Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How Bathing the Dog is Like Editing

I have to bath my Lizzie-Bear at least once a week. It's not something either of us enjoys, but it's something that has to be done. When she was younger,  I would just take her in the shower with me. As you can see she is just a little thing.

But now that she's getting older (13 which is like eighty in dog years) she's not up and about when I take my morning shower. I usually have to wake her up and pull her out of her little cave.

As you can see from the picture, she doesn't like to wake up early. She usually stumbles out around noon. But today is bath day, so I woke her up.

She's usually a little grumpy about the ordeal, so I have to be prepared and stay on task to get the job done. But in the end we're both glad it's over.

Preparing for her bath, I thought how giving her a bath is sort of like editing, it's not my favorite thing, but once it's over all is well.

Preparing . . .
Before a bath I get Lizzie's brush, towel, and shampoo ready.

To prepare to edit I always print out my work.

Seriously, I've tried to just edit on the computer but whenever I do I miss things.

Printing it out gives me distance from my work and a fresh look at it.

I also use a red pen to do edits. Red ink is easier to see.

Wet dog . . .
The wet dog stage of editing is the process.

First, I read through my pages looking for gaps in character and plot logic. For instance, would my main character really react to something the way I have shown him/her? Should something else take place in the plot? And how's the timeline?

Second, I look at my sentences and paragraphs. Does each sentence flow into the next? Are my paragraphs correct and most importantly are they pleasing to the eye? Good strategic paragraphing can help pull the reader into the story.

Third, I look for misspelling and grammar errors. Because most word processors catch spelling errors I really need to be on my toes to find them, but a computer doesn't know if "their" should be "they're."

Drying process . . .

I couldn't take a picture of drying the dog. My hands were full with the blow dryer and the brush. And Lizzie doesn't make it easy.

The drying process in editing is taking my corrections and applying them to my word document. It's not fun. But necessary.

From the picture you can tell Lizzie's not sure if she likes me. That's kind of how it is with the editing changes in my story. I read it over and over (blow drying and brushing) and I think it looks all right, but I'm never quite sure that I like it until I take it to my writers group and let them take a look at what I've done. If they think it looks all right I'm happy and can continue with the story.

So that is how bathing the dog is like editing for me.

How about you?
What do you do when you edit? Do you edit as you write? Do you write a chapter and then go back and edit? Or do you do something else?



  1. Fun analogy Kathi! For me edits are an ongoing process... I read each chapter I write numerous times along the way, edit it and then edit it some more. My critique buddies also get involved with the process since some of them read each chapter I complete, as I complete it. When I'm finished I edit it countless more times and yet, my wonderful editor still finds mistakes... go figure!

    1. I know exactly what you're talking about. I go over and over it and still my editor finds problems. But aren't we glad? :)



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