Friday, April 10, 2015

5 Tips for Editing a Story

   I have discovered that I learn more about writing by reading bad books than I do by reading good ones. This kind of makes sense, because when I read a good book I'm so drawn into the story that I don't care much about how it was composed. However, when reading a bad book I'm wondering why it is bad and once I've figured out why it is bad I can understand how to fix it. So that's what this blog post is about: a few tips that I've discovered on how to edit a story.

1. Reread
   Rereading is vital. I used to think that eventually I would be good enough to punch out perfection on the first draft. Nope. There's a reason it's called a first draft. Even if I don't end up changing a thing, at least one read through after writing is important.
2. Cut the Flab
   Extra length does not make a story better. Just increasing word count does not make the quality increase. When I first started writing, I was super proud that I could write a 100+ page book. Now, I'm happy if I can tell a good story in a small amount of space. In order to do that, I need to cut out the unimportant parts. How do I know if a part is unimportant? I question whether it is necessary. If it isn't, cut it. If it is necessary, if it adds to the mood or setting or characters, then I question whether this is the best way that thing can be portrayed. Is this scene necessary to portray how evil the villain is or would a shorter scene somewhere else be helpful? If this scene or section is necessary and the best way to portray that necessary part, then I keep it.

3. Set Up
   When writing a story, writing the beginning with the end in mind is important. However, sometimes that set up needs to be elaborated or cut after the story has been written. I ran into this with The Kyge in the Mist (Book 3 of Kitten Mysteries). I thought out the theme I was trying to portray, then after the story was completed I thought of ways I could set up that theme through dialogue or situations. This should be done with characters and plot too. Sometimes the plot is not explained, so some set up has to be added back into the beginning. I did this in Trapped. I realized that some of the situations that took place were just accidents, so I had to go back and add in why something happened. Accidents are fine in moderation, but most of the time there should be a 'why' behind the 'what'.

4. Read it Out Loud
   Reading a story aloud helps me to understand when a phrase is awkward or doesn't make sense. I have made the mistake of saying things which sound better in my head than spoken aloud, and I want to stop myself from doing this on paper. Especially if this story is going to be read by someone other than me.

5. Perfect Grammar isn't Vital
   This may be subjective. Some people will probably be outraged by improper grammar. However, when I think about grammar I've found comprehensibility is more important than following every law of grammar. As long as the sentence is understandable, then I think it's fine. Especially if a lot of rearranging is necessary in order to make it grammatically correct. In that case, break the laws of grammar in favor of easier reading.

   There, I've gotten a blog post done. I've shared some wisdom and avoided having to beat myself up for having missed a week. Or writing a post on Saturday. That is something which I will not put up with.
   Any thoughts on my tips? Are they not very tippy? Want to leave me a tip of your own? Comment below!

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