Steps on the Journey: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers


Welcome to another SoJ post! Since I'm mired, waist-deep, in the revision of Soul Cavern, I thought this would be an appropriate entry for SoJ today.

If you only buy two writing books (you're already buying Strunk & White's Elements of Style, remember), Self-Editing for Fiction Writers needs to be the second one.

The days are gone when an editor was able to take a chance on a green writer and help him polish his work, edit his voice and develop his message. Now, writers must be their own editors.

If you've ever had any issues with telling instead of showing, internal monologues (I have to re-read that chapter!), points of view, dialogue or just how to put it all together, then you'll want this book. Brown and King take the hidden mechanics of writing, shine a light on them and then show you exactly how to get the most out of your writing.

Of particular interest to beginning and intermediate writers (aren't we all?), will be Chapter 11: Sophistication. In this chapter, the authors draw our attention to typical sentence constructs which dilute good writing. And they explain why it weakens the prose. This forearms writers to be on the watch for certain flaws, not only in the editing process, but in the writing process as well.

Any writer who aspires to be published will benefit from this book. Editing is now the domain of the writer. This book will teach you how to do it with clear language and effective examples.

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  • Reply
    March 18, 2008 at 6:03 am

    That sounds like a good book. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for the tip. Looks like a good book, so I scurried myself off to Amazon and purchased said book, plus a few other things hanging out in my shopping cart. (I hope you got the Amazon referral!)

  • Reply
    BT Cassidy
    March 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    The Elements of Style is a fantastic book, i’ve had three copies (so far), and can’t help but think if you reccomend “The Elements..” that this must be a fantasytic resource also. Trotting off as fast as my chicken legs will carry me.
    BTW, Duran Duran are playing in Adelaide April 1, and I’ve been asked to review the gig, free tickets- aren’t you jealous? = )

  • Reply
    Venessa G.
    March 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    @Haley: Thanks for using the link! I’ll know tomorrow whether I got credit for it, I guess. You’ll be my first affiliate purchase, even though I’ve been an affiliate with them for over a year. I’m just not cut out for that sort of thing, I guess 😉

    @BT: Oh man, I thought we were friends! Why you gotta be that way? 😉 Seriously, I hope you enjoy the show. They put on a great live performance! Everyone I’ve ever met who’s gone to a DD show as a non-fan has come out a fan. Maybe not as rabid enthusiastic as me, but a fan nonetheless. You’ll have to let me know how it goes! They’re playing here in Atlanta in May, a few days after my bday, so I’ll be forking out the $100/seat to see them up close 😉


  • Reply
    March 20, 2008 at 6:03 am

    I agree that this is a great book and reading your post has reminded me to go back and re-read my copy of it.

    I found that after I read it I started producing first drafts that were less painfully amateurish. I’ve still got a long way to go but it was a real help.

    I think Elements of Style is based on US usage which can be very different from UK. I’m not sure what is the current “best style book” for UK. When I was in the Civil Service it was Gower’s Complete Plain Words but I have a feeling that is outdated.

  • Reply
    Martha Alderson
    April 10, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Since you’re on a revision, I’d love to learn any tips you have about completely your first draft all the way through without continually going back.

    Hope you’ll take the time to comment at:

    Writer to writer.

    Great blog……….

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