1. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    Editing help?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by louis1, Feb 2, 2012.

    Any important point I should consider when I start editing my novel ?
    I've never done this? I did look it up on google, and read almost every article I could find, but I still feel like something is missing.
    Any good advice?
     
  2. spamalope01
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    spamalope01 Member

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    The only advice I can give you is probably similar to things you've read already if you've been looking into it. First, once you've finished writing the piece, put it away for a while. For short stories, I tend to not touch it for about 3 weeks after I've finished it. For novels I'll go at least 2 months if not longer. The reason for this is to distance your brain from it. When you first finish the piece, it's too close to you. You know why you wrote everything in it. That kind of immediate knowledge isn't always helpful when you edit. So when you put it away for a while and come back to it, you're coming to it fresh.

    Second, you HAVE to look at it as if you're...well...not you. As if you're a completely different person who has no connection to the manuscript or author.

    Third, (and this is the hardest to do) you have to turn off that inner author who will argue for every word and paragraph. If the word doesn't make sense, if the paragraph or scene doesn't help push the story forward, then cut it. you have to be really brutal when editing. You have to stop looking at the thing as a piece of you, a part of your heart and soul that you spent X amount of time working on, fretting over and all that. It is no longer that. It's an object that you're trying to sell. In order to sell it, you have to make it the best it can be. That means cutting out anything that doesn't streamline it or make it shiny and good.

    Another good thing to use to help is a critique group. Let others read your piece and provide feedback. You'll learn quickly what's working and what isn't and that can help guide you when editing.


    I hope that helps. If you have any more questions, please let me know. Good luck!!!
     
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  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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  4. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    To add to Spam:
    You leave the work alone, so when you return you mind won't be in the same thought pattern, and you should catch something that doesn't flow well, that your brain would have "reasoned" away. LIke a sentence you know what you were trying to say but it just doesn't make the point clearly. Your mind is more likely to pass it, if it is still fresh in your mind.
    You actually will look at something and be like "wt_ was I trying to say?". "No one but me will understand that line."

    My common problem is tense. I write in present for alittle then past a little, then back to present, and do it without realizing it. Sometimes even after editing once...or twice.
    The way to think of editing is like building a fine piece of furniture, you sand out the rough edges, fill in the nicks or gouges, put a thin coat of of stain on it, then do it again. Eventually it will give you the mirror reflection you have been looking for in the finished product. Then set it out for the kids to destroy...oh wait this was about a book, not my end tables.:) actually, the kids might be the publisher. :(
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all good advice...

    the most important thing is to treat the ms as if your worst enemy wrote it... ignore the fact that it spent 9 months [or 9 years] growing inside of you and is the beloved child of your body/mind... instead, be the doctor who sees all of its slightest imperfections/deformities and wants to make it as perfect and healthy a child as possible...
     
  6. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    One way that I edit is with what I call small edits.
    For example
    I put "ly" in the find feature and see how many adverb I can get rid of.

    Remove the word "just". You can have it a few times in dialogue and maybe a couple more times in the entire rest of the novel.

    Foreshadowing - Repeat a distinctive thought to connect an earlier part of the story with a later one. Look for the important scenes and find a critical detail. Then see if you can locate an earlier scene to plant that detail in plain sight.

    Try to put a smell in every scene (I can't but I try to). Smell transports and surrounds the reader with story.

    Dialogue tags - use he said, she said or a "beat" 95% of the time.

    Scene and chapter ending - try to end with an unexpected sentece or action. Leave the reader hanging some of the time.

    Words need space, the more unusual the word the more territorial the word is (or the more space it needs). Don't use the same word to describe something in mutliple spots in a scene.

    Don't modify unigue with very, more, rather or so - unigue is unigue, one of a king (The Writer's Little Helper p.50)

    Watch for words like "start" "had" "have been" "was" and any other word that makes the action passive.

    That's a few ideas of the small edits I think are helpful.
     

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