Put on Your Editor’s Hat

Do you like to edit your own manuscripts? You know—self edit? Come on…really?

I don’t.

I mean, it’s just not the cat’s meow.

But I know I should. I know I’m supposed to. I know it’s what a cat’s gotta do to learn how to be a successful writer. So I decided to break my habit of neglecting this part of my writing life.

The first thing I did was get myself an editor’s hat. You know—first you wear the writer’s hat and then you take that off and put on your editor’s hat? Right? Well, I didn’t have an editor’s hat. So I went out and got one. Like it? It even has a little mouse at the top and this twirly thing to twirl around. It’s purrfect for a cat like me. You should get one, too!

After I finish my first draft of my manuscript, I set aside some time to edit. And now I make sure it isn’t the drudgery it used to be. I make sure it’s fun!

I put on my silly editor’s beanie. It gets me in the mood to have fun, dude. Then I get out my special highlighter pens. I splurged and bought some wa-ay cool ones that I can use to make neon colors and decorate all over my manuscript. (They don’t even have a cap to lose, but click like a ballpoint pen.) Since I have neon yellow and neon pink and neon orange, now I’m HOPING to find mistakes in my manuscript just so I can mark ‘em on my page and turn the boring black and white little marks on the paper into bright, fun, colorful pictures.

I know my weaknesses, too. So I made a list of ‘em. Here are the first three, for starters:
1. Don’t always use punctuation correctly.
2. Weak verbs.
3. Poorly constructed paragraphs without a clear beginning, middle, and end.

I also printed out some self-editing checklists from how-to-write books, and articles I found on the Internet. These lists remind me to check for realistic dialog, show don’t tell, and lots of other important stuff.

I take my highlighters and have some fun! First I look at every single sentence I wrote in my first paragraph. I highlight the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence in pink. I highlight the punctuation in that sentence in yellow. Then I make sure to check that I used that punctuation correctly.

If I’m not sure about the punctuation rule, I look it up in my reference books. But hey—my reference books aren’t bo-o-oring like yours might be. Oh no! First I made specially decorated book covers for each one of ‘em so they’re bright and colorful, not scary-looking or over-the-top academic. Then I got my highlighters out and really decorated the pages I use the most to remind me what the rules are that I most often forget. Plus, I got sticky notes in all shapes and sizes to stick on the pages I look up over and over again. I want to save my energy for chasing mice, not for flipping through the pages looking up the same rule I’ve used a zillion times before. Like I said—I want this self-editing thing to be as fun as a cat can have it.

So hey—how about you? Are you having fun when you self-edit your manuscript? If not, do something about it. Make it fun, like I did. Now editing’s my favorite part of writing. Not! But really, it’s way more fun than it used to be. Especially when I put on my editor’s hat. And nibble on tunafish…but that’s another story.

-contributed by Humphrey, Nancy’s writing buddy

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7 responses to “Put on Your Editor’s Hat

  1. Sherri Crawford

    OK—it’s definitely time to add Humphrey to our critique group. I need his help! Perhaps he can bring 8 of those cute little hats for the rest of us (o: I’ve noticed that when I’ve been in your home, Humphrey never speaks to me )o: Is it something I said? Please ask him to share his morsels of writing wisdom with me the next time I come over! Tell him I’m bringing tuna!
    Love, Sherri

  2. Hey, wouldn’t matching “editor’s hats” be fun? Maybe we could put our new logo on them! And I’ll tell Humphrey you’re bringing tuna!
    -Nancy

  3. Shirley Shibley

    Dearest Humphrey,

    May I call you “dearest?” I must confess I fell for you when I peeked over Shirley’s shoulder as I supervised her computer work today and saw your picture. I’m just a young thing, but I’ll just bet you are mature enough to overlook a few minor problems like when I decided to exit the windowsill through the center of Shirley’s lace curtain. And my extra toe on each front paw means extra beauty–right? Oh, I do love your darling hat. Shirley wants one like it and I can hardly wait to leap up to her head and play with it! One question, Dearest, does your housemother ever scold you for clicking on the wrong key, like the one that is spelled d-e-l-e-t-e? I’m going to study real hard at writing so I can get the stories romping in my head down without pawsing for the correct word or style.

    Speaking of style, Dearest–Me-e-ow! You got it!

    Nina

  4. Dearest Nina,
    I’m glad you like my hat! Can you see the teeny tiny mouse at the top of it? It’s my favorite part. I can’t wait to hear your cat tails, too.
    -Humphrey

  5. Dear Humphrey,

    I really appreciated your helpful hints. But I would like clarification of one point. Where in the world do you get highlighters that click like ballpoint pens? I have a collection of vari-colored caps that you might like to play with. I don’t need them any more because the highlighters all dried up.

  6. My poochie pal kept eating my highlighter caps, so I trotted over to Staples and bought Sharpie Accent Retractable Highlighters. They’re the cat’s meow!
    -Humphrey

  7. Humphrey,
    Once again you have imparted valuable information! And I like your hat, too!
    -Veronica

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