Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Tips for Good Editing & Proofreading – Author ToolBox Blog Hop

June 18, 2020
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A good editor is worth their weight in gold. They not only fix your grammar and find and correct major and minor errors , but also improve your book’s content and structure in a way that preserves your style. There are two main processes a manuscript has to go through prior to publication. Both require a systematic approach.

Use these as a guideline to edit and proofread your manuscript before sending it to an editor. Expect a red-lined manuscript back and learn from the experience.

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Editing

This process concentrates on:

Paragraph structure and clear transitions between paragraphs.There is a flow of the story – whether character development or plot.

Highlighting any repetition of words, sentence structure, and the correct use of any technical, historical or factual elements.

Helps to condense and improve the efficiency of your writing.

Questions your flow of the narrative.

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Proofreading

A more focused approach to find common errors and the ones missed during editing. Here are a couple of tips to help you:

Read the manuscript out loud or divide it into sections. TIP Read from last chapter to first.

Rewrite structure if required, such as plot, story line, consistency and continuity. TIP Create a general outline 1 – 3 pages maximum to track the story line.

Scene outline. Read each scene to determine if they require editing or deletion TIP Do they push the story forward? If not delete them. TIP Create a check list for each step of proofreading. Then concentrate on that particular one at a time.

Print out your manuscript – it may seem odd to do this in the computer age but we perceive information differently between screen and paper. TIP Read it out loud. On hearing the flow of the language you will understand your strong and weak points.

TIP from the King!

We can be too wordy in our writing, Stephen King learned: “2nd Draft = 1st draft – 10%”. An average manuscript requires at least three rounds of editing and at each round try to shorten your draft for 10% of its original length.

Linear Edit. This is the point you deal with the minor issues such as rewriting sentences, exchanging with words, and fix grammar, punctuation, proofread for misspellings and typos.

Do you have a particular system or tip you use while editing & proofreading?

I have read about one author who prints the manuscript on different coloured paper for each step but this seems a bit excessive! 

Ask A Question Thursday

July 18, 2019
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Today’s question:

How did you find your particular writing style? A creative writing class, a teacher, a format or something else?

Do you write differently for different genres?

We all find a process that allows us to convey our story in the best way is good – right? There are several styles that utilize words/language, sentence structure, and paragraph structure, to convey our meaning effectively in respect of the genre we write.

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Last week’s question: How important is research to you when writing a book? What have you researched for you current manuscript?

For me, research is half the fun of writing. Even with the convenience of today’s Internet, I still enjoy thumbing through “real” reference books: highlighting, underlining, dog-earing pages, sticky noting, etc. My most recent research project has been on cremation.

Mandy Eve-Barnett

I have researched medieval physician’s healing techniques, the circumstances of how a body can dry out and become a husk, natural substances that prevent pregnancy or induce sterility.

Is it really Dross?

January 10, 2013
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Dross – definition: 1) the waste slag or scum that forms on the surface of molten metal 2) waste or foreign matter : impurity 3) something that is base, trivial or inferior

No matter if you are a new writer or a seasoned one, there are times when we read a paragraph or short excerpt and just despair. It can be the premise, the interaction of characters or just how the scene reads. We’re just not happy with it. Depending on your mind set at that moment, there are a few spur of the moment actions that may occur. Pressing delete is number one for most of us as we berate ourselves for writing such dross. Another is to focus too hard on it and become bogged down, re-writing again and again, usually having the result of making us even angrier and unable to concentrate creatively.

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If you are absolutely sure that deleting the passage is the only way, then do it but if not, save the offending article in isolation – may be create a ‘dross’ file? Leave the work and do something else, non-writing related. A walk, a workout, make a cup of tea and read a book for a while, no matter what it is distract your mind. In the terminology of the computer age – reboot your mind. Once you return you can see the article with fresh eyes and if you are lucky a revision will reveal itself.

Another aspect of ‘dross’ thinking is when you have finished a project and second-guess yourself as to its merits. Is it good enough? Will anyone like it? Is my writing worthy of submission to a publisher, a magazine or beta readers? We are uncertain literary beings at the best of times and unfortunately compare ourselves to the ‘greats’. All of us have heard the stories of successful authors receiving many rejections before being ‘found’, such J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and John le Carre. Make yourself feel better just look at this link – http://www.examiner.com/article/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers

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There is always a golden phrase or sentence that is worth saving or revising. Juggle the words, mix the sentences around or write it from a different characters perspective.  Do not give up hope – your words are precious after all.

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