Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Art of the Edit – Part II

Here is the follow up to my previous post about the art of the edit.

I was lucky enough to participate in a webinar called The Art of the Edit by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry  (The Book Doctors), wonderfully helpful and experienced pros of the book publishing world. They shared a lot of helpful advise (especially for me while I’m in editing mode), and I wanted to pass it along to all my friends.  Hope you can find some gems to help you through the next week.

And on that note, here is Part II!  (I feel like there should be a ringmaster and rising curtains for this.  Maybe it’s just a circus kind of Friday.) xD

Show vs Tell

  • Don’t reveal too much too fast
  • Don’t tell it before it happens
  • Hide a lot of information until the reader needs to know it
  • Show that the character is funny, sweet, or mean – let the reader make the conclusion
  • Don’t use clichés, especially in genre fiction. They deaden and dull the story. Either make something new or fresh, or just remove them altogether.

Snappy Dialogue

  • It is different than what people actually say to each other
  • Good dialogue captures the essence of good conversation
  • Read your book out loud.  When you stumble over a sentence, you know there is something wrong with it
  • Big advocate for writing groups where people read five pages out loud, then receive critiques from the group.

Pacing Your Novel

  • Make sure there are peaks and valleys.  Readers don’t have the endurance for a story that runs all the time or crawsl all the time.
  • Building to the climax is the focus of your book.
  • Scroll through the book electronically, like it is a movie and visualize the story.

Beta Readers (the unsung heroes)

  • Give beta readers a series of questions along with a copy of your manuscript
  • Consensus can be genius
  • Ask people how they liked the ending, was it satifying?
  • Was there unbelievable dialogue?
  • Did the beginning grab you?
  • Did you know where the story was going, or was the misdirection effective?
  • Were you cheering for the main character?
  • Were there characters you didn’t get?
  • Were there points where the story lagged
  • Ask people once you feel the story is stuck
  • Step away from your book for three weeks to a month
  • Be aware if you are a perfectionist or think you are a genius.  This might be where you are either too critical or not critical enough with your manuscript.  
  • You should also edit your book title – pull words and phrases from your book

Working with an Editor

  • Very important to have an editor as well as beta readers
  • Ask them a series of back and forth questions
  • You don’t have to agree with them – write the book you want to write
  • Make sure they edit the stuff you write – in your genre
  • Ask to talk to 1-3 people they have edited for
  • Don’t a do a line edit before a developmental edit
  • Line edit goes at the very end of the process

Sundry Questions and Responses

How many sentences should there be in your first paragraph? Enough to make them read the second paragraph.

What about multiple points of view? It is tough to do skillfully. Agents and editors are trained to find ways to say no. It is often a red flag.

What should first-time authors do?  Educate yourself, read books, writers group, writers conference. Don’t be naïve.

  1. Research and understand the biz
  2. Networking
  3. Write
  4. Have perseverance

What advise do you have for writing in a genre?  You have to know your audience in genre fiction. What are the promises that you need to deliver on? But don’t write for a trend. Have to have knowledge and be well read.

Should authors write for a particular audience or write the story as they see it?  Balance the book between writing for yourself and writing for your potential audience.

What is the secret for success?  Get lots of people on your dream team.  The more cheerleaders, experts, and assistants you have, the more likely it is that you will achieve your goal.  :D

11 comments on “Art of the Edit – Part II

  1. katemsparkes
    May 31, 2013

    Sounds like a fantastic webinar. Thank you for sharing!

    “What about multiple points of view? It is tough to do skillfully. Agents and editors are trained to find ways to say no. It is often a red flag.”

    Maybe it’s a good thing I’m probably not going that route, then. :)
    *plans on kicking ass at this*

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      That question was actually the one I asked. xD. As for your plan, I like it!!!

      • katemsparkes
        May 31, 2013

        Me, too. If you’re going to ignore the advice of the experts, the least you can do is prove them wrong, right? :)

  2. francisguenette
    May 31, 2013

    I’m cutting and pasting those questions for beta readers into a Word document. Thanks so much. I’ll be putting my second novel out to a few readers soon and these questions are perfect.

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      I so glad to hear that this list will be useful to you and your readers. I hope they have lots of great feedback for you! :D

  3. ericjbaker
    May 31, 2013

    All great points. I only suggest that people don’t try so hard to follow advice that they are no longer writing the book they intended to write.

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      Yes, I think that is a point worth making too. I like editing rules because that happens after you’ve gotten your rough draft on the page. With any luck, you have a vision and are well on your way to your goal. I don’t think rules and guidelines should get in the way of writing the story you want to write.

      But for those of us who have some lumpy clay and are asking, “What next?” I think these notes might help. ;)

  4. mrschmoe
    June 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on Just another inane writer and commented:
    Reblogged this on my site the second time, pretty good information

  5. Arlene
    June 2, 2013

    Thanks again for sharing all of your notes. These are SO helpful!!! Now to try to incorporate …

    • tracycembor
      June 5, 2013

      Glad you are finding my notes useful. Best of luck with your writing!

      • Arlene
        June 6, 2013

        Thanks I can use all the luck (and tips) I can get ;)

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on May 31, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

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About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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