Welcome to the third week of the Rainbow Editing method! We're halfway through! Before I begin the list, however, I want to let you all know that Camp NaNoWriMo is beginning in just a little under a week! For those of you familiar with the concept of regular NaNo, it is much the same, but with the option of setting your own word count goal, and the ability to create "cabins" of fellow writers for moral support and discussion throughout the month. My first Camp sessions were last year, and I had a fantastic experience. I recommend Camp for people who are thinking of trying NaNoWriMo to get into a writing habit, but aren't sure if they can handle the full 50k goal that November sets. For more information, you can check out their website here (which will open in a new window for you). If you're feeling supportive and would like to cheer me on, my profile page is here, and it will chart my progress. Now: on to the editing!
"Be still, so that your characters can speak for themselves and come alive in their own way." - Frederick Buechner
Green's area of focus is Character and Point of View. I'm not talking about figuring out who your characters are - if you still aren't sure about that, even after a first draft, you're not ready to go over the rainbow yet. With editing, you're looking at Character in terms of whether or not it fits or not. Would your main character use euphemisms like "golly jeepers" or would she just rip right out on a streak that would make a minister blush? E
verything on this list is rooted in one purpose, the most important one of all for fiction writers: connect your reader to your characters. These are both some of the best tricks for doing that, and some of the biggest things to avoid.
Next week we're going into a blue period: there are two shades of blue in the editing spectrum! Please come back and join me for Sky Blue, where we'll start listening to our writing and not just reading it.
Welcome back! For the second week of the Rainbow Editing checklist, we're covering orange! Symbolically, orange is a color of action and intelligence, so I thought it appropriate for the over-quipped, sometimes under-used "Show, Don't Tell". The thing I've discovered about SDT: the showing doesn't apply so much to over-detailing every pebble on the road and piece of litter as it does the emotional content of a scene. But we'll get to that.
Ready for the list? Let's go!
Overall, the main theme of the Orange checklist is to trust your reader, and assume that they are relatively intelligent. They'll remember what you've already told them, and they have everyday experiences of their own to bring to the table. You don't want to show them how life works, in general: you want to show them how life works for this group of characters that you've created, and you want them to become involved and care about the way it ends out. I don't know about you, but telling me how great a book is doesn't really make me care about it. If you sit me down on a couch, put that book in my hand, and say "Here. Read this. I'll go occupy myself while you enjoy it"? I will. I may, in fact, forget that you're there. And isn't that what we want our readers to do?
Next week, get ready to go green, when I cover character and point of view. See you then!
This week marks the first in a series of seven posts about the Rainbow Editing method I discussed in my last entry. Are you ready? Let's paint our manuscripts red! I know that for a lot of people, the thought of red pen conjures up images of merciless markings by teachers ... which is probably why I chose it for my first group of editing criteria: what Self-Editing for Writers refers to as Sophistication. It's a far less intimidating way of saying "spelling, punctuation, and style". Here are the items that fall on my red Sophistication checklist:
And so, we come to the end of the Sophistication checklist. Which item on the list do you feel you need to work on the most? Be sure to let me know, and please come back next week for the orange checklist, when we pull Show vs. Tell out from where it's been beaten into the ground.
Back in January, I finished my first, quick edit of From the Desk... and knew that it would not be enough. I needed to roll up my sleeves and dig in. Unfortunately, most of the editing advice I had seen in blogs and writers' sites was only helpful in a vague sense. I knew I had to tighten my writing, but not how. I knew I had to exterminate my adverbs, but I wasn't sure why. Most of all, I saw that I had to "kill my darlings", but didn't know how to make it a mercy killing that would actually make the end result better without them.
Enter a book that has landed itself a spot in my top five writing guides and memoirs: Self Editing For Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. You can read more about the book itself - and find yourself a copy, if you're so inclined - here on their website. I'm not here to review, but here to tell you how I combined their wisdom with a "rainbow editing" tip I saw on a writer's blog several months ago.
Each chapter in Self-Editing focused on a particular skill-set: character voice, dialogue, grammar, style, and so on. Since I mostly do my editing during my lunch breaks at work, I refrained from taking notes, as I was hoping to come up with something portable that would take up a minimum of space. Instead, I flagged each point that I found could pertain to my projected editing process. Once I finished, I assigned a color to each skill-set and consolidated the chapters into checklists: simple descriptions of things I could scan for and mark to correct when it was time to edit my digital copy. Then I bought a set of my favorite writing pens in rainbow colors, and got to work.
I hit the halfway point in my hard-copy edit yesterday, and I'm happy to report that the method is working extremely well, so far! In addition to helping me catch everything, I can use it as a sort of score-card for my writing style: more of one color than another means that it's an area I need to focus on improving when I start work on In The Cards again, this coming April!
Since this method works so well for me, I feel like I should share it with any other writers out there - so expect one color checklist each week while I finish up my editing!
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