Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page
Writing is work! Hard work. Very demanding work, in an unrelentingly detail-oriented sort of way. Composition of a basic rough draft is relatively easy. One just sits down and writes. But revisions, rewrites, and editing is harder than it looks. And those tasks are necessary to turn a rough draft into something sell-able

Self-editing is difficult because a writer is often too close to their work to see minor problems. Sure, one can catch a few errors. But letting someone else give a rough draft a read-through and critique is almost always necessary to root out all the niggling little details that could keep a work from being sold.

Being edited is seldom easy on a writer's ego. Some writers never step beyond the "my words are etched in stone and are perfect the way I put them" stage of writing. Except in very rare cases, every writer can benefit from having an editor. The trick is to put one's ego away and admit that someone else might just happen to be correct when they point out changes that could very well make a manuscript better than its original draft.

I was first edited in 1976. I couldn't for the life of me understand why Tom Deitz didn't see my words as perfectly clear and comprehensible to any average reader. After an hour or so of watching my precious words be changed, I started to understand what Tom was getting at. His changes made the story better! I finally packed my ego away and followed along closely as he scribbled additions and corrections to my formerly-deathless prose. In short, I began to learn.

Now look, I started writing back when a typewriter was the state-of-the-art word processor. White-Out was new! Later on, computers were invented. After that, Word Processor programs were written. My first attempt at a novel was outlined on a typewriter, then eventually revised and expanded on a TRS-80 Color Computer 3. Aphelion Webzine came to be a decade later and first found life in a Radio Shack-version 386! About the only fad I haven't used very much is speech-to-text programs. And that's because I just don't have the time to train a program to understand my accent.

But one thing hasn't ever changed in my lifetime. The real need for critiques, constructive criticism, and someone to sit down and edit a rough draft into something a writer can then polish up to be a sell-able manuscript. If I were egotistical enough, I could load a rough draft into a modern Word Processor program, click on the "Export to PDF" option, and attempt to sell unpolished manuscripts as e-books on Amazon.com. I'm willing to bet that I wouldn't sell very many before word got around that my work needed an editor to give it a real shine. To be ready for a reader to actually enjoy, rather than painfully wade through. To be worth paying money for, in other words.

I've been writing little stories since the mid-1960s. Some of them have been good. Some have been crap. But all of them could have been improved by a little editing by someone outside my skull! I hope I never get so self-involved that I reject the advice of an editor. Editors exist because writers need an outside source who is willing to say "you could get your point across better if you word that sentence this way..."

People who choose to be editors really deserve our respect and thanks. That is one tough job! I'm thankful to have found a series of people willing to tell me what I can change to make my writing better. I have learned from each of them. I pray that I never stop learning.

OK, time for me to shut up and let you read the April issue.