Thursday, September 10, 2009

Self-Editing

I thought I'd do a couple of posts about things I've learned over the past year. Some of these will be thoughts I'm revisiting--others will be fresh, new and sparkly.

Because I spent the summer in full-on-edit-mode, I wanted to start there. Here is a basic editing checklist that works for me.

The Basic Editing Checklist
1 - page numbering and blank pages
2 - spelling and gramar errors
3 - avoid cliches like the plague (hahaha!)
4 - too many adverbs or adjectives (use SPARINGLY at most)
5 - tense consistency and subject/verb agreement
6 - find and replace your over-used words (really, just, some, that, then)
7 - weed out repetitions (including names that sound alike or change halfway through)
8 - look for POV breaks and page balances (balanced white space)
9 - take out any unnecessary (or over-creative) dialogue tags
10 - find someone to give you brutally honest feedback (several someones is better)

Four Self-Editing Tips
1 - Start with the basic editing checklist
2 - Have someone else read it (No, your Mom doesn't count)
3 - Always print off a hard copy and edit from there at least once
4 - Step back and work on something else for awhile then look at it with fresh eyes.

Do You Know Your Vices?

~ Figure out where you are weakest (characterization, plot, continuity, description balance, etc) and strengthen it.
~ Polish until it shines.
~ Trim the fat.- unnecessary characters, descriptions and loose ends- cut anything that doesn't advance the story, even if it's your favorite part!
~ Expand on what's left - dig deeper for all characters, make sure you understand them inside and out and bring them to life on the page.- add active, powerful scenes--pull the emotions out of your reader

What Now?
1 - Decide if you need to change hats again (writer hat, editor hat, re-writer hat)
2 - If needed, keep working -- make it even better!
3 - Time to celebrate and submit! Don't let your work sit on a shelf unless that was your only goal.

13 comments:

  1. I really think your number 4 in the self editing tips helps you deal with your vices. It was only after I stepped away from my book that I was able to get rid of a favorite scene and chapter.

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  2. Lots of good tips. I'll have to come back to this when I'm ready to edit.

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  3. This is excellent Jenn! I especially like the part about printing it off. I made a book for myself on Lulu.com. Even better than 8.5 x 11 paper is seeing your own book in print--in book form!!

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  4. Patti - I absolutely have to take a break from my project, to see it clearly.

    Jessie - Come back anytime ;)

    Angie & LW - Thanks :)

    Elana - Ooh... interesting. That sounds fun :)

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  5. Great tips. I'm going to be delving back into editing for the next few weeks and all advice is SO helpful.

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  6. It looks like a great editing checklist. Now if I could only get through the evil rough draft to make it to edits.

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  7. Great tips! I used to think I could do all the editing in one go. Meaning, I could read my story through once and it would be good. But now I realize it helps to go through several times, focusing on different things each time. First content, then inconsistencies, repetition, ect. Do it in stages. This is a great list to help make the edit go more smoothly.

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  8. This is a great set of lists. I have to look for many of the same things you do. One of my weaknesses is adverbs. How do those sneaky little modifiers always slip in?

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  9. Very interesting post about Grammar!;-) very useful x

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  10. Good points. An online resource that can help considerably is the

    Self Editing Blog
    http://selfeditingblog.com/

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