Meeting: November 2, 2013

Judy Roth: The Art of Self-Editing

Our manuscripts are our babies. We give birth to them and nurture them along. By the time we’ve finished that first draft, we are nearly as invested in our words as we are in our own children. We are also a little too close, making it hard not only to see the forest for the trees but equally challenging to get a clear view of each tree.

So how does one take a step back and really grasp the entire forest? Its height, its density, its color, its fragrance? Yet also appreciate each tree for its uniqueness, for what it brings to the forest—or not. Because let’s face it, while a few dead trees or broken limbs will only marginally mar the view, an invasive species can smother the entire forest.

When editing our manuscripts we need to step back, and with an objective eye, take in our work as a whole. We need to be sure our story and characters are entertaining and consistent, our structure and word choices are vibrant, while also keeping an eye out for bad habits, grammatical glitches and spelling errors.

But how do we do this, and when do we know it’s time to let our baby fly on her own? Judy will help us plot a strategy for looking at these big picture items, and she will also point to some of the smaller items that can potentially undermine our story. As to when to let the baby fly free—that’s a tough one—but Judy will discuss some support systems to help guide your baby into a fully blossomed manuscript.

Judy Roth has been writing and editing for seventeen years. She currently works as a freelance editor for three publishing houses and a diverse group of authors looking to self-publish or spruce up their manuscripts for submission. She is a member of RWA and her local chapter, CTRWA. In her spare time—oh wait, she doesn’t have any—but if she did, she would love to read even more than she already does, soak up the sun and spend more time with her family and friends.