Friday, May 16, 2008

Sex and the Self-Editing Author

A couple of weeks ago I gave a workshop at the Dogwood Writers Conference at Greenbo Lake State Park in eastern Kentucky. It was a great day and I saw many old friends and met some new ones. I plan to make this an annual event.

The workshop I gave was titled Sex and the Self-Editing Author. Now, I've been tagged as using a bait-and-switch technique to get people in the workshop door, but honestly, I have no clue what anyone could mean by that. Do you?

All right. Admittedly, the workshop was more about self-editing than sex. Your curiosity is piqued, however, correct? Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested in the handout so I've posted it for your here.

Sex and the Self-Editing Author

Whether you are writing and polishing your book for first time submission, or for your editor, self-editing is a necessary evil. Here are five sexy steps to get it right.

1) Get Fresh (lay down fresh ideas)

  • First thoughts have incredible energy
  • Allow yourself to write junk
  • Even bad writing can be edited – just get your ideas down
  • Figure out your style
  • Use devices – from spiral notebooks to AlphaSmarts

2) Teases and Tickles (acknowledge your inner editor)

  • Nagging sentence?
  • Niggling phrase?
  • Paragraph that just doesn’t work?
  • Passage that isn’t quite right?
  • Chapter that lags?
  • Middle that sags?
  • Fix them!

3) Awesome Twosome or Critique a Trois? (seek other opinions)

  • Critique partner or groups
  • Beta reader(s) -- get one, or two, or three?
  • Define or describe the feedback you want – Content? Grammar? Red flags? Formatting? Copyedits?
  • Word of Caution: Remember, it’s your story
  • Another word of Caution: Never let anyone edit out your voice.

4) Get Down and Dirty (masterful self-editing)

  • Pesky Passive vs. Dominate Active Voice (do a search, ex. “had”, “to be”, “ing” words, etc)
  • Those lovely adverbs (do a search, ex. “ly”)
  • Echoes and repetitive words/phrases (do a search, overused words, ex. “just” “slid” “damn” “that”)
  • Learn your publisher’s “house style”
  • Ebooks – formatting might be part of your editorial process. Again, know “house style”
  • Maddie’s Final Checklist:
    • Do searches for all common mistakes.
    • Read final manuscript through electronically, make any changes.
    • Print manuscript out and do hard copy edits. Key in changes.
    • Read manuscript OUT LOUD either hard copy or on the screen. Make changes.

5) Leggo Your Ego – Or, honey it wasn’t THAT great (listen to your editor).

  • Trust your editor’s instincts.
  • At the same time, trust your own.
  • Know what battles to fight.
  • Choose your battles wisely.
  • Listen!
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