A Little Help from my Friends

Seuipeih: poor in knowledge or skill; sloppy

A famous politician named Wohng Ngon Sehk (A.D. 1021-1086) wrote a dictionary. In it, he split the character “wave” into its basic literal strokes, breaking the word down into “skin of water.” His contemporary, Sou Sik, a man of letters, disagreed with him. According to Wohng’s rules, Sou argued, the character “slippery” would then be viewed as “bone of water.” Sou believed that Wohng had been sloppy in his etymology.

A writer can be sloppy after viewing his or her work numerous times. That’s why it’s important to have peer review. I’m very grateful for my local writers’ group. They keep me on task and offer constructive criticism. I also recently won a blog contest at Sarah Nego Writes and received a free synopsis critique from a literary agent. I got the edits back the other day, and it made my piece so much more coherent.

There are two major areas of editing for prose: developmental versus line (sometimes also called copy). Developmental editing examines the macro view of a document. It looks for structure issues, problems where the story doesn’t make sense and fixes the flow of it. Line editing focuses on the micro aspects. It explores spelling, grammar, and punctuation issues. For an in-depth exploration of the subject, take a look at this post.

Everybody requires help sometimes. When have you experienced receiving some needed assistance, literary or otherwise?

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  1. I rely on a couple critique groups as well as online events for help. It can be amazing what you miss after growing so close to a piece.

  2. Everyone needs critiquing and editing. The stronger the writer, the more he understand the need for it. The problem is finding good criticism. I think it is a relationship that needs to be cultivated between writer and editor. It takes some time to coordinate the dance steps.

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