Showing posts with label self-editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-editing. Show all posts

Fundamentals Make A Good Impression

Fundamentals Make a Good Impression: by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Each article we write, be it blog post or book chapter, is a chance for us to make a good impression. It shares who we are and our love of the subject. Make it clear so the words stand out: fluent, confident, and persuasive.

You’re a writer, so think of yourself as one. And the writer’s job is to communicate, encourage, and inspire. Stay with your voice so as not to lose your personality. Write like you speak.

Keeping your reader in mind will help guide your word choice. The goal is to create a meaningful piece that doesn’t lose the feel of natural speech.

Be personable in your delivery. Avoid the formality that is often used for business messages. Show your readers you are enthused about your subject. Choose words that convey your enthusiasm and let your subject speak for itself, making it meaningful for the reader.

These points are fundamental for our next step, which is to edit the draft. Sometimes an edit needs a rewrite, which to me sounds like starting all over. Not necessarily. We often need to rewrite or reorganize a sentence, or several sentences, but that’s good. You are moving your article closer to polishing for the finish line with each revision you make.

Let’s consider the following questions as we re-read our article, post, or chapter:
1.    Was the main point introduced early?
2.    Is it straightforward and understandable?
3.    Does it grab the readers’ attention?
4.    You’ve set out to communicate a meaningful message, did it?
5.    Does the information flow, sentence by sentence, logically?

Keep your reader’s hat on as you ponder these questions.

6.    Check the word choice:
    a.    Any unnecessary words?
    b.    Is the information the reader needs included? Is it accurate?
    c.    Was the message delivered in a positive tone?

Online Grammar Aids: ProWritingAid and Grammarly,
Identify Trouble Areas. But We Often Need More

 Self-Editing Book List:
William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White: “The Elements of Style”
Renni Browne & Dave King: “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers”
Carolyn Howard-Johnson: “The Frugal Editor”
Bruce Ross-Larson: “Edit Yourself”


 Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and    stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available on Amazon

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Great Marketing, Networking, and The Gift of Surprise

This post is as much about giving as it is about writing. And, yes, I equate giving with great marketing. This review appeared in a Google Alert. I didn't send a review copy. There was no query involved. It just happened. Thus, it was a surprise and very heartwarming. Regardless of what you've been told in the past about networking and marketing, that's what it's really about. Making friends. From the heart.

A review of an author's book is about the best gift you can possibly give him or her. This review is my Kathryn M. Weiland and I hope you'll take her example and review a book you've read lately. Post it on your blog and on Amazon. And then let him or her know about it--just in case they haven't tuned into the magic of Google Alerts yet! (-:
Review of Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers by Kathryn M. Weiland
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is well known among writers for her helpful book The Frugal Book Promoter, and she continues to encourage and guide writers through her many other projects, including this fast read (56 pages), which she advertises as a supplement to her book The Frugal Book Editor. After opening with an intro, reminding authors of the importance of crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s in both our queries and our published works, she launches into the meat of the book: page after page of handy references for spotting and fixing tricky word pairs.
Organized alphabetically with word pairs separated by slashes (e.g., “bereft / bereaved”), the book makes it easy to look up definitions and identify which word should be used in specific circumstances. Although the book’s diminutive length prevents it from anywhere close to exhaustive, it’s a good starting place and can easily be backed up with the more complete list in The Frugal Book Editor.
Priced reasonably (especially the Kindle version) and packed with lots of writerly wit and humor, the book makes for both an enjoyable read and a worthwhile reference manual. To find it go to

~K.M. Weiland is the author of the historical western A Man Called Outlaw and the medieval epic Behold the Dawn. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, her book Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success, and her instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.


Checklist for Self-Editing

Here is a handy checklist from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This is a book I recommend to my editing clients and something I like to look at for my own work every so often.

• How many "ing" and "as" phrases do you write? Remember, the only ones that count are the ones that place a bit of action in a subordinate clause.

• How about "ly" adverbs. Both tied to your dialogue and within your descriptions and narration.

• Do you have a lot of short sentences, both within your dialogue and within your description and narration?

• Do you use a lot of italics? We mean a lot of italics. And you don’t use many exclamation points, do you?!!

• Are there any metaphors or flowery phrases you’re particularly proud of. Do they come at key times during your plot? If so, think about getting rid of them.

• How much time have you spent moving your characters around? Do you cut from location to location, or do you fill in all the space in between?

• How much detail have you included in describing our character’s action? Try cutting some of the detail and see if the actions are still clear.

• Take a look at your flashbacks. How often are you interrupting the forward flow of your story? Do you have flashbacks at more than one level—that is, flashbacks from flashbacks? It you spend nearly as much time in the past as in the present, take a look at each flashback individually. If it were cut, would the present story be hard to follow?

• Keep in mind what you’re trying to do with each paragraph—what character point you’re trying to establish, what sort of mood you’re trying to create, what background you’re trying to suggest. In how many different ways are you accomplishing each of these?

• If more than one way, try reading the passage without the weakest approach and see if it isn’t more effective.

• Do you have more than one chapter that accomplishes the same thing?

• Is there a plot device or stylistic effect you are particularly pleased with? How often do you use it?

• Keep a lookout for unintentional word repeats. The more striking a word or phrase is, the more jarring it will be if you repeat it.

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.


Self-editing is something every writer should do, but it means knowing how to do it. Every writer should have a good book in their library, but it shouldn't just sit on the shelf. Get it out often and use it. I like to get my book down and go through it every so often whether or not I'm doing any self-editing just for reinforcement.

A good book on self-editing will tell you not to do any editing until you have your first draft completed. Because writing and editing are two different mind sets, it's hard to concentrate on both at the same time, hence causing you not to do a complete or proper job of either process. So the right order is to write the first draft of your book first and then do your self-editing.

A thorough self-editing includes it all: grammar, punctuation, structure, dialog, point of view, interior monologue, beats, tributes, rhythm voice, and characterization. Are there any conflicting areas in your manuscripts? Do your characters sound and feel real? Do you have areas where you tell when you should be showing? Does your plot flow and have the ability to hold the readers' attention? And do you have a balance between your narrative and dialogue? I could probably think of some more points/questions you should ask yourself, but these are enough to give you an idea of the point to self-editing.

Now I know what you are thinking. But I have an editor to do my editing for me! That's true in most cases, but your book will be more polished if you edit your manuscript yourself first and then let an editor go over it again. A first-time author will sound less amateurish , and an experienced author will sound like the experienced writer he/she is..

Sound like a lot of work? You bet it is! But it could pay off in the long run.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of To Tell the Truth
Upcomng books: The Bible Murders
                           Sarah's Secret

Self-Editing: 10 Tips Checklist for Children’s Writers

You’ve been working on your story for a while now and you think it’s just about done. It’s been critiqued numerous times and you revised it numerous times. Now, it’s time to proofread and self-edit. You don’t want to short-change yourself on the last stretch, so get ready to put the final layers of polish on your manuscript.

Here are 10 tips to you can use to help fine-tune your children’s manuscript:

1. Check for clarity

Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. It’d be a good idea to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.

2. Check for “telling” and lackluster sentences

Check each sentence for telling. While you will need some effective telling, you want to have more showing.

Example: Joe hit his head and was dazed.
Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a moment and fell to the ground.

Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) to create a living character; this will help breathe life into your story.

Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.

Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.

3. Point of View: Watch for head hopping
Checking for head hopping is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.

If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there.

If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, it wouldn’t be advisable to say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture.

You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair; they were friends for so long.

 Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what’s wrong?”

4. Watch for story consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow

Checking for consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer it’s even more important. Children need a structured story that’s consistent. The story also needs to provide conflict and action to keep the child engaged, along with clarity to help with comprehension. It should also flow smoothly with one paragraph, chapter moving seamlessly into the next.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because while spell-check will catch misspelled words it won’t catch words that are spelled correct, but are the incorrect word in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

These words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

A homonym is a word that sounds like another word, but is spelled different and has a different meaning. Examples of homonyms are: hare/here/hair; bare/bear/; stationary/stationery; peek/peak; principle/principal; capital/capitol; compliments/complements; cite/site/sight.

6. Use your Find function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and over used words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings. You don’t want several paragraphs in a row beginning with “the” or other repetitive wording. When editing your manuscript use the Find function in your word program and look for overused words.

Another aspect of redundancy is using unnecessary words.

Example: Sit down on the chair.
The word ‘down’ is redundant; ‘sit’ implies down.

Example: She whispered quietly.
The word ‘quiety’ is redundant.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Two books that I use are: The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard Johnson and The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek.

You can also do a Google search.

10. Children’s writers: Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have to describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, this completes the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business and this is not an all inclusive list. Even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, self-editing is still tricky. It's almost impossible for us writers to catch all our own errors; we're much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we're reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that's why it's advisable to look into hiring an editor.

Karen Cioffi is a children's ghostwriter and rewriter. Have a children's book manuscript, outline, or idea? Check out: Writing for Children.


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