Thursday, July 15, 2010

10 Editing Aspects To Watch For

There are a great many more than just these “top ten” and they aren’t even really the TOP of all that you should be looking for, but if you keep a reference sheet handy until the editing becomes like second nature, it will be easier to incorporate different aspect into the editing drafts, cutting down on how many times you go through your manuscript.

10: Dialogue and white space. These two things should be watched carefully. If you worry that your dialogue sounds stilted, then read it aloud, listening to know if it sounds stilted or if it flows. Listen with voice inflections and see if you added the appropriate dialogue tags and attribution. Don’t overdo the tags, but you need to make sure you just don’t have dialogue that leaves the reader wondering who is talking.

Keep paragraphs short, but be aware that these rules can be broken on occasion. But large blocks of writing will lead to a tendency to skim.

9: Head hopping. Watch to make sure you stay within one character’s head and point of view per scene. Who has the most to lose in this scene? That is the character you need to focus on. If you need to switch characters, be sure and warn your reader with a space or some kind of symbol that stays consistent the entire book through.

8: Historical detail. Even if you are writing a contemporary, you might make a reference to a historical event and if you get it wrong, your reader will find it and let you know about it. Use at least three sources, not just the internet when you verify those facts too.

7: Show don’t tell. This can be the hardest thing to understand and put into action. But some basic things to watch for is: do you have large blocks of writing with no dialogue? Just a statement of the facts instead of infusing sensory emotions to bring the story to life? Do you just simply state the character’s events, or do you walk them through it?

6: Infuse the senses. Bring the story world to life for your reader by knowing, visiting or reading and talking extensively with the people in that area. But don’t dump all five senses and verbose description of your setting on your reader in every chapter, or even paragraph or scene. Pay attention to your character’s mood and think about how that will make them perceive a certain situation. Infuse it gently, until it paints a picture in the reader’s mind.

5: Are your characters three dimensional? Do their actions match up with the angle you want them to go? This is vital to the story, because without characters you don’t have a story. They need to be loveable with flaws that they can conquer with Christ. Otherwise why read? Your characters need to form an arc from despair to an understanding of God’s love and their reconciliation of their flaws and the overcoming of their fears. If this isn’t accomplished, you need to go back and look for the potholes.

4: Watch your punctuation. Did you say it’s when you really meant its? Yes, editors will notice. Be on the watch and go with through each paragraph with a fine tooth comb and think through each contraction. Your manuscript needs to be as perfect as you can make it.

3: Avoid the “ly” words that drag down your writing and instead infuse them with strong past tense verbs and description that shows instead of tells. When you use an abundance of “ly” and “ing” words, you are cutting corners, weakening your writing and telling the story. The reader won’t feel any emotions or become immersed in the story.

2: Make sure that you keep your facts straight all through the story. Does your character have blond hair on page one and brown hair on page 250? Without seeing the hair stylist? Make sure you write these facts down and keep them straight; have an outline or pictures of your characters.

1: At this point you need to read through your work one more time. Fix what needs to be fixed. Make the changes you feel are necessary, but don’t work the piece until it becomes so stilted you won’t recognize it as your own. Find a critique partner or mentor and ask them to read it. Then go through it all over again! Submit and pray for God’s direction.

Go forth and edit!


Laura Frantz said...

Casey, Just tweeeted this! Great tips!

Pepper said...

Oh my, Casey.
First I get battered a bruised from the Seekerville post today, and now I come here for more ;-)
From 5 down to 1, I'm in trouble. The other 5 I know I still do, but I have the greatest difficulty with 1-5.
Wonderful post. And YES, Contemps have research too. Loads. My contemp paranormal has me researching Celtic Christianity in St. Patrick's day.
I can't seem to escape research ;-)

Casey said...

Ahh, thanks Laura, you are a dear. Glad you liked it. :)

Casey said...

I know Pep, research is pretty low on my priority list and it shouldn't be. I just haven't figured out how I guess. Where to really look and know what I see is true would be wonderful!

Krista Phillips said...

Very good list Casey!! #2 is the one I have to watch a ton! (I'd say more, but about ready to fall asleep at the keyboard...zzz....)

Pregnancy makes me TIRED! LOL

Casey said...

LOL, Krista, I was the same way on my last story, but writing a contemp and then having pics of my characters really helped keep my facts straight.

And I think you have reserved the right to be tired. :) Praying for you!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous tips, thank you - just feeling a little panic stricken by the daunting point I am currently at in my book! These points helping immensely!