A writing tip a budding author offers:
“Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.”
I think this is a maxim we can apply even in life although I wouldn’t seek out the criticism. My internal critic does that enough, thanks.
Our friend H.W. Fowler strikes again: Under the listing ‘movies’, he says, “Americans go to the movies. English people, after a half-hearted experiment with ‘flicks’, now go either to the ‘pictures’ or to the ‘cinema’.”
WIth the Americanisation of Australia, I bet we all say ‘movies’ – I know I do. What do you say?
Structural editing assesses the manuscript as a whole and checks that the content, structure, language and presentation meet the publication’s purpose and readers’ expectations. At this stage, restructuring and rewording may be carried out to aid accessibility, clarity, style and tone, and to tighten the reader’s focus.
A structural edit might find inconsistencies in characterisation, holes in a plot, errors of logic, structural problems, or the like, so may contain substantial changes. For this reason, please ask your editor to use track changes in Word to you can see what has been edited and whether you agree with those changes or not.
As you can imagine, this may be a lengthy process, particularly if the editor identifies flaws that require you to rewrite sections.
It’s important to understand the boundary between author and editor here: in most instances, it is not the editor’s job to actually do the rewriting. It’s your manuscript, so unless you have agreed that the editor will take a strong writing role, that work comes back to you.
During this process a manuscript may go back and forth several times until all the inconsistencies are ironed out.
More Publishing Tips
THE EDITOR IS NOT THE ENEMY
An editor’s job is to prepare a manuscript for publication and ensure that its style and the level of its language suits the intended readership. A good editor is always careful to retain the author’s voice. They may improve it, but they don’t mutate it.
There are three parts to the editing process. A comprehensive editing service includes all three processes. These are structural editing; copyediting; and proofreading. Over the next few days I will talk about structural editing. Watch this space …
DIALOGUE IS THE DEVIL (Writing tips continued)
Some say the ‘devil is in the detail’. I say, ‘dialogue IS the devil’.
Dialogue needs to flow naturally. When dialogue is working well, you no longer feel that these are unreal characters using words that the author has made up. You feel that these are real people. A great idea to get a true feeling for how people really speak is take a long train ride or sit in a café and do some eavesdropping! Listen to the people around you.
And especially don’t be afraid of using contractions such as ‘I didn’t’ as opposed to ‘I did not’ – or ‘I will be going to the shop to purchase some bread’ instead of ‘I’m going to the shop for some bread’. After all, your characters are real to you and they should also be real people for your readers as well.
WRITING TIPS: Cut to the Chase
Just as elegance in fashion, industrial design or even motorcars is best achieved using the tempered hand of restraint – a ‘less is more’ approach you could say – so should your writing style exhibit a certain directness and lack of baroque embellishments. Unless of course you are the second William Faulkner!
What do you think has the most impact out of the following?
“I arrived and looked around a fair bit and then decided to have a few battles, which I won.”
“I came, I saw, I conquered.”
This is just an example of how a restrained writing hand can produce powerful speech.
WRITING & SELF-PUBLISHING TIPS (cont.,)
• During the writing process, it’s best to focus on writing, rather than spending time with elaborate formatting. CHANGING FONTS IS PROCRASTINATING, NOT WRITING.
Formatting text is distracting yourself from actually writing.
• Complex formatting in your manuscript can also create problems when the text is imported into the design program used to create a book. The simpler your manuscript format, the fewer problems there will be during the design process.
• When you submit your manuscript for publication, it should be in a Word document or similar, preferably with no images embedded in the file. Embedding images into the Word document will mean the document will be too large and will crash the program.
WRITING & SELF-PUBLISHING TIPS (cont.,)
• If you’re feeling time-poor or unmotivated about your writing, a good plan is to work out exactly how much time you have available to write each week.
• Draw up a writing timetable and stick to the schedule.
• During this ‘writing time’, minimise distractions. Turn off your mobile phone; take your landline off the hook; and most importantly close your Web browser.
• It’s a good idea to tell people who call you regularly that at a particular time you’ll be writing, so you don’t feel guilty not answering the phone or responding to messages. After all, if you were sitting in an office at work, you wouldn’t have time for long phone conversations or surfing the net.
• Apply this same work ethic to your writing time to help you meet your goals. Once you’ve established a routine, you’ll find that sitting down to write is just another normal part of your day, like getting up to go to work or brushing your teeth before you go to bed.
Salient words from Mark Peters’ ‘Grammar and Style’:
“Grammar, usage, and mechanics guidelines serve as the rules of the road. As long as everyone follows them, communication proceeds smoothly. Break the rules, and clarity suffers.”