It's editing season for yours truly, and since I'm about to dust off The Proper Bearing after its hibernation for some fine-tuning, I thought it was a good time to talk editing. As I've said in previous posts, it is vital to edit before self-publishing, and not just with a peer. If your budget for editing is non-existent, you have to be even more critical of your writing ... but with time and practice, good self-editing can become second nature. Without further ado, here are some of the resources I've used in the past to build my own habits!
Starting with the basics, ReadWriteThink has a checklist that's meant for classroom use, but still has some great starting points. It's also printable for use in writers' groups, workshops, or NaNoWriMo Write-Ins!
Fiction University has two great pages: The Spit Shine, which is a great last run-through, and more importantly, Crossing Words Off Your List, which covers the author's most important self-editing tool. The "Bad Words" list, which goes by many names, always serves the same basic prinicple: to help remove words which are either unnecessary or overused. Every author has a handful which are unique to them, and sometimes they aren't even words. (Confession: In The Cards had a lot of unnecessary ellipses before the final edit.)
Though those words are a good first step, they aren't everything. Grammar Girl's Editing Checklist covers the bases on ... you guessed it, grammar! This one is laid out simply, and yet very comprehensive, which makes it a good one to print out and keep in your editing binder if you prefer to edit on paper (like yours truly).
WordStream's Self-Editing Checklist includes talking points on all of the above, with an extra dose of humor. I take their final point with a grain of salt, however: they stress paring down your sentences as much as possible. While I'm a fan of a tightly written sentence, I also believe that keeping some of the proverbial meat on the bone helps you define your writing voice. Your mileage may, as with most method advice, vary.
Finally, there is my own Rainbow Editing Method, which I use in conjunction with my personal Bad Words file. I developed it while I was working on From The Desk of Buster Heywood, and it's gone a long way toward helping me identify my own problem areas. You're welcome to use it, too! There's a wrap-up post with links to all the sections right here.
Now, I'm about to dive into my own manuscript, so I'll see you all next Wednesday! Should you be up to the same task, happy editing ... and I hope you all have a great week!
We've finally reached the end of the Rainbow! It's hard to believe that I started writing about this three months ago! Last week, I promised a tally of my own edits to From the Desk of Buster Heywood, and I do try to keep my promises. I used this tally to find the areas of my writing that needed the most work and conscious effort, and hopefully I'll have different results when I start editing the next book, In the Cards. For those of you who aren't interested in this sort of thing? I apologize, and there is already a fantastic anecdotal entry simmering in my brain for next week. So, without further ado, proof of my own imperfection (she said, grinning).
Sophistication (Original Entry)
Show vs. Tell (Original Entry)
Character & P.O.V (Original Entry)
Character, Pacing, and Beats (Original Entry)
Dialogue, Monologue & Sound (Original Entry)
Voice (Original Entry)
I could break these down by chapter, since I did make a list of them, but that would ruin so many surprises. Here are the things a lot of my favorite passages had in common:
Other Edits & Instances of "Kill Your Darlings"
A lot of my generic edits, done in pink ink, involved tightening up sentences, or reordering them so that they read more smoothly on the page. A few places needed a little more "oomph" to ramp up suspense, and others needed extra taken out to speed up the pace. My proverbial darlings, passages that I loved but didn't necessarily need, got highlighted in yellow. The fifteen pages in Chapter 1 I mentioned earlier were a doozy, since that scene was the first glimpse I had of Buster's sister, Dee, and loved her immediately. I also had a few funny lines which were pretty good, but didn't fit Buster quite right. These have been saved and tucked away for later use. One particular darling remains, but in a pared-down and much more subtle form, to help tie the first book to its successors. I won't give it away, but a couple of books from now, it'll be clear as day in a reread.
That officially wraps up my entries on the Rainbow Editing Method! Thank you for sticking through it with me, and I hope that some of what I've had to say over these last few months has been useful ... or at the very least, somewhat entertaining. See you all next Thursday!
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