On Editing

 

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Rhonda Blackhurst volunteered.  If you don’t already follow Rhonda’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Rhonda:

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Rhonda Blackhurst

Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.

Putting some time between each edit allows me to see more clearly what works and what doesn’t, making each edit more effective. While extra time between edits takes longer to complete the project, that space between edits allows time to work on other ongoing projects, actually making me more productive. After the first draft is written and the manuscript has been tucked in a drawer for a couple of weeks, I like to read through the entire manuscript in as few sittings, and closely together, as possible. During that first complete read through I don’t make any changes, but rather I have a coding system where I jot down in the margins of what needs to be changed and how. For example areas that don’t make sense, where the plot seems to be dragging, inconsistencies in character development, plot or details, if more needs to be explained or areas need to be cut, etc. After tucking the manuscript away for a couple of weeks once again, I then begin the major overhaul, followed by another break from the manuscript and the final finishing touches.

When I get to the editing phase of the project I’m working on now, a novel titled Finding Abby, I’m eager to try an editing process I stumbled across in a writing magazine. Each read through will be spent on one specific area of editing, starting with the biggest issues of plot and character, and ending with the proofreading and glitter. That will allow my brain to focus on one thing throughout the run through with less likelihood of missing something. I’ve learned multitasking a project isn’t the most effective way to edit.

The InheritanceWhat was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What is your weakest point of editing and why?

My biggest mistake of writing was simply not writing. I would wait for huge chunks of time where I could devote purely to putting words on the page, which resulted in no words on the page. I’ve learned to grab every fifteen minute increment I can and work with it accordingly. Lots of time? Work on my novel. Short amount of time? Work on a character sketch, plot ideas, etc.

As for the weakest point of my editing, I think editing is always a work in progress. The more I read what works for others, the more I find what works for me. Ideas like the one Rachel has here are golden learning opportunities for writers.

Shear MadnessPlease tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).

My last book, Shear Madness, is the first in a series. I love a good mystery, so writing one was the most amazing journey! The first draft of the second book in the series, Shear Deception, is completed and awaiting the editing process which I will start after I’ve completed the first draft of the novel I’m working on now, Finding Abby. My current work in progress is a complete makeover of a Camp NaNo project from last year. As much as I enjoyed writing it, when I read through it back then, it just didn’t do anything for me so I filed it away (electronically) and forgot about it. One day when I was running I was hit with an idea of what I wanted to do with it. And that was to make it another series. While I’m working with the same “general” idea, the setting, characters, and plot have changed drastically. And I’m loving it! My first book, The Inheritance, and Shear Madness are both available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Inheritance is also available at Old Firehouse Books in Ft. Collins, CO.

If you have any other news to share with us, please feel free to do so now.

This fall is bringing some fun writerly activities. (I’ve made the word “writerly” a legit part of my vocabulary. ) September 5th I have a book signing at the local bookstore. My postcards and flyers arrived today and my personalized pens arrive next week. September 11-13 I’m attending a writer’s conference. Though it’s not far from my home, I’m staying at a hotel to take full advantage of the evening hours to practice all the gems I’ll have learned during the sessions. (Or to crash from brain overload from all the gems I’ll have learned.) Then there are the new books to read on the craft. I’m a sponge when it comes to learning the craft. Nearly every page I read gets marked with highlighter or pen. And last, two fall vacations, one in Minnesota and one in the mountains (well, the one in the mountains is actually a conference for work, but it’s in an amazing, breathtaking part of Colorado, tucked in the mountains) with lots of time for writing and editing.

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WOW!  Rhonda really has her writing game on, doesn’t she?  Thank you, Rhonda, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

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On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Kristina Stanley volunteered.  If you don’t already follow Kristina’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Kristina:

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Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.

I have the computer read the words out loud to me. You can also do this with your eReader. I use this method to find where I tend to repeat words. When I read, I don’t hear the words as well. This also works for finding small words that are incorrect. It’s hard to see ‘if ‘versus  ‘of’ but I can hear the difference. The computer also doesn’t allow you to skim, so you have to focus on every word.

I keep a large spreadsheet, so I can check off each area of concern per scene. For example, one column I use is called scene entry. I note whether the scene starts with dialogue,  thought, action or narrative. Having each scene start in the same way could be boring for the reader and this makes me put in variety.

While editing, I check each scene to determine if it is an empty stage. I ask myself are the senses covered. Smell? Taste? Hearing? Touch? Sight? Then I ask myself does the reader know where the characters are physically. When describing the scene, I ask is the description relevant to the plot? If it’s not, maybe some of the description can be cut.

What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What is your weakest point of editing and why?

As I mentioned above, starting a scene the same way. In the first draft of my first novel, my husband asked why each scene started in a doorway. You know the scene, when one character is coming to meet another.   He thought it was pretty funny. I had a lot of reworking to do.

My weakest part of editing is finding my own errors. A second pair of eyes is invaluable.

Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they and why didn’t they work?

I’ve read the advice to read your work backward. This never worked for me. I tend to nod off at the boredom.

Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).

I just released DESCENT (Imajin Books, July 2015). DESCENT is the first in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. BLAZE the second in the series is due out this fall. Below is a short description of DESCENT. If you’re interested you can buy it at: myBook.to/Descent 

When Kalin Thompson is promoted to Director of Security at Stone Mountain Resort, she soon becomes entangled in the high-profile murder investigation of an up-and-coming Olympic-caliber skier. There are more suspects with motives than there are gates on the super-G course, and danger mounts with every turn.

Kalin’s boss orders her to investigate. Her boyfriend wants her to stay safe and let the cops do their job. Torn between loyalty to friends and professional duty, Kalin must look within her isolated community to unearth the killer’s identity.

Rachel, thank you for hosting this blog. I look forward to getting and collecting other editing ideas from your readers. There is always more to learn.

Kristina Stanley

You can find me at: Blog | @StanleyKMS | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+

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Thank you, Kristina, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

email

On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Sarah Carlson volunteered.  If you don’t already follow Sarah’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Sarah:

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Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.

The more you write, the better you get. Especially if you spend the money to hire a professional editor, as you can learn so much from them and apply later. Critiquing and editing others’ works helps practice and develop your own skills as well.

I tend to edit as I go, but then do a final read-through line edit. The best way for me to do this is to actually print it out and take a pen to it. My brain just processes things differently on paper.

What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What is your weakest point of editing and why?

I’m not sure if this is editing per say, but my biggest mistake was overwriting, which slows down pacing, saps tension, and just makes things boring. I still generally end up doing multiple reads of the full MS, cutting and trimming and condensing as I go. I would also say slipping into passive tense.

My weakest point in editing at this point is probably rushing through because I want to get done quickly. I need to force myself to take breaks and slow down.

Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they and why didn’t they work?

My process has evolved naturally over the years. I’d say early on I thought I was better at self-editing than I actually was, but working with professional editors and other skilled writers helped me improve.

Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).

I just finished a major re-write and edit of Hooligans in Shining Armour! It took five months and a lot of blood and sweat, but no tears 😉 I sent it to my agent a few days ago. You can learn more about it on my blog. https://sjoycarlson.wordpress.com/

Hope this helps!

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Thank you, Sarah, for such great tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Drew Conry-Murray stepped up to bat.  If you don’t already follow Drew’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Drew:

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Thanks to Rachel for offering her blog page to other writers. I’m looking forward to learning some useful editing tips from my fellow scribes. Here’s a few that work for me.

1. Walk Away
When I write, I often find a gap between what I meant to say, and what I actually wrote down. It’s as if there’s a narrator in my head who provides context or assumptions that don’t always make it onto the page.

You can’t stand over a reader’s shoulder and provide that internal narrative as they read, so the best way I’ve found to close this gap is to walk away from a piece for a time.

Then, when you come back to it with a cold eye, it’s easier to see the places where the words don’t match your intentions.

For short blogs, I find even a few minutes away from the screen helpful. For longer pieces and fiction, I put more distance between edits—days or even weeks if possible.

2. Read Aloud
When I read to my kids at night, I know I’m in the hands of a good writer when the words flow smoothly and gracefully out of my mouth, even if it’s the first time I’ve read the book.

I decided to try reading my own work aloud (just to myself). It was a useful exercise because I found a lot of rough patches and clunky language. Reading aloud also forces you to slow down and pay closer attention compared to silent reading. The slower, more attentive pace makes it easier to find passages that need more work.

3. Paper Edit
I like to do a paper edit for short stories and novels. Once I have a rough draft I’m satisfied with, I’ll print a copy of the work, and then sit somewhere comfortable with a pen and go at it.

Something happens when words on a screen become words on paper. There’s a freshness and clarity with paper—and perhaps an element of seriousness—that pixels lack. Mistakes that I missed dozens of times on the screen leap forward in print.

Biggest Repeated Mistake
I think my biggest mistake was believing that the main character had to be noble and upright, as if I were writing a book of moral instruction. Messy, complicated people are more interesting.

Weakest Point of Editing
I think my weakest point of editing is that I’ll speed through sections of the work because I’ve seen it so many times. Instead of reading carefully, I just skim.

Work in Progress
I’m currently querying agents for a novel called Atlantis Rising. Set in 1887, it’s a paranormal thriller about the search for the lost kingdom of Atlantis. I also posted a short story, Crypto, on the free story site Wattpad [https://www.wattpad.com/story/37422090-crypto]. My novel Wasteland Blues [http://www.amazon.com/Wasteland-Blues-Scott-Christian-Carr/dp/1935738593/], a mad quest through a post-apocalyptic world, is available in print or as an ebook.

My blog is http://andrewconry-murray.com/ and you can follow me on Twitter at @DrewConryMurray

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to your blog, Rachel!

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Thank you, Drew, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and the first to take me up on my offer was my good friend and blogging brother, Craig, known to many as C.S. Boyack.  If you don’t already follow Craig’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  And if you haven’t read any of his books yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.  (And I’m not just saying that because I got to design the cover to his most recent outstanding publication, Will O’ the Wisp.)  So without further ado, here’s Craig:

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Rachel invited me over today to post about editing. (Like I know anything about it!) I’m fumbling along, learning as I go.

I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’m willing to share these bits. I do my own editing for financial reasons. I know many of you will think I’m insane, but it boils down to simple arithmetic. Write a book, slap a $200 cover on it – sell 40 copies at $2.00 each.

I’d love nothing more than an editor, but rely upon my critique group and beta readers. It’s also forced me to learn some things. So here we go:

Pick names with a purpose. If you name a character Theophylaktos, like I did, you have to spell it correctly throughout the entire novel. You can bet he became Theo to his friends within about two paragraphs.

Google all your character names. Make sure your cool character named Sam Spade hasn’t been used in something more famous than you’ll ever be.

Use the word search function on your word processor. Search all of your character names and make sure you have them spelled right. An advance reader of mine once pointed out that Detective Groves became Detective Graves about halfway through the story.

I keep a living document for edits. My list of word searches includes standards like; its & it’s, there, their, & they’re. I write speculative fiction and include rein, reign, & rain in the list.

I also search for filtering words like:

  • See
  • Touch
  • Watch
  • Feel
  • Hear
  • Wonder
  • Seem
  • Think
  • Realize
  • Decide

These words tend to increase the distance between the reader and the character. I’m giving stage directions that aren’t necessary. Remember to catch them in other tenses too, e.g. watched, thought.

I try to eliminate all the weak verbs. These are usually two word verbs that could be better: had walked = walked, did say = said. Remember they can hide in contractions too: she’d eaten, he’d yelled.

I kill all my personal sin words too. I keep a list of them: just, very, that, and though. Your sin words may be different, make a list and search them out.

‘Was’ is also on my hit list. It moves things along, but it kills reader buy in. “Mary was pretty” is nice but it doesn’t give the reader the same feeling as, “Mary’s raven locks stood in sharp contrast to her alabaster skin.”

The other trick is to add the words ‘by zombies’ to the end of a sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, it is passive writing. For example, “The potato soup was made that morning”… By zombies. How about, “Dave made the potato soup before unlocking the restaurant.”

I’m sure there are hundreds of things I don’t know. This is supposed to be an ongoing series, and I’ll let others weigh in. I have more, but I’ll only offer one:

Change your pitch, font, and color before rereading your book. 12 point Courier, in black, is probably how your wrote it in the first place. Try something else and it will make mistakes stand out a tiny bit.

I’d like to thank Rachel for inviting me over today. (I’d like to, but editing – seriously?) Editing is one of the least fun parts of the writing process for me. It’s important, no doubt, and I applaud Rachel for creating a repository for this kind of information. Now somebody else take her up on this so I can up my game.

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Thank you, Craig, for such awesome insights!  (By the way, who here didn’t love the brilliant “by zombies” tip?)  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at: