Today we have David Burton, author of the lovely novel Seven Sneezes here to talk about editing when it comes to writing!
Synopsis: Lizzy Anderson is given a cold for her first birthday, and discovers she always
sneezes in sevens.
Her mum worries about her, her dad loses interest,
and Lizzy learns to entertain and look after herself.
Over the years
(one chapter for each), we trace Lizzy’s childhood, teenage years and then
adulthood, first as a single woman, then a wife, a mother and beyond.
the years pass we enjoy all her heart-warming highs and suffer all her
heart-breaking lows as she navigates through what becomes one woman’s life,
sparked by one key moment.
Guest Post: You’ve finished your first draft, so all the hard work is done, right? Well, not quite. Okay, not even close. But enjoy that quality moment and revel in your accomplishment. You should be happy and proud.
Now… step away from the manuscript.
That’s right, the best thing you can do is walk away…
Of course, you will return, but give your manuscript time to breathe, and your mind a chance to gain perspective. Weeks would be good; months better.
And remember: however good a writer you are, a first draft is still only ever that. Most need to be lavished with more hard work before they are ready to be shared with the real world. That first draft can feel like a minor miracle, but if you take time to reflect, re-draft, re-edit, and then compare that first draft with your final, you may well be amazed.
Here are a few ideas you might want to keep in mind during that editing process:
• Read it aloud, and note anything that distracts or pulls you out of the story.
• Does the story flow? And does each scene move the story forward?
• Did you begin somewhere exciting? In the middle of a key moment?
• Do your characters have problems that require active solutions?
• Is there believable tension and conflict? Is it ultimately resolved?
• Do your characters grow, learn, develop and/or mature?
• Have you used an active voice, i.e., “he walked” not “he was walking”.
• Check your spelling, and be consistent, be it English or American English.
• Check your homophones, i.e., to/too, their/they’re, hear/here etc.
• Check your tense is consistent, i.e., don’t use “he says” and then “he said”.
• Remove “started to” moments, i.e., “he started to kiss her” to “he kissed her”.
• Break up longer or confusing sentences into shorter, punchier ones.
• Delete adverbs/”LY” words, i.e., “moved quickly” could become “sprinted”.
• Delete and/or replace VERY, i.e., “very sad” could become “depressed”.
• Delete REALLY wherever possible.
• Use realistic contractions, but try to avoid if there could be options.
• Show don’t tell – not the “law” it used to be, but still a story strengthener.
• Does your fiction engage and entertain the reader?
• Have a friend or two read your manuscript, for “basic” ideas/feelings.
• Have 3-5 (preferably honest/helpful) “beta readers” offer more complex notes.
And there you have it, your re-mastered second, third or… final draft. Take a moment to compare it with your “miracle” first draft, marvel at the improvements, and now truly sit back and smile, because the hard work IS now all done.
Well, until you move toward the publication process… 🙂
Olivia’s Question: Do you like the editing part of the writing process?