Friday, March 19, 2010

Edits and Revisions—Guest Post by L. Diane Wolfe

I’d like to welcome L. Diane Wolfe to the blog today. As a professional speaker, Diane travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contributes to several other sites. In addition, she’s the author of a YA series, Circle of Friends, and her 5th and final book of the series, The Circle Of Friends, Book V...Heather released March 16th. More information about Heather is at the bottom of the post. Thanks Diane!

L Diane Wolfe Elizabeth invited me to share some tips on editing. Call me weird, but I love this phase! I enjoy revising my work, improving the writing and tightening the scenes and dialogue.

Editing comes with an added bonus - it can re-inspire! If we’ve grown weary or find we are stuck, rereading can ignite our passion once again.

Every time we pass through our manuscript, we’ll discover something that requires improving, changing, or fixing. Allowing our work to sit for a week or two helps us attack it fresh as well. We don’t want to start running circles around our work, but we can’t skimp on this process, either.

What do we need to look for when editing?

· Grammar - Is grammar usage correct? Is the punctuation in the right place and capitalization proper?

· Overused terms - Are there words or phrases we use too often? Do we repeat words in a paragraph? Do we find clichés? What can we fix by consulting a Thesaurus?

· Excessive description - Are we following the adage “show don’t tell?” Are there scenes best left to the reader’s imagination? Do we describe scenes or people that have no relevance to the story? Do we provide details a character wouldn’t notice depending on gender?

· Continuity - Do colors, names, and places vary from one scene to another? Are there glitches in the timeline?

· Staying in character - Is behavior consistent? Is dialogue consistent? Are there changes in personality for no apparent reason? Do characters respond in a manner that’s gender appropriate?

· Point of view - Is our POV consistent? Do we suddenly take on the roll of narrator? Do we head hop too often or too fast? Do we reveal things outside of a character’s POV?

· Story flow and pacing - Do scenes feel rushed or overlong? Does the story move quickly in the beginning and then drag in the middle? Does anything feel forced or contrived?

What can we do to improve our editing technique?

· Read large chunks at a time. Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge flow when we only read a page or two. Uneven lulls in the story become more apparent when we follow a scene from beginning to end. Continuity mistakes are easier to spot as well.

· Read aloud. Uneven dialogue is easier to spot when we hear the words spoken. We catch stilted, unnatural exchanges. Reading with a partner of the opposite sex exposes improper gender words and phrases. Flow of story and narration also benefit when we read aloud.

· Employ a test reader. We are close to our material and sometimes miss the obvious. A neutral test reader often spots flaws and mistakes we may have missed. We know the story by heart, but a test reader can’t read between the lines and will question items and passages that don’t make sense.

We are not the ultimate editor of our work. A professional is still required before submitting or self-publishing. However, we can improve our story and present our best effort if we learn to master the basics of editing. And growing as a writing is what it’s all about!

- L. Diane Wolfe, Professional Speaker & Author





When confidence turns to frustration…

A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings. The position at Clemson means she will finally realize her dream of coaching basketball. Heather is ready to focus on her duties, using sheer force if necessary to prove her independence.

Sadly, her triumph is hampered as her father and greatest advocate lies dying of cancer. Battling her grief, she must also deal with a sister who appears incapable of responsibility or achievement. And once basketball season begins, a talented but cocky player who resembles her in every manner challenges all that remains of Heather’s patience.

Heather’s life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her bold and feisty attitude. Straightforward and smug, he entices her to date him, and despite his gruff nature shows a great capacity for compassion. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…

Release date: March 16, 2010, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. $19.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 282 pages, Fiction/YA ISBN 978-0-9816210-5-0 / 0-9816210-5-8

“Heather deals with real life and real situations.” 5 Stars

- Teens Read Too

“Curl up onto your favorite reading spot and journey along with Heather as she seeks the balance of family and work relationships. Be prepared to be pulled into Heather’s world and you will find yourself cheering her on and wanting to scold her at the same time. L. Diane Wolfe has created amazing characters with believable attributes and flaws; making Book V in the Circle of Friends series a true gem.”

Book Trailer: