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Monday, April 4, 2016

Make Sure You Revise and Edit Your Fiction

Working on Revisions

Friday's post addressed revisions and editing in nonfiction works. Today, let's look at revising your fiction. Whether it's flash fiction, a short story, novella or full novel, no first draft is ever going to make it. Revision is in order along with editing the mechanical parts of your writing. 

We need to aim at making the story tighter and stronger. Some things to consider are:

  • Consistency on POV--make sure you use the same Point of View character throughout.
  • Dialogue--does it sound real, or is it forced? Have you tried to show the character's actions and way they speak as well as the actual words?
  • Structure--variation in length of scenes, chapters, even sentences. 
  • Pacing--how does the story move along? Are paragraphs too short or too long? What about the kinds of sentences used? 
  • Word Choice--redundancy has no place in your story. Do you also use certain words too often? Ones you especially like and tend to lean on.
  • Avoid overwriting details--have you added unnecessary details? We don't need to know when a character stands up and walks across the room. Those actions are understood by reader. 
  • Imagery--have you used it throughout your story? Metaphors and similes add to your story.
  • Listen to your story--either read it aloud yourself or have someone read it to you. You'll catch an amazing number of problems when you 'hear' your story.
Editing your fiction is sometimes a pain in the neck (or any other body part you choose to name!) but it's quite important. No matter how good a story you've written, if you have poor grammar, pathetic spelling and other mechanical problems. an editor might not give your story a second look.

A short but not complete list of things to consider in editing:
  • Active verbs rather than passive
  • Complete sentences
  • Perfect spelling
  • Avoid long, complex sentences
  • Make sure every pronoun has an antecedent
  • Cut down on adverbs
  • Don't overuse adjectives
  • Use quote marks correctly
  • Use punctuation correctly
Some writers hire professionals to edit their work. That's fine if you can afford it. If you do it yourself, don't try to tackle it all at once. Take short sections like a scene or a chapter. 

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