Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Editing Mayhem!

You’ve done it! You’ve completed a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo and hopefully are taking a break from the manuscript. Once you’ve recovered from the craziness of writing as if your fingers were on fire, it’s time to think about editing.

Ugh! Editing. It’s so…uncreative. Or is it? I used think editing was just about fixin’ your grammar. In reality, your rough draft is like an unseasoned steak—not exactly the tastiest thing on the menu. But, add a little seasoning, a nice side of potatoes, a yummy vegetable and—presto! You have a meal fit for a king. Editing is sort of the same way. Add some character development, a side of plot, a really interesting world, and before you know it, you’ve got a tale fit for a reader.

Try these simple tips to get you started on the editing journey:

Write the dreaded synopsis before diving into the first draft. Keep it short and simple for the time being. Once the manuscript is fleshed out, then you can go back and re-work the synopsis. While not always the easiest thing to create, this tool can be an invaluable guide which keeps you on track as you tackle the editing process.

Here’s another little time saver: cut the words “that” and “was” where you can. “That” is a filler word. We use it all the time in every day conversation without really hearing it. Yet, in a novel, “that” really clutters up your word count and is often unnecessary. Many writers have a heavy “was” addiction, too. “Was” tends to lead to passive voice (though not always!) and is good word to try and distance yourself from.

Editing is a lengthy process, and as writers, we all use different tools to guide us. What do you find are your most common writing mistakes?

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