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Author Topic: Self-Editing help books?  (Read 1345 times)

topherknowles

Self-Editing help books?
« on: March 19, 2012, 03:37:57 PM »
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  • Hello, I've just finished writing my first novel and am about to embark on the daunting task of editing it.

    Can anyone recommend any books which will help to teach me the art of self-editing before I start wildly hacking out adverbs for the sake of it?



    AnneLyle

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 03:49:32 PM »
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  • Here's a great free article from author Holly Lisle, whose course "How to Revise Your Novel" helped me turn my train-wreck of a manuscript into a novel that I sold straight out of the gate (and which is coming out next week):

    http://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/

    I strongly recommend her top-down approach - no point trying to polish the prose if the story isn't working.

    When you're got the story structure under control, I recommend "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King.
    « Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 04:03:01 PM by AnneLyle »
    Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

    Francis Knight

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 06:23:26 PM »
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  • Self editing for Fiction Writers, Browne and King, I have found invaluable for general tightening/better prose, working out which scenes need to be there etc among other things.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-Editing-Fiction-Writers-Second-Yourself/dp/0060545690
    My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


    The Pain Mage trilogy
    coming soon from Orbit!

    professional-liar

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 01:11:47 AM »
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  • First, congratulations on finishing the novel :)

    I would say a lot of very helpful things about editing would be on author pages. A lot of great authors blog about the writing process.

    I always try to edit someone else's work then go back to my own work to get me in the editing mode. A printed out version really helps too.

    @AnneLyle What would you say was the biggest problem with your first draft?
    Check out my latest novel! Black Redneck vs. Space Zombies http://goo.gl/iJfDAi

    AnneLyle

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #4 on: March 23, 2012, 04:49:29 AM »
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  • @AnneLyle What would you say was the biggest problem with your first draft?

    My very first draft was done for NaNoWriMo, so although it was complete, it was way too short and full of gaps where I'd got bored with my outline and skipped scenes! I started revising it and it mutated in the process - what had originally been a secondary world murder mystery turned into an alternate history spy thriller! - and by the time I got about halfway through, I'd lost the plot (so to speak!) and had no idea how to finish it. The prose that I had was largely fine, but I was wallowing in a morass of conflicting ideas with no clue how to get out.

    Holly's course involves breaking the revision process down into very simple, easy-to-manage steps - eating the elephant one bite at a time!
    Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

    Silence

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #5 on: March 25, 2012, 11:37:33 PM »
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  • I guess the one piece of advice I'd give is that you can/should expect to rewrite multiple times. I tend to worry about structure first (i.e. does my plot make sense, do events follow logically from one to the next, does the chronology work, are the characters internally consistent and are their actions consistent with their motivations, does the pacing feel right, is there balance between building tension and releasing it again). Adverbs come and adverbs go, but it's pretty late in the rewrites that the actual structure of each sentence becomes a primary focus. 
    Stephen Deas is the author of the aptly named Memory of Flames and The Thief-Taker's Apprentice series and the less aptly named Memory of, uh, Some More Stuff Burning And Maybe Some Other Stuff Too

    professional-liar

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #6 on: March 27, 2012, 01:22:33 AM »
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  • @AnneLyle Interesting! That's one of the few times I've heard of something actually coming out of nanowrimo :)

    Whatever you did to get it in shape seems to have definitely worked.
    Check out my latest novel! Black Redneck vs. Space Zombies http://goo.gl/iJfDAi

    AnneLyle

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #7 on: March 27, 2012, 06:14:45 AM »
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  • Thanks! I have a whole bunch of friends here in Cambridge who do NaNoWriMo every year, but I'm not sure any of them have actually submitted their work to an agent or publisher. For most people it's just a casual hobby...
    Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

    Francis Knight

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #8 on: March 27, 2012, 10:47:27 AM »
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  • My latest sale - which I can't tell you about yet :D  - was originally a nano as well.
    My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


    The Pain Mage trilogy
    coming soon from Orbit!

    Jon Sprunk

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 02:21:47 PM »
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  • Topher,

    Congratz on finishing. That's a great feeling.

    I think maybe you're putting the cart before the horse here. The first thing I would advise is either find a competent writing group (harder than it sounds) or find peoplle among your immediate circle who are (A) voracious readers and (B) able to give you honest criticism (also harder than it sounds). The reason is that you, as the author, are way too close to your new baby to see all its flaws. You need outside perspective.

    Now, after you've gotten a mountain of feedback, go back re-read the manuscript yourself. Take notes. Then, roll up your sleeves and dive in.

    Nyki Blatchley

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #10 on: March 27, 2012, 06:29:29 PM »
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  • I think maybe you're putting the cart before the horse here. The first thing I would advise is either find a competent writing group (harder than it sounds) or find peoplle among your immediate circle who are (A) voracious readers and (B) able to give you honest criticism (also harder than it sounds). The reason is that you, as the author, are way too close to your new baby to see all its flaws. You need outside perspective.

    Or sometimes to see all its virtues.  An author who's just finished something tends to see it as either brilliant or worthless - neither a good state of mind to start editing.

    I've never done nano (I've never been at the right point of the "cycle" for starting a new project) but I know quite a few people who do it regularly, and a lot of them take the process further, though I'm not aware off the top of my head of any that have been published.

    Tiffany Kysis Tackett

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 09:12:32 PM »
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  • Thanks, But This Isn't for Us by Jessica Page Morrell.

    It doesn't really talk (too long) about sentence structure or adverbs or any of those general "editing" things one needs for shaping up a rough draft.  HOWEVER, most of the book is about what works and what doesn't and how revision can be your friend.  Revision =/= editing.  They are both VERY important, especially at the stage you are at.

    And I agree with a lot of the other suggestions above, as well.  It's great to always be learning.

    AnneLyle

    Re: Self-Editing help books?
    « Reply #12 on: March 28, 2012, 09:49:01 AM »
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  • I've never done nano (I've never been at the right point of the "cycle" for starting a new project) but I know quite a few people who do it regularly, and a lot of them take the process further, though I'm not aware off the top of my head of any that have been published.

    Well, there's me, for starters! The Alchemist of Souls started off as a NaNoWriMo draft, way back in 2006. I had to completely rewrite it from scratch to get it published, but the main characters and general concept remain intact.
     
    I had trouble finishing novels - starting was easy, but I'd lose steam and assume it was the idea that was weak, rather than my self-discipline. Battering through the middle of a first draft is still hard for me, but now I know how to deal with it!
    Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

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