My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Editing Tips

This is a four stage editing process I've come up with. I've thrown in advice I've gathered from reading books on writing, and listening to writing podcasts. I kind of broke it down into 4 phases to go through, starting broad, and then narrowing down. You could almost say you start with revision, and then get down into editing. I hope it is helpful to you.

Dan’s Editing Process

1. The Story as a Whole

  • Read it out loud, you'll catch things you wouldn't be simply reading through it.
  • Everything Make Sense?
  • Any plot holes?
  • Protagonist go through a change? Character Arc?
  • Problems too easily solved?
  • Each scene, character moving the story forward?
  • Anything boring, or slowing the story down?
  • Challenges have a strong enough conflict?
  • Any fluff that’s not adding to the story? Kill your darlings!

2. Breaking It Down Into Scenes

  • Break story into individual scenes, treating each scene as it's own story, does it work?
  • Characters acting believably to who they are?
  • Show don’t tell
  • No grocery list descriptions

3. Line Editing

  • Work from the last sentence to the first sentence in the last paragraph, read sentence to sentence then the full paragraph, all the way to the beginning.
  • Editing Checklist: Spelling
  • Spell check has been run.
  • "It's" and "its" have been used correctly ("it's" is a contraction for "it is"; "its" is possessive).
  • All other homonyms -- which spell check would not catch -- have been checked. (For example, you wouldn't want to write: "She peaked through the blinds and saw the peek of Mt. Ampersand.")
  • Editing Checklist: Grammar
  • Dialogue is punctuated correctly.
  • Any run-ons or fragments are intentional (and even those are rare).
  • Subjects and verbs agree in number, and verb tenses are consistent throughout.
  • Commas have been used correctly.
  • "That" and "which" have been used correctly.
  • There are no unclear or confusing pronoun references.
  • Sentence structure varies in descriptive or expository passages. (Keep your reader interested.)
  • The sentences are concise.
  • Consideration has been given to word choice. (This means you have consulted a thesaurus.)
  • Basic facts have been checked (especially ones that would be embarrassing to get wrong).

4. Get Feedback

  • Use what you think is good advice, it’s still your book
  • Don’t get offended, use feedback, and thank them for it, they read it!

My First Manuscript Wordcount Update!

Working through the middle of the story!

Monday, February 2, 2009

First Manuscript

So, when you hit 50,000 words, it's considered a novel. I'm guessing my first completed manuscript will be more like 25,000. If I can get past 20,000 it'll be a Novella, like Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea. That's my goal, to pass up 20,000 words, but we'll see if my story needs to be that long.