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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 (233 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:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,131 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 53 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I sent my as-yet-unpublished novel to a literary agent.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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65 of 71 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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25 of 25 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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11 of 11 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 Highly recommended
I highly recommend this instructive and very helpful little book for any author, especially those who are considering self-publishing. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Michael J. Tobias
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Help for Fiction Authors!
I absolutely loved this book! It has helped me a lot to strengthen my writing. I bought it when I started editing my novel and it has been immensely helpful for myself and my... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Meg H.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
This is a must read if you are interested in writing a novel. I learned a lot just by competing the exercises.
Published 21 days ago by Lora Lindy
5.0 out of 5 stars So your first draft is what ?
I found this book extremely informative as well as interesting, covers all the topics that make a difference between so-so writing and possibly great writing. Read more
Published 25 days ago by JackieS
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly Useful for Advanced Writers
As I read this book, I didn't think it would be useful. Then I got to the second half, and it got a lot better. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Eric J. Juneau
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Any New Author With Self-Publishing Dreams
As a new author I have been soaking up so much information from so many places it's astounding. So what makes this book stand out? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Edward Anthony Giambalvo
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical for the beginner
I liked the practicality and examples used. But I am a beginning writer. More experienced may want to bypass the book.
Published 1 month ago by g goldman
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Self-Editing Book for Writers: Self-Editing for Fictions Writers...
I have many different books on writing. Some are hard to read as the type is too small. Other book have valuable information, but only after you've read page after page of type. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kira
4.0 out of 5 stars very Good Self Editing Book
Lots of advise, exercises. Many good points from a very good editor. I like his thinking on developing your own writer's Voice.
Published 1 month ago by Ernesto V. Oporto
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but summary (at the end of each chapter) could have been...
This book is good. Though it maybe difficult to become an editor after reading just one book, it gives us the major points that editors look for while editing, and I believe that... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Destination Infinity
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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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