Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2Thank you, Raimey Gallant for organizing the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. Today is day one of this new series, and I’m very excited to be part of it.

This is a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.

To kick off this series, I’d like to talk about becoming your own self-editor.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, just hop on over to Ramey Gallant!

Why Learn How To Self-Edit?

With the advent of self-publishing, there is no one stopping a writer from publishing poor fiction that does not sell.

So what can new fiction writers do to ensure they’ve written a story that works and is ready to share?

They need to complete a big-picture story edit and rewrite the first draft.

Science fiction novelist Michael Crichton agrees when he says: “Great books are not written–they’re rewritten.   

But big-picture editing and rewriting is hard and can take months to complete.

Today, I’ll give you a place to start with a focus on plot. 

Plot describes the events that take place in your story. The events occur in a sequence, and that sequence forms the structure of your novel. You’ll most likely have a main plot and one or two subplots. Your protagonist (main character) follows the main plot. Secondary characters follow the subplots.

Your job as a writer is to evaluate how you’ve written the plot (and subplots) and to rewrite until you’ve created a compelling story for your readers. Then you can move on to word choice, style, and copyediting.

Your plot is made up of scenes. If you make each scene great, have each scene flow from one to the next in a way that makes sense to the reader, and pay attention to the key elements of fiction for each scene, you’ll end up with a great novel.

The first element under PLOT to evaluate is the purpose of the scene. The purpose of the scene must relate to the overall story. If it’s not driving the story forward, ask yourself why you included the scene in your novel.

Once you know the purpose of each scene, you want to test how the flow of your novel is working. To do this, keep track of how you enter and exit each scene.

For entering each scene, do you:

  • Vary the way you enter each scene in your draft?
  • Have a hook that draws the reader into the scene?
  • Anchor the reader in terms of point of view, setting, and timing?

For exiting each scene, do you:

  • Vary the way you end each scene?
  • Have a hook that makes the reader want to start the next scene?
  • Use a technique that connects the current scene to the following scene?

Answer each of the above questions for every scene, use the answers to rewrite the scenes, and you’ll be sure to improve your story.

More Self-Editing Advice

BIG-PICTURE EditingIf you’re looking for more help on self-editing download the free eBook, BIG-PICTURE Editing And The Key Elements Of Fiction and learn how big-picture editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story. We call these components the Key Elements Of Fiction.  Our eBook shows you how to use the key elements of fiction to evaluate your story and become your own big-picture editor.

Interested In An Automated Approach To Big-Picture Self-Editing?

Feedback Innovations (which I happen to be the CEO of) is building the Feedback app .

Feedback is the first web app to help fiction writers evaluate their own work with a focus on story, not words.

With Feedback, you can focus on plot, character, and setting. You can evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on overall novel structure. Feedback will show you the most important structural elements to work on first.

Feedback will guide you through the rewriting process by asking you questions specific to your manuscript, enabling you to evaluate your own story.

Feedback helps you visualize your manuscript. Forget about yellow stickies or white boards. Feedback will draw character arcs, provide reports on scene evaluation, and show your rewriting progress.

Happy editing and thanks for reading…

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54 thoughts on “Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

      1. My first is a Dark Fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland called Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles. I’m even MORE excited about it right now because it releases in MAY!!! 😀

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  1. This article is incredibly timely for me! I’m in the midst of editing, and I’ve been trying to bring some rigor to the process. I’ll download your eBook on self-editing and read it first thing.

    I’m curious to learn more about your Feedback app!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi MC. I hope the books helps and thanks for signing up for early access to the app. This is were we keep everyone in the loop on what’s happening and share more editing tips. I’m testing the first prototype with my manuscripts now.

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  2. Love the questions you included to ensure your scenes start and end well. “Have a hook that makes the reader want to start the next scene?” Such a great question to include. If you haven’t built in a new question for the reader, why would they keep reading? Thanks for this clear advice on editing for plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that you mentioned varying how you enter your scene! (Fortuitously, my blog hop post is about ending scenes: http://micascottikole.com/2017/04/18/writing-transitions/). For several of the books I have edited, the scenes have begun very often with the same verbiage. Common introductory sentences were “Four hours later” constructs or “After someone had done something” sentences. A good rule of thumb is to jump in the scene with an active verb and make sure we know where we are and who we’re with as soon as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed reading your blog. I’m glad I found it. Seems like we have an editing style in common! I call the last line of your comment scene anchoring. I ask myself is the reader anchored in point of view, time and setting within the first couple of paragraphs of a new scene. If not, I have some rewriting to do.

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  4. Editing is painful business and whoever recommended it as a task to “kill your darlings” had the sentiment correct. Still, it is one of the most important stages of the writing process. I’m in the middle of editing my first ever novel and got to this part some two months ago with little progress so thank you for the quick-note questions. And the app sounds great! Looking forward to its launch 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lupa, great to hear from you. Editing is hard, but i’ve come to enjoy the process. It’s exciting when I know my novel is getting to a place where it’s ready to share with others. Thanks for your supportive comments about the app. We’re excited about it and having a blast doing the first testing on my books.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this clear perspective on taking a critical look at your first draft and turning it into a powerful story. I appreciate how timely and how supportive this post is given where I am with my own work in progress and am intrigued by the resources that you cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very valid points. I have several pages of editing, proofreading, tips to look out for when I self-edit. From plot holes to POV skews, to 5 senses and timelines. Editing is a thankless job but one we need to do with the greatest care. Readers will spread the word faster about edit mistakes than they will about how well the book is written.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cheryl, I keep a list of senses too. When I first started writing I learned about the concept of an empty stage and how adding senses can eliminate that problem. I also keep track of senses so I don’t what one that I overuse.

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  7. Self editing is important, but it’s important to note that we ALL still need beta readers, critique partners and paid editors. We simply cannot do this thing on our own, even with cool apps (and Feedback does look pretty cool).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Dianna, Feedback is cool (LOL), and yes we need beta readers etc.I don’t use a beta reader until after I’ve run my manuscript through Feedback. I believe that if I’ve created a great story before I send my work to an editor or beta reader, I’ll get more value from them. It’s a shame for a writer to spend money on an editor only to find out the work is nowhere near ready for publication. I have a work in progress with my copy-editor now, and he loves that I have a process to get my manuscript in great shape before he works on it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  8. That Michael Crichton quote is one of my absolute favorites! And I’ve honestly never seen or thought about examining the entrances or exits of my scenes for repetitivity; I’m editing a novel right now I should try applying that advice to!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for this and for the tip about the app & ebook, especially since I think a rigorous edit is due for my last book. Probably my first as well… I especially liked the advice about entering & exiting scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Drew. I hope the eBook helps. It’s just the intro, but it should give you some tips to get you started. I always find ways to improve when I look at entering and exiting scenes. The fixes are usually pretty easy, but they make a big difference to a reader. Have fun editing.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love these tips Kristina. Especially the links in plot through the end of chapters. I think in my last round of edits I tried to remind myself to also start the beginning of the chapters differently too. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh wow! Total lightbulb moment for me. No, I have not paid attention to whether I’m varying my scene endings. Ahhh!!! I feel like Caroliena Cabada (another participant in this hop) would be a good beta for your app. Have you seen her post. That girl can organize like nobody’s business. Looking forward to Feedback, and thank you for contributing such wonderful advice to the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. Now to schedule this post into my Pinterest and Facebook schedules.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve recently written a similar blog post. So many articles on self-editing focus on the little things – removing adverbs, using action beats, getting the punctuation right. But that’s all a waste of time if you don’t have the big-picture elements of plot and character in place. The analogy I used is polishing a lump of coal. It might look shiny, but it’s still coal, not a diamond.

    Liked by 1 person

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