Writing Tight Editing for Impact by Diana Cosby
Editing is the writer’s opportunity to tighten their work to ensure each word works, each sentence counts, and each chapter supports their story and propels it forward. As with anything you do in life, your perspective makes it dull or fun. Allow the excitement that inspired you as you wrote the rough draft to fuel you through revisions.
*The following are not hard and fast rules. Like anything else in writing, the below can be bent, twisted, and ignored. The important thing is that you use what works best for your story.
F A S [Feeling→Action→Speech]: The natural progression in how we react is by feeling, action, then speech.
[An Oath Taken]
Before: “Would you like me to carry that?” Elizabet gestured toward the basket, trying to shake off her unease.
After: Trying to shake off her unease, Elizabet gestured toward the basket. “Would you like me to carry that?”
[An Oath Taken]
Before: Sir Laurence shot a curious glance toward where he’d gestured, and scowled.
After: Sir Laurence shot a curious glance down the cells, scowled.
Use of odd or unfamiliar words: Including odd or unfamiliar words in your manuscript will draw the reader’s attention away from the story. If you use an odd word, ensure the word is explained in either internal thoughts or dialogue.
[An Oath Taken]
A a fool’s lot to consider his offer. As if she could ever trust a Sassenach? The slang name for the English suited their lie-infested statements.
Solid motivation: Ensure that each scene or action is properly motivated and has a purpose, otherwise it’s superficial and will slow the story down.
Pace: Longer sentences slow down the story and bring softness to your scene. Short sentences pick up the pace and create tension.
It and clarity: By using a specific word or explanation instead of it, we add clarity to the reader and give our story greater impact.
Using character name vs. she or she: In story moments when the character is thinking of another person, I normally use the characters names verses him or her. How much is too much? Balance. What feels right for you.
Power words: You salt your story with impressionistic words for a reason, to create a mood and evoke emotion from the reader. If the moment calls for a storm and tempers are high, select words that unsettle the reader.
Active words verses was: There are times in every story to use the word was, but often we can insert active words instead.
Before: She was waiting for her aunt.
After: She sat and waited for her aunt.
Show don’t tell:
Before: He was angry.
After: He shoved away from the table and stood. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the hall in search of one. A sword’s wrath. He’d find them, a day they would regret!
Dialogue Tags: When it’s clear in the sentence who is speaking, you can omit the dialogue tag. Before:
“I do not know,” she said, and a sad smile touched her mouth. “Do not think too deeply; you will sound like me.”
“I do not know.” A sad smile touched her mouth. “Do not think too deeply; you will sound like me.”
I hope you find my editing tips for editing with impact helpful in your revisions. I look forward to questions or comments. Thank you for stopping by, and I wish you the best!
Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
The Oath trilogy (Book #1: An Oath Taken — December 2014!/Book #2 An Oath Broken — June 2015/Book #3: An Oath Sworn — TBA)
MacGruder Brother series (Box set — March 2015!)
A retired Navy Chief, AGC(AW), Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Her award-winning MacGruder Brother books are available in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.
After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world. With the release of her 6th book in the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, she’s now working on the 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath trilogy, “An Oath Taken,” which will be released December 8th, 2014. In addition, she’s excited about the upcoming release of the MacGruder Brother series box set early in 2015.
Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.
©Diana Cosby 2014