picture at Emma Baird of a piece of text with red editing marks

Editing – the Difference

Recently, I sent a sample of my work to a professional proof-reader/editor out of curiosity. What could she do? It was an interesting exercise. I didn’t agree with all the changes the editor made, but I really liked what she did.

Here are the before and after versions.

BEFORE

Combine the world’s most delicious cheese sandwich (trade-marked) with drug and alcohol-fuelled hunger, and a soft-hearted, impulsive gesture and there you have it. The basis for a romance. Who’d have thunk it?

Nell and Daniel Murray met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at university and Daniel was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur who had figured out that the students who occasionally wandered off course and into his Glasgow High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches might appreciate the closer availability of those sandwiches at other times. Times such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

Daniel persuaded his father to lend him the money to buy a cheap van. He then converted the van to a mobile sandwich-making and preparing venue, and he parked outside the union hall every Thursday from 10pm. At that time, he targeted the swotty students who weren’t prepared to sacrifice study time on a Friday for a hangover.

As the night progressed though, sales rose dramatically. Daniel had always been a practical person. He couldn’t understand why students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards from their student halls and bedsits so why not conjure up their own sandwiches at tiny costs to themselves?

As he said to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, “ours is not to reason why”, congratulating himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting. Not reasoning why left him to enjoy raking in money as leery students crowded around the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco. Not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well in her studies so far – but because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons. Her words, not theirs.

AFTER

Combine the world’s most delicious cheese sandwich (trademarked) with drug and alcohol-fuelled hunger, and a soft-hearted, impulsive gesture. And what do you have? The basis and foundation of a budding romance. Who would have thought it?

Nell and Daniel Murray met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at the university and Daniel was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur. He had figured out that the students, who occasionally wandered off course and into his Glasgow High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches, might appreciate its closer availability at other times…times, such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

Daniel persuaded his father to lend him the money to buy a cheap van. He then converted the van to a mobile sandwich-making venue. He parked outside the union hall every Thursday, 10 PM onwards. This was the time he targeted the swotty students, who weren’t prepared to sacrifice their study time on a Friday, for a hangover.

As the night progressed, the sales rose dramatically. Daniel had always been a practical person; he couldn’t understand why the students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards away from their student hall and bedsits and could easily conjure up their own sandwiches at a marginal cost?

As he conveyed this to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, he retorted that “ours is not to reason why” and congratulated himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase, which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting. Not reasoning why, allowed him to enjoy raking in the money, as leery students crowded around the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco; not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well in her studies, so far. In fact, it was because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons – her words, not theirs!

 

Pic thanks to Nic McPhee.

Thousands and Thousands of Words

Makes a great carrot, don't you think?

Makes a great carrot, don’t you think?

There’s a whiff of the self-congratulatory in the air this week. Part 2 of the book is completed and more than 64,000 words totted up. My mum likes it (bless her for her bias) and my nephews enjoy having it read to them – mainly, I suspect, because I have named characters after them.

So, two-thirds of the way through means the end is in sight, hmm…? Sadly not I fear. As my top of the range (not) printer is a little on the temperamental side, I haven’t printed out any of the book yet and I fear than when I do I will spot mistakes by the millions. (“Uncle Ted’s here in chapter 14? But he died in an horrific freak accident involving a fruit bowl in chapter 7.”) I’ve also been adding in bits to chapters as I go on, so there are parts of it that feel really disjointed and contrived. And as for my horrible mangling of sentences… grammarians would shudder in horror, I fear.

Tidying up a typo or two is only a tiny part of it though. The author Elizabeth Buchan writes her novels three times. Three times! But I do reckon that when I read over everything I’ve written, I will make decisions about material that needs to be added in – and hard decisions about what needs to be taken out. Even if I cry a bit when I press ‘delete’. And after all that, there will be the hell of trying to get published. And then persuading people that my little book is worth shelling out £6.99 (say) for.

But anyway, enough of my Brit self-effacement. Two-thirds of the way through – that bottle of champagne beckons. My sister bought me a bottle of Veuve Cliquot 2004 Vintage as a wedding present.* I joked that my husband and I would either drink it to celebrate our first anniversary or when I finished my book – whichever came first. Now it’s beginning to look as if that baby will be cracked open well before we’re trying to come up with creative gift ideas with paper.**

*I’d like to be a champagne connoiseur, but the pennies don’t permit it. If they did, Veuve Cliquot would be my tipple of choice.

**Paper is what you celebrate your first year anniversary with. Apparently.