How To Edit Your Own Writing

edit-your-writing-705x220

The truth about a first draft is that it doesn’t need to be perfect – it just needs to be written. Even Hemingway claimed that “the first draft of anything is sh*t”. The first draft is where it starts, but even after you place the lid back on your pen, or press print – the process is far from over. The end of writing (and re-writing) marks the beginning of editing your work.

Writing and editing go hand in hand when it comes to producing masterpieces. When we talk about ‘great writing’, we’re also indirectly talking about ‘great editing’. While some writers have the privilege of working for a publishing company and have a professional editor to go through their work, other writers, particularly those just starting out, are their own editors. This article is for the latter. Read on for tips on how to edit your own writing…

Finish Your Work

Before we allow ourselves to be a critic of our work, we have to first finish being a writer. While the creative process can work in many ways, producing work is completely different from critiquing. Allowing both processes to intercede may demoralise the art of our writing. So always give yourself time to finish writing, and then edit it later.

Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in the edit.” — Will Self

Read It Aloud

One of the most effective ways of editing your work is to read it out loud. Reading aloud will force you to take note of your words – each and every one of them. This way, technicalities such as spelling, grammar and punctuation are magnified and more easily spotted. The trick to reading aloud is to read slowly. Speed-reading through your work will not help the editing process.

Reading your work aloud will also sound different compared to when you read it in your mind. When you speak aloud, you’ll begin to hear how your sentences are structured (for better or for worse). Ask yourself, does your work sound clunky? All the clumsy, unnecessary words should be then cut out. If you can imagine it, it’s like the way gardeners shape hedges into desired, quirky shapes; It’s a long process and takes a lot of detailed work.

Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress…” – Nick Hornby

Take A Break

Editing your own work can be a tedious task. Writers don’t always have the privilege of time but when you do, let the editing process breathe. That means, walk away from your work, get some rest and focus on another activity for a while before coming back to your manuscript. If you find yourself constantly deleting and rewriting big chunks of work, or correcting a comma use, only to put it back again, then it might be due time to take that break.

After re-reading your work a couple of times, the structure and sentences of your work will become so familiar that the easiest mistakes will just slide past your eyes. Taking a break will allow you to come back to your work with a fresh perspective. 

The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” – Neil Gaiman

Read It Again And Again

There is no magic formula nor set amount of times a work should be edited before it’s ‘right’. While reading your manuscript slowly from front to back may help spot mistakes, another tip is to read it backwards. It may be confusing, but it will certainly help you be a forceful spell-checker on your own, as is makes you examine every individual word out of context.

Are there any words that you aren’t sure about? Get a dictionary. Use a standard dictionary such as The Oxford English Dictionary, or whatever equivalent is commonly used in your jurisdiction.

And look out for contextual errors that spell-check won’t necessarily pick up on. Some of the most common are:

  1. You’re/Your
  2. Affect/Effect
  3. They’re/Their/There
  4. Its/It’s
  5. Then/Than

These errors may be small, but they make all the difference as to how your work will pen out in its final form. It’s the smallest details that convey the type of writer you are and will be.

Be mindful of different perspectives. Ask yourself, how would you feel as the reader? How is what you’re saying conveyed? Sometimes as writers, we get so caught up in trying to account for our own understanding that we begin to lose sight how our work may be interpreted by our target audience.

Let Someone Else Read/Edit It

It is crucial that someone else, other than yourself helps you read through your work before you submit to any publications. Whether it is a professional editor or a trusted writer-friend, getting someone else to read and edit your work is always helpful, as they tend to be able to notice the mistakes that you’ve missed. They will also be able to give a different perspective without being emotionally biased towards your work. This helps prepare you for how your audience might interpret your story.

Editing is for anyone and everyone who writes, especially professionally. In an interview published in The Paris Review with Ernest Hemingway in 1956, Hemingway said that he rewrote the last page of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied. The biggest problem, he admitted, was “getting the words right”.

The repetitiveness of re-reading and rewriting during the editing process can be brutal, demoralising and sometimes painfully slow, but it is always completely necessary for writers. When there comes a time when this process discourages you from writing, remember that heavy edit days make great writers.

Good luck!

***

Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/edit-writing/

Should You Write In The First, Second Or Third Person?

Which-person-do-you-write-in

When writing your content, whether it’s a novel or an article, it can become confusing having to decide between the first, second and third person. Which you decide to use is completely up to you, but there is some method behind the madness. Let’s discuss all three options and see which would be the best for you.

The First Person

In a nutshell, first person is you and your views (or your character directly speaking and their views), and is expressed using the word ‘I’. What I like about this writing style is that you can easily express yourself and share your experiences the way it happened. It may be a bit more of a challenge when you are not writing about yourself, but still, the action is experienced in the moment as it is happening.

Many people believe that writing in the first person is the easiest way to write and perhaps they are right to a point. But beware that when you write in the first person as you can get very comfortable and sometimes overshare. If you find yourself doing this a text rewriter may come in very handy at this point.

The Second Person

Second person is where the narrator tells the story to another character using the word ‘you’. The story is being told in the voice of the onlooker, which can also be you, the reader. For instance, the text could read, “You went to school that morning. And whilst you were there you played with some play-dough.”

The second person point of view is rarely used in fiction because of its difficulty level. It is hard to develop a set of characters and a story in which the second person is appropriate. Saying that, however, you can find some fantastic stories that have been written this way if you go and look for them.

If you are writing non-fiction, you can use this style of writing when you are sharing information that does not pertain to your own experiences. For instance, this is handy when you are writing a ‘how to’ blog post or an instructional article of any kind.

If you are not familiar with this writing style, find a word rewriter and use any tools you might need until you get it right. It does take some getting used to, but it is a very effective writing style.

The Third Person

The third person point of view belongs to the person (or people) being talked about. The third person pronouns include he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, it, its, itself, they, them, their, theirs,and themselves.

You would usually associate this writing style with fiction and storytelling. It is also the preferred writing style for academic literature.

Plenty of stories and novels are written in the third person. In this type of story, a disembodied narrator describes what the characters do and what happens to them. You don’t see directly through a character’s eyes as you do in a first person narrative, but often the narrator describes the main character’s thoughts and feelings about what’s going on.

So in essence, you are a little more removed from the character in terms of direct thoughts and feelings, but you can be aware of more and inform the reader of things that your character could not do directly in first person unless they were actually experiencing them. This option gives you more choice and a greater possibility for knowledge during events, and about other characters.

The Best Choice

As you can see, there is a place for all three point of view writing styles, and one is not necessarily better than the other.

At the end of the day, we all have a different way of communicating, and you should find the style which suits you best. Think about what you have written thus far.Is there one particular style that you naturally gravitate towards?

Even though you might want to go for the easiest writing style, there is nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone every now and then. It might take a little longer to write, but it will be worth the effort to get it right.

Conclusion

Writing is all about sending out good stories into the world, and this should be your principal focus.

If you are writing a novel, try writing a chapter in each different point of view and see what works best or your story. Each story you write may have a different point of view that works best for what you are trying to convey, so don’t assume that just because you usually write in one point of view that it will be the best one.

Read your work out loud, and see if it sounds right. If not, try changing the pronouns and see if it works better. Your story (and characters) will normally tell you how they want to communicate. So listen out for their voice and go with that.

If you are writing an article, write in the way that feels most natural to you. Then you can’t go wrong.

Ultimately, it does not matter if you write in first, second or third person, as long as you are writing authentically for yourself or your characters and connecting with your audience. Happy writing!

***

Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/should-you-write-in-the-first-second-or-third-person/ and https://www.grammarly.com/blog/first-second-and-third-person/

 

Poems About Love | Valentines Day

Valentines-Poems-About-Love

So as it’s Valentines Day, I decided to share the love with poems penned by some of the greats.

Enjoy! xx


“Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art”

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—

         Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

         Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

         Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

         Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—

No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

         Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

         Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever—or else swoon to death.


A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve is like a red, red rose

   That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

   So deep in luve am I;

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

   Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;

I will love thee still, my dear,

   While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!

   And fare thee weel awhile!

And I will come again, my luve,

   Though it were ten thousand mile.


Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me prov’d,

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.


How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.


And if that little lot hasn’t left you feeling all lovey-dovey then you clearly have a heart of stone, but happy Valentines anyway! xx❤️xx

15 Reading Pet Peeves Every Book-Lover Understands

book lover

It’s a proven fact that reading is the best hobby ever – any book-lover will tell you so. No matter your preferred genre or medium, there’s an endless supply of books to capture your interest and they can serve as everything from entertainment to distraction. It’s an overwhelmingly positive pastime, but I will admit that reading does occasionally have moments of inconvenience and even of frustration. At the end of the day, however, it’s usually not books themselves that are the problem, but external factors instead. We’ll call them reading pet peeves.

For bookworms, reading can often be therapeutic and relaxing, yet there are a variety of things that are all but guaranteed to raise their blood pressure nonetheless. These reading pet peeves are pretty universal, so any true reader will likely understand the annoyance they can cause. Fortunately, most are minor, rating a facepalm or a huff of frustration. It’s only the most severe offenses that make a perfectly good book suddenly look tempting as a projectile.

If you’re a reading addict, let’s commiserate over the following 15 reading pet peeves that have probably ruffled your feathers from time to time. Non-readers, please take note to avoid any of the annoying activities and occurrences below.

1. Spoilers

Is there anything worse than finding out what’s going to happen in the book you’re reading (or planning to read) before you get there? I think not.

2. Books You Don’t Like That Become Wildly Popular

It’s amazing to see books you adore get the recognition they deserve, but when books with problematic characters or storylines top the best-seller lists, it’s beyond irritating. Worse still? When film studios snap up the movie rights and you know you’re going to have to keep hearing about them. Grrrr!

3. Delayed Release Dates

You can’t really blame authors when they have to push back a book’s release date – life happens, plans change. Still, knowing you’ve got an even longer wait for reading material you’ve been looking forward to is zero fun.

4. People Who Are Careless With Borrowed Books

I don’t think it’s too much for us to expect people to treat borrowed property well, but sadly, not everyone has learned that lesson. If you’ve ever lent out a book, only to get it back in worse condition, I feel your pain.

5. People Who Are Careless With Books In General

Even if they’re not actually your books, it can be cringe-worthy to watch someone crease their book jacket or haphazardly drip coffee over the pages.

6. Waiting For Library Books

Libraries are up there on a book-lover’s list of favourite things, but having to wait on a hold list is not. Patience is a virtue, of course, but it’s not easy to come by when there’s a story you’re dying to get your hands on.

7. Being Judged For Wanting To Stay In And Read

When all you want to do is curl up for the evening with a good book, there’s no shame. The only shame should be directed at those who would guilt you or judge you for it.

8. Movie Adaptations With Plot Deviations

Bringing a book to screen has its challenges, but when the movie adaptation takes all kinds of unnecessary liberties with the original plot, it’s enough to infuriate any fan of the work.

9. Books With Promising Starts That Go Downhill

It feels like a betrayal when the story you’re reading starts out strong, only to suddenly take a turn for the worse. But more annoying then that is when you buy a book that promises a certain story on the jacket, only to find you’ve been mis-sold a completely different story. All that potential, those hopes and dreams, just ripped away.

10. Being Interrupted While Reading

It should go without saying that when you have a volume in hand, you should be left in peace. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to know this unwritten rule.

11. Poorly Edited Books

A minor typo can be forgiven, but repeated errors and grammatical disasters? Not so much.

12. Purses Too Small To Carry Books

A purse is meant to carry the necessities, so if it can’t fit a book or an e-reader, it’s failing at its purpose.

13. That Moment When Your E-Reader’s Battery Dies

Even after all the warnings of low battery, it’s still annoying when your e-reader actually dies. My own device takes several minutes to power back up again whenever this happens, and on top of that, it typically loses my most recent page. Oh, the inconvenience!

14. Hearing People Say They Don’t Like To Read

Is not enjoying reading really a thing? We book-lovers just don’t get the mentality.

15. Anything That Conflicts With Reading

Basically, anything that interferes with reading – especially when you’ve reached a cliffhanger – is a serious problem.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, it’s back to our happy place. Happy reading everyone!

***

Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/128971-15-reading-pet-peeves-every-book-lover-understands

10 Ways To Develop A Unique Writing Style

Unique-writing-style-blog2

Creating and refining your own unique style of writing is important, particularly in the modern Internet age, where a high content turnover means readers are constantly in pursuit of something original and clever. However, it’s often difficult – especially when you’re just starting out – to fine-tune the way you write and embody the qualities that make your voice distinct and innovative.

So how exactly do you tease out those qualities? How do you then apply them to the actual process of writing? Here are ten hot tips to get you started today.

1. Use experiences as a springboard

Start with what you know. If you begin your writing process in a world that you’re familiar with, it’ll generally be much easier for you to slip on your characters’ shoes and immerse yourself into the setting of your story. In fact, J. K. Rowling herself based one of her best-known and most complex characters, Professor Snape, on her chemistry teacher.

Be inspired by real people, real emotions and real events. Reflect on your own journey as a human being. Reflect on small moments that seem to have permanently burned themselves into your memory, and let those reflections guide the philosophy that underpins your writing. As author Kashmira Sheth points out:

The emotional growth of your characters is one place where you can use your own experiences much more deeply. If you are writing about the summer between sophomore and junior year, then you can go back to your emotional state of that summer. Was it the summer of heartbreak, angst, rebellion, disappointment, or sorrow? How did you survive and persist? How did your emotions manifest themselves in your interactions with others? What did you learn? How did that one pivotal summer make you grow and change?”

If the content of your writing leaves you with deep and nostalgic feeling of been there, done that, then it’ll more likely exude a profound sense of realism and empathy – one that will resonate and connect with readers more powerfully.

2. Be aware of what makes your observations unique

Everyone sees the world through their own unconventional lens, but not everyone is aware of the existence of those lenses. That’s when it becomes important to take a step back and become aware.

For instance, if you’re observing the way people engage in conversation, take note not only of the dialogue, but also of the silences, of the interruptions and of the speakers’ unconscious habits like pushing up their glasses, adjusting the collar of their T-shirt or tapping their foot against the carpet. Ask yourself why those habits are emerging in the first place. Are they nervous? Are they scared of the other person’s reaction to a particular piece of news? What does this say about their relationship with one another?

As writer Annie Evett argues in her article on observational writing,

Good observational writing utilises all of the senses in describing the event, character or item; transporting your reader easily into the world you are creating or describing.”

That being said, one question you may ask is: how exactly do you utilise these senses?

3. Awaken all senses

When the reader takes a dip into the waters of your writing, they want to feel something. They want to immerse themselves in imagery that extends beyond a mere description of what can be seen. So it’s your job as the writer to ignite as many of their senses as possible.

Let’s say that you’re writing about a bushfire approaching from the distance. You may initially choose to illustrate the way the fire rapidly gains speed, leaping from tree to tree, an angry flame that cannot be tamed. But wouldn’t your setting be much more evocative if you gave the reader the capacity to hear by assaulting their ears with the strange silence that falls upon the forest, with the sudden roaring of fire as it tears through this silence, with the protagonist’s faint coughs as her lungs choke up with smoke?

And wouldn’t your scene be even more vivid if you also engaged the reader with descriptions of the scent of smoke blowing into her cheeks, of the vile taste of charcoal in her mouth, and of the soft fabric of her blouse battering against her skin as it fights a battle it knows it cannot win?

Writer of the Udemy Blog Margo Jurgens provides some further tips and advice on how to best approach writing sensory imagery.

4. Show with a spin

One of the most common pieces of advice given to writers is ‘Show, don’t tell’ – but it’s also important that you enact the ‘show’ part with a twist. Avoid using the same old words to paint a picture. Try adopting a different approach or perspective.

Let’s take the bushfire example from above. Rather than using phrases like ‘The fire roared’ or ‘Smoke billowed up into the sky’, you might perhaps juxtapose the constant ticking of the clock inside the house with the comparatively erratic rhythms of the fire leaping from treetop to treetop.

You might also use a memory or an anecdote as the transition into your description of the fire’s sudden approach: perhaps the protagonist recalls a time she watched a juggler accidentally drop his flaming torches, and contrasts how quickly the torches were extinguished with how impossible it would be to put out this monstrous bushfire.

5. Avoid clichés

It’s sometimes very easy to fall into the trap of clichés – especially in times of doubt and uncertainty, when you find yourself borrowing the storyline of your favourite novel or imitating the writing style of your favourite author or poet. This can ultimately hinder your potential for originality.

How do you rid your writing of clichés? Writer’s Digest‘s Peter Selgin suggests that the best way to avoid cliché

… is to practice sincerity. If we’ve come by sensational material honestly, through our own personal experience or imagination, we may rightly claim it as our own. Otherwise, we’d best steer clear. Our stories should be stories that only we can tell, as only we can tell them.”

Brian A. Klems gives 12 examples of clichés that ‘need to be permanently retired’, while Writer’s Web provides some tips on how you can identify and avoid clichés.

6. Be intimate with details

Intimate details are the key to enhancing the vivid quality of your writing. Be specific in your characterisation and descriptions of setting. The subtlest of movements – your protagonist tugging at the hem of his shirt, your villain tapping two fingers against the table – can help build up the mood of your story or poem, accentuating the emotions experienced by your characters.

Being specific in your details means combing through your writing and paring it down, so that it includes only those words that (in some way or form) contribute to the meaning you’re trying to convey to the reader. Word choice becomes crucial here.

Author Kristen Lamb highlights the importance of diction: ‘She bolted from her chair’ is much better than ‘She stood quickly out of the chair’, because the word ‘bolted’ holds a powerful sense of action and urgency that the phrase ‘stood quickly’ simply does not have.

7. Turn objects into metaphors

If you’re looking for inspiration, an effective exercise to get your creative mind pumping is to turn random objects into quirky metaphors. Select any item in your line of vision – a pencil, a typewriter, a mug – and write about it in the greater context of life. This exercise gives you the opportunity to turn something mundane into something totally and utterly original.

For instance, you may decide to write about the blinds by your desk. Perhaps they represent the idea that we have control over the degrees of light and dark within us; when the world inside is cold and grey, all we have to do to warm ourselves up is pull open the blinds and let bars of light in.

Feeling creative enough yet?

8. Create strong, authentic voices

A classic example of writing with a strong, authentic voice is J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye – when you read that novel, you cannot help but hear Holden Caulfield’s voice in your head. With the effective use of voice, the reader becomes so deeply submerged in the story, the characters and the underlying meanings that they forget a writer has fabricated this world.

Author Junot Díaz draws from his own characters as examples on how to strengthen the various aspects of voice. Blogger Lorrie Porter focuses more on how you can incorporate strong voice into dialogue.

9. Know the rules of writing, then break them

Don’t be afraid to experiment and to test the limits of what you think you are capable of writing. Take Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 tips on how to write a good short story, for instance. Once you understand his rules, you can start bending them and eventually start breaking them. As Vonnegut himself writes,

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor. She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”

10. Write a little every day

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect! The more you write, the more you will grow conscious of your own writing style and thus be able to improve upon it. Blogger Leo Babauta presents a range of tips on how you can write daily.

You might end up writing a few sentences, a few paragraphs, even a few pages. Quantity doesn’t matter; frequency does. So set aside some time everyday and get writing! A world of words await you. Time to turn on your mind and let your creative juices run free.

***

Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/develop-unique-writing-style/