Tampa: How to Edit Your Novel Systematically

UPDATE: We had a great time at the Tampa workshop. If you were unable to make that event, I’ll be teaching the same workshop again in Orlando June 16.

A Method for Revising Your Book Like a Pro

Tampa: April 14, 2018, at 1901 S. Village Avenue, Tampa FL 33612

Writers know that great writing requires rewriting, editing, and polishing a manuscript to perfection. But writing and editing are two different skills, and writers are seldom taught how to edit. So writers approach editing haphazardly. We think editing means reading our books over and over, fixing mistakes as we see them until there are no more mistakes to find. But it is possible—and very common—to get stuck in an infinite loop of revision, because one never knows when one is finished.

I struggled with this as a writer, but when I trained to be an editor, I learned a systematic method of editing that allows editors to work through a manuscript efficiently and with sure knowledge about when the job is done.

Edit checklist

In this full-day class, I’ll teach you the rigorous process professional editors use to evaluate and edit novels. You’ll learn how to build a book map to analyze (and if necessary fix) your novel’s structure. Then you’ll get tools for planning your editing in a methodical way so you can tackle issues in the correct order, avoid analysis paralysis, and—most importantly—know when you have finished. We’ll cover 10 elements of fiction:

  • Character
  • Point of View
  • Plot
  • Structure
  • Pacing
  • Setting
  • Description
  • Dialog
  • Voice
  • Mechanics

Every attendee will receive an advance copy of my upcoming editing book, which is based on the Edit Like a Pro: Elements of Fiction series.

The doors will open at 8:30 a.m. for registration, coffee, and Second Breakfast. Teaching starts at 9 a.m. We’ll break at noon for lunch, which is included. I’ll wrap up the teaching by 4 p.m., after which we can have Q&A time and socialize.

Enter your name and email address below if you’d like to be notified of future seminars, including the June 16 event in Orlando.

 

Editing Your Book with Track Changes

When you work with an editor on your book, you will probably use the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word. This can be a little daunting if you’ve never used it before, especially when you get a file back with more red on it than Sweeney Todd’s apron.

First, don’t panic. Remember your editor is there to help you, and those red marks are meant to be instructive, not destructive.

Schedule a time when you can go through your manuscript slowly. If there‘s a change you don’t understand, feel free to ask. Continue reading

Where to Find Professional Editors

As I said last time, if you’re self-publishing, you need a professional editor. But where do you get one? There is no licensing standard for editors. Anyone with a fondness for reading and a bent for grammar can declare themselves an editor and start seeking clients. Many sites exist to pair this sort of freelancer with writers, but beware. At such sites, pricing often becomes a race to the bottom. Continue reading

Q&A: When to hire an editor

Q: I took your Elements of Fiction seminar and read the blog posts and I’ve gone through the checklist. Now what? How do I know when to hire an editor or writing coach?

question answer

Illustration © JJAVA • Fotolia.com

 

A: When you feel stuck, or when you’re ready to go.

If you’ve worked through the checklist and you still feel stuck on your manuscript, not knowing what to do next, that’s a good time to bring in a writing coach. You may just need to talk things though so you can get advice about what the next step is. Continue reading

Know when to stop editing

We’ve made our way through the whole Elements of Fiction Editing Checklist. Now there are two vastly different errors writers can fall into.

The first is thinking you’re done. If you are working on your first—or even second or third—novel, one or even two passes through your manuscript will not be enough. Let the book lay fallow for a couple of weeks or even a month, while you start writing something new. Then give it another read-through. Look at each category of the checklist and ask whether you’ve really done each element as well as you possibly can. Then make another pass.

The second error is making an infinite number of editing passes, so your manuscript is never finished. The pursuit of perfection is unending. At some point, to borrow an expression from Seth Godin, you just have to decide it’s good enough to ship. Usually that’s the point at which you’re just making things different instead of better. Continue reading

Beware analysis paralysis when editing

When you look at it all at once, the Elements of Fiction Editing Checklist can be daunting. And as writers, we tend to waver between thinking we’re literary geniuses and thinking we’re hack poseurs no one will ever take seriously.

The danger in self-editing is that you fall too severely on one side or the other. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul warns against this. Continue reading

Simplify dialogue tags

The way writers tag dialog is often evidence of how experienced they are. New writers frequently make dialog tags more complicated than they need to me. The classic example is the flagrant use of “said bookisms,” those awkward constructions reminiscent of Tom Swift.

“I love Old Faithful,” she gushed.

Such constructions are usually misguided attempts to avoid repeated use of “said.” The worst I’ve ever seen in a published book:

“Hello,” she greeted.

That line would never have survived a Word Weavers critique group meeting. Continue reading

Q&A: developmental and substantive editing

question answer

© JJAVA • Fotolia.com

Q: What’s the difference between developmental editing and substantive editing?

A: That depends on whom you ask. Seriously, even editors can’t agree amongst ourselves what’s what, which is why each of us has some kind of web page where we define different types of editing in our own terms.

“Substantive” is an especially squishy term—I’ve heard it applied to several different kinds of editing. Continue reading

‘Publishing 3.0’ — what is is and why it matters

Over at TechCrunch, author James Altucher has written an excellent article about the process of self-publishing his book Choose Yourself.choose yourself

Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because self-publishing is the new business card. If you want to stand out in a world of content, you need to underline your expertise.—James Altucher

A while back I said there are two kinds of publishing: Author Pays and Someone Else pays. Altucher has a different take on it. What he sees is Professional Publishing and Unprofessional Publishing, and he argues that some of the latter is being done by the big houses. I can’t refute that. Continue reading

Four kinds of publishing jobs

Over on LinkedIn, Lou Adler posted an article about getting the right people in the right kind of job. Based on his history of creating job descriptions for employers, he developed a model that states “there are only four different jobs in the whole world.”

What he means by this is that there are four types of jobs: Continue reading