Daily Archives: April 7, 2011

What in the Heck is a Content Edit?

And why do I need one?

My Dear Hubby ruptured a disk in his neck ten or so years ago.  After his pinky finger went completely numb this weekend, he decided to address his literal pain in the neck.  The kind doctor prescribed steroids to alleviate swelling and a muscle relaxer to…well…relax his ever-so-tight muscles.

 We parted ways after lunch.  Sometime later DH sent me this text:

“I took some z-PAC pills and one mule relaxer pill a half ago.”

I immediately offered to pick him up from work—he said he was so dizzy he couldn’t focus.  Obviously. 

His response: “Why!  Work is way more fun when I’m desirous.”

Hmmmm. Besides the great belly laugh, I also got a mini writing lesson out of his words.

Don’t forget to content edit. 

 A copy edit is one that simply checks grammar, spelling and those pesky typos—mule pills a half ago?  At times our work can be technically correct—a desirous work atmosphere—yet make no real-world sense.  This is where the content edit comes in.

 So what exactly is a content edit?

 It’s a check for inconsistencies.

  • Does your MC answer to Jack on the first page and Jeremy on page 78?
  • Did Jasmine enter the scene in a blue sweater and exit wearing a green jacket?
  • How in the heck did Sandy wake up from a dream when she never went to bed?  Or eat dinner in the middle of the night? 
  • Is it still raining four hours later, yet Candace walks in from her walk as dry as a newly diapered baby bottom?
  • Did Frank age ten years or get younger with each page turn?
  • Does Harry flush his toilet on the Dakota plains in 1910?
  • When did bubbly Hannah turn into a crass ogre?

 These are all examples of content editing.  And nothing pulls readers out of a story quicker than inconsistencies and untruths.

What are some of your favorite inconsistencies either in your writing or in books you’ve read?   Don’t be shy.  We’ve all made some whoppers at some point!

I once had a great opening line for the first day of summer only to have my MC get ready for the first day of school one chapter later.