Friday, November 2, 2012

Writing 101: Self-Editing Notes and Resources

This weekend (November 2-4) I will be participating in the first Convolution convention, to be held at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport Hotel in Burlingame, California. So if you just happen to be in the neighborhood, please do stop by and join the festivities.

I am moderating a panel on "Self-Editing" at 6:00 PM on Saturday (tomorrow) in the Sandpebble-A room. While reviewing notes, online resources, etc. in preparation for this panel discussion --

I decided to write down these notes and links and such here, on More Red Ink, as a way of gathering my thoughts, and providing a virtual resource to the panel attendees. This way I can simply point the audience to this blog post and not have to worry about spelling out web links, names, and such during the actual panel discussion.

So, let me begin by saying that what follows are strictly notes, quotes, links, bullet points, etc. No fancy paragraphs and flow; these are literally reference notes for the panel discussion. However, if you are a writer, then by definition you are a self-editor, and you may find some of what follows of interest in your pursuit of perfection and publication.

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Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King (William Morrow Paperbacks).

Update: 11/05/2012.
As I was gathering my notes for the panel, I realized I neglected to include one of the best writing books ever:
On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (Scribner).

I know writers who reread this book once every six months or so, just to be inspired once again.


Alan Cooper's List of Homonyms: words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning; a wonderful list of homonyms, but the list is old (1997) -- though words don't really change, do they. "Self-Editing" by Lori Handeland.
Self editing is a very important aspect of re-writing. It is the last thing a writer does before sending the manuscript off to their agent or an editor. I look at self-editing as a final housecleaning chore. Not a lot of fun in itself, but don't you feel good when you're done?

I always do a final edit with a hard copy. There are so many things you won't see by reading your manuscript off a computer screen--beside the problem of going blind from reading an entire book that way. The printed word needs to be read, as it was meant to be read, on paper, so you can see the mistakes--and hear any with your inner ear. There is a flow that comes with a well written, well rewritten, well edited manuscript that you can hear when you read it. You must also be able to see your work as an editor or agent will see it. Too much introspection or narrative all in a row with no breaks for dialogue or adequate paragraphing makes a reader skip ahead for some excitement. Sometimes you don't notice this until you read your hard copy in the self-editing stage.

1. Are you telling instead of showing?
2. Are you establishing your character gradually and unobtrusively?
3. Is your point of view consistent?
4. Are your dialogue mechanics sophisticated? (reflect adequate knowledge of proper writing technique)
5 Have you checked for breaks?
6. Have you checked for unintentional repetition?
7. Have you checked for sophistication throughout the novel?
8. Have you checked your general mechanics?

Each bullet point has excellent content with examples.