- Email me
- Nail Your Novel: books
- FAQ: I’m a new writer: which book should I read first?
- FREE Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips For Fascinating Characters
- My writing process: the picture tour
- Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
- Reviews of Nail Your Novel
- Who’s tweeting about Nail Your Novel …
- Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel
- Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel
- Who am I?
Posts Tagged literary style
This week I’m running a series of the sharpest questions from my Guardian self-editing masterclass. In previous posts I’ve discussed three/four-act structure, endings, characters who are either bland or too disturbing to write and making a character distinct through dialogue. Today I’m tackling a fundamental misconception about self-editing.
Editing is not just tweaking the language
One lady in the masterclass shared a story that illustrates a common misapprehension of novice writers. She said she had come close to a publishing deal, but the imprint folded. Before that, they mentioned the book had some problems and were talking about editing. On her own again, and unable to ask them any more details, she assumed they must be talking about the language, and so she worked to write it in a more suitable way. Still, though, she was unhappy with it and she knew she hadn’t solved the problems.
Editing veterans will be nodding sagely here, knowing that language is only one of our considerations. I’ve leaped into this trap myself. In the early days when I was querying agents, I’d get feedback that mentioned a few rough areas. I made the only possible assumption – that I needed to make the ‘writing’ somehow better. And so I fiddled, line by line, adding and pruning here and there. I probably ended up with an over-bloated muddle and didn’t touch the underlying problems. I had no idea about the mechanisms that work under the words, and that language is really the skin on top of the structure, pacing and character arcs.
Tomorrow: Putting the book away to get distance
How about you? Have you made the same rookie mistake about editing? Or a different one? Let’s discuss!
authors, editing, epilogue, fiction, fiction characters, Guardian masterclass, Guardian newspapers, having ideas, how to edit your novel, how to use words, how to write a book, how to write a novel, I want to edit my book, I want to edit my novel, interesting questions, language, literary fiction, literary style, masterclass, My Memories of a Future Life, novels, polishing, publishing, revising, revision, romance writer, Roz Morris, self-editing, self-editing for fiction writers, using words well, villains, words, write a good book, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
- Feel the fear and put yourself out there – advice for shy authors July 8, 2018
- What I wish I’d known at school: two instructions for making a creative life June 17, 2018
- Five tips for writing good prose June 10, 2018
- Thinking on your feet: writing and my love-hate relationship with exercise May 28, 2018
- Umming and ermine – how to avoid getting in a right royal mess May 18, 2018
- Movements, movers and shakers: publishers and authors as literary citizens .. an interview May 17, 2018
- A week in the life of a small press .. an interview May 16, 2018