Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Editing a Book

Congratulations! You’ve finished your first (or second, or fourteenth) draft, and now your baby is ready for those polishing touches that will make it truly shine. It’s time to edit your novel.

Ah, self-editing. Some writers swear by it, some writers swear it will kill them first. Either way, it must be done. Or mustn’t it?

Should I Bother Self-Editing My Book?

If you plan to self-publish, the answer is, absolutely.

If you plan to publish traditionally, the answer is, definitely.

Here’s why.

Self-publishers:
No one can truly edit their own work. Spare yourself the 1-star reviews, and have your novel edited professionally before you publish it. However, self-editing your book first helps cut down on rates. The more you do yourself, the better quote you’ll receive.

Submitters:
Yes, you will likely be assigned an editor before publication. But in order to get there, you have to catch the publisher or agent’s attention. To that end, your manuscript has to be as clean as you can make it on your own.

Before we sit down to work, let’s go over the different types of editing a book might require.

Types of Editing

A lot of work falls under the word “editing” or “revising,” but it all comes down to three types: developmental editing, line editing (also known as copyediting), and proofreading.

It’s important to identify the types of editing your novel needs–and do them in the right order. Developmental editing, for example, will probably make you revise huge blocks of text. There’s no point proofreading before you do that, because all your effort and time will go to waste.

The correct order is as listed above: developmental editing first, then copyediting, and finally proofreading.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need all three. If you’re submitting your manuscript, all three should be provided to you at no cost by the publishing house.

Here’s what each of them means.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editors take a deep look at the novel structure. They look for plot holes, character development, pace and suspense, tight scenes, and other story-level details.

Self-editing on this level is almost impossible. It’s the Curse of Knowledge: you’re too close to the narrative, you know the facts too well, and you can’t imagine how new readers would perceive the story. Is it clear enough? Entertaining? Suspenseful? Engaging? You’re the wrong person to answer these questions.

You can find professional, hand-vetted developmental editors over at Reedsy.

If that option for editing your book is a bit too pricey for you, you can find developmental editors on non-vetted platforms such as Guru, Upwork, and Fiverr.

Either way, be careful to interview your candidates and make sure they are masters of your genre.

Developmental editing rates for fiction manuscripts run anywhere from $0.03/word to $0.90/word. Some editors quote by page. The standard page has 250 words, so costs are usually $7.50 to $22.50 per page.

For example, a YA Fantasy manuscript usually runs about 60,000 words. Be prepared to spend at least $1800 on developmental edits.

Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Oh yes. The right developmental editor can make or break your novel.

Line Editing / Copyediting

At this level of editing the manuscript, story is no longer an issue. Language is. But not usage and spelling issues. Copywriters look at your voice, word-choice, paragraph and sentence structure, readability, and so on.

This is something you can and should do on your own! Do it before you send your book to be professionally edited, and all the more before you submit your novel anywhere.

Expect to pay $0.012/word to $0.02/word. Per page, the cost will be $3 to $5.

For a 60,000-word manuscript, that’s about $1,020.

Proofreading

The last but not least editing pass will weed out grammar and spelling errors, typos, inconsistency in names, and the likes. It’s a language-only pass.

Expect to pay about $0.01/word to $0.015/word. That would be $2.50 to $3.75 per page.

The same 60,000-word manuscript would cost about $720.

Some professional editors will lump line editing and proofreading under the same service. This combined service should cost about $0.02/word to $0.03/word. That would be $5 to $7.5 per page.

Getting Ready to Edit a Novel

Four more steps before we tackle the checklists.

  1. Let your manuscript breathe. Put it aside once you finish writing it (Stephen King recommends 6 weeks). This pause will let you come back to it with a clearer view. Instead of remembering what each word should say, you’ll be more able to see what each word actually says. Then you can judge if it works or not.
  2. Arm your vision. Install Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or a similar piece of software to help you catch grammar and spelling issues. They’re not enough, but they’re absolutely a good beginning. (Both Grammarly and ProWritingAid have free versions, but ProWritingAid’s is more limited.)
  3. Arm your ears. Install or bookmark a text-to-speech service to help you catch spelling errors, typos, repetitive sentence structure, overly long sentences, and so on. Natural Reader is a good free choice, for example.
  4. Pace yourself. Don’t attempt to edit huge blocks of text every day. The more tired you are, the more issues you’ll miss. Then you’ll just have to re-edit your work on the next day. Take frequent breaks to stretch, close your eyes, or do some deep breathing. This will boost your efficiency.

Now that you’re ready, let’s get to editing!

Self-Editing Checklist for Line Editing (Copyediting)

  • In every scene, make sure the reader knows who the POV character is, what characters are present, and where the characters are situated in relation to each other. Don’t dump this information in bulk. Instead, sprinkle it over some dialog and action.
  • If you’re writing a limited POV (first person or third-person limited), stop after every sentence and ask yourself: Can my POV character know/hear/think/see these details? For example, a character cannot see the color of its own eyes or the expression on its own face. Edit out whatever your POV character can’t perceive.
  • When you write a description, make sure it plays on all five senses (unless your character can’t sense that way). Go for the unusual details: the smell of dust in the air of a construction site; the cool, dry air of a well-maintained library; the explosive taste of sun sugar tomatoes on a pizza.
  • For limited POV, ask yourself after every description: Would my POV character notice these details? Would my POV character care about these details? Edit out or downplay whatever your POV character won’t bother focusing on. For example, if your POV character is fashion-blind, he probably won’t notice someone’s blazer cut—he might not even know it’s a blazer rather than a jacket.
  • Also for limited POV, make sure you describe objects and places not the way they are, but the way your POV character would perceive them. For example, if someone at a café is working on a new laptop, a poor character wouldn’t describe its model and maker. She’d describe it as a sleek laptop she could never afford herself.
  • Make sure each paragraph has a single key idea. If there’s more than one idea in a paragraph, break it into as many paragraphs as needed.
  • Generally speaking, keep the page “airy” with white space. Huge blocks of text scare away readers. To avoid that, vary your paragraph length, and use large paragraphs sparingly.
  • In dialog, start a new paragraph whenever someone begins speaking. Different speakers should not be in the same paragraph unless they’re talking at the same time, kind of like this: “I know what you did,” Jeremy said at the same moment that Louisa said, “I don’t care.”
  • If your dialog runs long, break it up with action that reconnects the characters with their environment. Otherwise, you’ll get the “floating head” syndrome, where the reader loses all sense of the scene except for the dialog itself. Have your characters interact with objects around them as they talk. We humans rarely remain at complete rest during conversation.
  • Destroy all exclamation points outside of dialog. An exclamation point, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, is like laughing at your own joke.
  • Use varying sentence lengths. Keep most of your sentences short-to-medium, with only the occasional long, winding sentence in between.
  • Use varying grammatical structures. “He verbed” can only get you so far. But steer clear of the “Verbing, he verbed” structure (for example, “Sitting, he looked at…”). For one, it sounds amateurish. For another, if you use it a few times, it sounds conspicuously repetitive.
  • If you do use “Verbing, he verbed,” only do it when the two actions are supposed to happen at the same time. That’s what this structure means. If one action is supposed to take place before the other, use a different structure.
  • In 99% of all cases, use the active voice: “I ate the cookies,” rather than, “the cookies were eaten.” Apply the Zombie Test if you’re not sure—try adding “by zombies!” after the action. If it sounds right (albeit hilarious), that’s the passive voice. Change it to the active.
  • Use a word frequency counter to weed out overused words. Readers will start noticing these after a while, and it will throw them off. You can use a free online counter such as Word Counter.
  • Weed out most adverbs and replace them with stronger verbs. If he talked loudly, he shouted or called out. If she walked quickly, she strode. If he ate fast, he gobbled down the food. In addition to manually catching adverbs, run a search for “ly” and double-check those words.
  • Weed out weak words such as very, almost, nearly, suddenly, started to, began to, really.  They add little to the narrative.
  • Weed out weak sentence structures. Watch out especially for sentences that begin with “There was,” “There is,” “It was,” “It is,” etc. Use them sparingly.
  • Weed out filter words, such as “think,” “see,” “hear,” etc. when they are outside of dialog. Instead of “Johnny heard her scream,” use simply, “She screamed.” The fact that you mention it implies that Johnny is hearing it.
  • Weed out 99% of “that,” “things,” and “stuff.” Use precise words instead, unless you deliberately want to sound vague.
  • Watch out for “Saidism,” the excessive use of “said” synonyms. Use “said” or action tags most of the time. Only when the tone cannot be inferred from the words, consider using a different verb. For example, Nicky can say, “To hell with you!”  There’s no need to shout it, because the exclamation mark is enough of a shout.

Self-Editing Checklist for Proofreading

  • Start by running your manuscript through Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or the like. Don’t automatically accept every suggestion, but do consider every suggestion to see what’s unclear about your phrasing.
  • Next, run your manuscript through the text-to-voice software of your choice. Listen to the narrator closely. If you find it hard to focus on sounds while you read, put away the manuscript and just listen. If there’s anything that sounds even a bit off, pause the narrator and check your manuscript. Keep an ear out for overly long sentences, too.
  • Search for known trouble-makers:
      • Their (belonging to them) / they’re (short for “they are”) / there (that way, in that location)
      • Farther (more distant) / further (more advanced)
      • Affect (a verb meaning “to influence”) / effect (a noun meaning “a result”)
      • Who (like “he”) / whom (like “him”) / whose (like “his”) / who’s (short for “who is”)
      • Its (belonging to it) / it’s (short for “it is”)
      • That (refers to inanimate objects) / who (refers to people)
      • Then (“at that time,” or “next”) / than (used for comparison)
      • Lose (the opposite of “to win”) / loose (the opposite of “tight”)
      • There are no such things as “alot” (it’s “a lot”) and “infact” (it’s “in fact”).
      • There are many more. If you’re unsure about any word in your manuscript, look it up in the context of a sentence example to make sure you get it right.
  • Search and replace all double spaces. They are relics of a publishing world long-gone. In your word-processing software, start a new “Search and Replace.” In the search phrase box, hit the spacebar twice. In the replace phrase box, hit the spacebar once. Select “Replace All.”
  • Print out the manuscript and read it carefully. Highlight errors and typos. Write comments on post-it notes and stick them directly onto the relevant page.
  • Mind how you capitalize and punctuate dialog.
  • Keep your tenses consistent. If you’re writing the story in the past tense, present-tense verbs have no place in it.
  • Scene break? Use an extra empty line, or centered asterisks (* * *), or a single centered pound sign (#).

A Note on Editing a Book

Remember, no one can completely self-edit his or her own manuscript. You’re bound to miss things. That’s okay. Self-editing is not meant to replace professional editing by a fresh set of eyes. Its job is to increase your chances with traditional publishers–or to save money when hiring a professional editor for self-publishing.

And finally, learn to enjoy, or even love, editing. Think of it as a golden opportunity to squeeze the most juice out of every word you use in your novel, or to sharpen the arrow which you will fire into your readers’ hearts. Make the most of it, and it will make the most of your novel.

By Tal Valante

Source: refiction.com

 

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Want to be funny? Here are 5 simply ways to mix humor into your writing!

Creating content that puts smiles on the readers’ faces can be very challenging. Not only is humor very subjective but you also need to know how to use just the right dose. This doesn’t mean that you are facing an impossible task. It means that you’ll need to add a bit of strategy to your creativity.

Depending on the type of content you want to produce, there are different ways of incorporating humor. For some inspiration and motivation, the following five ways of incorporating humor in your writing will give you some helpful ideas.

How to do it without overdoing it?

What you need to understand about humor is that not everyone finds the same jokes funny. That is actually not your problem, but what can be your problem is if you cross the line and offend your readers.

So, how to avoid such an inconvenience?

Here are some don’ts that you should keep in mind before you risk getting chased with pitchforks and torches:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Putdowns
  • Dark humor
  • Corny, used-up jokes
  • Bashing your competition

Now that we know what type of humor should be avoided, let’s get to the useful tricks.

1. The joke is on you

Show your readers that you are not a sensitive little flower and that you can handle a good joke. According to a study (HSQ; Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003), people who make themselves the butt of their own jokes actually demonstrate greater levels of happiness and self-assurance.

Self-deprecation is a safe choice, meaning that you won’t risk offending anyone and you’ll portray yourself as a confident individual.

Who knows you better than yourself? Take all those funny and cringy stories, stereotypes, and flaws and use them in your writing.

There is more to it than just making people laugh by joking about yourself. Readers will be able to relate and create a connection with you if you open up. It shows that you are honest and willing to accept your flaws.

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable with this type of humor don’t force it. It is important that you truly feel good about yourself and are ready to share with the world some of your embarrassing stories and insecurities.

2. Are you ready to compare?

Those of you who have read Robert Schimmel’s book Cancer on $5 a Day (Chemo Not Included) might have noticed the following part:

This stupid hospital gown is riding up my ass. I try to pull it down and it snaps right back up like a window shade. I cross my legs and suddenly I’m Sharon Stone.

When using comparison it is crucial that you use situations that are generally known or popular. Like Robert did with Sharon’s famous scene in Basic Instinct.

Writers are used to using comparisons and metaphors in various styles so this shouldn’t be a difficult challenge.

Just think through what depicts the situation that you want to describe. Is it painful, sexual, embarrassing? Then brainstorm and wait until something valuable comes to your mind. It should just come instinctively.

3. Get playful with words

Jazz up your writing with simple word twisting or word tweaks. Whether you want to use the already existing ones or make something up, it is up to you. The choices are endless.

For example, what do you find to be funnier skedaddle or hurry? A promiscuous man or a mimbo?

Using simple but funny words will give a humorous tone to seemingly ordinary sentences.

You can even make some of your own word combinations. Go wild and come up with new words that can add that something extra to your writing. Who knows, maybe it will even end up in a dictionary one day. Dare to dream!

4. Go big or go home

A little exaggeration can’t hurt anyone, can it? This has always been a popular technique among comics and humor writers and for a good reason.

There are writers who base their work on exaggeration. Just look at the work of Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize winner for humor writing. He is the master of exaggeration, but don’t take my word for it. Let his work speak for himself:

  • Eugene is located in western Oregon, approximately 278 billion miles from anything.
  • I have been a gigantic Rolling Stones fan since approximately the Spanish-American War.
  • If you were to open up a baby’s head – and I am not for a moment suggesting that you should – you would find nothing but an enormous drool gland.
  • It is a well-documented fact that guys will not ask for directions. This is a biological thing. This is why it takes several million sperm cells … to locate a female egg, despite the fact that the egg is, relative to them, the size of Wisconsin.

Is this enough to convince you?

5. Get down to details

Besides helping the readers to really picture what you are describing, including all the small details can sprinkle some humor on any situation.

Think about these two examples:

  • She was holding an old, rag doll.
  • She was holding what seemed to be an old, rag doll. However, it was more like a yellow ball of fabric with two black-ish patches for the eyes and a crooked smile (maybe it had a stroke, who am I to judge).

The more details you give, the scene will look more absurd and comical. Really picture all the little things that make that specific thing what it is.

I’m not saying that generalization can’t be funny, but when you really get down to specifics that is when things get spicy.

Joke ahead!

Hopefully, the above-mentioned tips have given you some inspiration and ideas on how to add that humorous effect to your writing.

It is up to you in which direction you will go, but as long as you don’t hold back, I’m sure that you will manage to create something great and worthy of every laugh.

What’s the funniest piece you ever wrote? Is it published on a website or on your blog? If so, link to it and share it with us in the comments below!

By Bryan Hutchinson

Source: positivewriter.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Always Have a Bagful of Exciting Writing Ideas

How intimately do you know the blank, virginal screen?

Do you have a love-hate relationship with it?

On the one hand are many writing options, waiting to unfold.

On the other, a dread of the unknown that freezes your fingers.

And always, that vast, nagging question: what shall I write about?

Take heart!

You’re surrounded by brilliant writing ideas waiting only for you to grab them and transform them into riveting pieces.

Whether you write a blog, fiction, or non-fiction, inspiration is all around you. Here are some ways to make your daily life an endless source of writing ideas.

1. Mix Up Topics

Interesting things happen when you choose a topic you care deeply about, and then combine it with something completely outside your experience.

For example, perhaps you are pro-life, with strong opinions about abortion. Let’s combine that with something you know absolutely nothing about. Say, motorcycles.

You could write a book about the member of a motorcycle gang whose girlfriend is pregnant. She doesn’t want the baby; he already visualizes it developing in her womb.

When the baby is born, she disappears into the smog, and the biker is determined to raise the child himself. He wants his son to experience the world as he never had the opportunity to do. So he sets off on a journey across the country with his toddler.

This can be a heartwarming novel, a hopeless tragedy, or even a comedy. It’s up to you. The possibilities are endless, even within this one scenario.

2. Be a News Hog

The news offers exciting possibilities.

Make a habit of reading about what’s going on around you, especially the slice-of-life articles. You can build on these stories, making them your own.

Some ways of doing that are:

  1. Imagine where the story could go next, and create a new ending of your own.
  2. Imagine alternative beginnings to the story. What could be the background of the characters involved?
  3. Change one major detail in the story. How would it impact the story? What new possibilities would that create?

Last week I read about two burglars who broke into a private residence and stole jewelry worth thousands of dollars. Did they get away with it?

No.

They were quickly apprehended because one of the felons was caught staring straight into the house’s security camera, revealing his unmasked face.

This seems to be an open-and-shut case. And yet, it made me wonder…

The burglars were obviously experienced. They broke into the house without a problem, and they searched it systematically for valuable goods. It was clearly not their first job.

So what caused the rookie mistake of not wearing face masks?

Could it be that the burglar caught on camera was distracted as he was making his preparations for the robbery, and so forgot to cover his face? What could have distracted him? Was it a subliminal desire to quit this dark line of work?

What made him go into house-breaking in the first place? And how did he feel when he looked directly into the camera, and probably realized he was in trouble? Why not try to deactivate the camera or find out where it was transmitting to?

Don’t get me wrong.

The true answers to these questions are probably boring: he was becoming overconfident after a long run of successful jobs and forgot to cover his face, or some such thing.

But the possible answers are much more interesting. I can almost feel the conspiracy thickening around this man.

Or maybe it’s a comedy of errors?

What would you make of his circumstances?

3. Capture Your Dreams

Dreams can be a fertile ground for inspiration. They are the essence of imagination run amok.

Your sleeping mind thinks up ideas that your waking mind might reject before you’ve even had a chance to register them.

These ideas can be precious writing material.

Your dreams are a gold mine, but so are other people’s dreams. When friends, family and strangers tell you about their dreams, that’s your chance to listen carefully.

A friend of mine received the inspiration for her entire novel from a dream her husband had. (Her story wasn’t based on his dream, but relied on the unreal atmosphere it created.)

Children’s dreams, in particular, are rich and free of filters. For example, your son’s dream about purple, diesel-drinking plants may inspire you to write the environmentally sympathetic version of The Day of the Triffids. How cool is that?

4. What If?

This is probably my favorite question ever. I turn to it whenever I’m out of ideas.

  1. What if time travel were possible? Where would my character go?
  2. What if three sisters decided to assassinate a tyrannical African despot? How would they do it?
  3. What if my husband decided that we should buy a motorhome and live on the roads for a year?

Try it!

Put together a long list of what-ifs.

There’s nothing more liberating for the imagination than that little two-word phrase.

5. Journaling—The Straight Way

Keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings and experiences can help you capture great ideas from your own life.

Write To Done has already covered this subject with two fascinating articles: How to Journal and 5 Ways Your Journal Can Take You Deeper Into Your Story.

These will set you on the road to journaling success. And great story ideas.

6. Journaling—With a Twist

What if you hate journaling? What if you think your life isn’t interesting enough to write about?

Well, make your life more interesting!

What is a writer if not an astute liar, at the end of the day?

Start with the truth—always a good place—and then embroider.

Suppose you stood in a long checkout where the sales person was rude and obnoxious. In truth, you may have done nothing but await your turn, bear it, gather your groceries, and leave.

But what would you like to have done?

Don’t write the truth. Fantasize, fabricate, lie. Re-create yourself as a character you’d like to read about.

And think how surprised and impressed your children or grandchildren will be when they discover your journal!

Life is full of opportunities. Don’t let them pass you by!

Try one of the exercises above and see where it takes you. Make it a habit to do a few exercises every day and you’ll never again lack writing inspiration.

What do you do when you’re looking for fresh writing ideas? Share in the comments, please, and help inspire others as well!

By Tal Valante

Source: writetodone.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing