Writer, edit thyself

I just attended a workshop at the library on the subject of self-editing your novel with Jennifer Sawyer Fisher of JSF Editorial. She gave us a good deal of great information, and plenty of examples to help drive the points home.

In no particular order, here are a few of my takeaways:

  1. I might have to cut back on the subplots
  2. Trying to push through and edit a full-length novel all in one sitting would be as silly as trying to write the thing all in one sitting.
  3. Writing and editing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Okay, I made this one up. But it’s still the basic gist of what she said.
  4. One day, when I write a murder mystery, the rule of thumb is a death in the first three chapters. Don’t need this now, but I’m just filing away the info for later.
  5. Hiring a good editor is worth every penny. Though Ms. Fisher didn’t specifically say this, I think it was implied. And probably very true.
  6. This I’ve heard before, but it bears repeating:  just because there are super-long books on the bookstore shelves doesn’t mean a first time author is going to get a super-long book published. Cut the fluff.
  7. When it comes to accepting or rejecting an editor’s, agent’s, or publisher’s suggestions for your book, go with your gut.
  8. Also not news, but worth repeating: action verbs, action verbs, action verbs.
  9. I need to stop using the same word so many times in a single sentence/paragraph (for example, I just edited a second word “session” out of my sentence below and replaced it with “workshop”).
  10. Full page paragraphs are a big no-no.

It was an inspiring session. Thanks to Ms. Fisher and everyone at the Hudson Library and Historical Society who made the workshop possible!

Happy editing!

Have you received a great piece of writing or editing advice lately? Please share in the comments.

Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “Writer, edit thyself

  1. On the murder mystery, I think chapter 1 is the drive up to the mansion. Chapter two is the dinner party. Chapter three is where the lights go out – in more ways than one.

    On the editing front, maybe self edit your texts and emails with the same rules of paragraphs and finding another word to use. Dilligence in writing gives the image of a professional, even if you are often a silly goose.

    1. 1) Or we could do as @marc_laidlaw suggested and make the second line, “And then the murders began.” Would throw some action in there right away… 😉

      2) You’d know, silly goose!

  2. Remember when we discovered that I see the words, Cami hears them, and you kind of feel them? I think reading a chapter out loud to hear how the words feel is a good exercise. ( or even taping your reading out loud and listening without seeing the words)

    1. I completely forgot about that! Although, the exercise is totally worthwhile. Mom and I were taking turns reading chapters aloud to help me edit, and Gillie has been recording some for me as well.

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