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553 of 562 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I seized my magic marker. I writhed with shame., April 17, 2001
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This review is from: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print (Paperback)
"Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" literally had me writhing. At least my toes curled and I kept saying, "Ouch," as chapter after chapter critiqued yet another one of my cherished writing habits ('Tom Swifties' for one). I have two suggestions for potential readers: (1) bypass "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" completely if you have a delicate ego; (2) if you do read it, stock up on several different colors of magic markers and keep your manuscript nearby. It will soon be streaming with color.
Renni Browne and Dave King also explain why self-editing, "is probably the only kind of editing your manuscript will ever get." Many publishing houses have eliminated the tedious step of editing a promising manuscript to bring it up to its full potential. If they like it coming in the door, the manuscript is published 'as is'!
I'm sorry, Renni and Dave. I had to use an exclamation point to end that last sentence. Your book explains why I've been struggling through so many bloated fantasy novels, lately. The editors who used to take a red pencil to them are now gone missing, probably in the interests of 'cost cutting'. And if there is anyone out there who still believes fantasy novels do get edited, read "Rhapsody: Child of Blood" by Elizabeth Haydon.
"Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" is not just for the unpublished. The authors take examples of bad dialogue mechanics or second-hand reporting right out of the classics and show us how to rectify them. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and P.D. James all take their lumps in this book, and once you've seen how Renni and Dave improve these authors' paragraphs, you will probably agree with them (I did). You also get to practice on "The Great Gatsby" yourself in one of the exercises that follows the chapter on "Dialogue Mechanics".
Each chapter except the last in "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" has a checklist that you can take to your own manuscript. I used all eleven of the checklists on mine, and all I can say is, thank God for the 'cut and paste feature' in word processors. This novel of mine originally started out on a typewriter, and I would have been forced to commit hara-kiri if I'd read this book before 'cut and paste' was invented.
Seriously, this is a most helpful book for would-be 'published' authors of fiction. I'll give it five stars for now, but I'm going to hack in to Amazon.com and up its rating to seventeen stars if I actually do get published. Right now, I've got a few more changes to make to my manuscript....
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 5, 2008 10:33:32 AM PDT
Thank you!

Posted on Nov 25, 2008 10:57:24 AM PST
Average Guy says:
This review was helpful; I know know I'll never buy this book. The setup is this: If you don't agree, it is simply because of your fragile ego. I receive and accept corrections to my writing from lesser beings than these authors so that is not my situation. Here's the rub: "F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and P.D. James all take their lumps in this book" Why stop there? Critique Picasso's painting. That's easy to do -- "Did he really mean to have this smudge here or mix green as muddy? If he'd just clean his brushes better!" These are productive artists. I have to wonder, if P.D. James doesn't pass muster, who does? Doesn't this smell too much like this? "Publishing houses no longer respect (pay for) fine editors (such as the authors!), here's my snarky revenge!" You'll see from this, that I need help in punctuation (among other things) -- I humbly accept that -- I was shooting spitwads when I should have been splicing split infinitives and de-alliterating alliterations. I think I'll look elsewhere though.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2008 3:58:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2008 4:00:10 PM PST
E. A. Lovitt says:
Renni and Dave probably felt constrained to critique books that most of us read in high school. They really helped me. In fact, I've internalized their book. Every time I commit a 'Tom Swiftie' to paper or screen, I hear a faint 'tsk tsk' emanating from my wetware editor.

Posted on Jul 4, 2009 4:19:28 PM PDT
I agree with this review and enjoyed reading the review!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2009 5:50:32 PM PDT
E. A. Lovitt says:
Good luck with your novel!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2009 6:33:57 AM PDT
MotorMind says:
According to this book and a few others like it, I am doing most anything right in my current novel. Still I get the feeling this lulls me into a sense of false security. If coming up with a good final draft would really just be a matter of following rules, things would be a bit too easy.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2009 7:17:18 AM PDT
E. A. Lovitt says:
You could be writing the world's greatest novel, and the publishers' might still reject it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2011 8:47:34 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 27, 2011 8:53:13 AM PDT
BookBuff9293 says:
Average Guy, please calm down. The authors are pointing out a reality in our changing world, and their book provides a means for authors to scrutinize their own works when editors are lacking. Nothing wrong with that. Throwing unfounded and vicious accusations their way does not help lend your critique creed.

This is the point of the authors when they bring up the classics: Even these works could have been crisper, as crisp as they are, so certainly the same goes for your work. There is always room for improvement. Who cares what the author wanted to say, in that regard? Maybe I want to open my novel with some purple prose about a sunset--doesn't mean it's the most effective approach.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2011 8:51:55 AM PDT
BookBuff9293 says:
@Motormind: It wouldn't be too easy if your foundation was atrocious. This book doesn't tell you how to come up with good ideas, create characters, make sure you have no sagging middle...I could go on and on. This book is about revision, and more on a surface level, at that. It's like touching up your makeup, making it more sophisticated and less tacky, but the face beneath won't change based on these touch-ups...if that comparison helps! So you still need a solid and creative foundation, and while you can read up on plot and the like, your talent and creativity is pretty much inborn.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2013 2:47:48 PM PDT
Steven King's book referred to Tom Swifties, and gave a lot of concrete examples of how to edit. I'm wondering if this book is actually better. I have no desire to write better than P.D. James, whom I expect has sold a lot more books than these guys..
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