Where does revising stop and editing start?


It might seem like there is a fine line between revising and editing so let's first look at what revising is, then compare it with editing. In her very fine book The Writer's Portable Mentor, Priscilla Long says: 'Revision is about deepening, extending, elaborating, and only then burnishing and honing. Polishing a too-thin piece is to do the right thing at the wrong time. And most unrealized works are, basically, too thin'.[1] Note, she mentions 'polishing' but hasn't yet mentioned editing; in … [Read more...]

Taking a left turn


  Becoming a Left-Handed Mouse Operator If your dominant hand is your right hand, becoming a left-handed mouse operator is a total no-brainer as a way to increase your writing and, particularly, editing productivity, but almost nobody does it! The most common keyboard configuration is to have all of the arrow keys, the edit keys (e.g. Insert, Delete, Home and End) and the numeric keypad on the right-hand side, as shown below. However, this means that if you use your mouse in … [Read more...]

Are we there yet?


Writing Endings The Essentials for Endings By definition, your story end is the section after the climax—it's the aftermath of all the action. It is the place where any loose plot ends are tied up, the conflict is finally resolved (usually in the protagonist's favour) and characters get to say what they've wanted to say, or the reader has wanted them to say, all story long. Your ending must answer the major question posed by your story and bring a sense of  resolution or closure. With some … [Read more...]

Running in parallel


  A secondary strand to your story is called a subplot and subplots can connect to your main plot either in time or place, or thematically. They may involve the same characters or different characters, or an interweaving of your protagonists and antagonists with different people in a different times and places.  By definition subplots should not take up as much space as the main plot, by they need much care and attention or else they will derail your story and cause more problems than … [Read more...]

Writing to Assist the Reader — Part 2


  Click here for 'Writing to assist the reader — Part 1'. Unlike fiction books, people often read non-fiction books for a purpose other than pleasure: for example, to learn a new aspect of a hobby, to make money, to understand a technique, or to gain insights into their own behaviour and, with those insights, behave in a more positive manner. In other words, they are likely to want to access information quickly and easily. Significantly, they may look for information in a different … [Read more...]

Writing to Assist the Reader — Part 1


  There are many techniques for making a book one that people will want to read, from its title and cover design, to the flow of individual words in sentences, and the provision of information in appendixes. These techniques can be divided into two main ways in which you can help your reader access information in your book quickly and come away more satisfied: composition techniques (sequencing of information and word flow) visual techniques (formatting, design and … [Read more...]

Rebel with a cause


  I've been reading the 'Poldark' series of books these last few weeks. They're by master-author Winston Graham (1908-2003). There's 12 books in the series, plus a ITV series of the first two books made into eight one-hour shows. The novels are set in Cornwall, south-west UK, between 1783 and 1820, and feature the Poldark family through the eyes of Ross Poldark (stunningly portrayed by Aiden Turner in the TV series). Ross is one of the gentry, but he is a rebel with a feisty cause, … [Read more...]

What are you trying to tell me?


  Emails! We get too many. Most are badly written (oh what a joy to get a good one!), many are too long and many aren't clear what they want from you.  Here's a good list of maxims to abide by when writing emails. Be as brief as possible. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. If you ask a question of someone, use a question mark. Use bullet points and numbered points to set out issues and requests. Use bold for essential information, such as times, dates and places, … [Read more...]

Cutting down or building up?


  There are two main techniques for writing a summary: the 'cut-down' method the 'build-up' method. The cut-down method entails copying your whole text and repeatedly deleting less important information until you have the desired length. There is no need to be original with new wording and it is perfectly OK to repeat whole sentences, or to aggregate parts of sentences into a composite sentence. If you are familiar with your topic, and you have a good document to start with, … [Read more...]

Wrapping up

Blue quilt

  I always enjoy writing summaries because they are so easy. Well, they are if you have written a good document in the first place. Then you can just pick out the key pieces of information and keep condensing until you get to about the right amount of text. Sometimes it is as easy as taking the introductions and conclusions of each section and assimilating those into a coherent whole. Of course, you should write your summary at the very end, after all your other text has been … [Read more...]