A Map (Part 1)

In the days before GPS and Trip Maker, everyone needed to study a map before starting a journey. Without a map (or in some cases several), a person might end up wandering around and get nowhere near the destination.

I just finished reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. I’ve read a ton of writing books (six in the last six months alone). And this one is a Map.

Easy to read and practical, this book provides a wealth of editing concepts. Here are a few:

· R.U.E. (Resist the Urge to Explain): Instead of telling your character’s emotion, cut the explanation; if needed, rewrite to show it.

· P.O.V. (Point of View): Describe only what your “head” character can see or hear; establish POV right away in the first paragraph, preferably the first sentence.

· Dialogue Mechanics: If you must use a speaker attribution, use the character’s name first, then “said” second (Jody said instead of said Jody).

· Realistic Dialogue: You don’t often “hear” stiffness in dialogue when you silently read your work; read it aloud to help find naturalness and rhythm.

· Interior Monologue: When giving readers and idea of what’s going on in our characters heads, use interior monologue sparingly, interspersed lightly in a dialogue scene.

On this writing journey, we’ll be better prepared if we study our maps—those good writing books that guide us and keep us on the path to publication.

What map has guided you?

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