Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Scott Bury Talks Editing


Author Scott Bury can be found at his blog, Written Words. He can also be found in Canada which explains why he spells "favor" funny. I've got a guest post on his blog called "How to Fund Your Novel" so make sure you check that out, too. 
Part one of Scott's excellent fantasy novel, The Bones of the Earth, can be found online in the usual places.  It's got a really cool cover and even cooler words inside.
And now, please, a round of respectfully exuberant applause as Mr. Bury talks about his process...

Scott Bury
First, I want to thank Roger for inviting me to contribute to his blog. He asked me to write about my own editing process in writing my novel.
Right now, I am putting the final touches on my first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth. Part 1 is available on e-book retailers now, but before I could bring myself to put the whole thing up, I thought I would take one more look.
I have written about the four steps every writer, professional or otherwise, needs to take before starting any document.  I call it “getting a GRIP,” for goal, reader, idea and plan.
I call the plan, or outline, the best favour writers can do for themselves. Not only does it help you make sure that your report, story or novel makes sense, when you have one you don’t have to start writing at the beginning.
What I need to edit
Like every big job, preparation makes the actual work much easier. Once you’ve finished writing your draft, you have to re-write, revise, change and edit several times.
Every writer should have an editor. You need that second set of eyes, because you just don’t see what’s on the page — you see what you intended to write. An editor is a frank appraiser of your work. But the responsibility to make the changes, to polish the work and make it as good as it can be, stays with the author.
Scott's Cool Cover
I edit while I’m writing, correcting typos and silly errors, changing phrases and sentences as I change my mind. It’s so much easier with a computer than with a pen and paper.
But really editing requires some time. I need to put my work aside for a while. With my fiction, I find that I need at least a week in between drafts. I also need to edit it at least twice before I show it to anyone else, whether a friend, a beta-reader, a critic or an editor.
It’s important to leave time between drafts. It allows you to detach from the work. You don’t feel so much like every word is your baby. Work on something else in the meantime. Every sentence you write improves your writing ability, so that you’re a better writer when you come back to your earlier work.
What do I need to edit out? Excess description. Readers don’t need to have every single twitch described. They need to read a story that’s moving along. Here are some examples from my own work:

“Some of the older nuns were trying to explain away the dragon as an illusion of the devil.”
becomes
“Some of the nuns said the dragon was an illusion.”


“He rose, and the others of the kobold council rose, too. Goldemar said something in the kobold tongue to Krum Chimmek, and they all walked across the hall.”
becomes
“The council stood and led the visitors across the hall.”


“Javor was the first to spotting the ancient jetties that projected into the river. Austinus decided to stop for the night before they came to the town, and found a campsite near the river, downstream from the crumbling city walls.”
becomes
“Austinus decided to camp near the river, downstream from an abandoned town.”
The leaner text moves the action along. You have to leave some room for the reader’s own imagination to fill in the details. Just give enough for a sketch and let the reader’s imagination do the rest.
Your job is not to paint pictures—that’s the painter’s job. Your job is to tell a story.
I hope I’ve succeeded.

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Thanks, Scott!
How about you? Any "must do" editing tips? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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