Self-editing Fiction that Sells is a practical guide on how to spot your own bad writing. Have you written a novel or short story? How can you tell whether your story is strong enough? If your plot is structured well, if your narrative is compelling, your point of view consistent and your characterisation convincing? Moreover, how do you assess if there is market value in your manuscript? This guide will show you all this and more. Most importantly, it will teach you the editing mindset – a critical thinking mindset, as opposed to the creative thinking mindset that writing requires – that is setting yourself in opposition to your manuscript, as an editor would do.
Packed with examples and exercises, the guide will prove an invaluable tool for those writers looking to improve what they’ve already written.
Table of Contents
Who is this book for?
What is bad writing?
Entertaining your audience
What is success for a genre book?
No rules except ‘The Rule’
How to use this book
1 Getting the plot right
How can a plot go wrong?
2 Improving the narrative
Determining the point of view
Using the right tense
Pacing your story
Creating and placing cliffhangers
3 Achieving a good style
Telling, not showing
Avoiding excessive adverbs and adjectives
Revising dialogue: Ockham’s razor
Resisting the urge to explain: overwriting
Being aware of other common style flaws
4 Perfecting characterisation
Choosing the right names
Avoiding block characterisation
Recognising unempathic characters
Avoiding dull characters: John Smith and Jane Roe
Discarding ‘Random Jim’ characters
Being aware of stereotypical ‘Australian Sheila’ characters
Developing ‘Rigid Jim’ characters
Dealing with inconsistent characterisation
Adding complexity to underdeveloped characters
Toning down overdeveloped characters
Informing readers about unknown villains
5 Crafting memorable scenes and atmosphere
How to recognise a poor scene
Making appropriate word choices
Using unnecessary words
Overcoming a lack of dramatic effect
Achieving the best setting for your characters
6 Elements of copy-editing and basic copy preparation
Understanding the different roles of the development editor and the copy-editor
Complying with house style
Getting to grips with grammar, punctuation, spelling, clarity and concision
7 Getting published
Making an action plan
Knowing your readers
How to approach a literary agent
Approaching independent editors and literary consultants
How to handle criticism of your writing
Is self-publishing a viable option for you?
Conclusion: Self-editing is worth the effort