Thursday, 22 January 2015

Editing Your Story (Guest Post)

Hey guys!

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.

As 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. 
What?
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?

Olivia-Savannah x

24 comments:

  1. Thanks! I've just started editing the first draft on my second novel and this was really helpful :)

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    1. I hope the editing goes well, and that the novel is a good one :)

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  2. Thank you, Olivia. :)

    Reposted here: https://economyedits.wordpress.com/ and here: https://just1more.wordpress.com/

    Keep up the good work. :)

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  3. Nice post. Whenever I do an edit, what I look out for the most (and first) is the overuse of "ly" words and "was."

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    1. Yeah, adverbs are things to really try and catch out because they are replacing description opportunities...

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  4. Hi Olivia - Your guestpost by David Burton is well-timed as I feel I'd like to participate in this years NaNoWriMo. I'll need all the advise I can get. :)

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    1. Ooh you are thinking of participating? We could do it together, because I hope to do so as well. I have a feeling your would be writing a mystery ^^

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  5. Great points, reading aloud can really help with flow

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Brandi! And yes, it definitely makes a huge difference :)

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  6. The points made are actually quite good but to be honest, I hate editing (my blog posts) because I always find flaws; grammar wise most of the time. It's a bit annoying but necessary... oh, the irony!

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    1. Yeah, editing blog posts can be a bit of pain sometimes, because I just want to post it and be done with it!

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  7. This is great advice! I realized the not giving space between first draft and the later drafts is a mistake. I'm starting my drafts all over again and this post was helpful. Gave me pointers to remember!

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    1. I hope you can use them as you edit! And yes, sometimes taking a breather really is necessary.

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  8. Thanks for the great ADVICE! Thanks for doing this, Olivia. 💕

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  9. What a great post! I think breathing room definitely helps me gain a better perspective on my ms. I like the writing process better than the editing process. But- I do love the way a story sparkles after it has been edited. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I do like writing more, and then the finished copy as well! But yes, editing is a necessary step to getting there.

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  10. The reading aloud one is definitely a good idea, some things I just overlook when I only read them without saying the words aloud. It's going to be a while before I have a first draft finished, but there are definitely some points here that I will try to keep in mind!

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    1. Yes, some of the advice I give most often as well! Hopefully this will help you when you are all done!

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  11. I edit my blog posts once then I publish them which is a bad idea <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. I think the blog ate my comment lol anyway I usually notice more mistakes when the post has gone live, thank you for sharing x

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    2. Looks like you've found my series of guest posts :P Well, it's good that you do notice them in the end though!

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