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I found a couple of excellent tools to help with the self-editing process. 

The Blood Red Pencil is a blogpage run by professional editors.  I can't remember who recommended it, sorry.  It's chocked full of useful tips and advice about what to do, and what to avoid doing, when preparing the final draft of your work.   I've added it to my internet favorites.

I found Self-editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne & Dave King, in Barnes & Noble.  It covers the same kind of things, but in a more structured way.  I'm only about a hundred pages in, and already I've found plenty of invaluable insights about characterization, proportion, and point of view.

Part of me is excited at finding all this great advice, the other part is gutted, because now I have a lot more rewriting to do.

 Ah well, back to the drawing board.  


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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 11th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Self-editing is always hard. As the creator it's difficult to separate yourself from the work and be objective. You won't succeed 100% but having some basic rules that you can always apply will help. Also stupid little tricks like searching for -ly endings and running stats to see if you tend to write very long sentences or big words can make the work much faster since it isolates those problems automatically and leaves you to use the creative side of your brain on the really hard things, not the mechanics.

And don't be too disheartened by the revision process; it's an opportunity to grow and improve your craft so art can shine through. Think positive!
Feb. 11th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Hehe, thanks for the encouraging words. Actually I quite like the revision part. I feel like a proper writer when I'm pruning and shaping the words on the page. It's the bit before that, where you realize your work's not as great as you though it was, which is depressing :)
Feb. 12th, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
Don't feel depressed (at least not for long). Growing writers always see more flaws in their own work than stagnant writers. If you are recognizing problems and fixing them, that's a positive sign that you're improving your craft. Eventually you integrate the knowledge into the writing as it goes and then you find a whole new set of problems cropping up. It's part of the learning process. Pruning is a good metaphor--you wouldn't expect a garden to grow perfectly from untended seeds, nor should you expect the book to grow into beauty without a judicious snip or two. It's an on-going process for most of us. I still think most of my first drafts stink to high heaven.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 12th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Of course :)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
I certainly hope so :)
Mar. 17th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
I read Browne & Kings's book. Nothing earth-shattering, but not bad, and it's easy to dig into. Have you read chapter 11, "Sophistication"? What did you think of the advice to avoid two stylistic onstructions (Pulling off her gloves)? I hadn't seen this recommendation before.

Mar. 17th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Self-Editing
I like how the book's set out. As you say, it's easy to dig into. It's funny, until I read there 'before and after' example, I wouldn't have thought using 'as' and 'ing' slowed down the pace, but it does. Like you, I haven't seen that covered before.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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