Category Archives: Being a professional editor

When To Delete {Editing Tips}

 

editing

All I can say is: be ruthless when it comes to anything that’s — clunky (awkward), redundant, superfluous, extraneous, clichéd, telling, overdone…

When it comes to having a nice fluidity to your narrative you have to ensure you remove things that simply don’t need to be there, simple! Take them out and if it still works then you are on the right track. Some writers think they have to say it in unique and interesting ways. While, to some extent, that might be true it can, if you work too hard, really feel forced. Then it simply doesn’t work! I have seen some wonderful metaphors and similes lost in a crowd of metaphors and similes! The trick is to use such devices sparingly and in just the right place. This gives them power. Got it?

 

Here are just a few things to ponder… I will talk about filler and the things you can lose from the actual story tomorrow!

  • Description — this is important for allowing the reader to really ‘see inside the moment’, to visualise it as you intended them to, but they don’t need every single detail drawn in for them — just enough and perhaps more importantly to create the right mood, or tone, perhaps, even, to create the right sense of danger if you are leading them to the edge of a cliff face, for example. Sparing, yet vivid wins the day! So it really does come down to how you use your words and which ones. And if in a moment of great tension then whatever you do don’t stop to admire the view, make the description an active part of the movement itself. Look at how other writers do it!

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  • Look at things like attributions; the ‘he said/she said’ in dialogue. You will find that a lot of the time you can remove these as long as you can stay with the flow of the conversation. Better to show some body language so we know who said it. And don’t write  ‘they paused’ — create the pause with an action! None of us stop and pause, well not really! Lose adverbs that are redundant if we can see how something is done or said. Lose different words for said when said is just fine (I have talked about this before!) Punchy and sharp!

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  • Lose clichés as these are considered to be lazy prose! The tears streamed down the face… ugh! How about she dabbed her cheeks or some other more interesting way to show she was crying!

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  • Telling tags: These tell why something is done or said when it’s usually obvious! She stopped the man to ask the time because she was worried she was late. Telling! If we see her rush and ask the time as she rushes we can see it, it’s shown! See what I mean?

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  • Lose ‘that’ and ‘very’ and ‘just’: a lot of the time … see some of my deliberate crossings out. Also see the use of italics when I think the word is more functional so I left it in…  The way that he said it made her smile; he was just so angry (more active?); she was very jealous (though better to show this through actions… right?) Also think about some of the adverbs we overuse! Like ‘suddenly‘… So often there is no other way to interpret the action so lose it and just show the action!

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  • Pleonasms: nodding the headshrugging the shoulders; thinking in the mind… Where else? Get the idea?!!!

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The message here is very simple: if you can lose it, lose it. That way the writing becomes sharper! 🙂 Only repeat expressions or use words that are less functional in a sentence when part of character voice and there is a difference as I will show you later in the week!

Happy Tuesdaying!

5e3d161f9093134762cfbc96928654db--every-tuesday-good-morning-tuesday

 

 

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Create Your Style Guide [Editing Tips]

Welcome to a new and busy week. I thought I would give some editing tips every day this week, of course, some of this will have been covered before but  I think it’s always useful as a reminder.

So hands up who uses a Style Sheet or Style Guide when they write?Do you even know what one is? 

A style sheet is a list setting out the decisions that your editor has made on aspects of the layout and language of your document, in order to keep the document consistent.

This is a really useful thing, especially if you intend to write this as part of a series and so how you do something in one book must be consistent across books as well as within the book.

As you come to edit your work you don’t just focus on the shape of the story and if it works, on filler, character development etc. When it comes to the nitty gritty bits of the narrative don’t just focus on the flow of the language and the construction of the sentences either, you have to think about how you represent things. So, for example, do you use a hyphen in ‘no-one’ like that or ‘no one’, both are acceptable. Which of the OK or okay forms do you use (ok is not generally an accepted form). Do you write -ise in words like recognise or realise OR the more US form of recognize/ realize and how is this in other forms of -ise/ize words. Do you use capitals in some of your expressions, like the Magic Sword, the Golden Knife. Do you capitalise the East and the West? Do you use a capital in Professor? University… here I would say unless part of the official address, his name, the university’s name then use a small letter — get the idea? US or UK spelling?

By writing these things down you can create a guide so you don’t have to remember because, inevitably, you will use forms interchangeably. The sheet helps you create consistency — which is key here. For a final edit/proof, it’s vital, especially if you plan to self-publish. But to submit you also want to show the highest level of professionalism. It’s very rare I am sent a ms with the writer’s own style guide but it happens from time to time and it shows me they appreciate this aspect is important.

 

It might include notes on what font is used, whether the text is left or fully justified, how particular words are capitalised or hyphenated, how much indent your indented quotations have, what is put in italics.

Especially if you’ve learned English as a second or other language, you will know that the English language is not consistent, and it doesn’t even have proper rules for some things! This can be really frustrating, as two people might do things in two different ways, BOTH of which are correct.

For example, in English …

  • We can use -s- spellings or -z- spellings in words like “organisation”
  • We can capitalise or not capitalise words like Chapter 1 or experiment 2
  • We can hyphenate or not hyphenate pairs of words like policy-maker

 

And that’s before you get to decisions like …

 

  • Are you going to use 20%, 20 percent or twenty percent?
  • Are you going to describe America as America, the United States, the US, the USA, the U.S. etc. etc.?
  • Are you going to use double inverted commas for quotations and single inverted commas for concepts, or vice versa?
  • Are you going to refer to other research as (Brown, 2003; Green and Jones, 2005, p. 23) or (Brown 2003, Green & Jones 2005:23) or any other variant

 

Now, the important thing with all of these is to keep it consistent.

 

More editing tips tomorrow!

editing cartoon

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Being a Writer :)

Logo Leicester Writes

 

Well, it looks set to be a busy second half of the year, with short stories to appear in no less than four new collections!

It starts this weekend when Mum and I will be travelling to Leicester to be part of The Leicester Writes Literary Festival! The winners’ anthology from their competition will be launched tomorrow and if anyone fancies it you can still get tickets! Here’s the link:

Winners’ Anthology Launch

I will be reading from my story We Went There. This is a new one of mine about a woman taking her dad, who suffers from dementia, to a home when she uncovers a secret… is he who she thought he was? Is she? And now she knows what will she do?

As I have so often said, writing does not have to be a lonely experience. But of course, a huge part of it is sitting alone in front of your keyboard tap-tap-tapping away! Successes are something to be celebrated since we all know how hard it is to have them, and so when you get the chance to celebrate them alongside other writers then you must!

I will be in good company with the other writers including winner C G Menon and second place Siobhan Logan, me as a humble third place 🙂 Also joined by highly commended Lynne E Blackwood and worthy runners-up: Karl Quiqley, Jack Wedgebury, Katherine Hetzel, Asha Krishna, Matthew Rhodes, Bev Haddon 🙂

Read what the judges had to say about the stories here: LINK

Judges were: writers Rebecca Burns, Divya Ghelani, Nina Stibbe, and Grace Haddon as well as bookseller, Debbie James.

It is a real honour to be part of this line-up and to have my story published by Dahlia Publishing, and edited by fellow writer and friend: Richard Sheehan. Can’t wait to meet everyone and celebrate our success! The book looks great; I have seen the proof and will read as many of the stories as I can before the event tomorrow!

We set off in the morning (so no Blog tomorrow) and then celebrate tomorrow night at the event, home Saturday afternoon. Can’t wait!

 

Leicster Writes

Do come along if you can… I will blog about it next week!

Have a great weekend everyone!

WHOO!

 

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Back & Blogging

I will be back and properly blogging next week! What a fantastic holiday we had and now happy to be back to my life and working 🙂 … oh and trying to eat healthily,  at the gym etc.!

What I loved most was the time we had to relax and I managed to read two books just for fun which is a real luxury when I have so much work. The first was a book recommended by a client called The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett. It’s a sliding door novel with three versions of how life might have turned out. I had written something similar when experimenting with form and so I was intrigued to see how she did it. While I had to pay close attention to each version, thankfully labelled as version one, two or three, and sometimes I did think I might need to make some notes, I did really enjoy this. I do recommend it for people who like a challenge to their reading. It is well written.

The second of the novels was one purely for fun. As a teenager, I devoured Robin Cook’s medical horrors as I love anything set in a hospital. Coma really hooked me although I remember my favourite being Mindbend. Well, the weekend before the holiday Mal and I were in an indoor market that was selling books cheap and there was a Robin Cook called Host from 2015. I had to buy it but was afraid I would now find I did not like the writing! Snob or what?

Well, I did! He does head-hop and so he doesn’t give characters strong character voices, this is me the writer and editor now observing, however, the procedural elements of medical things and the way the young characters seek answers I love. In many ways, it’s a regurgitate of Coma, but was still something I enjoyed. Reading for fun only! So much so I ordered another one of his. They’re what I’d call my less literary reads but for pure escapism, they somehow captivate me, so I am thrilled now to be waiting on another before I return to something more challenging. But what this shows me is that we should never be snobs about what we read. It’s a great pleasure to read for fun and I often buy books and then feel disappointed, even books with great literary merit.

So the message is write and read what makes you happy!

I have not written this week as have had to catch up with my editing work… Isle of Pelicans is with my two trusted beta readers and I have no idea what they will make of it… not heard a peep… eek. Next week the plan is to either go back to Dotty or revisit I Am Wolf. But I am itching to be writing… or I might even think about my medical horror as I have a real urge to develop my short story Mirror Image.

Ohh so exciting!

I will be back next week with more of my morning’s musings… whatever they might be and to tell you about the event I will be reading at next Friday at The Leicester Writers Festival! Book tickets here! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leicester-writes-festival-tickets-35240271601

30th June: Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Ceremony & Anthology Launch

Whoop to the weekend!

Happy Dance

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Self Editing: Eveything you need to know

I had planned a post at some point similar to this, but when I read the talented Sharon Zink’s page I decided to share it.

Sharon is an amazing writer and I have had her on my blog. She also does the same job as me in that she offers manuscript appraisals; the same level of detail.

So I decided to share this link because it really is a masterclass in writing and everything on here is exactly the kind of thing I say to clients all the time when I assess their manuscripts…

Take heed fellow scribes!

I am now about to write the homecoming chapter on Pelicans… this is exciting, it’s the final chapter when we reveal the last of the missing pieces… and it’s raining so I am loving the sounds of rain on the roof as I write! The morning goes pitter patter… ❤

Have a wonderful day everyone!

http://sharonzink.com/writing-tips/all-first-drafts-are-sht-so-heres-a-masterclass-on-self-editing/

 

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All that Buzz

It’s Monday and it’s a day full of hope and all the excitement a new shiny week will bring. So are you ready?

We have Canvey Writers tonight when we put into action our plan for 2017, and it looks exciting. Year 3 of the group and it’s time to jazz it up a bit.

I dreamed the other night that someone stood in front of me and said to me, “If you could write a mission statement to live your life by, what would it be?”

I pointed to the one I wrote for myself; the shorter version of it — the one that sits on my wall in my office: Changing people’s lives, one story at a time.

But then the stranger in the dreamer said, “That’s great, Debz. But what about one that reflects how you live in general. And I heard myself reciting the slogan of Havens Hospices, who I collected money for recently and realised that while I can’t steal theirs, I am going to borrow it because I don’t think there is anything better. And I will leave you with that message today:

Make every day count.

Do it…

excited

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Voice

Just a really quick post this morning about voice. Some of us think of voice as our own voice as a writer and that is indeed true. This is part of style — how we narrate, the type of words we use etc. but I like to think of the other voice and that’s character.

While there are still some who favour the all-seeing omniscient narrator who is, in essence, you sitting on the outside reporting on all, contemporary literature tends to favour the character viewpoint narrator.

When I was writing lots more short stories, one of the ways I experimented was in finding different voices. Even in a novel that uses multiple narrators; and even in third-person, you still wants to create distinct and individual voices for each narrator. Remember that voice is how that character viewpoint is heard: in thoughts, feelings, reactions as well as dialogue. It is how you connect to your reader.

Think about Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads if you want to think about character voice. While your own authorial voice is in there in how you create the magic; it’s the characters we hear, not you!

That is all. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

how-to-write-a-believable-character-now-novel

 

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