PSA: Dialogue Tags

Authors and editors, lend me your ears: I read a lot. I love books, and I love stories. Now, before I get into the following rant, let’s get something straight. I am not perfect. I have my strengths and weaknesses as an author. As an editing team, Emma and I never catch every problem. We follow up with a beta team in an attempt to catch issues in mechanics, continuity and whatever else, and we STILL don’t catch every problem. Mistakes and issues embarrass the shit out of me, and I’ve been embarrassed a lot over the years, okay? So I’m not speaking from a position of superiority, I’m speaking… Read More

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Passive Vs. Boring

Welcome to a post about [probably] the most misunderstood pair of phrases in the world of editing: “Passive Voice” vs. “Boring Voice” Passive Voice is about one thing, and one thing only: the relationship between a sentence’s subject and object. Key:SubjectObject Active structure: Tom sat on the chair.Passive structure: The chair was sat upon by Tom. In passive sentence structure, the object is being acted upon by the object, rather than the subject simply acting on the object. Passive structure almost always involves some form of the verb “to be”, which includes forms like ‘was’ and ‘had been’. Which is also how “passive voice” is so often confused with “boring… Read More

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34 Words To Kill

Moderation in all things… especially these 34 words. Clusters of these words are the chief cause of the dreaded “wordy” syndrome. They’re also symptomatic of stage directions vs. meaningful characterization. Take control of what’s on your page. Do an editing pass to seek and destroy this list. That So Well Just Really Little Then As While Which About Very All But Was Were Had And The Her His He She It They To By For In From Into Of Out Because Two words in particular go beyond “moderation” into “should never appear in commercial fiction” territory: It Because “Because” is like the silica gel pack of fiction, drying everything out.… Read More

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It’s Bigger Than It Looks

Tools Developmental editing requires good decision making. What do you base those decisions on? Let’s make some tools to help inform those decisions. TOOL 1: Reminder The first weapon is a simple reminder. On the first index card, write the following: Writers write. Facebook can’t edit this book for me. The audience is watching. TOOL 2: Focus Take out another index card and prepare to write small so that everything fits on one side. In 20 words or less, describe how this story idea came to be: In 20 words or less, describe what excited you most about this idea: In 20 words or less, explain what this story is… Read More

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Self-Editing Attitude-Checklist

More from the Self-Editing-For-Indies webseries… This checklist is a hybrid from two sources: A self-editing guide that never came to pass The editing checklist that spawned Monday’s More Lore post For me, getting my head in the right place to self edit has been (and apparently always will be) a major chore. This checklist is the “stern talking to” I need to hear every time. 1 ) Writing and publishing are not the same. Writing is about creating. Publishing is about making money. Writers who find the subject of money gauche, embarrassing or distasteful should not seek publication. At all. Ever. They will never achieve the satisfaction they seek. For… Read More

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More Lore

I spent part of my Saturday helping someone prepare to “flip” the first draft of their novel. In the process, we tapped this sort of quasi-checklist I bust out when stressed a/o distracted and need to self-edit. The list got built back in my editing days as an actual process I would follow through the developmental stages all the way through to line editing. Parts of the checklist hit writer-friend right in the brainpan. She said “You should do a web series about this”, and since I had no idea what to blog about this morning, guess what? I’ll pluck one topic from the checklist and post about it. (I’m… Read More

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