Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On Self-Critiquing

Howdy bloggie friends!

This post appeared on Christine Bryant's blog October 1st and I thought to repost for those who missed it.

This is on my editing secrets—I’ve had friends tell me that it’s crazy, but it works for me! It’s a process I’ve picked up from classes, workshops, self-help books, critique groups and books on writing.

A friend introduced me to a wonderful lady who studies human behavior. She has degrees on psychiatrics, and psychology. Her name? Margie Lawson. She has the COOLEST online clases that teaches how to empower your writing. I’ve been blown away with her techniques!

Here’s my method:

First, after writing the book from beginning to end, I set it aside for a few good weeks. Maybe a month. When I’m no longer desensitized, I pull it back out. I’m no longer attached to my scenes, and it’s so much easier to whip out my word-shearers.

There are 5 different categories I look for as I begin my editing process:

First is dialogue.

Second is emotion.

Third internalization.

Fourth description (setting or character).

Fifth, any kind of action.

After using a color code to set each apart, I study the pages far away and notice the unevenness of colors. After that, I balance the colors. (I once read on someone’s blog long ago, and I wish I remembered whose it was, that after she printed her entire manuscript (MS), she highlighted every single scene that was exciting. Then she lined it up across the room and studied it. It revealed much if you can imagine the intervals of white space between.)

Wouldn’t it boring if we read a book where all you read was dialogue? Or just internalization? What about having no emotional value? And not enough excitement?

As I do this, I power-up my words. Walk to trudge. Look to peek. Sharp to razor. Anger to roil. Can you feel the difference? How it invokes a certain emotion deep inside you without realizing it?

Next I take notes on echo words. I’ve read books where authors favor certain words like seep. It pulls me out of the story every time I come across it. My favorite words vary from book to book. Eyes, hair, with and –ing (verbing) are my problem words right now for Rock star.

I bring all them varmints out to light by using the “find” option. I select the “highlight all items found” and then go up to my highlighter and click! All my problem words are lit until I change them.

As I edit, I also keep in mind the writing rules I’ve learned.

The last thing I do is make sure each sentence has a pleasant cadence. It rolls off my tongue smoothly without twisting or tripping. This usually tightens the sentence, eliminating empty calorie words.

I finally print up my MS and read it out loud as I edit with pencil. I seem to find tons of mistakes this way. Ugh . . .

That’s about 7 passes altogether. I then send my freshly obsessed MS to all my beta readers and then go over it for the last time.

That’s how I edit my novels. I hope that you find something here that you can use for your own works.

What’s your process?

(photos just for fun)

photos found here

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth, this is helpful! Now, I just need to figure out your color code, since you didn't specify what color goes with each category you look for. I have a document that was hidden away on my laptop, tagged with your name. All the text is highlighted in different colors (blue, pink, yellow, green), and I have figured out most of them, but the underlined red text has me stumped. Any answers?


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