Searchlight: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave KingSome writers thoroughly enjoy the editing process. They love going through their rough drafts and picking them apart line by line, word by word, polishing the draft to prepare it for submission. Other writers loath the necessary evils of editing. The creative process is their true joy in writing, and all that editing just feels like work. Hopefully, most fall within a happy medium, relishing the opportunity to make their rough drafts shine like a fine-cut diamond. For those that hate the crush of editing, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King, may be just the book to set your fears at ease.

A former editor for William Morrow, Renni Browne is with The Editorial Department, an editor-for-hire service designed to help writers prepare their manuscripts for publication. Dave King runs the Dave King Editorial Services website. Both have years of experience as editors and come to the table well-equipped to handle every aspect of editing. Together, they’ve combined their expertise in one handy reference guide designed to get you on the right track with your manuscript.

The book doesn’t focus on the grammar and spelling part of editing, assuming you have your own methods of preparation for those issues. Instead, they go through common story issues they’ve seen in thousands of manuscripts, and how to avoid them, and in most cases, help you edit the prose for clarity and focus. Covering topics such as showing vs. telling, characterization, point-of-view, dialogue, story beats, and voice, they break it down to the microscopic level, using well-known stories as source material for comparison. They spend time with each topic, showing how the specific words we use in our stories have impact, sometimes beyond what we intended. Attention to detail, looking for the common mistakes and remedying them, helps writers see their errors before committing them to the page, allowing you to learn to write clearer more effective prose. One particularly interesting section concerning dialogue deals with using profanity, and how one single word can change the impact of a scene with proper usage, as long as it’s not over used throughout the story.


Of course, anytime you can get fresh eyes on your story, the better. Especially someone else’s eyes. Sometimes, early in the writing process, that’s just not possible. You owe it to yourself to make sure your story is prepared and ready for fresh eyes, and the techniques taught in this book will definitely help you with those issues. Rarely does such a reference guide come along that focuses not only on what you say, but how you say it. This book comes highly recommended.




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