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Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print 2 Sub Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I sent my as-yet-unpublished novel to a literary agent.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.
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.Read more ›
1. Showing not telling
2. Characterization & exposition
3. Point of view
5. Dialog mechanics
6. How the text sounds
7. Interior monologue
8. Beats (character actions between bits of dialog)
9. Sentence/paragraph/chapter breaks
11. Sophisticated versus amateur style
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For me, this was THE book on writing in general. This was the one that turned it all around and made me really start working at the craft, instead of just toying. Read morePublished 5 days ago by peter t mcqueeny
Helpful, concise and well worth the small price I paid for it.Published 18 days ago by Susannah L. Sulzman
For a book about writing technique, I found this very wordy, could have been condensed to a pamphlet.Published 25 days ago by Jane Lee
I did pick up some helpful information and tips. There is a checklist after each chapter. But one has to recognize the errors in one's own work. Read morePublished 29 days ago by P. H.
TL;DR: This is a book of decent advice hidden in a sea of excess examples, author ego, and general organizational issues. 25% stuff, 75% fluff. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
An excellent book that helped me to shed some of the excesses and bad writing habit. If you are a new writer, or someone struggling to find a fresh voice, check this book out. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jerry Higbee
This book was excellent in helping me address some lazy and ineffective writing. I have done a fair bit of writing in my life and after reading this book, my current project looks... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michael D. Kilman