Some Things to Keep in Mind When Self Editing

This is a blog post from the indomitable Cynthia D. Griffin (a.k.a. Awesome Dawn). As I am somewhat in this mode lately (at least while not NaNo-ing), I found this post to be exceedingly helpful. I went through City of the Dead with these points in mind and feel like I made good progress in cleaning it up. (A side not for those of you interested, I did send out a few query letters October 31st- and it was pretty scary. A partial request and a few passes so far, as well as one full request. So I’m feeling cautiously optimistic!)

Cynthia D. Griffin

This blog post is based off a recent workshop I took at Context. The shop was presented by author Gary A. Braunbeck. I found his class  gave some really great advice, so I thought I’d pass it along for others who might find it useful too. The following is an accumulation of handouts, and notes I took. His advice covered everything from dialogue tags to punctuation. Enjoy.

  • First Rule of Editing. ALL editing should be left to second draft and beyond. A first draft should not be edited until it is completed.
  • Had. Avoid using the word “had” anywhere but in dialogue; when this happens, you will be telling the reader something instead, not showing. Consider the word to be a warning bell if you see it in the body of your narrative.
  • Character Names in Dialogue. Avoid having characters use each others name too much when…

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