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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > May 2017 > Pro prose

Pro prose

Explore some advanced ‘microediting’ techniques with practical examples from author and lecturer James McCreet as he revisits his novel-in-progress

I’ll be honest: I’m a terrible editor. I hate to re-read my writing because I can’t help comparing myself to literary heroes and realising how woefully I fall short of their standard. Moreover, my day job as a copywriter is one in which deadlines usually prevent thoughtful editing. I’m used to writing one-shot, single-draft prose that I’ll never have to see again.

For these reasons (and also impatience, laziness, frustration) I’ve never been an assiduous editor of my fiction. I’ve always been content with ‘good enough’. When you’re playing with 100,000 words, perfection is pretty difficult to achieve. Maybe a poem can approach perfection, but not a novel.

My latest book is different. I’m aware that it might be the best thing I’ve ever written and I’ve started to feel some responsibility to make it as good as I can. Following my usual singlesweep edit to find errors and tidy up grammatical confusion, I’ve found myself returning to the manuscript again and again to examine random pages for improvement. In the last two months, I’ve made hundreds of tiny changes.

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About Writing Magazine

Want to make sure your readers are hooked from the start? In this month's Writing Magazine, learn how to grab your readers' attention and keep it all the way to the end. • Have you completed a first draft? We show you how to polish it to perfection. • Would your life make a good story? We show you how to transform your inspiring ideas into writing material. • Read how our star interview, Lisa McInerney, went from blogger to bestseller. • Find out about the latest writing opportunities and win £51,579 in writing prizes!

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