Happy Eclipse Everyone. Tomorrow is the big day and the weatherman is saying that the St. Louis area may be under clouds ... after all the hype, and horror stories that have floated through my mind, it may all be for nothing...ha ha ha
Today, I would like to introduce everyone to Ms. Sandra Maue, an up and coming editor for fiction writers. I hope to have her back again soon......
I can recommend this young lady as an editor. I have used her and although we argued, and I lost most of the time...she is fantastic. So with out further delay.....
Revision and Self-Editing: Let the Blood-Letting Commence!
Woo-hoo! You’ve written the draft.
That cursed blank page is chiseled with 50,000-80,000 words. Well done! Now lock that manuscript in a drawer and don’t look at it for at least two weeks. Six, if you can stand it.
It’s margarita time!!!
Once you have recovered from celebrating, and you haven’t even thought about your manuscript as it was fermenting, what is next on that yellow brick road to publishing?
Truth? It’s time to revise and self-edit. It’s time for the blood-letting to commence!
Why are you whimpering in the corner? Revision and self-editing is as much a part of story-crafting as writing. You wouldn’t serve your guests cake without baking and icing it. What a flat, gooey mess.
You have made a commitment to yourself as a writer, to the story, and to the reader. At least, you should have if you are planning on publishing.
Though you will want to have your manuscript professionally edited, the less work your editor has to do means a lower cost for you. Learning the writing craft is reinforced with revising and self-editing. As writers, we should always continue learning, and growing.
So, how do you keep that commitment? Well, you’ve written it, but did you write it well? You thought so, until you pulled it out and started reading it. Your cheeks flushed as several groans involuntarily slipped from your throat.
It’s okay. Really. No writer has ever composed a masterpiece on the first go-round.
First drafts are, what I like to call, a word vomit. Your keyboard smokes from the friction of your fingers zinging across the keys. Well done. But, now that you are in the revision process, you need to ask yourself some simple questions.
1) What is the novel about? What is the plot?
This is a good time to work on your premise. Can you tell someone about your story in one or two sentences? At this point, could you write the back-cover blurb?
2) What are the secondary and tertiary plots?
Write down each plot line as succinctly as possible.
3) Where does the story begin?
This is crucial. When does forward movement of the plot actually begin? A lot of exposition tends to come out in first drafts. Now is the time to start cutting away at it.
4) How does each scene move the story forward?
Make a list of every scene in your book. What happens in each one? How does it relate to the book’s central, secondary, or tertiary plotlines? Every scene in your novel, regardless of the genre, should be active and should move your story forward.
The idea is to look at your manuscript as if someone else wrote it. I’m talking about ripping into that manuscript with a broadsword, not a dagger. Slice. Slice. Slice. This is where the expression “kill your darlings” comes into play.
If you are a Pantser – one who writes by the seat of their pants, now is a good time to make an outline, or at least a time line. Does your plot follow the 7-point plot line for a novel? (Short stories have various structures depending on type of story and writer preference).
If you are an Outliner, which is my preference, then you have a good start to ripping into your manuscript.
What are some of the areas you want to look at during this time of vivisection? Focus on big picture areas, such as consistency, plot holes, believable characters, flow and rhythm. Is your dialogue fresh with no “throat clearing”?
What is throat clearing? It’s when you’re not sure what you want to say so you just start writing until the brilliance comes out. Keep the dazzling stuff but cut away anything the reader doesn’t need to know.
Once you have your manuscript where you want it, take advantage of some trusted beta readers. Ask them to look at specific areas you are concerned with.
· Did the story keep their attention throughout?
· Were the characters interesting?
· Did the plot make sense?
· Was the quality of the writing equal to that of a well-reviewed published novel?
· If they were buying this book on Amazon, how would they rate it?
Use their responses to work through a second revision. Then put it away again before doing a third. With each revision, you’ll move from big picture areas to zero in on the detail stuff until you get down to just proofreading.
Be prepared. The revision process is much longer than the actual writing process. Much of your time will be spent contemplating and slogging your way through the muddy areas. Don’t dismiss these times as ineffective. It’s all part of story-crafting. If you should find yourself distracted by everyday life stuff, put the manuscript away and come back to it when you feel more focused.
If this is your first adventure into the writing world, you may not be aware of what’s involved in creating a well-polished manuscript. You had a story you thought others would enjoy and you just started banging away at the keys. You don’t know about all the elements of writing, or you need a refresher course because it’s been a while since high school.
It’s time to get off your duff and start learning. You need to know about story structure, character building, plot, description, scene setting, and all that other stuff.
Read. Start on the internet to get an idea of what you should be learning, then invest in some books.
Below I’ve listed some resources for you to start with. I’ve read all of them and can recommend every one. Write with abandon. Edit with vigilance.
The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction: Your Blueprint for Building a Strong Story (The Writer's Toolbox Series) by C.S. Lakin
Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley
Rock Your Revisions by Cathy Yardley
5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing (The Writer’s Toolbox Series) by C.S. Lakin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown & Dave King
Fix Your Damn Book! A Self-Editing Guide for Authors: How to Painlessly Self-Edit Your Novels and Stories by James Osiris Baldwin