Before you ask beta readers to look over your stuff, you might want to think of these things.
—Every time you change the tense that you’re conjugating the action of the story in, an author decides not to ship your OTP.
—Commas are nice. It’s not nice to feel like you want to give a speeding ticket to a writer because their sentences just run on and on with the “flow like a jungle river”.
—Giving two characters the same first letter of their names (and especially if their nicknames end with the same sound) actually curses your future children to reading only bad fanfiction when they grow up. Every book they touch will turn into My Immortal.
-Reading over your piece before you ask other people to is kind of just good manners. (If only Stephanie Meyer had thought of that.)
—Put in dashes when you slap two words together, or make an adjective out of them.
—Emdashes are great too!
—Spell out numbers in works of fiction. Science stuff, on the other hand, uses the Arabic numerals.
—YOLO. It’s better to ask someone to beta something you write than to not have the guts to do so.
—If your puns are as bad as mine, I will cry tears of blood and shame.
It’s been weeks since NaNoWriMo and I think it’s time that we get to work on draft 2 of our manuscripts. Here are seven methods from seven different writers (myself included). A lot of the advice is the same, but you may find something new or the advice may be written in a way that is easier for you to understand. So, here are seven different methods for revising your manuscript!
Method 1: Naomi
Tips from: Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek
1. Read your story.
Print it out. Read. Just read it and reacquaint yourself with your story.
2. Plot out your entire story.
This is where you figure out whether or not your story makes sense.
I plot out my story by categories:
A. Main Storyline- Where is your character at the start, the middle and the end.
B. Subplots- What else is going on?
C. Dramatic Structure- Once your entire story is plotted out, figure out your climax, resolution, conflict, rising action, call to action, etc.
3. Reread Your Story.
That’s right. If you have any illusions that once you write your story you never have to read it again…wrong. You will be reading and rereading until you can recite every line and things that were serious become inside jokes to yourself.
This read is different from that first read to reacquaint yourself. This read is for analysis. You should have a pen and perhaps even a book for notes. As you are reading cross out things that doesn’t make sense. Ask your self questions about character motivations and whether or not it’s possible for someone to actually jump from the sixth floor and land without injuries.
How many times does this character appear? Are they needed if it’s only once? Why does your main character speak exactly like your villain?
4. A loose outline.
After I have read my story twice, I usually have an idea of what’s wrong. This outline is where I try and figure out how to make it right. I often just write bullet points of scenes and what the purpose of the scenes are.
Now it’s time to write again. I often like to have my original manuscript printed out, or on my nook HD tablet, or my back up laptop. So that the computer I use to write on is just a full screen of my new draft.
I like to do research on other screens as well.
TIP: Never edit your original document. You never know when you want to bring back that erased scene. I usually duplicate my original file, name it draft 2 and edit on that new document entirely. No reason to lose what you have already written.
Method 2: Jamie Scott Bell
Tips from Writer’s Digest
Method 3: Fiction Writer’s Connection
Tips from FictionWriters.com
Method #4: Wise Ink
Tips from their blog Wiseinkblog.com
Method #5: Maxine Thompson
Tips from her blog Maxinethompsonbooks.com
Method #6: Emma Darwin
Tips from emmadarwin.typepad.com
Method #7: UNC College
Tips from The Writing Center
Method #8: Ali Hale
Tips from Daily Writing Tips
Anonymous asked: This is an incredibly imperative question. I finished my first draft some months ago and I am starting back on my second draft. I have been trying for weeks, but I can’t bring myself to write all of the way, but I feel like it would be best to write important scenes in as my second draft, and on the final draft, use those scenes, re-write them, and thread them together with filler. Would that be okay or would it be best to write all of the way through?
You could try writing the major plot points first and then connecting them later. If it doesn’t work, then you could try writing straight through chronologically. I think both methods are valid.
What I disagree with here is the word filler. KeyboardSmashWriters has a great article on this word. I think you should read it. Basically, if any part of your story is filler, get rid of it. If you think it’s boring to write, your audience will likely think it’s boring to read.
You might also find these articles useful:
Thank you for your question! If you have any comments on this post or other questions about writing, you can message us here!
(read Part 1)
by This Crazy Industry (June 28, 2011)
A new commenter, Sym, in a comment to my long-ago post on How to Become an Editor, posed the following excellent question:
I’m also aware that editing is so much more than just taking care of sentence flow and typos at that level, but includes the need for an ability to look at the storyline itself and decide where it’s too drawn out, where it needs to be beefed up, which characters might need to be brought forward or pushed back more- all of which is most definitely my weak point. Plotting is my archnemesis, so to speak. And there are other skills, too, bits and pieces that maybe I’m not even aware existed. So I suppose my question is more- what’s the best way to learn these skills? Is it something that can be taught, and I just don’t know what class name they’re lurking behind? Or is it something that I ultimately will or won’t be able to do, simply because my brain doesn’t work properly?
Here’s the thing: it’s rare for one editor to do all that. Sym is absolutely correct that a good grasp of the mechanics of language at the sentence level does not always translate to an ability to grasp the mechanics and techniques that make a compelling story. This is why most publishing houses separate these functions.
by This Crazy Industry (March 26, 2005)
Because it comes up frequently in my various editorial forums, I’ve decided to put all the tips I have for breaking into the editorial profession in one place.
Disclaimer: Because there’s no single definable path to professional editorship, it’s entirely possible that none of these observations or tips apply to your situation. I’m writing from my experience. Please feel free to add your own in the comments.
I asked the same question, back when I was trying to figure out what to do with myself. I was sitting having a coffee with a friend who was a freelance editor, and asked her “So, if I were to want to become an editor, how would I go about it?”
She replied “Well, there’s no real way to become an editor. You do some editing, and eventually you hang out your shingle and say ‘I’m an editor!’ and people give you work.”
I didn’t find this at all reassuring. I wanted a clear path—something like “get a junior job at a publisher, and start off proofreading, or counting words, or something, and you’ll get to watch Real Editors at Work, and learn.” I still think it would be nice if it worked that way. I’m told in some cases it does. But for every editor I meet who found an entry-level job at a publisher, and followed a clear path, I meet at least a dozen others whose paths, like my friend’s, and like my own, weren’t that direct.
As I went about becoming an editor, I learned the truth behind what sounded like truly Belgian waffling to me when my friend said it: There’s no way a person becomes an editor. One simply decides that one is, and sets about doing it.
somedamngoodpancakes asked: Hi! I know you don’t normally answer fan mail, but I need to know if you have any lists of powerful words like Elysium, Guardian, ect. and if you had any place to direct me to a cheap editor on tumblr? Thanks!
As far as I know, we don’t have a list of powerful words anywhere. I’m not even really sure how to go about looking for/compiling something like that. Maybe these links will help:
As for cheap editors, I know of betas. Check out Finding a Beta Reader for more on that. Does anyone else want to chime in on the betas/cheap editors question?
Writers rarely like to revise, but revision is a reality of the writing process—and more important than the initial draft. Without revision, you can’t realize the true potential of the story you envisioned, and it will likely never be published. Here are seven self-editing questions to ask as you begin revising your short story or novel:
1. Where does the story really begin? Reread the first two to three pages of your story carefully. Where does the action start? A major fault with many first drafts (mine included!) is too much background material at the beginning, before the conflict is introduced and the characters finally take over the story.
In my case, I can almost bet that my story doesn’t really begin until about halfway down page 3, so out go the first two pages. If the material I have cut is essential for the reader to know, I find ways, through dialogue or my characters’ thoughts, to get the information to the reader later. The late additions are never as long as the original two and a half pages, and the story gains needed speed.
2. Is this adverb necessary? Chances are, if you are using a lot of adverbs, you are telling and not showing. Think about the character that has just won the lottery. Rather than have her yell “joyfully,” why not have her jump up and down screaming so loudly that her cat runs under the bed in terror, and it takes her 20 minutes to get it out? Maybe she runs to her closet and throws all of her old clothes in the garbage while blasting “If I Had a Million Dollars” on her CD player. Both of those pictures show how the character reacts instead of telling, and they are certainly livelier than the word “joyfully.”
3. Is this adjective doing its job? Look for empty adjectives and replace them. Instead of relying on “amazing,” “interesting,” “exciting,” “awful,” “ugly,” “beautiful,” “nice,” “scary” and other similar adjectives, use sensory details that bring to life what you are describing. Find places to get the readers’ senses working; it means you are making the story real for them.
4. Whose problem is it? Your main character has the primary problem at the center of your story, and your main character needs to solve it. Make sure that your protagonist remains the chief actor in the story and doesn’t become solely the reactor to another character’s influence. Sometimes, in longer pieces, characters other than your lead can nab your attention and your imagination; this can be especially true of villains and comic sidekicks. Be careful that these characters don’t become so charming that they threaten to steal the book from your hero or heroine.
5. Are the grammar and spelling perfect? Yes, I mean perfect. Your story will compete with a host of other stories, so don’t blow your chance with poor spelling and grammar. Of course, publishers have editors who will help polish your copy, but you need to show your best work up front.
6. Have I read my story aloud? One of your best proofreading tools is the sound of your own voice. Reading your story aloud is a great way to find awkward or incomplete sentences, clumsy phrasing, and inconsistencies in verb tenses and pronoun agreement. If you hesitate when you are reading, or if you have to reread a sentence or phrase, then you may need to rewrite that part of your story.
7. Have I applied the Stephen King rule? In Stephen King’s On Writing, he shows a before-and-after example of how editing can improve a story. His revision rule is:
2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%
We have a tendency, as writers, to believe that every word we write is precious, and we are reluctant to cut our material—after all, we remember how hard it was to get it down on paper. However, editing is about making our prose lean and exciting, and compelling the reader to turn the page. See what you can do with 10 percent fewer words.
Finally, consider revision a reward. Remember that if you are revising, you have finished a project—how neat is that? Try these seven questions to kick-start your editing and begin your pursuit of a great final product.