- File Size: 368 KB
- Print Length: 292 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Subsequent edition (June 3, 2010)
- Publication Date: June 15, 2010
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003JBI2YI
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,946 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print Subsequent Edition, Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Renni Browne, once senior editor for William Morrow and other companies, left mainstream publishing in 1980 to found The Editorial Department, a national book-editing company.
Dave King is a contributing editor at Writer's Digest. He also works as an independent editor in his home in rural Ashfield, Massachusetts.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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This is basically the standard advice you can find for free all over the web or on YouTube heavily larded with text from other author's books, so much so that it is really too tedious to read and IMO not worth the $12.95 for the kindle edition.
Just to be clear, this is not a book about developmental/substantive editing. Other than some tips about plot twists and repetitions, this book doesn’t address things like character arcs and holes in the story line. (And it doesn’t purport to.)
Through the illustrative examples and the helpful exercises, I learned a lot. As far as the exercises go, they were short and meaningful, not long and tedious. (They were actually kinda fun to do!)
I can’t think of any negatives. Five stars, money well-spent!
So, if you want to get considered by a publishing house, it's very valuable to have insight into how they evaluate manuscripts for publication. If you're going to publish yourself, then you want to minimize the cost of what an editor has to change, or if going without an editor, strengthen your writing so It enhances your story. The best way to be convinced of the value of the suggestions in this book, is to join a critique group and see how many of the submitted stories could be improved by following these ideas.
The book is an easy read. Not ponderous nor pretentious. Just straightforward advice filled with real-world examples - from client submissions they've received as editors, to famous works, to gems from their editing workshops. The authors have a clear voice: upbeat, and to-the-point. It's accessible to every writer: from the seasoned and published writer with the English degree, to the brand newbie.
Each chapter closes with a point-by-point review of what's been covered followed by exercises that you can edit yourself (then "check your work" against their answers in the back of the book).
You may not agree with every stylistic choice the authors suggest, but, they are professionals, and if your goal is getting your book published, then this book will certainly bring you closer to that goal.
Top international reviews
Each chapter uses a similar format and is equally as good. Chapters cover, dialogue, interior monologue, using beats, and point of view, amongst others. I would say it covers all those areas which many writers find difficult.
The one thing I did find slightly jarring was the cartoons. I do not feel they added anything of value and the writing which accompanies them is difficult to read. The book is excellent without them.
Whilst more experienced writers may find they know much of the advice given in this book already, those newer to the craft will find it to be useful. I would suggest it is read before starting the first novel. Once the first draft is written then it should come into play to help shape and develop the novel. Overall, an excellent book which I can highly recommend
The authors are not trying to make you a better writer, they are trying to make you a saleable writer in today's climate. Many of the great works of the past would not have made it through the modern editorial process (they give many examples of this). Quite possibly, in the future, the rules may change again. But, for now, Browne and King teach you the process of getting your novel into a shape that an agent or a publisher's reader will want to look at twice.
This isn't just (or even mainly) about getting rid of adverbs and 'showing not telling', which you can find on any 'advice for authors' website. Browne and King give a balanced picture of all the areas that might trouble your prospective publisher. The chapter on Proportion is especially important, particularly since the subject is often overlooked.
Actually editing your book using the checklists presented here will be a fairly painful process for most writers. Browne and King do their best to get us over that with frequent examples from their own practise, as well as exercises where you can get your teeth into someone else's work before starting on your own.
You may disagree with some, or all, of the things they advise. However, this is not a book about becoming a great writer or producing great fiction, but about overcoming the common issues which generate the all-too-familiar "we're sorry, but we couldn't see this fitting with one of our lists" letters.
Strongly recommended if you really want to be published.
A couple of minor criticisms. The book is written - perhaps to some degree unconsciously - for North American readers and possibly even a particular class of reader. That's not to accuse the book of snobbery, or even exclusiveness, but there's a lingering sense that something is missing.
The well-hammered points about the changing tastes in literary styles are not to be ignored, but don't necessarily apply equally all places, all traditions nor all genres. Examples abound of writers who have done the opposite of what the authors recommend, and pulled it off.
As for the cartoons, they are desperately poor - poky drawings accompanied by captions that resemble the lost wanderings of a dwarf species of spider - a kind of visual example of prose that is so bad you don't even attempt to read what it has to say. Oops.
I deliberately decided to buy this book towards the end of the writing process.
This first draft is little more than the place where you get your ideas of the story and characters written down; very little of this will get through to the end product The second draft is where you correct most of the mistakes you realised your story had when you finished the first draft. The third draft should begin to look like the finished story but it's when you're on the fourth (or fifth) rewrite the advice in this book is needed.
The final draft is where you require advice as to how to ensure your narrative is throughly entertaining and keeps your readers hooked and turning the pages. It is at this point your book must contain believable characters that leap from the page conversing with passages of coruscating dialogue. This book can help you do that, I only wish I'd read it when I wrote my first novel.
At the very least by following their more practical tips you will improve your manuscript and then if you choose to hire in some help the process will be simpler, less fraught and less costly. Even if you don't get further editing help the tightening up of the writing and focus on better ways to present your work will make it more suitable for the self-publishing route.
It is true the authors have the "temerity" to suggest improvements to venerated authors, but as these are mostly for books past copyright this should be viewed as a sensible update for modern tastes and styles.
So given one cannot expect a single book to make anyone a professional editor it deserves its 5 star rating.
I'm a published author, but I know that I still have a lot to learn. On every page of this well-written informative book, I learned something new. I learned it from someone who knows exactly how to convey to aspiring writers what they need to do to polish their manuscripts in order to make sure they have a firm skeleton on which to build their story. And so that their characters have qualities readers care about. And above all, so that the prose sparkles from beginning to end.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to every beginning writer, and also to established writers. It's sometimes reassuring to know you're on the right track, but it's also good to find out something new that you hadn't thought of before. Something that could make your book unputdownable.
If you are a novice writer, you may not appreciate what skill is needed. This eminently practical guide tells you about common pitfalls and how to do better, for example: if the emotion isn't shown, re-write the passage; cut background information to the bare minimum; read every part aloud to find infelicities and the rhythm; interior monologue must be in the character's words; root out adverbs ... and so on.
The advice is conveyed not in lists but in readable prose, with generally good examples (though focusing on middlebrow American writers).
Gonna be the Grim Reaper on steroids when editing from now on...
You could easily split your work into 4-6 rounds of editing using this book as a guideline.
This book is very helpful to me and stops me from fearing the editing process. My work has improved markedly since I started editing it on a regular basis.