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Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print [Kindle Edition]

Renni Browne , Dave King
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories.

In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Renni Browne, once senior editor for William Morrow and other publishers, left mainstream publishing to found the Editorial Department in 1980. Founder of the Lost State Writer’s Conference, and a regular commentator on writers and the writing life on local public radio, she lives in Greeneville, TN.

Product Details

  • File Size: 373 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060545690
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; 2 Sub edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JBI2YI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,533 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe now I can be published! August 8, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
You wouldn't be here if you weren't interested in writing. Perhaps, like me, you also wouldn't be here unless you had also experienced some degree of professional rejection of the manuscript you thought was full of promise.

I sent my as-yet-unpublished novel to a literary agent. I wasn't surprised to not be accepted - there are plenty of famous stories of rejection of everyone from Tom Clancy to Stephen King - but I was encouraged to receive a page of constructive criticism from the agent. Among his suggestions: Read Browne and King's "Self-Editing". I did and immediately the glaring deficiencies of my manuscript stood out as plainly as a Naked Cowboy in Times Square. I took these words to heart and reworked the entire manuscript. I have no idea if the manuscript will find a professional home - but I am certain it is better, much better, than it was.
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Summary By the Authors Themselves... October 8, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a verbatim handout in a clinic the authors taught in 1990 in New York. Each item on the following self-editing checklist is a deal-breaker for your blockbuster. Your manuscript likely has many of them. Buy this essential book; understand what the checklist items refer to, and start self-editing.

1) SHOW(ing) AND TELL(ing): As you re-read your work, watch for places where you tell your readers about personality traits, situations, or emotions, rather than showing them through actions and events.

2) DIALOGUE DIRECTIVES: Watch like a hawk for places where you've explained your dialog. Watch for "ly" adverbs and verbs for speech other than "said." And rethink your paragraphing.

3) SEE HOW IT SOUNDS: Read a passage of dialogue, narration, or description aloud and listen for the unconscious changes.

4) EASY BEATS: Beware of including either beats that describe dialogue or so many beats that the dialogue is choppy.

5) INTERIOR MONOLOGUE: As with beats, make sure your interior monologue isn't obtrusive or actually an explanation in disguise. Also, dispense with stage directions whenever possible.

6) SOPHISTICATION: Watch for "as" and "-ing" constructions and change the sentences that don't actually require these constructions.

7) BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO: Break up lengthy sections of narration or descriptions with frequent paragraphs, or with dialogue, or even with the occasional one or two line paragraph.

8) POINT OF VIEW: Watch for places where you change point of view in the middle of a scene. If the change is necessary, insert a linespace and start a new scene.

9) ONCE IS USUALLY ENOUGH: Look for places in which you've accomplished essentially the same thing twice.
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123 of 132 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A breezy read August 26, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Renni Browne and Dave King have written a better than average book on craft for fiction writers. It covers the following topics:

1. Showing not telling
2. Characterization & exposition
3. Point of view
4. Proportion
5. Dialog mechanics
6. How the text sounds
7. Interior monologue
8. Beats (character actions between bits of dialog)
9. Sentence/paragraph/chapter breaks
10. Repetition
11. Sophisticated versus amateur style
12. Voice

They include passages from works of famous writers as well as of clients of their own editing service in showing how to address errors. They also provide exercises, and in the appendix, suggested answers to those exercises. Excellent.
The book is certainly worth reading, but I am concerned they missed the forest for the trees in certain places. The best example of my concern is in the first chapter on showing not telling. The authors take issue with the following line from F. Scott Fiztgerald's The Great Gatsby:

The two girls and Jordan leaned together confidentially.

The "problem" is the ly-adverb "confidentially". The authors suggest it would be stronger to eliminate this adverb explaining the girls' emotion, and instead write the following:

The two girls and Jordan leaned their heads together.

Their rule is to avoid using adverbs to tell the reader which emotions the characters are experiencing, and instead convey their emotion by dialog and actions. This is a perfectly reasonable rule, and I agree it should be followed, most of the time. In the above example however, the rewritten version doesn't quite convey what Fitzgerald intended. There could be many reasons for the girls to have leaned their heads together.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable tool for the beginning writer November 5, 2006
I would have to say that this book should be a must for all aspiring authors. Even, dare I say, to many established authors who make many of the mistakes that this book talks about. And I don't say this because I blindly follow what this book says. Nay, I have read books and I have been annoyed or bothered by their unrealistic dialogue, their page long speeches over and over again, using too much description, and finally the author patronizing the reader by trying to force feed everything. That is why I found this book to be amazing, because what I had already been shaking my head at was found in this book to be big no-nos.

That being said I was amazed while reading. There were some chapters that were rather basic, such as chapter 1, "Show and Tell", but then there were other chapters that I know, as an amateur writer, will greatly help my already written work as well anything in the future. Such chapters as "Proportion", "Dialogue Mechanics" and "Breaking Up Is Easy To Do" are all great chapters.

I would most definitely recommend this book to all beginning writers, even to those already established just to refresh their editing styles. A quick read that is well worth it.

5 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful
This book is great. I won't need to look for another self editing book,this one is more than I hoped for and at a low price, perhaps perfect.
Published 1 day ago by Mike S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for EVERY Aspiring Novelist
By far the best book in this genre. A must read for every aspiring novelist. Do not publish until you've read this book.
Published 2 days ago by Brightaway
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Self-Edit Your Stories
Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown & Dave King is an essential tool for every writer of fiction, particularly for those who are new or emerging. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Rita Sickles
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource
This is one of the best resources for writers I have ever found. Well-written and well-organized.E
Published 3 days ago by S. Fix
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Mistake I Ever Made As a Writer
The best mistake I ever made as a writer was to buy this book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I saw the cover and thought Renni Browne and Dave King were going to tell me how to... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Yarn Genie Mysteries
5.0 out of 5 stars SUCH a great help. I took notes on every page and ...
SUCH a great help. I took notes on every page and the the 3rd draft of the novel I'm currently working on is easily the best one yet.
Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was helpful and I definitely recommend it to anyone out...
Very interesting read. This book was helpful and I definitely recommend it to anyone out there that needs assistance with writing and formatting.
Published 7 days ago by 85 Glory
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It was a Christmas Present
Published 9 days ago by Susan Schestopol
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, easy read with tons of examples. Highly recommended!
Best money I've spent on a writing book. While King's On Writing is still my favorite in the genre, that's more memoir and muse than how-to. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for beginning writers who want to learn more ...
Excellent book for beginning writers who want to learn more about the craft. Direct straight earnest language, no pretences, just to teach, nail on the head suggestions and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by maureen onuigbo
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Topic From this Discussion
Difference from general editing
First, I'm sorry I didn't reply sooner. I should check this page more often.
Second, I think you should run out and grab a copy, too, though I realize I'm a bit biased. It does focus primarily on fiction, but it would help you with any writing that uses fictional techniques -- memoir,... Read More
Aug 23, 2007 by David F. King |  See all 8 posts
Self-Editing now has a Facebook Fan Page
I just liked it. Thanks! :)
Jun 27, 2011 by BookBuff9293 |  See all 6 posts
Would you like to talk with the co-author?
I picked up your excellent book from the shelves of the library where I work. It's proving most helpful in editing the manuscript of a friend's novel. Right now I'm struggling to walk a fine line between editing and evisceration-- some of her best character development is in interior... Read More
Sep 7, 2006 by Pat W |  See all 3 posts
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