Heather is the owner of Precision Editing Group, and contributes to The Writing on the Wall blog. She's one busy lady. But she also knows her stuff!
I took her class on Self Editing at The Book Academy Conference.
Did you know that non-fiction sells better than fiction? I had heard that before, but kind of forgot about it. So, if your passion is in fiction, keep at it. But if you have a nonfiction idea, you may want to get serious about writing it!
Heather outlined what to do after the first draft is done.
By the First Draft Stage you should have:
- Selected your genre and studied your target market.
- Selected POV
- Researched word count for genre. The first draft should be aimed for about 5,000 words under target.
After you finish the first draft,
Take a Break!
Whether this means leaving it alone for the weekend or for a month, a break is needed so you can use fresh eyes.
Now, on to the Second Draft:
Are your hooks in place?
- First sentence/paragraph.
- End of first chapter.
- Why should we read to the end of the book?
- Use Said! (Most of the time at least.)
- Use "he said" not "said he"
- Delete adverbs! "She said excitedly" "She said sadly" "She said rudely"
- Know how to use a beat. That way you can delete some of the dialogue tags all together.
He moved the chair. "Come and sit with me."
(He moved the chair is the beat. We know "he" is the one who said "come sit with me", without being told.)
- Don't have characters repeat what has already been said. This happens a lot in introductions.
- Do a search for "favorite words" and see if you can change some of them.
- Be careful about overused words. Felt, saw, knew, could, that, then, ect.
- Be careful with name calling:
"Hello Jenny, how are you?"
"I'm fine, Sara. How about you?"
"I'm doing great Jenny. Thanks for asking"
"So, Sara, do you want to grab some lunch?"
"Oh yes, Jenny. Lunch sounds wonderful."
(Lots of repetitions, lots of name calling. Yikes!)
- Exclamation points should be used sparingly!!!!! When the person is yelling is about the only time to use them.
- Know the basic rules of commas. (What? There are rules for commas? I thought you should just put one in every time your fingers took a break on the keyboard. Whoops! I better learn those rules!!!!) (There I go breaking the exclamation point rule again. Man!)
Power Positions and Verbs:
- Single word sentences are okay for impact. Seriously. (But don't overuse them!)
- Look for more accurate verbs to bring in stronger meaning.
Walked: sauntered, strolled, ambled, paced, marched, ect.
- Flag adverbs (ly). Take out of dialogue tags completely. Find stronger verbs, so you can delete the adverb.
Instead of saying "She walked anxiously" you could say "She paced".
- Pay attention to the use of "was" and "were". Avoid them when possible.
- Use spell checker.
- Have your facts straight, based on time, period, and setting. See Research Post.
- Actions must be physically possible.
- Use dialect lightly or it will slow the pacing (accents/ foreign language, ect.).
Point Of View (POV):
- Choose the person with the most to loose (in that scene).
- Watch for info dumps.
- Is there sagging middle of the book?
- Do you need more conflict?
- Make sure the overall hook is strong enough.
- Are you excited to be reading your own story? (If not, no one else will be!)
- Every scene must move the story forward.
Sense of Place:
- Where are we?
- Establish setting for each scene.
- What are the characters doing as they talk?
- Read each chapter end, separate from the rest of the chapter. Does it make you want to keep reading?
Okay, now to finish my first draft so I can start applying some of these!
Thanks to Heather, for dedicating so much time to help teach the rest of us what to do! If you haven't checked out her editors blog, do it now. You'll find help on every topic you can imagine, within the writing world.
Next up: Pitching your book. (I'm scared already!)