Out of the helicopter and into the jungle


Source: Eric Molina, Flickr

I’m delighted to report that my helicopter mission is complete. I have finished the macro edit of my 175K-word Young Adult manuscript, Tangled. Unfortunately, I didn’t identify many chapters or scenes that could be lopped entirely. I did, however, notice a lot of wordiness that my red pen was simply itching to slash. So I have no doubt that when I trek into the jungle with my axe in hand, the word count will fall considerably.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Most-awesome editing book

To aid my endeavours in the jungle, I’m learning from revision experts Renni Browne and Dave King, through their informative and eye-opening book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. If you’re in the revision stage and haven’t read this book, I strongly recommend that you rush out to your closest book store and buy a copy. It’s incredibly easy to read and is filled with gems of advice. It’s so good that, despite starting it this morning, I’ve already read the first hundred pages. And in those first hundred pages, I’ve highlighted so many sections that it would probably be faster to highlight the rare sentences that didn’t lead to a lightbulb moment or at least a knowing smile.

In fact, this book is so good that I’ve decided not to start my next round of revision until I’ve completed it — which, given my current rate, will probably be in a few days time. And then, the edit will be ON. Oh yes, it will be on for young and old. Because I’ve set myself a deadline. By 5 September, I want to have finished revision round two for the first third of my book — approximately 50K words. Is it a coincidence that 5 September is the first day of the Brisbane Writers Festival? I think not. A writers festival seems like a pretty awesome reward for meeting a challenging deadline, don’t you think?

So, just how challenging is this deadline? Well, I have to intensively review 50K in five weeks, which means 10K per week. That seems like a lot to me, especially considering I work full time and have an awful habit of parking my butt on the couch and staring zombie-like at the TV on week nights. So will I actually be able to meet this deadline? Time will tell. But one thing’s for sure — I won’t get any closer to meeting it by rabbiting away here all night, so I’ll leave you with some of my favourite quotes from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers so far.

“Telling your readers about your characters’ emotions is not the best way to get your readers involved. Far better to show why your characters feel the way they do… You don’t want to give your readers information. You want to give them experiences.”

“…If you want to learn who someone really is, watch what they say and do. And if you want your readers to get a feel for who your characters really are, show them to us through dialogue and action.”

“It is possible to get exposition across unobtrusively through dialogue, but when your characters start talking solely for the safe of informing your readers, the exposition gets in the way of believable characterization. So be on the lookout for places where your dialogue is actually exposition in disguise.”

“When you show your story rather than tell it, you treat your readers with respect. And that respect makes it easier for you to draw them into the world you’ve created.”



Filed under Writing

6 responses to “Out of the helicopter and into the jungle

  1. Great quotes. That book sounds really good. Now if only my mss was anywhere near finished so I was actually ready to start revision 🙂 Good luck with yours!

    • The book is fantastic, Susanna. I finished it last night and have made a two-page list of all the points it covers. Bloated manuscript, beware!

      And don’t worry, you’ll get to the revision stage soon enough. (I’ve been working on Tangled for ten years now so would be a little worried if I hadn’t reached revision yet!) 🙂

  2. Hi Cally,
    I’ve enjoyed all your posts. I completely agree with you about the Browne/King editing book. Over the years, I’ve read many “how to write/how to edit” books and this one is the best. The one goof that I see over and over in “novice” writers is the use of verbal tags: “Blah blah blah!” he exclaimed. “Blah blah blah,” she snarled. I can’t remember the exact %, but Browne/King say to use “said” like 90% of the time — and that the strength of the writing itself should infer to the reader how the person said the dialogue. Great piece of advice.
    Write on!

    • So glad to hear you’ve enjoyed my posts, Toni. It’s always great to hear that someone out there is actually appreciating what you’re doing, and your words aren’t just falling into the abyss that the blogosphere can sometimes be.

      You’re absolutely right about the use of verbal tags. I’m editing them out of my manuscript at the moment, and just flicked through Twilight (for another reason) and was amazed at the variety of tags used throughout. Now that my eye has become attuned to them, they stand out like the proverbial tits on a bull! Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate it. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Seeking: young adult beta readers | Cally Jackson Writes

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