Sunday, April 25, 2010
Review: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
In March I wrote about receiving two books, one about grammar and the other about editing. I finished reading "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" and as promised I would write a more in-depth review.
Before I start, first a bit about the authors.
Renni Browne: She used to be a senior editor for William Morrow and many other companies. In 1980 she left mainstream publishing to found the book-editing company The Editorial Department.
Dave King: He works as an independent editor at home and online at his website.
Now about the book; I want to start with saying I loved it and it helped me in better understand certain things.
The book has twelve chapters in total. I will not write about all the chapters but only those that had the most impact.
The first chapter is about "Show and Tell". Sample writings are used to explain how "Show and Tell" works. Everything is explained in a clear and understanding, easy to read way.
It helped me understand a concept of writing I knew a bit about it but could not place yet. I am confident now that I will be better in knowing how and when to show and tell. This chapter alone had enough value for me to justify buying this book.
Chapter three covers a subject many writers struggle with; "Point of View". In much the same way as the previous chapter and following ones, the subject is explained by example. To me this is a great way to open ones eyes about how things should be done.
This chapter taught me about how to better utilize POV and made it clear why not to ping pong switch the POV between characters. By showing how it's done, you get to see how much better and clear a story can be. It's easy to get lost while reading when the POV keep changing at random.
Chapter four "Proportion" describes why not everything should be written. Somethings are better left to the imagination of the reader. Too much explaining can slow down the pace and bore or frustrate a reader. E very important lesson.
I used to write too much detail about the goings of my main Character. While reading I kept thinking about my first manuscript and how many things I still needed to edit and I know now how I will improve my writing.
"Easy Beats" chapter eight showed the way to better add beats or omit them. Before I read this book I already recognized the need for beats. Though I already used beats I am still thankful to this chapter. I now know better the why and how to add them. This will make you book read much more flowing and when needed to slow down the pace.
The last chapter is about "Voice" It explains what voice is and that it will grow with practice. Before reading this chapter I have to admit I had no clear idea about voice. I always thought my voice was the way I write and surprisingly to myself that was in a sense correct. By having it explained to me, in the way this book has, I now feel more comfortable about the knowledge.
As I understood Voice is something that we writers develop with time, the more confident we become in our own ability the more clear our voice will be. It's okay to observe other writers voice but not to assimilate and try to make that voice our own, because that will only hurt our own writing. It's just better to let it become what it will become.
I have said before and will say again I am happy with this book and I believe it will help my writing and probably in those of others.
The chapters are clearly written with many samples, all is explained in an easy way to understand. At the end of each chapter there is checklist and Exercises.
The checklist is some questions about the subject at hand in combination with your own writing. This is an wonderful way for you to think about how you yourself write and by doing so making clear the mistakes you might make.
The exercises are sample text given, on which you must use the techniques taught in the chapter. The answers are at the back of the book. By doing them you remember better what was taught.
I think this book is a must have for those starting with writing and good buy for those of intermediate skills but not clear yet with all the techniques. For those with greater skill the book might not be of much use but for freshening up the subject.
I sincerely recommend this book.