September 09, 2013

Self-Editing - Shirley S. Tye

Since my writing budget is small, writing workshops and hiring an editor or a proofreader are not possible. Therefore, I try to learn on my own from text books, reading the type of stories I want to read, and listening to other writers discuss the craft of writing.

One of the best books on editing that I’ve read is Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, and published by Harper Perennial in 1993. It’s educational as well as humorous with checklists and exercises at the end of each chapter. For a small paperback, it covers a lot of aspects of writing; the difference between showing and telling; characterization; points of view; dialogue; et cetera.

There are many little details to consider when editing; making the story flow smoothly; creating an interesting plot; building strong believable characters; writing natural speech. One lesson about dialogue covers the unnecessary use of adjectives to explain a character’s emotion when the dialogue clearly conveys the emotion. For example, there is no need to write “he said with astonishment” if the dialogue reveals the character’s astonishment. Another lesson taught that, in most cases, the best word to use to indicate someone speaking is ‘said’. It’s not always necessary to use speaker attributions such as; he frowned; she sniggered. To write “I’m sorry”, Mary apologized is not necessary because her words express the apology.

An interesting chapter is about beats; a few small actions throughout a scene, such as a character pacing a few steps or scratching his or her head. Beats help readers picture the scene and can help reveal a character’s personality.

Well, I think I’d better go back to “glass” and review this book.


  1. This is nice. I am going back to college for the first time late-ish in life. I will be doing a lot of writing. It won't be fiction though.

  2. It sounds like a good book...nice to get a few hints from you here, since I am relatively new to writing fiction and find the whole thing a bit daunting. Thanks!

  3. sounds like an excellent book

  4. sounds like an excellent book


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