Posts Tagged With: editing

What if You Trip up Your Reader?

​What if a reader gets tripped up by some small part of your book?  Perhaps a sentence or a few words don’t make sense to them. Maybe one of your creative flourishes isn’t sitting well. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with what you wrote, and there may only be one reader or two that have commented. What do you do?

Do you just brush it off and say, “I’m an artist and people should accept all my amazing choices” or do you see it as an opportunity to possibly improve? If you are serious about your craft, I suggest the second choice. You may not end up changing the issue in question, and it could have been brought to your attention by only one soul, but you should seriously evaluate it.

You can’t hope to make everyone happy with your writing decisions, voice and style — nor should you attempt to. Telling your own story is paramount, but fine-tuning your ability to tell that story is not far behind.

I changed three or four sentences in Among the Shadows based on reader feedback. Ultimately, these things had little impact on the overall story, but I could see why some might not like how I worded them. The revisions do read better. Part of being a writer is deciding which creative choices to keep and which to modify.


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Want to Revise Your Kindle Book?

As independent publishing — both by the individual author and small presses — has exploded and matured in recent years, so have the tools available to those writers. You can spend as much, or as little, as you like in getting your book into print. An industry of editors, formaters, cover designers, image suppliers, etc., have emerged to support the ventures of thousands of authors. You can pick and choose what you farm out, and here I would like to skip a few steps ahead in the process and write about editing your Kindle files. Continue reading

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On Finishing That Book

Anyone can write. At least I suspect that is what some people probably think. It’s true as far as it goes, and anyone can get published in today’s electronic age. Yet not everyone does write, and most of those who do, realize it can be time-consuming and difficult. Difficult doesn’t mean unenjoyable. Difficult means the authors who take it seriously — and most do — treat it like the craft it is. They are always learning, improving and not in a rush to get words out there. The toughest part of this process is the editing phase (at least I think so). Continue reading

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Edit Without Mercy

Miss Benison gives some great advice for the editing stage of writing your book. Editing can be a long, drawn out process.  It’s where you learn to shape and reshape words, sentences, plots, and characters. As Benison writes, this is where you need to:

Be ruthless and objective. Don’t think of the book as your own. Think that it belongs to a complete strangers. Don’t be afraid of the words “Cut” and “Delete”, in editing, they could be your best friends.

The idea of deleting may be unthinkable to some writers.  We all know what things aren’t working.  They probably never did. If they can’t be fixed or moved, deleting words, sentences, or whole paragraphs will often make a writer think, “Wow, that’s so much better.” Force yourself to evaluate your writing as someone else would. Don’t let yourself rationalize away parts of your story you know aren’t right.

Benison also writes about focusing on different aspects during each edit. Focus on grammar one time, details (too much or too little) during another.

At some point you may consider finding beta readers, because no matter how many times your review your manuscript, you’ll miss something. Then you’ll decide on whether or not you want an editor (other than you) to edit your work.  Separating yourself from your work can be hard.  Sometimes someone else can do it better.

Editing isn’t easy and it’s time-consuming. One of the best pieces of advice I read somewhere went something like, “Find part of your story that just pops: You know, every word is perfect and clicks with each other. It’s the example of what you want your voice to be. This is the standard the rest of the story should rise to meet.”

That’s a high standard, and no book is perfect to the author or all readers. If you set your standard as high as possible, however, you’ll end up with one amazing story.

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Writing 101

Many of you just finished National Novel Writing Month, and if you finished, now it’s time to buckle down and start editing. So here’s a collection of my favorite writing posts: Outlining, Flashbacks, Storytelling vs. Writing, Being Entertaining & Thoughtful and Showing & Telling.

Share your own or from other sites and then get to work!

P.S. And if you haven’t seen it yet, click here, or just scroll down, for the cover reveal of Among the Shadows.

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Should you Flashback?

Writers are often told to do this, don’t do that. Then someone comes along and tells them the opposite. One thing they are often told not to use are flashbacks. Author and publisher Jeff Gerke writes in The First 50 Pages:

But if your whole purpose for doing a flashback is to reveal backstory, it’s de facto telling. You’re still stopping the story (the main, present-day story) to explain something, and it’s probably something the reader doesn’t care about…Avoid flashbacks if you can.

I would normally agree. Flashbacks are often poorly used. In recent years, however, film and television have showed us how to seamlessly use flashbacks in storytelling. We owe much of that to Lost.

Flashbacks revealing the pasts of characters were integral to Lost‘s writing. The premise behind the technique was that we rarely ever start with a character at birth and see their whole life. We nearly always start in situ somewhere in their timeline.

Ever read a scene that is obviously trying to show something about a character that comes across forced? There’s often enough going on in the current story that the backstory will get the shaft or feel out of place. Flashbacks can solve this if — and pay attention to this if — they are fluid and seamless. The reader clearly knows, or soon will know, the time has changed. It must feel like the story hasn’t stopped or slowed. Your reader shouldn’t be jarred. Visually, on television, this is all a bit easier. Do you need to preface a flashback with a notation such as “6 years ago…” If you have to do that, the scene is probably not seamless enough or you’re not showing enough in your story. If you do that well, then trust your readers. Don’t be like films that subtitle “Washington, D.C.” over a shot of the Mall and its monuments.

So like many techniques, flashbacks can be done right or wrong. See how television has done it right so you won’t do it wrong.

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Nightmare of Editing

For you writers out there, editing can be the worst part of the process. When is your work really done? Good enough to begin showing to friends, agents or publishers? These are tough questions, with few easy answers. I’ll try two.

One, I read somewhere that you should take your best sentence or paragraph and use that as your standard. You know, that part that just pops. Every word is perfect. The flow. The content. Nothing is out of place. Compare everything else to those words and reshape until the standard is matched. This can be tough to do. During the writing, a lot gets thrown onto the paper. Now you have to really craft it like you are carving or sculpting. It is the editing process where people usually realize that writing is a skill. Good writing that is. The editing may take awhile, but you will know when each part is just right.

Two, delete. Yes, sometimes there is no saving a sentence or even a whole paragraph. Maybe a whole page. Remember that section you wrote that sounded so cool? You were trying to say something profound. There was some bit of great knowledge you had and needed to impart it on the reader. Chances are, it never sounded good. It never fit. Now, no reshaping is working. Erase it. Trust me, when you do it, you’ll feel better. Your story will be stronger and you’ll wonder why you wrote those horrible words to begin with.

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