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About Writing Right: The Blog

HOW OFTEN TO EDIT

A writer-type fella posted a question online the other day on how many edits an author should give his book before considering it finished. Here's what I replied.

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Congratulations. You received not only two previous answers to your question but also two horrible previous answers. That's batting a thousand. It might be a new online record.

 

For the respondent who said, "For newer writers, it's prob beat to only do do after you've finished your piece," forget him. Anyone incapable of editing the first fifteen words of his own response about editing so that it's understandable is incapable of offering a cogent and meaningful response.

 

For the other respondent who advised you to "Try to get it right the first time around!" when you're on a tight deadline, well, really? Isn't that what writing is all about? Trying to get it right the first time around? And isn't the purpose of editing to go back and revise those things you failed to get right the first time around? Am I missing something here? Read More 

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THE WARREN REPORT

While this question is a little off the beaten path, when someone wrote online asking if anyone disagreed with the findings of the Warren Report following the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963, I couldn't help but respond. You'll find out why in a couple of minutes. Here's what I said.

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Let me ask you an even more pertinent question: Who didn't?

 

When I was sixteen and the Warren Committee Report was published, I was a conspiracy theorist right along with some of the others who took great pains to respond to your question, fueling the conspiracy controversy that has survived now for decades. And why wouldn't it survive? It's glamorous; it's mysterious, it's titillating, and it's exciting. Unfortunately, it's also untrue.

 

Yes, I was bitterly disappointed with the report and immediately suspected Earl Warren, President Lyndon B. Johnson's personal choice to head the committee into the investigation of JFK, of political chicanery. He was slick, and he was evil. He had a hidden agenda and, like Johnson, didn't want the truth known about who really planned for, ordered, and executed the assassination. And like all those other theorists espousing online here, I was calling for blood. And truth. And justice. Read More 

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IS WRITING A BOOK HARD?

Someone wanted to know why writing a book is so difficult, and he received an answer or two from other online respondents. One was way off the mark. Here's why.

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While I'm sure Mr. Zapata's response was well-intended, it's dead wrong. Sure, writing a book can be all those things he claims, including despair, frustration, and loneliness. But, he makes no allowance for variances between writers, a common shortcoming with newbies with little experience over short periods of time.

Let me explain where he goes wrong.

 

First, writing "a book" isn't difficult at all. You sit down, string some words together, and when you have assembled sixty thousand of them or more, you get up and announce to the world that you've written a book. If that's your goal, it's easy-peasy.

 

However, writing a good book takes considerably more effort and generally more time. That's because all the elements for writing a good novel or even a work of nonfiction work must be present to make it "soar." It has to make sense; it has to move the reader along; it has to provide value for the reader; it has to have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, and it has to provide a satisfactory conclusion. While doing all that, the author must also know the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, syntax, storytelling, conflict and resolution, logic, organization, and all the other elements involved in the clarity and efficiency of writing. Read More 

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