ACWC Writers Blog

Assignment 2 (2 of 2) Week of January 10
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 by Andrea Merrell

Self-Editing Is Not for the Faint of Heart

By Andrea Merrell

 

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent

of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear. 

~ Patricia Fuller

If I want to see my husband cringe, all I have to do is say, “Let’s move the furniture.” This is especially true during the holidays as we make room for the Christmas tree. He expects me to know exactly where to place each piece so he only has to move it once.

If it were only that easy.

The truth: I have an idea in my head where something should be placed.

The problem: Once it gets there, it doesn’t fit the overall plan.

Writing is much the same as rearranging furniture. Many times when we get our words out of our head and in front of our eyes, what made sense before doesn’t make sense now. That’s when the real work begins.

Once we have our words on paper—or tucked away in our computer—it’s time for the editing/proofreading/rewriting process. This is not for the faint of heart. But if we want our words to shine, we can’t skip this process. Even if we plan to hire a professional editor, our manuscript should be as clean as possible before we send it into cyberspace.

Here are a few elements to look for when beginning the process:

Start with the basics: grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Look up words you’re unsure of, especially hyphenated words.
Don’t mix past and present tense, especially in the same paragraph.
Avoid overusing quotation marks and exclamation points.
Use correct formatting (12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spacing, one-inch margins). No fancy fonts, and no bold, all-capped, or underlined words.
Glance at your paragraphs. Are you beginning too many with the same word (He, She, They … and especially I)?
Familiarize yourself with your pet words and phrases, and don’t use them over and over throughout your manuscript. Do a word search and eliminate them.
Get rid of weasel words (that, just, really, because, however, therefore, thus, so), and be careful not to overuse adverbs (suddenly, quickly, quietly, softly, gently … well, you get the idea). Use strong verbs instead.
Read your manuscript aloud for syntax and sentence structure. There should be a natural flow to your story (both fiction and nonfiction), and events must be in chronological order. Learn how to weave-in backstory or flashbacks without losing your reader.
Be careful with POV (point of view). No head-hopping.
Show, don’t tell your story. Paint a picture with your words.

Editing and rewriting can also be compared to remodeling a house. It’s easier to build a house from the ground up, but sometimes the initial structure is beautiful and sound—it just needs to be made a little stronger by some important and well-thought-out additions or changes.

Don’t let the process derail you. It’s a natural part of the writer’s life. Whatever you do, keep working until your manuscript is as clean and professional as possible.

ASSIGNMENT:

Take a look at your WIP (work in progress), and see how many of the elements we talked about, need to be addressed. In the next few weeks, we will look a little closer at ways to improve our writing.

_______

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com and annekarakash

 


Previous Posts

Assignment 6 - Creative Non-Fiction
Cindy Sproles
2/15/2021

Assignment 5 - Don't Waste Your Conference Experience
Cindy Sproles
2/6/2021

January 31, Assignment 4 - Bring Your Characters to Life
Cindy Sproles
1/31/2021

January 24, Assignment Four - Time to Shoot the Weasel Words
Cindy Sproles
1/24/2021

Assignment 3 - The Role of Speaker Tags and Beats
Cindy Sproles
1/21/2021

Assignment 2 (2 of 2) Week of January 10
Andrea Merrell
1/13/2021

January 10, Assignment 2 (1 of 2 assignments)
Cindy Sproles
1/10/2021

Assignment 1 - ACWC January 5 - Let's Start with a Bio
Cindy Sproles
1/5/2021

Assignment 8 & 9 - Titles & Sentences - Nancy Lohr
Cindy Sproles
2/13/2020

Assignment 7 - What in the World is a One Sheet - Andrea Merrell
Cindy Sproles
2/7/2020

February 1 - Assignments 5 & 6 - Linda Glaz
Cindy Sproles
2/1/2020

Sensory Perception Enhances Your Writing - Assignment 4
Cindy Sproles
1/26/2020

Don't Write Your Bio - Write WHY ME? - Assignment 3
Bob Hostetler
1/18/2020

How to Make the Most of Your Conference Experience - Assignment 2
Cindy Sproles
1/18/2020

Appropriate Emails - [email protected] - Assignment 1
Cindy Sproles
1/11/2020

How Not to Get an Agent - Assignment 7
Bob Hostetler
2/10/2019

January 27 Assignment 5 -Storytelling Your Life Lessons
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
1/27/2019

It's Not What You Know; It's Who You Know - Assignment 4
Bob Hostetler
1/20/2019

Stay on Track with a Writing Schedule - Assignment 3
Larry Leech
1/13/2019

Assignment 2 - Finding Speaker Topics
Beth Fortune
1/5/2019

IMAGERY–WHEN THIS IS LIKE THAT
By Ann Tatlock
12/30/2018

Asheville Christian Writers Conference Privacy Policy
Cindy Sproles
6/4/2018

2018 Writers Charge
Cindy
2/18/2018

Last Chance - Assignment 7
Cindy Sproles
2/11/2018

An Adjective Safari - Assignment 6
Denise Loock
2/4/2018

Get in the Mood to Write - Assignment 5
Larry J. Leech II
1/28/2018

Getting Rid of “I” Disease - Assignment 3
Andrea Merrell
1/14/2018

Curb Your Adverb Addiction - Assignment 2
Denise Loock
1/7/2018

WHO ARE YOU? - Writing Your Bio
Cindy Sproles
11/17/2017

WRITING IN A PICKLE
Cindy Sproles
11/13/2017

THE NaNoWriMo CHALLENGE
Cindy Sproles
11/10/2017

BRINGING YOUR CHARACTERS TO LIFE
By Andrea Merrell
2/12/2017

DON’T LET SPEAKER BEATS RUIN YOUR MANUSCRIPT
By Andrea Merrell
2/5/2017

HOW TO CRAFT GREAT DIALOGUE
By Andrea Merrell
1/30/2017

AVOID REPETITION AND WRITE TIGHT
By Andrea Merrell
1/20/2017

THE QUOTATION QUOTA – ASSIGNMENT 2
By Andrea Merrell
1/13/2017

ELIMINATE THE EXCLAMATION POINTS – ASSIGNMENT 1
By Andrea Merrell
1/7/2017

WRITING ADVICE FROM MARK TWAIN: WRITE WITHOUT PAY UNTIL SOMEBODY OFFERS TO PAY
By Sandra Merville Hart
12/22/2016

WHEN THE STORY STALLS IN THE MIDDLE
by Sandra Merville Hart
12/20/2016

WHO REALLY SELLS YOUR BOOKS ?
by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted
9/20/2016

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR 15-MINUTE APPOINTMENTS
by Cindy Sproles
9/16/2016

ARRRGH! ANOTHER REJECTION – CINDY SPROLES
by Cindy Sproles
9/12/2016

FROZEN IN PLACE – ICEY SELF-TALK TO FREEZE YOUR WRITING
By Cindy Sproles
9/8/2016

THE BIO – THE FRAGRANCE OF WHO YOU ARE
by Cindy Sproles
9/3/2016

THE PAIN OF UNSOLICITED
by Cindy Sproles
8/29/2016

REDUNDANCY: AN EXCESSIVE, OPPRESSIVE, PERVASIVE DISEASE
By Denise Loock
8/26/2016

7 THINGS TO DO NOW TO BE READY WHEN WRITING INSPIRATION STRIKES – EDIE MELSON
by Edie Melson
8/23/2016

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR 15-MINUTE CONFERENCE APPOINTMENTS
by Cindy Sproles
8/20/2016

WHY SHOULD I ATTEND THE ASHEVILLE CHRISTIAN WRITERS’ CONFERENCE?
by Cindy Sproles
8/17/2016

YOU NEED A PLATFORM – LIVING A STORY- ASSIGNMENT 3
By La-tan Murphy
1/20/2016

THE ONE SHEET
by Cindy Sproles
1/8/2016

OVER-EDIT?
By Steven James
11/4/2015