- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 2 Sub edition (April 13, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060545690
- ISBN-13: 978-0060545697
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (465 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print 2 Sub Edition
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"A superb tutorial for anyone wanting to learn from pros how to polish fiction writing with panache.""--Library Journal"
From the Back Cover
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. Renni Browne and Dave King are two of the country's best-known independent editors. In their years as president and senior editor of The Editorial Department, they have edited the work of many writers - including bestselling authors - before the manuscripts went out to agents or publishers. Over half the manuscripts worked on to completion eventually got published, and over half that number were first novels. In this book Browne and King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own manuscript, in order to bring your manuscript to its fullest potential. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, interior monologue and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert fiction 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. Every chapter contains hands-on exercises to help you apply these techniques to your own work. And illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist George Booth keep everything in perspective.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. Decide which of the two is strongest and cut the weaker phrase, sentence, or entire scene.
10) VOICE: As you read over your work, highlight the passages that please you most. Then highlight the passages that displease you and work to turn the one into the other.
11) PROPORTION: As ou read, ask yourself what interests you the most. Then take a look at what's left and decide whether it's really needed.
12) CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONAND EXPOSITION: Don't describe your characters all at once. Let your readers meet them slowly, naturally.
13) DON'T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT: Beware of words like "very" and "rather," strings of adjectives, fancy imagery, overuse of italics, and exclamation points.
14) ELLIPSIS: Check your work for blow-by-blow descriptions and work to condense them.
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.