Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I tend to edit a lot as I write. Sometimes I write a scene or a chapter quickly but know it needs more work, so once it’s written I’ll go back and rephrase things, find better words, change sentences around etc. I’m aware of my bad habits (thanks to my CPs!) and try to avoid them.
Once the whole story is written, I then go back, and do some drastic editing, either deleting irrelevancies or adding more explanation or layering in extra information (which I may not actually have known when I wrote the early chapters!).
The final edit is a search for the repeated words and phrases I have a habit of using, and generally tightening up the narrative and/or dialogue.
I write what, to me, sounds right, regardless of all the so-called rules. Editors are all different – some may dislike adverbs, others may dislike synonyms for ‘said’, etc etc. You can’t please ‘em all as far as the ‘technicalities’ go and I don’t think that editors want or need a technically perfect MS. They want a damn good story which keeps the readers reading, and they want strong realistic characters. As long as the grammar is reasonable okay and the story flows, the main criteria is the story itself, not all the rules that all the ‘How to Write’ pundits tell us we must stick to!


  1. I agree with you, Paula. I see myself as a novelist and not an Editor!

  2. Most of what I know about writing comes from years and years of reading many types of books: textbooks, encyclopedias, farming and gardening books, classics, science fiction, romance, mysteries, short stories.
    Yet, after I submitted the first three chapters of my first novel to two contests and an agent, I learned there was much I still didn't know. So I studied POV, hooks, story structure, etc.
    If I am a competent CP (and I think I am), it comes from what I've learned in classes and from writing books.

  3. You are a VERY competent CP, Ana, and you know how much I appreciate the help you've given me :-) But I'd still maintain that it is instinct or 'gut feeling' that tells you (and me too) whether something sounds right or rings true, and not all the writing advice we might have read. I'm talking here about the general story and character development, and not the 'technical' stuff, of course. With the latter, there seem to be so many conflicting opinions - and a whole load of rubbish too! One thing I read recently was 'You'll never get published these days without an agent.' I beg to differ LOLOL!!

  4. I agree that some of the "rules" don't always work for a particular story or a particular style. There's something to be said about an author's voice. We definitely don't want to edit that out!

  5. Totally agree, Debra. If we all followed all the 'rules', we'd all write in exactly the same way! But it's the voice and style of the author that has to come through. And that, to me, is a result of each individial's instinct about what feels and sounds right to them. Hence all the differences in styles. Vive la difference!