Friday, July 1, 2011

Indie Author Editing

I've just finished reading John Locke's, "How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months." Excellent marketing ideas. I'd like to see authors like John Locke talk more about their writing and editing process. Is there a systematic approach or do they feel their way through it? I'd like to think there is a repeatable systematic methodology that all of us can model. 

Below are some components that could be part of an editing model. After you've written your first draft, you know you're going to go over it again. I go through my material at least two more times. One, looking for plot and character gaps and the second review is to tighten up the work. But what do you look for? It seems like there are so many checklists and guidelines it's easy to be overwhelmed. I found these to be great suggestions. 

I've finished a draft of my new thriller novel. I'm calling it, "Shockwave," just as a working title. Of the items listed below, #4 grabbed my attention. I'm going to do a "find," for the phrases; “there are” or “there is.” If they come up, I'll read the sentence and edit it, make it tighter, more concise. Seems like a quick way to improve my writing.

Check them out see if they help.

1. Remove Redundancy

Avoid double-teaming terms like “a period of one week,” “end result,” “free gift,” and “personal opinion.” Watch for phrases that echo the quality in question: “oval in shape,” “larger in size,” “shorter in duration,” and the like. Omit redundant words that are already implied as part of an abbreviated term, such as machine in “ATM machine.”

2. Reduce Phrases to Words

Replace a descriptive phrase following a noun with a one-word adjective that precedes the noun: “People who experienced at traveling know better than to label their luggage,” for example, can be revised to “Experienced travelers know better than to label their luggage.
A modifying phrase, similarly, can be reduced to a simple adverb: “Sympathizing with her concerns, he nodded in response to her complaint,” for instance, is more concisely expressed as “He nodded sympathetically in response to her complaint.”
Delete extraneous phrases such as “which is” and “who were,” as shown here: “We drove down Lombard Street, which is considered the crookedest street in the world” is easily simplified to “We drove down Lombard Street, considered the crookedest street in the world.”

3. Omit Gratuitous Intensifiers and Qualifiers

Use adverbs that intensify or qualify in moderation: “They had an extremely unpleasant experience” isn’t accurate unless a subsequent explanation justifies the intensifier extremely, and “I was somewhat taken aback” isn’t necessarily an improvement on “I was taken aback.”

4. Expunge Expletives

“There are” or “there is” is a weak way to start a sentence. “There is a telling passage toward the end of the story” lacks the focus of (and the more vivid verb in) the sentence “A telling passage occurs near the end of the essay.”

5. Negate Nominalizations

“The report gave an analysis of the accident” uses a phrase where a single word suffices. (This is known as a nominalization, or smothering a verb.) When you see a “(verb) a/an (noun)” construction, convert the noun into a verb and replace the phrase with it. In this case, “The report analyzed the accident” is the more concise result. As with deletion of expletives, a stronger verb is an additional benefit.

6. Delete Superfluous Phrases

“At the present time,” “for all intents and purposes,” and “in the event that” are just a few of many meaningless phrases that clutter sentences. Trim them to tighten your writing.

7. Avoid Cliches

Likewise, “face the music,” “litmus test,” “tried and true” and other timeworn phrases add nothing to your writing but words; they’re useful only for padding a word count, but instructors and editors (and readers) will notice.

8. Eschew Euphemisms

Generally, words that disguise concepts degrade language, which is all about expressing, not repressing, meaning. For example, “collateral damage,” in reference to warfare (and, by extension, to all interpersonal relationships), invites derision. However, use of some euphemisms, such as those for human disabilities, is a well-meaning effort to preserve the dignity of the disabled, though some people argue that such cosmetic wording actually harms people by diminishing the seriousness of their condition, or that it is for the benefit not of the disabled but of people who would rather not be reminded of the disabled.

Latest novel: First To Die

Source: Dailywritingtips


  1. These are some great pointers. I have heard about this book and I need to get it and read it. A friend of mine recently finished it and has done some changes and has seen some differences! Thanks!

  2. Yeah, John Locke's book is worth reading. I like how he explains his use of Twitter.