Newsletter No 1 – Welcome to all                                

My first newsletter and it feels good to think there are people who have signed up for them. If you haven’t yet done so, it’s easy to add your name to the list. I hope a few minutes spent here will be interesting, and feedback from time to time would be very pleasant, too, for anyone who would like to comment.

Editing has been high on my writing agenda recently. My own work of course, but also involvement in Anthologies for writers’ groups to which I contribute. Lots of useful tips already out there for editing manuscripts, but I wanted to offer a few strategies of my own which have proved useful.

A programme, Grammarly, is available FREE on the web. Go to the official website to sign up for the basic offer. (There is another higher level analytical tool for some issues but you have to pay for that.)

Grammarly has helped me with slip ups in punctuation and the odd ‘typo’. It also highlights extra spaces between words in texts – another common error in my own keyboarding.

I always edit my own work as I go, but my first major edit of a completed work has to be from a hard copy print out. I do not know why. There is something about a hard copy which makes errors stand out much more than on a laptop or other screen. Perhaps it is because I set it up so that it looks very similar to the pages of a real book, before I print it off for editing purposes e.g. wide margins top/bottom/left/right and 1 ½ or double line spacing.

As to editing the work of others, for example in putting together items for an anthology, I tend to be much less prescriptive, even in offering suggestions. After all, not everyone wants, or needs to understand, if and when to use the Oxford Comma.

The contributions from various writers with different styles and approaches are, in any case, what gives an anthology its authenticity. We are used to free verse, even if some people still prefer traditional rhyme (I like to rhyme in my own poetry, and especially favour internal rhyme), and in many modern novels the disappearance of the semi-colon is growing. One of the great freedoms of a Writers’ Group Anthology is that it need not be limited to the strictures of traditional publishing. Especially as it will be self-published in the first place.

Most groups have a willing and competent editor or two and that can be very useful!

Writers read a lot. I am eclectic in my tastes and try to cover various genres. It all feeds back into your own fiction, in the same way that events and people in my personal life can be used for stories – transformed from the original though. The latest book  I have read which has had a lot of impact on me is Margaret Atwood’s ‘Curious Pursuits’. First published in GB in 2005, many people will have got there before me. It is an extraordinary history of Canadian writers and writing. I had not realised how small was the writing or literary scene when Margaret Atwood started out. Today there are so many excellent writers from that part of world – in numbers, way beyond what the size of the Canadian population would ever suggest.

Many will be familiar with her ‘Handmaid’s Tale’, and its sequel, as it has been turned into a series for TV, but her work ranges from poetry right through to environmental activism.