Authors are told to write the best book we can, but in today’s competitive market that’s not always enough. We could follow Mark Twain’s advice: Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. In reality, the writer has to make the changes. While not all of us are adept at putting on an editor's hat, there are some simple steps to take to tighten the writing and polish the manuscript.
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This workshop provides tips on what an author can look for to improve your chances at getting past the initial query. We'll cover passive vs. active sentence construction, redundancy, weak vs. strong verbs, stating the obvious, synonyms, cause and effect, dangling modifiers, clarity of pronouns, author intrusion, speaker identification tags, adverbs and adjectives, head hopping, and more. The list may seem daunting, but if you know what to look for, you can easily make corrections that may increase your chances of getting a request to see your entire manuscript.
- Class Syllabus:
- Welcome, Introduction, Resource List, Participants’ Questions
- Lesson 1: Tightening Your Writing – One of the easiest ways to lower your word count is to reduce the number of words you use. This lesson looks at ways in which you can accomplish this. The topics covered include redundancy, stating the obvious, avoidance of wasted words, repetition, steps to complete an action, use of “that”, and lists and adjectives.
- Lesson 2: The Nitty Gritty – This lesson covers cause and effect, dangling modifiers, and common misspellings.
- Discussion: How Your Write
- Assignment: Practice catching errors covered in the first 2 lessons
- Lesson 3: Right Words Make the Difference – When you write a sentence are you using the best words to convey what you want the reader to know? This lesson is all about word choices – avoiding weak words, showing rather than telling, passive versus active, strong verbs, the use of “very,” and general versus specific words.
- Lesson 4: Who Said What? – Does the reader truly know which character says or does something? This lesson examines how to bring clarity to dialogue and narrative. It covers dialogue and action tags, the use of names in dialogue, and the misuse of tags in dialogue.
- Assignments: Practice catching errors covered in the lessons
- Lesson 5: Unmuddle Your Style – Each author has his/her own style of writing, but is yours clear to the reader? This lesson discusses positive versus negative, clichés, run-on sentences, clarity of pronouns, head hopping, convoluted sentences that require deciphering, and the use of conjunctions.
- Lesson 6: Historical Faux Pas – When you write historical fiction (or one of its sub-genres like historical romance), there are also elements to watch for either as you go through the manuscript or as you write it. Is a character doing, saying, or thinking something that isn’t appropriate to the period? Does your character have a modern name or one appropriate to the time and place? Do your characters use words that would have been unknown to them in the period in which the story occurs?
- Assignment: Practice catching errors covered in the lessons
- Lesson 7: Deep POV – While some authors don’t like to maintain a Deep POV in their manuscripts, others do. This lesson provides suggestions on what to look for to make certain Deep POV is present in the manuscript.
- Wrap-up, Free Chapter Edit
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New for 2018 To Be or Not to Be and Other Editing Quandaries with Cindy Vallar
Learn to view your story through the eyes of an editor