I’ve just finished reading “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Browne and King. It’s one of the books I started on my trip to O.’s village a few months back.
I definitely gleaned some good advice from it and I typed it all out for me to refer to as I re-edit (or self-edit, again) my manuscript*.
Working on making my book better (and hopefully getting it into publishing shape) is one of my goals for 2006. Or, as I put it in a previous entry, something I want to get done and January is as good a time as any to start.
This is a priority for me and my free time that is generally spent in reading is being redirected to reading and editing my manuscript. There’s A LOT to be done.
Here is my list (in my own words) of what I need to look out for…
Things to look out for in my writing:
o Tell the story thru dialogue instead of narration
o Characters – just give a few descriptions at first. Character personalities should emerge from – actions, reactions, interior monologue (thinking to themselves) and dialogue
o Don’t describe emotions or anything else that you’ve already shown in some other way (like thru dialogue)
o Let the readers use their imagination, don’t describe each and every step
o Let the dialogue convey emotion. RESIST THE URGE TO EXPLAIN (RUE).
o Use “said” instead of “ly” adverbs. Put name first “Dave said…”
o Be consistent in how people are referred to, esp in their dialogue
o Read everything out loud to see how it sounds to the ear
o Use just a little interior monologue (Character’s thoughts to themselves in the midst of a dialogue sequences) You don’t need, “he thought”, “she wondered” all that often.
o Avoid italics
o Use “beats” bits of actions interspersed thru a scene – physical gestures described. These give readers enuf details to jumpstart their imagination. But not too much.
o Break up long paragraphs. People like to see white on the page.
o Watch out for repetition of words or ideas. Don’t tell what you’ve shown.
o Make the bad guys relatable to the reader. Give them some good points or weaknesses. Don’t make them thoroughly evil.
o Avoid starting sentences with “ing” or “As she…” Use only 1 or 2 of these per page.
o Root out “ly” adverbs. Use verbs that are powerful enuf to convey their own action.
o Use commas to string together short dialogue sentences, this emulates actual speech.
o Avoid flowery phrases and descriptions.
o Read Characters dialogue in succession to hear their voice and see if they are consistent.
That was fascinating to no one except somebody who may also be self-editing.
*I wrote a manuscript for a historical fiction novel. I spent last spring and summer trying to get it published and it obviously didn’t happen. I’m now on round 2.