End’ I go through the text several times with a fine tooth comb. Cliché alert! Well you know what I mean. I do this until I can find no more mistakes. I then leave the text alone for a few days. One of the classical poets from Roman times told his students that after they completed a poem they should put it away in the dark for five years before going back to it. (I think that’s being a little excessive). Finally, with a fresh pair of eyes, I go back to my book and scroll through the text again. If I find no more errors I then start the publishing process.