1. Philliggi

    Philliggi Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    7

    Editing help

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Philliggi, Aug 8, 2018.

    Right. It's done and dusted. Book written. 63076 words it's took me over a year to write. (I don't find much time with 2 kids and a full time job).

    Now onto editing. This is the first full length piece I have ever written so haven't a clue where to start. Has anyone got any good websites I can follow, sort of a step by step guide?

    I've typed the whole thing up using word on my phone, so I know for a fact there are going to be quite a few typos, (tiny keys and lumpy thumbs don't mix well).

    There is also a bit of work to do on the structure of the story, ie do I put across elements in real time or deliver them as flash backs.

    I've got 8 or 9 people reading it at The moment and am awaiting their feedback, to tell give me an idea as to how it's packaged as a whole.

    I'm thinking the best way to go about it is as follows:

    Fix rewrites
    Sort structure
    Fine tooth comb it for spelling and grammar

    Is there any advice you can give me before I start? Is this the best way to go about it? Or can you simply point me in the right direction to any good editing resources. Any help is much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

    (There are probably thousands of threads on here already about the same thing, but I genuinely couldn't find them. Apologies for the probable thread duplication)
     
    Carly Berg and jannert like this.
  2. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,172
    Likes Received:
    1,011
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    My first piece of advice would be to now let it sit idle (no peeping) for a fortnight+. Hang around here and focus on the writey as opposed to recreational threads—dip in a bit/partake.

    From there, with feedback from readers and fresher, wiser eyes, return to your piece to stitch in the fixes.

    fwiw 8 or 9 betas—you're gonna get some conflicting feedback there. :meh: A certain skill necessary, I'd say, in sorting the wheat from chaff.

    Oh, congrats too—few get to your stage in writing (ever!).
     
    John Calligan likes this.
  3. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    One of the most important things you can do now is download it into a computer. You can't edit and format on a phone. Get an old used one if money is a concern, or borrow one, but get it into Word so you can edit properly. My admiration for writing 67k words on a phone, sounds like a lot of work!
     
    Dreamer96 likes this.
  4. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    And if you can['t afford Office or Word, use the free WordPad that resides on all Windows machines. That is a stripped down Word lite
     
  5. Dreamer96

    Dreamer96 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    South Africa
    You kinda just have to make up your own editing guide. Put it in steps and write it down somewhere. Like @Lew said, get it onto a computer. There are websites that will help with proofreading such as http://www.hemingwayapp.com/.

    Good luck
     
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,036
    Likes Received:
    2,666
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Congrats! on finishing a novel.
    I'm going through the same thing as I've just finished mine. I'd suggest uploading it onto a computer so it will be easier to go over.

    Use flashbacks only when necessary unless they're super important to the plot -- I just finished reading a story of a woman who woke from a coma and the entire novel
    was done in flashbacks to show how she got there. The flashbacks though were treated as full scenes. So it all depends on your story and what you're using the flashback for.

    Here's my list of editing techniques -- Story content, Grammar.
    I'm reading through -- deciding what's to be kept, ditched, rewrote. I'm also thinking of moving scenes to help with the story flow. I'm highlighting plot holes or things that don't make sense. I'm also going through it to make sure dialogue sounds good, that all the characters don't sound too similar, and changing up details that
    may seem cliché or boring. If a subplot or character isn't working I'll chop him or it out.
    Once I've got that sorted out I'm going to work on Grammar, spelling, sentence structure and changing words.
    I wouldn't tackle grammar until you have the story structure worked out because you might be wasting time polishing paragraphs you may find need to be ditched.
     
    jannert likes this.
  7. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    10,995
    Likes Received:
    11,598
    Location:
    Scotland
    Excellent, @Philliggi ! Congratulations. You have now 'written.' Nice feeling, isn't it?

    Like @Lew, I'm amazed you could write a whole novel on a phone. But like him, I'm also hoping you get it onto a computer so you can start the work of getting it into shape.

    I think you're going about it the right way. Nine betas isn't too many, although I would caution you not to use up all your betas with your first draft. They are NOT going to want to read it again, so you will need more as you progress with the editing and your versions become better. But it's good to get a lot of feedback. Yes, some of it will be contradictory, and some people's feedback will be more useful than others. However, if nearly everybody has trouble with a certain aspect of the story, then you can be pretty sure that element needs work.

    As to sorting the wheat from the chaff, as @SethLoki suggests ...it is a skill you will develop as you become more experienced. Try not to make the mistake of either rejecting criticism because you don't like what it's telling you, or taking everybody's criticism on board and driving yourself cuckoo. If what the beta says makes sense to you, then you'll know what to do. If it doesn't make sense to you ...try to figure out why they said it.

    Your changes will probably boil down to what is effective, rather than what people 'like.' Some people will never like what you write, just as not everybody loves every author. You'll need to develop a feel for what truly isn't working, rather than becoming too concerned about people who wouldn't like the story no matter how it was written. This is where having multiple betas is excellent, because if some of them like the story (even if they find a few faults) you'll have a target audience. Pay attention to their criticism in particular.

    Some people hate the editing process, but I love it. It's fun to watch your story getting better and better. And you'll be learning at the same time. You are unlikely to make the same mistakes again, if you get them corrected in your first novel. (Typos aside ...everybody makes typos!)

    If you discover you have several issues to deal with, try to break them down and deal with them one at a time. If you have a problem with your story structure, and your characters aren't believable, and you have used too many adjectives, and your dialogue goes on and on and your ending is weak and your beginning is kind of an infodump ...well, pick one of these and see what you can do to improve it. Maybe start with making your characters believable, because without them, your story will not gel. Then maybe sort the story structure. Make sure your ending satisfies your readers. Figure out how much of the beginning infodump you could drop or work in later on. And etc. As @peachalulu suggested, it's probably best to leave the word/sentence tinkering and proofreading till after all the other major elements have been sorted. Just don't try to correct everything at once. You'll feel overwhelmed and discouraged, when you should be feeling excited and motivated.

    Enjoy this stage! It's fun. It really is. Just be openminded towards the feedback, take things slowly, break down the problems into bite-sized elements, and you'll be fine.
     
    peachalulu and John Calligan like this.
  8. Philliggi

    Philliggi Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    7
    4 weeks later, and I'm picking up the mantel again. I've got myself a cheap note book so I can edit it properly with fresh eyes. Gunna spend the rest of this week reading it through as a whole and making notes as to what needs changing. Not actually doing anything to it until I've done a first full read through.

    Wish me luck
     
  9. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    A couple of tips now, @Philliggi.

    1.In dialogue, after you have established who is talking to whom, and it is unambiguous, or one of the speakers has a unique voice that identifies him/her, drop the "said" tags for the rest of the exchange. Also make sure that the tag, when used, is for the right person. Don't be afraid to use "said" as it is an invisible word to most readers. Roman fiction used "inquit" the same way, so it has been done for 2000 years at least.
    2. Do a search for adverbs [ *ly(space)]. Scrutinize each one to see if it is necessary. "Thank you," she said rudely. Can you make the dialogue itself convey the rudeness? Or say, "The curtness of her response did not hide the underlying rudeness." etc. This part of show not tell. Some say don't use any adverbs at all, I say use them sparingly. The scene should convey the emotion.
    3. Some people recommend dropping that's, who's etc and such connectors. I am not of that school, and I also hate dangling participles in narration "The school he went to." vs. "That school that he attended." But that is preference. Pick your own route there, it's your narrator's voice. Dialogue is another matter. If that is the way that character speaks, that's the way they speak.
    4. Obviously, scrutinize thoroughly for spelling and grammar. You can't make enough passes through that, and you will still find some. In my 240K word work, after professional editing and seven revisions over a year, @jannert caught my dolphins doing slow "roles" alongside the ship. Dew knot trussed yore spill chequer! And a year after publication, I found I had changed the name of one my characters from Demosthenes to Diogenes, the no one, including the keenly-eyed @jannert or @K McIntyre, had caught it. Thank got for print on demand!
    5. Back to dialogue, in lieu of tagging with said, etc, try introducing the person doing something: "I don't know what to do about that," he said, versus "He tapped the desk with his pencil,. 'I don't know what to do about that.'" Those are called beats, and they can make the dialogue more visual.
    6. Flashbacks should be used sparingly, with some means of identifying it as such, so the reader is not whiplashed in time sequence. I used one, in which a character, faced with being discovered of a serious crime and perhaps crucified, has a flashback to watching, at the age of twelve, his uncle who had raised him, being crucified for a crime he didn't commit. It turned out to be emotionally extremely powerful, and established the basis for this person's character (devolving into psychopathy). In one other scene, one person asks another rhetorically, "Do you remember the first person you killed?" One is a pirate, the other two are soldiers, so of course, killing is part of their life. How did they feel about it? The soldier has a flashback, reliving that first event, and it turned out to have been wholly unnecessary. Again it develops their personalities as people who have killed, up close and personal with swords, many times, but have never come to see it as anything but a reluctant necessity. I used italics for these flashbacks to identify them as internal monologue, to see how they felt inside. All the other backstories were developed in conversations by or about the characters, in bits and pieces.
    7. Look for repeated or similar words in the same or adjacent paragraphs. In general, don't use the same word in those places.
    8. My editor took me to task for using certain words, like "whore" in narration. Dialogue is fine, that is the character speaking and that is how he thinks/feels. In narration you are speaking, so be careful what words you used, I used prostitutes and brothels, in narration. Or mix them up with something that gives a local presence: Romans called whores lupae (she-wolves) and the whorehouse lupercalia (wolf den). And if you use foreign or made up words, always follow them with immediate translation on first use, maybe several times if they don't come up often enough. I recommend italics: "What the hell is that fellator cocksucker doing here?"
    9. Make sure profanity fits the scene and is not overdone.
    10. Layout: 1 inch margins, top, bottom, left right. First paragraph indented 1/2". Only one carriage return after a paragraph, unless there is a change of scene or POV. Some recommend using some sort of symbol (***, etc) to indicate change of scene in a chapter
    11. POV. In each chapter, identify in your mind who is the POV character. The reader has access to the POV character's thoughts, feelings, anxieties, heart palpitations, sweaty arm pits. etc. All other characters must scrutinized that they convey their emotions only by things the POV character can see/hear smell/surmise. This is, I think, close third, my preferred style, I defer to others for omniscient, etc. You can change POV in a chapter, but it should be accompanied by a complete scene change to somewhere the other POV was not.
    12. Be consistent in tense and 1st vs 3rd narration. @K McIntyre mixed the two very well, with a wolf shifter who narrated in first present present when she was a wolf, capturing the animal's permanent sense of self-centered now. Karen used conventional third past when she was in her human persona as Carolyn. David Poyer (40 plus best-selling books in naval fiction) switched abruptly to present tense to narrate a ground combat scene which captured excellently the immediacy of combat, when time seems to cease to exist. If you mix the two, put that same kind of thought into it, what are you trying to convey to the reader.
    13. Make sure each character has some sort of a unique voice, a way of talking, and don't change a character's voice without a reason. If they work in a a garage, they should talk like someone who works in a garage, not like a college professor. And they should stay in that voice. Be careful that all of your characters don't wind up talking exactly like you.

    These are of course, just suggestions, but should give you a start. I am sure others will chime in with other ideas, or to explain why I am wrong and full of donkey dust.

    I would recommend you spend about six months going over your story, and sharing with beta readers for their recommendations, before you self-publish or submit for publication. And good luck, well-done on finishing your story!
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    13,982
    Likes Received:
    11,005
    Once or twice, I've switched POV in the middle of a scene without changing cast or location, echoing a few words to clue the reader in to the fact that it's a momentary rewind, and clearly diving into the other character's head.

    It's gimmicky. I may decide it's too gimmicky to work. :) I just wanted to note that the critical thing is to orient the reader so they don't feel lost. Any way you do that can be fine, if it works.
     
    John Calligan likes this.
  11. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    884
    I think it is strange that doing what you are talking about is taboo, when there are famous writers that actually head hop whenever it would be interesting to do so. Nora Roberts is about that, and I always thought it was fine. If you aren't confusing people, I don't see why it should be a problem.
     
  12. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    1,130
    Most of us can't write like Nora Roberts. Most beginning writers head-hop because they don't know it's not recommended. Its not confusing to them, because they have the whole scene and personalities in their head. The writer always sees things omnisciently. The reader does not, and some say it dilutes the emotional impact of the scene by spreading it around multiple characters. Or it dilutes the suspense, because you know what everyone's real, unspoken, intent is.

    If you choose to head-hop, fine, just make a conscious choice to do so, and let the reader know, somehow, that you are doing it. I try to avoid it, and carefully check each paragraph when I am editing to make sure I stayed in the POV I chose.

    Third omniscient, head-hopping carried to the extreme, used to be popular in the 19th century, and a lot of classics from that era are written that way. It's not in vogue now.
     
Tags:

Share This Page