Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2nd Set: 2nd Installment: Editing Tips

Before you sit down to edit (or stand), you should really step back for a minimum of a few days. A couple weeks is better to distance yourself from the story you just finished writing. It is very important to take everything out of your memory at this point because it may stand in the way of seeing what's actually on the page. Believe me, I've been to this point too many times. I know how the mind can play tricks on you, making you think the story is perfect.

The truth is, your story is far from perfect when its first written. And to you at this point, it's hard to feel other wise. That is why its important to step back for a little while. Work on another project for a little while. Finishing a second project before editing the first may give you enough time to "forget" so when you look at it for the beginning of the editing process, may actually help you. Now you're ready to sit down (or stand lol) and work on your editing job. Again, print it out so you don't hurt your eyes. Let yourself go and make changes directly to the piece as I said before in the last post. Again, at this point you're the only one who will see this so don't worry about making a mess on the pages.

When editing, you can work in many different ways. You can work straight through from page one to the last page as you did when you wrote it. You can work in sections, perfecting each page before moving to the next. And you can work each scene until its perfect. Do what works best for you. Every writer is different.

While editing, look at the sentence structure; nouns, adverbes, adjetives, etc. Do you have a lot of words ending in -ing? Avoid that as often as possible. You also want to avoid using a lot of short sentences. Sometimes, that's fine and works better using one short and a few long. If two sentences can be joined and sounds better, join them. Don't use a lot of he, she, we, you, I. Those can be avoided by joining sentences sometimes. The same goes for the character's name. Not all the time though so play around with it until it "sounds" right when reading it aloud. Check how many times you use the same word in the same paragraph, the same page. The thesaurus is your best friend, use it to find new words to mean the same thing. Also check for multiple sentences that say the same things with different words. If you already said someone died, you don't have to repeat it. Readers usually have a good memory.

Remember, sometimes its ok to leave something out for the reader to figure out on their own. It makes them want to read more to find the answer. Keeping the story in one POV (point of view) can help. You don't know what's happening in the next room but you're hearing noises. What are those noises? How is the character feeling while he's hearing those noises? It adds suspense, pulling the reader into the story a little more.

If you have to use more than one POV, check to make sure they aren't bouncing everywhere on the page. Keep it organized. One POV per paragraph or page, or even chapter. By using more than one, you can confuse the reader. If you're confused whose mind you're in so will the reader.

Tighten your story by making each sentence flow to the next without stopping to ask "did I miss something?".

More on the next post.....

Amber Rigby Grosjean

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