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Tips for solving the most common problems in your manuscript.

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So you’ve reached the point where you have to start editing, congratulations!

As you can imagine, editing has its own set of skills, in fact The Australian Writer’s Marketplace Online Learning Centre has a whole course on it called Year Of The Edit Online.

However, there are some common problems that can be dealt with simply and easily as soon as you finish your draft, which Kim discusses below.

 

Audio From Kim Wilkins – Tips For Self-Editing

 

Kim talks about the eleven most common problems in un-published manuscripts.

Don’t forget to download the audio notes below too (available in PDF format) before you listen to this week’s lesson so you can take notes.

 

 

PDF (right click and ‘Save As’): Audio Notes – Lesson 19 – Tips For Self-Editing

Use this document to organise your notes while listening to the ‘Tips For Self-Editing’ audio.

 

THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS IN UN-PUBLISHED WRITING:

  1. Don’t tell in summary what you can show in scenes.
    1. Aaron was a furtive man who never cleaned his flat (telling).
    2. Aaron picked his way over the pizza cartons on the floor to twitch the curtain aside and peer down at the street (showing).
  2. Eliminate as many adverbs as you possibly can.
    1. Be specific.
    2. Make sure your adverbs are not propping up a weak verb.
    3. Verbs are the key to excellent sentences.
  3. Know when to get rid of clichés.
    1. What am I really trying to say?
  4. Over-writing.
    1. Sometimes you need to go back and cut words out.
  5. Avoid useless qualifiers.
    1. Some, a bit of, somewhat…
  6. Be careful of dangling participles.
    1. Six feet four, and dark haired, we met at a party organized by friends.
  7. Don’t vary your speech attributions.
    1. ‘Said’ is perfectly suitable word.
  8. Don’t mix your metaphors.
    1. The heat was leaching him, settling like dust in his throat.
  9. Make sure your sentence structure is active and tight.
    1. Don’t use the passive voice.
    2. Avoid sentences starting with it were, there was…
  10. Eliminate as many italics and exclamation marks as you possibly can.
  11. Be careful starting sentences with dependent clauses
    1. Turning off the electric light, Mary lit a candle and held it up to the mirror.
    2. They sound amateurish.
    3. They present physical impossibilities.

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red avatar 5EXERCISE: Editing

Apply the self-editing checklist to ten pages of your manuscript.

 

WHAT TO DO:

  • Choose 10 pages of your manuscript.
  • Turn on ‘track changes’ and apply the self-editing checklist to it.
    • Don’t tell in summary what you can show in scenes.
    • Eliminate as many adverbs as you possibly can.
    • Know when to get rid of clichés.
    • Over-writing.
    • Avoid useless qualifiers.
    • Be careful of dangling participles.
    • Don’t vary your speech attributions.
    • Don’t mix your metaphors.
    • Make sure your sentence structure is active and tight.
    • Eliminate as many italics and exclamation marks as you possibly can.
    • Be careful starting sentences with dependent clauses
  • Submit your edited 10 pages your tutor by email to this address: [email protected]
  • Make sure your subject heading is: ‘YONline – [Insert Your Name Here]’. If you do not appropriately label your email as specified in the subject heading you may not receive feedback on your piece.
  • If you’re feeling brave, swap your first 10 pages with someone else in the Editing Forum. Don’t forget to apply your critiquing as a Feedback Sandwich.

 

Click here to return to the YONline home page.

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