Take three of British SCBWI's 'Discovered' authors, Harriet Goodwin, Steve Hartley and Sarwat Chadda, and ask them ever so nicely if they could divulge some self-editing tips and the answer is - 'Yes, we'd be happy to but only if you buy us a drink or three.'
Okay, I lied about the drink - they were more than willing to help without bribes or begging involved.
So, ready for all who are entering the SCBWI anthology competition and anyone else who's simply interested in some top ten self-editing tips, over the next couple of weeks, and before my stint as SCBWI's featured blogger is over, I shall bring you their insight and advice.
First up we have -
HARRIET GOODWIN - author of THE BOY WHO FELL DOWN EXIT 43.
You can read Harriet's interview on this blog, here
Harriet's Top Ten Self-Editing Tips
1. Delete all adverbs (OK, most adverbs) and strengthen the verb instead.
2. This might not suit all styles, but I tend to write with a some kind of rhythm in my head - for me there needs to be a natural-sounding pulse to the writing.
3. Remove tag-lines (he said etc) wherever possible, but not so that it results in any confusion for the reader.
4. Go easy on over-strong tag-lines anyway. Too many instances of he grunted and she quipped overeggs the omelette. What's wrong with plain old he said?
5. Replace passive tense with active tense - or with dialogue. (Evie was extremely mad with Jim becomes "Get out of my sight!" yelled Evie.)
6. Keep sentences of varying lengths.
7. Make sure everyone in a particular scene has enough to say - don't leave them sitting in a corner saying nothing (unless they've been gagged and bound, that is!)
8. Don't weigh down text with heavy description. Paint it in bit by bit with a light touch.
9. Get rid of irrelevant purple passages that hold back the acion. Even if you've spent six hours on it. Or even a week. You can always save it somewhere else and use bits as and when.
10. Trust your instincts.
11. ABOVE ALL don't take too much notice of any of the above. I have not been writing long enough to issue wise words to other writers. I could probably do with a few tips myself. Blame Tracy.
THE BOY WHO FELL DOWN EXIT 43
UK/Commonwealth: Stripes Publishing (an imprint of Magi; Autumn 2009)
(For the next two posts on self-editing - WATCH THIS SPACE)
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