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Archive for the ‘editing’ Category

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Photo by Hamed Saber

You decided to write this nice little story. You had enough information, characters suitable for a story under 10000 words and a plot that was supposed to be just enough for your needs. And then you started to write it. And it was like suddenly you were writing an epic.

I’m terrible at estimating how big a story might get. I don’t pay much attention to the word count, unless it’s my goal. However, even I can notice the difference between a ficlet and a novella.

Identify the problem

Why is your story getting bigger? Is it because your plot turned out to be a bit bigger than you first anticipated? Did your characters suddenly gain a significant background that contributes to the story? Are there small bits of information your reader might enjoy knowing but nothing crucial to the plot?

I’ll risk sounding redundant, but indentifying the problem might lead to solutions.

Try to name everything that may be influencing the lenght of the story. If it’s the fact that you’re getting into too many details, try to think how much detail your story really needs. Maybe you’re simply overdoing it. I know how difficult it is to judge your own work, but if the story is to be posted online, then all kinds of funny random trivia can be posted separately. And that might actually save your story.

Are the characters taking over? Revealing more and more about themselves? And it seems as if all of it is very important to the story; in terms of explaining why characters react to the events the way they do.

Well if that’s the case you need to think whether or not some mystery about characters’ motives won’t actually help the story. If you want to write a ficlet or a short story, it’s sometimes good to leave the reader not understanding the actions your characters took. It will keep the readers intrigued and interested.

Plot is getting bigger? And you really want to write something short. Maybe it’s because you don’t have time or really want to publish something. The solution to that might be simply writing a series of short stories instead of one long one. And if done right it might even be more satisfying to both you and your readers.

To Cut or Not to Cut.

The real question is. Do you really want to keep writing a short story even though you have a possible novel on your hands? Afterall, most writers want to write a great novel etc.

However there are valid reasons to fight the growth of your story. If you have short attention span and know that in a week the story will be forgotten. If you’re writing for a contest or a challenge and you have to close your story within a given wordcount. If you know that while you have the beginning and the end of the story, the middle will drag itself and lull the reader to sleep.

Anything above is true for you? Then I really suggest you work on getting the story shorter. But so it doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time, I’d also cupy and paste the pieces you’re cutting out to a separate file. You never know, they might turn out to be a useful ideas for your future work. Any possible plot bunnies should be stored somewhere and cared for. You never know what masterpiece they might result in.

But if the only reason for making your story shorter is your fear that it won’t be any good, then I suggest you suck it up and keep writing the epic. be brave and finish the first draft. Maybe it won’t be all that bad. Hell, it might even be brilliant. And look at it this way: if it really is as bad as you anticipated. Nothing stops you from transforming this not-so-good novel into a better short story. Simply don’t give up before you try. And have faith in yourself.

Stumble It!

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Finding an Editor

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Photo by lo83

You should know how to edit your own story after my previous post. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for someone who would look through your story.

Why do you need an editor?

Let’s start with the obvious. New set of eyes. Your editor will probably be able to catch things you missed. And that is always good.

If you did edit your story before sending it off to your editor it means that he or she will be able to concentrate not on grammar and spelling but on ensuring that the plot is great and accessible to the readers.

And isn’t it better to hear something needs tweaking while you can still fix it? Editor gives you that luxury.

Where to find an editor?

You can look on one of the portals for writers. Like writers-editors or beta_readers. There is a lot of people willing to help you make your story better.

Like me. I already posted about this offer, but it still stands. You can send me your story for editing and I’ll help you as much as I can :).

If you’re not very comfortable with strangers editing your work, you can always ask your friend or a family member. Simply remember to choose wisely as sometimes people who love us don’t want to hurt us by pointing out our mistakes.

How to keep an editor?

Once you found the editor you like to work with and you see your writing is profiting from that relationship, all you need is to learn how to keep that editor.

1. Acknowledge the work your editor is doing. And if it’s possible, credit him or her for it.
2. Be nice. That goes a long way.

And remember. Love and cherish your editor. Send your editor Christmas cards, babysit your editors children, buy your editor expensive gifts *g*

Stumble It!

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Every writer needs to be able to edit his or her own work. Without self-editing you’d never create a story that would catch readers’ attention.

And to be honest, self-editing is not all that difficult. Here’s some advice on how to make it work.

Realize that what you wrote is NOT the final version.

Very little writers can write a novel in one go. I could even go as far as saying that no good story gets published without any corrections.

What you have before you is merely a first draft. One of many. And there’s still a lot of work to be done before the story is readable.

How and what to do to edit your story well?

First of all, take a deep breath.

Yes, you just finished a novel. It’s the most precious thing in the world. And even a slight thought that the novel is not perfect causes you pain.

Go slowly and don’t read it for some time

When it comes to editing, your best friend is time.
You need to take it easy. Allow your brain some rest.
After a day or two (preferably three or four), you will be less likely to miss the mistakes that are for sure there.

It’s better to take a break after every stage of editing. That will assure that you’ll have a fresh mind. And that’s what really matters when you’re correcting your own mistakes.

Fix big things first

I do realize that often you are advised to start with small things and work your way up to the major problems.

But look at it this way. You have this huge amount of words, maybe even hundreds of pages.
You fight your way through grammar and typos only to discover that some parts need total re-writing, whole paragraphs need to be added and that one of the chapters doesn’t even need to be there.

Exactly.

So start by fixing your plot holes. Then ensure everything makes sense. That there is a clear chain of cause and effect.

Unless your story is shorter, you’re probably a bit tired by now. So just go for a walk. Take a breather. Because you’re not done yet.

Now turn to your characters. Do they sound differently? Do they have enough of quirks, mannerisms and such to make them look three-dimensional? Are they involved in too much exposition (never a good thing. Ask Dumbledore)? Do they know more than they should?

Also, I noticed that in some of the stories I edit, make sure to check characterization. Especially in longer stories. Authors tend to forget themselves and they pay less and less attention to how they write their characters. And characters are what in fact readers come back for. They want to see what happened next to the characters. So you really want to make sure that you’re consistent, when writing characters.

Concentrate on small things

After you’re done with the big stuff, I strongly suggest you once again leave the story for a few days (I know, I know I am repeating myself. But I can never stress it enough. Taking a break between editing stages is crucial). Fixing plot holes and characterization in an exhausting task, but one that has to be done. Before you start the next stage, make sure you have a clear head.

Now it’s time to take care of the technicalities. Typos, grammar and other small irritating things.

When it comes to that, you can use one of the tools some word editors offer (like Microsoft Word). But don’t trust software completely. Yes, let it run. It will help you catch the majority of mistakes. Simply don’t take its suggestions for granted. It’s a machine, and they aren’t perfect.

Even if you run an automated grammar and spell check, you should then read through the whole story and make sure everything sounds right.

To be honest, that’s the last step. You just edited your story. Read it. I bet it’s a lot better than your first draft. Good job :).

Stumble It!

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Yes. I’m really offering to edit any story anyone sends me. The only condition is that the story must be under 10,000 words. If it’s bigger than that, send it to me one chapter/part at the time

Also, don’t expect me to fix every grammar mistake and every typo. My brain is genetically unable to find those. I have an English Teacher edit my stories for that. Yes. Now we know what you can do with a BA in English.

BUT

What I can do is to make sure your character doesn’t take off the same shirt twice in the same scene. That the characterisation is consistent. That your plot doesn’t have any holes. And that your story becomes pretty and shiny.

I also provide some advice on how to make your writing better and what you should concentrate on.

Make no mistakes. There will be constructive criticism.

But if you’re ready for that email me your work:

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