Wednesday, January 19, 2011

EDITING ... HOW TO MAKE THAT NOVEL SPARKLE ... PART II

I am on my third day of editing THE BLINDED GARDENER and it is going well. I have five chapters done and I should be able to do another five today. I am determined to finish the first round of editing by tomorrow night ... Keep those cheers coming friends.

With less than a week to ABNA I have lots to polish. Here are few more things to look for when editing your manuscript.

Name tags .... they also can be a writer's nemesis. Too many "he saids" or "she saids" can really bog up your ms with unnecessary words. Only and I mean only use them when you want to break up a long dialogue sequence OR when a character in dialogue needs to be clarified, usually when there is more than two people in a scene.

So watch out for those dreaded name tags. I had so many in my first novel ... no wonder I had to cut 60,000 words out of it, I bet half were name tags.

Something else to look out for are too many adjectives. I have the tendency to sting two or more together in a sentence.

"The tall, dark, raven-haired beauty..." You get the picture. This could slow down your readers. Each sentence should be balanced and crisp. Don't bog down you writing with useless description.

Another sand trap to avoid. TOO MUCH description.

Don't get me wrong. I am the KING of description. I can go on and on  about how beautiful the cascading tendrils of the Weeping Willow tree looks. But does the reader?

Keep description to a minimal. If you do, when the time comes for some gorgeous descriptive prose the reader will lap it up. Readers do get bored with action, action, action.

Writing is all about the balance. When the prose has a perfect balance of descriptive prose, dialogue, and action, you'll have a great story.

This leads into my final tip: Watch out for too much dialogue. This can also be tedious to read. Pages of dialogue can drive your reader crazy.

One of my critique partners went nuts on me about having too much dialogue. "This is a novel not a screenplay!"

So make sure you have a minimal of 50/50 prose/dialogue. Keep the prose at a higher level if you can. Again ... it's all about the balance.

Have a great day everyone. I hope these suggestions help with your editing. It's time for me to start mine.

Wish me luck.

Your blogging buddy,

Michael

17 comments:

  1. Good luck with your editing! Finishing by tomorrow night--wow. It sounds like you're making a lot of progress! :)

    Thanks for the editing tips!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Best of luck! You're right, it's all about balance. You'll be done soon and celebrating!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good advice on both post Michael. Good luck with your edits.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a reader (and writer!) I really like dialogue, so I don't mind when there's quite a bit, but, as you say, we should keep it all balanced :-)

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Keep at it! :) Great tips. I'm making a list!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Best of luck to you! I know you can do anything you put your mind to. great suggestions as well for revisions. Thanks for posting

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bless the test readers!
    Wish I had time to edit that fast.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great tips, Michael. It truly is all about balance. I like pepper, but a little goes a long way, right? I wish you magic in editing your novel and success in the ABNA. Roland

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great tips, will keep my eyes out for those issues in my MS. Good luck with the editing, I'm impressed you're getting through it so fast! I guess ABNA is a pretty good incentive :)

    Rach

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree, it is about balance. Thanks for the thoughts. Wish you the best!

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are SO right about the balance. I find that with practice (I've written way over a dozen novels) I almost start to FEEL the tedium of either too much narrative or too much dialogue, and I sense it's time to switch. Boooo, but I like adjectives, and I hate to slash them; I feel your pain.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't think there can be too much dialogue. I don't want to read half a book of description. Dialogue moves the story along faster.
    CD

    ReplyDelete
  13. while laying in bed with my two year old earlier tonight I drafted a post (in my head) about cutting the use of description out of my novel. I, too, LOVE description and words. It keeps me from writing the action. (You know this all too well!) Words that aren't always appropriate in YA (no, not because they're dirty). Every thought, every feeling, every object around...blah, blah, blah. Great post! christy

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing your editing journey Michael. Good tips all.

    ......dhole

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love your point about balance, Michael. That is a great way to step back and determine whether the writing is serving you well (and vice versa)! Good luck with ABNA and getting your edits done tonight—you're practically there.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I tend to fall at the other end on description, and then need to bulk it a bit... well not bulk... that would be awkward, but add, so there is more imagery. I hear you on dialog though--my first drafts are always HUGELY dialog and I have to go in and pare down... especially cutting the tails... the reader needs SOME of the conversation, but not all of it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Michael; you're busy editing your work and generously taking time out to share your thoughts with us. Thank you.

    Your comment on name tags interested me. I (of course) agree completely. It's a part of a bigger issue that concerns me a lot a the moment. If we go to the wider issue, I might write some exposition, but not explicitly say "Fred noticed..." or some other statement that makes it clear that it's Fred who is observing the action.

    The problem that arises is one of POV. The more we move away from explicitly stating who saw what, who said what or who did what, the more we get into the realm of ambiguous POV.

    I think readers are generally intelligent enough to not get lost in this kind of situation, but some critiques will indicate that there's a problem.

    That's where I sometimes start to get confused as a writer. Trying to do the right thing, but also trying to stand back from explicit use of name tags or other overly explicit and cumbersome devices of the same nature.

    Sorry - long comment alert!

    ReplyDelete