Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Over-do-er's Editing Checklist: Part 1 - Structure

What’s the most useful editing tip you’ve ever discovered? For me, it’s the idea of going back and giving characters props they would naturally interact with. This technique alone can: 

  • enhance setting
  • help readers recognise a location
  • build character and mood
  • act as a beat so you can imply who is speaking
  • and even remind readers of the presence of bystanders who aren’t speaking.

In fact it kills about four-and-twenty-blackbirds with one stone, and as I’ve spent three years reading every bit of PROFESSIONAL writing advice I can, I’ve got a 70+ point checklist full of similar gems. My list covers everything from large-scale considerations to grammatical and punctuation errors your spell-checker won’t always notice, and I’ve decided to post it as a series, starting today!

The list is broken into sections for Structure, Point of View, Showing Instead of Telling, Characterisation, Setting and Writing Mechanics, based on what I’ve found is the easiest order to work in. As a result it’s starts out quite general, but stick around and it’ll traverse into the nitty-gritty, where it works best as a chapter-by-chapter checklist. Hope it helps!  You can find the full list over at my new blog, but here's a taster. :)

The Over-do-er's Editing Checklist: Structure

1. Does each chapter start and finish with a hook?

... 4. Do the climactic sections of your novel follow the structure of: Scene (Goal, conflict, disaster) and Sequel (Emotion, quandary, decision, action)?

... 5. Do you have too many action scenes in a row; or scenes where the character’s ordinary actions are described in too much detail? Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to summarize. 

... 8. Are your characters’ goals clear in this chapter?

... and more!

1 comment:

  1. These are great! I'm doing a major revision and definitely need to keep that #8 in mind. I've also never really thought about the #4. Checking ms now...