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Editing your novel or short story:
Your piece should be perfect before you even think about sending your manuscript to a paid editor. Edit you work multiple times and in multiple different ways before sending it to an editor. The same goes for sending it to other writers and asking for feedback. Or attending a critique group. Initially, only send the person your first chapter. No doubt there will be many alterations required after the different advice you receive from varying people. After you have digested all of the advice and made the alterations, you will have a much better idea on how you can fix the remaining chapters of your manuscript. However, that’s not the end, it is only the beginning.
Editing your manuscript yourself:
Edit your first daft so that all the weird tangents and unnecessary ramblings are under control. Get rid of weird subplots. Remove your soapbox hollerings you thought you needed to voice because they are political or religious beliefs or just issues you wish got more more of an audience. These do not belong in your manuscript UNLESS that is your actual topic for the story. Just don’t make it a sermon.
The next edit is to make the story more readable. There should be a certain flow to the story that makes people want to keep reading. Remove unnecessary paragraphs if you wrote a similar thing to the previous paragraph. Merge them into one if you prefer. Delete the ramberling explanation of the moon or a blue skirt or career you researched exhaustively, regardless of how much time you spent investigating it. Research is great, but only absolutely necessary areas of your research should be used in your story. Your reader will skip over it anyway. Or worse, they’ll put it down and not pick it up again. Make sure there is a middle, start and end. Make sure each part makes sense and is as good as you can get it.
Is your plot as good as you can make it? Solely concentrate on this and the subplots. Work through each and ensure they are interesting and not jumping from topic to topic. Read your manuscript and write down the plots and subplots. Then read over what you wrote and make sure you’re happy with it. Will your readers be happy with it too? Is it exciting enough? Do you need to exaggerate areas just to add more spark?
Characters are a big thing and require a separate edit. Edit each of the main characters separately. Give them clear characteristics different from the next person. Names should be very different too. You don’t want your reader getting confused between characters. You can give characters a limp or scar or different coloured hair. It’s ok, people expect that in stories. Readers want characters to be lovable individuals that do their own thing and are nothing like the others they hang around with (unless they are supposed to be the same, such as geeks. Although all geeks are different from each other too).
Make sure your refined characters are there to enhance your exceptional plot. Are the required characters doing what they should be and are not doubled up? If there are two characters doing a very similar thing in your story, then merge them together to make one character. For example, a cop duo where the other cop tags along with the main one or is a sounding board for the main one. This is where you need to remove the other cop. There should not be any characters that do not help advance the plot.
Flow and ease of reading. This is important to go over again and fix so that people won’t put your book down and not pick it up again. Make sure that every sentence and paragraph is clear. Read it out loud or delete the sentence and start over. It’s ok, you can kill your darling words and sentences.
Chapter flow. Read each chapter and make sure it reads well. Make sure each chapter links well to the one before and after. Is that chapter moving the story forward? Was it interesting? Don’t be one of those Netflix series where there are only three out of ten episodes that are actually any good. You want every chapter to be amazing and have its own interesting story arc.
After all this send to professional editor. Here is our preferred editor: www.worldwriterscollective.com/editing-services
Edit it again using all of the editor’s comments once you get it back. You should run 1-7 above again to check everything. You likely haven’t seen your manuscript for the last month, so it’s a good chance for you to read it with new eyes.
Read it out loud from start to end and make sure the flow of each sentence clicks.
What is Genre Writing?
Is 'email writing' a particular genre? If so, then that could mean blogging would be too, right?
Do you find that you often question what genre it is you’re writing and if you can classify yourself as a particular genre writer?
Do you think you’re keeping to the required norms of writing.
Do you mix your writing so it’s part comedy, part romance, part nonfiction and part suspense?
I promise this next question coming up is going to be the last stressy thing about genres. I just hope I haven’t made you want to put these thoughts into the too-hard-basket.
Don’t give up and throw your pen and paper in to the bin and smash your laptop with a hammer. I’m going to help you through this and I promise there’s a rainbow at the end.
Will readers stop reading your stories if you don't stick to one particular genre while keeping within the standard conventions of that particular genre so your readers know what they are buying each time they pick up your book?
The short answer to that last question is, no, not anymore. This was the convention in the past, but you can now freely write more than one genre as well as mix genres and dabble in sub genres.
If you decide you want to traditionally publish, you’ll need to read the instructions from the agent’s or publisher’s website before you submit. There are many hoops you’ll need to jump through and much information they will want from you. This includes writing a synopsis, classifying your work into a genre, mentioning what authors and titles are close to yours in style or plot or other, and you’ll need to write up general information about you as a writer.
When I first started writing, I did so for fun. I was ten years old and all I wanted to do was write what was entertaining to me.
Is fun a genre?
I didn't need anyone to read my stories. Instead I enjoyed creating new worlds where I could insert people and creatures into them to explore, create, conflict and interact.
Then came the idea of one day being published. Don’t get me wrong, it was lots of fun writing and not needing to edit. I still enjoy sitting down not knowing how a story will play out. It was just that in 2010 I decided I wanted other people to read my work and for them to actually enjoy it. To do this I needed not only to amuse myself, but to work out what my readers liked too. I also needed to learn how to edit properly. (With both of these, you never stop learning.)
After writing over 70,000 words of my first novel, I decided I needed to explore what genre my story might fit into. I did this by comparing my story to other stories already available from other known authors. I made notes on how my story matched a proposed genre before knowing it was definitely that. I wrote a synopsis and a blurb and compared mine to other published authors to help cement my work and what it was similar to.
I initially thought my writing was general fiction. I shouldn't have been so boring. I later thought adventure, due to the journey aspect that my main characters often would take. However, I still wasn’t sure. I kept digging and was about to settle on crime (because I often include murder/crime that would be investigated by police), but then I discovered the thriller genre.
Thrillers are often fast paced, have a character that is either pursuing or being pursued and has police investigations, although as a secondary aspect.This fit my general story writing style. Huzzah! I could now call myself a thriller writer.
Enter sub-genres from stage left.
You don't have to constrain yourself to a particular genre. There are mixed genres and subgenres that allow you to write whatever you like. Yes, your story needs to have a plot, have interesting characters and be edited well, but as for genre, you’re allowed to call yourself a thriller-adventure writer. A romance-comedy writer. A psychological thriller writer. Create your own and be proud to be a comedy-crime writer.
I write blogs and email.
Yes, you can write blogs or emails in a certain specified way, and that could then make it a particular genre. Maybe your job has conformity when writing emails. This is a genre. You write your blog in a comedic way. Guess what, genre writing!
So what does the word genre mean? A class or category having particular form, technique or content.
This is the dictionary definition and really sums it up well. I don’t think we need to dwell on that any further.
I write many different genres. Or I want to try other genres.
Yes, yes, yes! You should.
In years past publishers wanted to be able to classify you as a particular genre writer so they could market you in a certain way.
Then, if you wanted to stray from your specified genre, you would need to have a serious talk with your publisher and maybe even search for a new publisher.
Marketing you is as essential as marketing your book. It’s just that now the marketing angle has changed slightly so it doesn't have to be all about what genre you write. It can instead be about the interesting stories you bring into the world. It was a subtle change that the readers themselves brought about, and it’s an important one.
As for me, I recently wrote a crime novel even though I am a thriller writer. And that’s ok. I’m trying to offload it onto a publisher as we speak. I’ve also written children's stories, young adult and adventure.
Now you should go and explore all the genres out there and have fun! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t write what you want to write (just keep in mind that when a story can be classified more easily into a particular genre, publishers are more interested in publishing your work - new authors only. Established and already published authors have much more freedom).