7 Steps to Tackle Your Screenplay Rewrite

Screenwriting

The most important thing I tell any writer who is embarking on writing their screenplay is to just plow through and get that first draft done.  Here’s the rub though.  Finishing that first draft is only the beginning of the journey for you as a writer.

If there is one thing I know… it’s that the first draft of your script is ALWAYS going to be terrible. Don’t worry. That’s okay. Quality is never your goal with the first draft.  The goal is to scoop those ideas out of your brain, put them on paper and get the structure of your story on the page. When you finally get that glorious awful first draft completed, this is where the real work begins.

1) Put it in a drawer

The last thing you want to do is immediately re-read your goopy brain-droppings after you clickity-clack that final Fade to Black. Your mind needs time to decompress. So find a drawer, put your script in said drawer, and leave it alone until you have a nice solid layer of dust on the cover page which you can blow off like Indiana Jones finding an artifact in some cave in Indonesia.

2) Print that puppy out

It’s been a few weeks and you’re finally able to take a look at that crap you wrote. Don’t use the computer. Print it out. Find your favourite colored felt tip pen and mark that sucker up. You’re bound to find a billion grammar mistakes, missing words, wrong names, etc. But you’ll also figure out scenes that aren’t working and characters who need improvement. New ideas will pop out and make your story work better. You will punch yourself in the face for not thinking of them the first time you wrote this garbage pile, but that’s okay. This is the evolution of the rewrite.

3) Make a New Outline

As you prep to do your first rewrite, open up a notes doc and make an outline (or beat sheet) of everything currently happening in your scrip. This will help you discover everything you need to happen in your next draft. By giving yourself a thorough roadmap for your rewrite, when you dive in, you will know where you need to go to improve all your elements. That said, don’t be afraid to stray from your roadmap. It is good to create new scenes that flow from your fingertips stream of conscious. Some of your best ideas happen in the moment, and are unplanned. If you can surprise yourself, you can surprise your audience.

4) Lather, Rinse and Repeat

After you’ve gotten through that second draft, that now doesn’t completely suck, there’s one thing you need to remind yourself. This still is not good enough to show people. You need to put it back in that drawer. You need to go do something else for a few weeks until you’ve completely forgotten everything you did, and then pull it out and repeat Steps 1-3. How many times you’ll have to repeat these steps, I cannot tell you, but you’ll eventually know when your script is ready to show to someone.

5) Get Notes

Once you finally have a draft that feels pretty good to you, it’s time to show it to a trusted group of readers who know you well enough to tell you how awful your screenplay is without totally destroying your confidence. While you may think your ideas are amazing, if other people don’t find the execution of them equally as amazing… then they might not be to the level you need them to be. Getting people’s’ feedback and applying that feedback to your script is a crucial step.

You must be able to take constructive criticism. You don’t want someone to read your fourth draft script and say “that was great” and not get any notes. Your script always needs work. Most scripts are being worked on while they are shooting the movie. Yours is no different.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to take EVERY note. A lot of times, I’ll use this rule: if someone gives me a note I don’t agree with, I’ll ignore it for the time being. However, if three people give me that same note, then I know there’s a problem that needs fixing.

6) Have a Reading

Now that you’ve applied all of your notes to the script, it’s time to assemble a group of actors and read your script out loud and have a discussion of the story. Many times, it is an actor who gets a script bought, sold, greenlit, etc. So you need to make sure EVERY character is attractive to the actors who will play the role. Sometimes, you’ll get a tiny note that will make a world of difference when your screenplay finds itself on the desk of a studio reader.

7) The Final Draft

After you’ve squeezed every last drop of creativity from your brain onto the page, and you have done your final grammar pass, and incorporated all of your friends notes, you are ready to give the script to your agent, or producer for review. If you have done your job, their notes will be minimal and getting it into the hands of people who want to buy your screenplay will be the next step to achieve the truly fun and exciting part of being a writer… and that’s doing another rewrite with a director and a star.

In conclusion…

This is the process that works for me.  I hope it works for you.  Good luck!  Now go write that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad first draft of your screenplay.

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Via: https://screenwritingumagazine.com/2017/12/04/7-steps-tackle-screenplay-rewrite/

 

How To Edit Your Own Writing

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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!

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

Punctuation Guide: When to Use a Semicolon

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Today, we have a guess post by the lovely Daisy Hartwell, who contacted me and asked to feature on the blog. She has done a handy guide for using punctuation marks, and this one features the semicolon. I hope you find it useful, and if you want to check out the rest of her guide you can do so via the link at the end of the page. Enjoy!

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If we list punctuation signs in English, we should mention the semicolon.

When to use a semicolon?

Of course, there are several reasons to place it in your text. But in modern language, it’s more typical to separate a sentence into two parts instead of using a semicolon.

Firstly, there’s a question which bothers many students:

What is the difference between a semicolon and a colon

What is the difference between a semicolon and a colon?

Colon vs semicolon—how do you distinguish between the two?

They have different functions.

We use a colon in sentences to introduce a list or to emphasize one part of a sentence.

A semicolon is responsible for other functions. We need it to separate independent clauses or long parts of a list.

Do you need a semicolon or a colon in the sentence? It depends on the particular case.

If you think that a colon is more appropriate for your sentence—you can read some rules about it as well (just click “Colon” in the right part of the screen).

If not, here are some semicolon standards and examples.

How to use a semicolon instead of a conjunction

How to use a semicolon instead of a conjunction

When we use independent clauses in a sentence, they’re typically connected with each other. In this case, we use a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or) and a comma.

But proper use of English grammar and punctuation changes under different conditions. If you delete the conjunction from the sentence, you should add a semicolon.

Here’s an example of a compound sentence with a semicolon:

All patients must sign up by telephone or in the hospital; patients who use the Internet to make an appointment are not assisted.

Semicolon use before a transition

Semicolon use before a transition

The correct use of a semicolon isn’t difficult to understand in sentences with transitions. Transitions can be specific words and phrases. Authors use them to show the readers they moved from one thought to another idea.

Examples of transition expressions: nevertheless, afterward, of course, in other words, and so on.

A semicolon is used before the transition:

These days, exotic animals are more often turned into pets; for example, Clara from NC keeps a raccoon in her house.

Here’s another example with a semicolon before however:

All her friends tried to stop her from leaving the country until she got over her illness; however, she couldn’t miss her daughter’s wedding.

Lists with commas

Lists with commas

A paragraph without punctuation would be too difficult to read. Even when you use commas, a sentence can still be hard to understand.

That’s why sometimes we need the assistance of other punctuation marks.

In this section, we’ll tell you when to use a semicolon in a list.

According to punctuation rules, the semicolon may be used instead of definite commas. In this case, a semicolon before conjunctions isn’t a punctuation mistake as long as it performs the role of the comma. In the following example, you can see a semicolon before and:

She felt great in the village: making birdhouses, reading old stories, and learning tree names with grandpa; swimming in warm lakes and collecting strange bugs with Ann and Susie; and going to the fair with Aunt Marie.

Elliptical constructions

Elliptical constructions

When to use a comma or period? It is a popular question from writers who try elliptical constructions. The truth is–you can use not only the comma or the period but the semicolon as well!

Separate those parts of the sentence which express a complete idea with the beginning of the sentence:

On the red team 5 players were left; on the blue team, 3; the green team tried to catch up with just 2—it was obvious who was going to win.

Do you capitalize after a semicolon

Do you capitalize after a semicolon?

When we use a colon, sometimes capitalization is necessary. But what about when using a semicolon?

You shouldn’t capitalize after a semicolon unless it’s placed before a proper noun.

Now you can tell when to use a semicolon.

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If you want to find out about other punctuation marks, you can check out other sections in this punctuation guide via https://custom-writing.org/blog/punctuation/semicolon

3 Things to Cut From Your Writing 

I believe that within each writer there is an editor, a source of self-criticism that can take our work to the next level with a simple re-read and a dash of red pen. Of course, self-editing is not the end of the line when it comes to polishing your writing (workshopping and seeking a third-party editor is invaluable) but you can do a lot for your story, poem, or script by simply cleaning it up yourself.

At sentence-level (looking at each word and how it functions within the sentence it forms) you can usually cut, condense, or re-word to enrich your writing. There are many things that you could focus on when self-editing at sentence-level (from tone and voice to word-choice and vocabulary) but without even delving too deeply you can tighten and intensify your style.

But before you email your writing to a friend, or send off your submission to an agent, take the time to focus on the following to wake up your inner-editor:

Cut adverbs

This may sound harsh, but adverbs are lazy. Adverbs work against the idea of ‘show, don’t tell’ by telling the reader that ‘the star shone brightly’ rather than showing that it ‘twinkled and glittered like a lost silver coin’, for example.

There is almost always a way to show an adverb rather than telling it, and sometimes you can just cut them entirely and your writing hasn’t lost anything.

The more adverbs you use, the less interesting and unique your descriptions become. So any time you can show your adverb, or cut it entirely, the more enjoyable your writing becomes to read.

Omit needless words

It was the great Strunk who hammered the following into E.B. White’s brain, and it stands true today. We pack our writing (as we do our speech) with ‘filler’ words, words that don’t add to the sentence but just take up valuable space.

The main culprits to take note of include: really, very, just, so, a lot, pretty much, rather, quite, and sometimes.

Sometimes these words are necessary, but you’ll know when to get rid of them and when to re-write them. Check out this cheat sheet for ideas on how to get around lazy ‘very’ words.

Unnecessary words can also work their way into your writing by means of tautology or repetition. When you’ve said one thing but reiterate it in different words you’re creating unnecessary work for the reader, and using up your word count.

Comb back through your writing and analyse the importance of every word at sentence-level, cutting the ones that are pointless. Be ruthless. This will tighten your sentences and give greater impact and immediacy to your writing.

Avoid clichés

We wouldn’t have them if they weren’t so good. But it’s like flogging a dead horse (see what I did there?). Clichés are used so frequently in our everyday language that it feels natural to slip them into your writing, and you don’t even notice.

They’re often brilliant images or analogies, but when you’ve heard them all your life they become meaningless and dull.

If you find the perfect cliché to sum up your character’s emotions or thoughts, cut it and re-write your own with images that are original and new. Creativity is refreshing, so use it to your advantage to wow your reader with new words in new ways.

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I hope you find these tips useful. Happy writing!

Via http://writersedit.com/top-3-things-cut-writing/

Embrace the Art of Editing

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When I write, I write alone.

This statement is true for most people who take on a creative pursuit such as being an author. In fact, solitude is often the key to finding ‘the flow’ or ‘the zone’ or whatever you like to call the wonderful state where words pour onto the page bringing ideas to life. But when the story reaches its conclusion, or creative flow eludes you, being alone can become simply, lonely. That loneliness can create a space where self-doubt grows, making it even harder to keep trying.

When you finally send your work out into the world, perhaps to an agent or a professional editor, you can be forgiven for being a little apprehensive whilst awaiting a response. After all, you are sending out your darlings to be judged.

However, hearing someone’s thoughts and opinions about your work will help you see your writing in a new light. There’s always the risk of getting too close to a story, whether it’s fact or fiction. The people, good or bad, and the drama can come to affect you so deeply that objectivity becomes difficult. You begin writing from the heart rather than your head, so removing yourself enough to know what to cut can be near impossible.

In the case of fiction, it is rare when an author is not emotionally involved. We create characters from our imaginations, giving them life, hopes, dreams and obstacles to overcome. So similarly, when it comes time to edit, one of the hardest things to do is ‘kill our darlings’ – as it should be!

Editors can be objective. Whether we are talking about journalism or fiction, they are not emotionally invested like the author. Their job is to take a clinical look at the piece. They are experienced wordsmiths who can examine word placement, flow, character, plot, structure and the basics of spelling and grammar in order to give constructive feedback.

Having at times been both an editor and writer I have learnt a very important lesson; editing is essential, regardless of the form of writing and it is something we need to learn to embrace. There are horror stories about bad editors who do more harm than good, so as an author it is always your job to maintain the integrity of a story or article. However, also remember good editors have just one goal in mind – to make your writing the very best it can be.

The key is not to take feedback too personally, something often easier said than done. Not all editors are gentle and sometimes they point out things you don’t want to hear, but all feedback will teach you something.

While it can be confronting to open yourself up for criticism, editors also help give you confidence in your creation by making sure the story essentials are all clear and in place. So if you’re lonely or struggling, find an editor and don’t give up.

Things to remember:

  • See feedback as an opportunity to improve
  • Don’t be precious or defensive – if you really don’t agree, don’t make the changes
  • Keep an open mind
  • Enjoy the process of sharing your work
  • Be brave

Finishing a writing project, big or small, is an achievement that should not be understated. Many writers work around day jobs, family and dozens of other life obstacles. So keep writing and embrace editing, you never know where you might end up.

Read the original article here: http://writersedit.com/embracing-art-editing/

7 Must Do Tasks When Your Manuscript is Finished

Manuscript

Your manuscript is finished – so now what?

You’ve sent it off to your editor, proofreader or beta readers, so you can kick your shoes off and relax, right?

No way! You’ve got a lot of work to do.

There are 7 very important tasks you can get to work on while your finished manuscript is in the hands of others, and you will be so busy, you won’t have time to worry about how long your beta readers take in getting back to you.

So, let’s get you to work. (You can follow the links in each section for more detailed information.)

1. Research your book title

Your book title is going to be more important than anything else in attracting potential readers, so it is time to do some serious research into it. You might love your working title, but that means nothing until you are certain it is going to work. You need to know how to find a great book title that is unique, and will attract readers’ interest.

Not only that, you (could, should, ought to) have a sub-title. Why? Because your title and sub-title are your most important pieces of metadata, and metadata is what is used by the Internet and Amazon in their search algorithms. A title and sub-title that are highly searchable will attract more people to your book. More on metadata later.

The most important issue when deciding on your book title is to make sure it is as unique as possible. Joining a long list of books with the same or a very similar title is not going to get you many sales.

2. Get a killer cover.

No, don’t even think of creating your book cover yourself unless you are a graphic designer and an expert with Photoshop. Get a cover or a series of covers designed professionally (but stay within your budget). Great book covers are second only to your title in importance, so don’t take cheap shortcuts.

One simple factor that is often overlooked when deciding on a book cover is how it will look as a small thumbnail image. This is what potential book buyers see first, so it is vitally important that your cover is just as appealing as a thumbnail as it is in full size.

Do your research again, and check the top selling books in your genre to see what their covers are like, and again, how appealing and eye catching they look in small sizes. Another factor to check is the colours that are used by popular books in your genre. You may get a surprise here, as many popular genres use a very small range of colours. For example: Think ‘chic-lit’ – Pastel pinks, blues and green.

3. Write your book description.

Yes, I know. Every author hates this task. However, it must be done, and again, it is going to be a vital part of your book’s metadata so it needs to be extremely well written. Writing a great book description is not an easy task, but again, check top selling books in your genre and make a few notes. Unlike your book of thousands of words, your book description needs to hook a reader’s interest inside 15 seconds, or 150 words. It should be longer of course, but those first words and seconds are the most important of all.

4. Research your categories and keywords.

Without these seven elements, your book will be lost, so choose them extremely carefully. These, along with your book title are the most important pieces of metadata, and researched and selected well, they will allow readers to find your book. They are so important that their power to sell books is greater than you can achieve with paid advertising, blogging or social media. You can expect to have an online audience of your own numbering in the hundreds or thousands. But your carefully selected categories and keywords will give you access to millions of online book buyers.

5. Start your book promotion.

Do not wait until your book is finally published to get the word out about your new book. Build some momentum through your blog and social media and give your audience information about why, how, where and when you wrote your book. If you have a selection of cover ideas, why not ask for opinions on which one people like? Involve your online audience and keep them informed of your progress.

6. Plan your book launch.

Will you make your book available by pre-order? Will you purchase paid advertising? Will you make your book exclusive, or will you open publish? Ask your beta readers for their book reviews so you can add them to your book sales page. Plan ahead and ask book bloggers if they would be willing to help you with your book launch. Do you want to do a virtual book tour? Do not press the publish button without planning your launch. You only get once chance to launch your book, so plan it carefully and well in advance.

7. Decide on your price.

Setting the price for your ebook and/or paperback is crucial. Having a clear book pricing strategy is not as simple as it sounds. There are many factors to consider, such as competitiveness in various geographic markets, differential between ebook and paperback, as well as pricing for turnover or pricing for profit. Book prices are never set in concrete, so think about when you might discount, or increase the price. Are you going to offer a free ebook, and on what schedule? Should you increase your price before offering your ebook for free, and then reduce it afterwards? Again, do some research and write a brief pricing plan for your new book.

With all this work to do, you won’t have time to worry about when your manuscript will come back to you for your last read through and edit before publishing. You will be far too busy, won’t you?

Via :https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/7-must-do-manuscript-tasks

Interview with an Editor: What They Really Do and Why

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Kristin Prescott Speaks to Editor Extraordinaire Jody Lee

Being published is the holy grail of writing, whether it is in a print book, e-book, magazine or online, but authors are rarely alone on the long journey to get there. Whether traditional or self-published, one of a writer’s most important supporters is the editor. They’re often invisible to a reader, especially if they do their job right, but nonetheless play a crucial role in the development of a story and much more.

Jody Lee is one of Australia’s best. She’s been involved in publishing for more than fifteen years including work as an associate publisher, commissioning editor and project editor for Simon & Schuster, Random House and ABC Books.

She is now a freelance editor working with major trade publishing houses including Allen and Unwin, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, University of Queensland Press and self-published authors who appreciate a dose of good editing.

How did you first get involved in editing and publishing?

I originally thought I wanted to be a journalist and managed to get a cadetship with The Age in Melbourne. Then I realised I didn’t have the chutzpah to interview people. I did a stint as a legal editor and on a whim applied for a job at Random House as an editorial assistant working with the legendary children’s publishers Mark MacLeod and Lindsay Knight. It was one of those moments where a love of reading, of books, hanging around with people who loved books as much as I did and mucking around with words all coalesced.

What exactly does an editor do?

No, they are not people who are able to use the grammar and spell-check in a word processing program. If only it was so easy. An editor essentially works with text to shape it into something that is presentable, readable and accessible and that is just the beginning. There is so much more that comes with the editor label. It is equal parts diplomat, nurturer, psychologist, hand-holder, sounding-board, whipping post, cook and bottle washer (maybe not the last two but you get the idea).

So what does an editor really do? Editing is a science and an art. There is a basic architecture to every book, and if the author has a wobbly narrative leg or an insufficient thesis to stand on, the editor must find the blueprint or create one. Every writer has their own rhythms, from sentence structure to the length of the paragraphs and chapters. The editor must help the author use that form to its most powerful effect. Editing is getting inside the text, and inevitably into a writer’s head, to understand the point the writer wants to get across. Editors provide guidance and build trust through careful attention to the pages and encourage a writer, either a first-timer or a seasoned pro, to continue taking risks with their writing and push them beyond what they think they are capable of.

Why do you think many writers, particularly those self-publishing, don’t put great emphasis on editing?

Editing is not a particularly tangible or visible element in book publishing. People know of editors, they have a vague idea of what they do but an editor tends to work in the background. The editing process is invisible and un-reproducible. There is no physical way of measuring the benefits of editing in financial or best-seller terms, and no one will ever recognise good editorial work, which is really the point of editing. So in terms of self-publishing where costs are being taken into account, the cost of editing seems to be one of the things that are rationalised out of the equation. The budget usually swings in favour of cover design, marketing or publicity – the ‘physical’ and more glamorous elements of book publishing.

You’ve worked for some of the biggest Australian publishing houses. What benefits are there to having a manuscript edited professionally before sending it to a publisher for consideration?

Getting your manuscript edited professionally before submitting it to a publisher is an expensive exercise. It is not going to guarantee a publishing contract and if your manuscript is picked up it will be edited according to a publisher’s brief. That said, the manuscript needs to be in the best possible shape before you decide to submit it as you usually get one shot at a pitch to a publisher. If you need professional and objective feedback on your manuscript, get it assessed by a reputable manuscript assessment agency first. Family and friends giving feedback don’t really cut it and everyone might ultimately end up in tears. If, after a manuscript assessment, you really feel that you want someone to edit, find a good editor who will give you honest feedback and talk you through the type of editing you think you might be after.

So someone has decided to hire you as an editor. What are some of the most common issues you find yourself having to work through with the author?

Issues for both contracted and self-published authors can be very similar. For first-timers it is usually things like structure and pace, balancing that light and shade in the unfolding of a story to keep a reader hooked. Characterisation can be tricky as most authors know their characters so well and are familiar with them. Working on layering and developing the characters will feed into the dynamics of dialogue and character interaction. Keeping the author focused on their reader – who they are and what they might like in the story – is also important.

How far do you suggest an author goes with their manuscript before sending it to a publisher?

An author needs to feel that their manuscript is as good as it possibly can be. If there are niggling doubts about certain things in the plot, the voice is a little wobbly or there is a character that doesn’t ring true or the ending doesn’t quite sing to you, then go back and look at the manuscript. Again, you only get one shot at submission and you want to give yourself the best possible chance. Don’t rush getting your manuscript finished; take a breath and put the manuscript away for a period of time and then go back and look at it again. You will be amazed at how liberating it is to take another look when you shift your head away from it for a bit. Don’t feel that after the first or second draft you are good to go. One commercially successful author I worked with does up to 50 plus drafts of each of his manuscripts to make sure he is completely happy with what he submits. I’m not suggesting that many, but revise, self-edit and revise again. An underdone manuscript is like heading out the door with your skirt tucked into the back of your undies.

We’re seeing a big increase in the number of authors opting for digital and/or self-publishing avenues to get their books out there. How do you see the future of publishing playing out?

Publishing in all its forms is sitting on a pretty exciting precipice. There is either the urge to jump and think about what will happen when you hit the bottom but there is also the possibility that one might fly. Digital publishing works for both traditional publishing houses and self-publishing in that some books and particular genres work well in digital form only. The add-on of digital makes getting hold of a book so much faster and easier. Self-publishing opens up the options for writers to bypass the big conglomerate publishing houses and some well-known authors have stepped away from the conventional publishing model to try self-publishing.

Much has been said about the death of the book, the decline in good writing and the glut of lightweight or fly-by-night books being published. I think that has always been the case, it is just that things are moving far more quickly and change is always a little scary. There are more possibilities than ever for writers to get their work out into the world on different platforms. With that comes some wriggle room for writers to be a bit more experimental, enabling them to think beyond the boundaries and conventions of the traditional publishing model.

What is the most important piece of advice you have for an aspiring author?

Writing is a serendipitous thing. Timing plays a big part in the lucky breaks for a writer but there is also the notion that it is an organic process that is always changing, shifting, developing and learning. If a writer feels they have the writing gig down pat then their writing will never change. Read, read and read! A writer needs to read widely and constantly. Strangely, I have come across people who write but don’t read and it always shows in their work.

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If this article has made you think that perhaps you could do with using some Editorial Services, please consider sending your work to me – I would be more than happy to help you. For details of what I have already done and info on what I can do, check out my credentials here: Abigayle Blood: Editorial Services

Via: http://writersedit.com/kristin-prescott-speaks-to-editor-extraordinaire-jody-lee/