Faith and Culture Writers Conference, 2014
“This Beautiful Mess: Self-Editing for Successful Storytelling”
with Mick Silva, editor, YourWritersGroup.com
[pdf, print and email buttons are at bottom]
1. Getting Organized
F.o.c.u.s. on the achievable steps:
Focus your attention (remove distractions)
Open your mind (use creative exercises, pray)
Connect with the info (what's the editing task before you?)
Use your eyes (find a lucky "charm," motivational quote, picture, etc.),
Select which keys to apply from the following list:
2. Applying the Steps
My editing keys to begin day’s work
- What’s the big point? (How do all roads lead to this? Why is this the big point? Can you refine it?)
- Is every page doing 2 of the 3 things? (Reveal character, Advance plot, & Describe setting (i.e. deepen context.))
- Does every page make me want to read more? (Can it be simpler AND deeper?)
- What’s the emotional intended for the scene? (Characters involved, desires and conflict. Are you using those to their fullest potential? Can you deepen readers’ understanding of characters and their situations with this tone? Is it singular or more complicated?)
- Where’s the tension/conflict? (Is it strong and obvious? Can it be strengthened, made more immediate or clear?) Is it internal and external?
- What choices are the characters making here? (Do those choices reveal previously hidden truths about them? Do you like what you’re learning?)
- What are you setting up and paying off here? (What’s added, what’s taken away? Does this lead to deeper investment in these characters on the readers’ part?)
The Editing Stages
Substantive, line edit, copyedit, proof.
Editing is not just cutting, but refining.
Get progressively narrower as you go along. You’re looking for 3 things that are all interrelated: economy, efficiency and precision.
1. First Draft – write it fast! Don’t stop.
2. Second – Ask "So what?" "Who cares?" "Oh yeah?" (“That would never happen. That was convenient.”) and "Huh?" (“What’s happening? This doesn’t make sense. Where is this? I don’t get it. This is just a bunch of words.”) Be brutal!
3. Third – Clean up. "Is this what I meant?" "Is this the best way I can say this?" "Is there a better word or sentence structure?" "Is this really necessary or is it just a pet bit?"
4. Fourth – final shaping, fine edits, proof, spellcheck, and read ALOUD to someone.
Finally, get qualified, trustworthy feedback – find the author/pro you admire who’s closest to you. Look around. Right here. Get their email. If you’re more advanced, go to the bookstore and connect with a group there. Look around your community. Go on YWG. But, you had better do your first drafts first and get clear about what you’re doing. There are many considerations first.
Then, you're ready to hire a substantive/developmental editor.
3. Refining the Vision
Overcome familiarity by practicing objectivity. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Luckily, it gets easier with practice. Most people will give up too soon. Stick with it!
How to know what someone else is hearing? Get in their shoes.
Stephen King advises putting it in a drawer for a month after your first draft is done. That might work. Listen to it as if you're in the reader's head, in his skin.
4. Loving Your Reader
What? Caring more for them than for yourself.
How? Give what they need, not what you want. And only that. I.e. get out of your own way.
In Stein on Writing, Sol Stein's visual to help authors understand the goal of editing: getting the author out of the way.
So, the single secret to successful editing? – "Humble confidence."
[Want the Secret to How to Help Your Editor?]
All books need a humble author to get out of the way and a strong author with a clear vision.
Thank you for attending! I'd love your questions and feedback: mick @ yourwritersgroup.com
Sunday, 09 March 2014 00:24