Do your characters react to each other as they should?
Will it be obvious to the reader what the characters are doing – and why they are doing it?
Do your characters react believably to circumstances?
Does your story timeline run true?
Following these tips should ensure that your writing becomes the best it can possibly be. I would totally recommend you head over to Steve Dempster’s article Fiction Editing: Story Sense and Logic as the whole piece is well worth a read filled with lots of general advice about editing.
Telling - Nick was angry - This is easy. I, the author, am telling you, the reader, that Nick is angry.
Showing - Nick’s hand curled into a tight fist. He stared hard at the man standing in front of him, and his eyes narrowed to thin slits. A muscle in his jaw ticked. “You dare to question my honor? - The preceding passage contains nothing that an observer couldn’t have seen or inferred from outside the characters. That’s showing in its most elemental form.
Mixing and Matching – Nick…stared hard at the man standing in front of him, and his eyes narrowed to thin slits. A muscle in his jaw ticked. His brother had not changed, not one damn bit in the past two years that he’d been abroad – Terescia Harveythinks it adds depth to mix and match the showing and telling. Too much telling distances the reader. Too much showing can have the same effect.
Write the book - Sit down and write. When writing your first draft you want to get as much of your manuscript down from beginning to end. Run with your thoughts, your scenes, and your characters.
The First Revision - Before you start editing put your manuscript aside and leave it alone for a while. When you read it again you will be pick up any errors easier and it will be plot will either come through loud and clear or you’ll find areas that need work. There are some things you need to check for when during the second draft of your manuscript.:
First make sure that your readers meet and get to know your main characters early.
Make sure your story is moving at a relatively quick pace.
Does the story make sense?
Are all of your scenes in order?
Does the story start when the character’s about to end up in big trouble?
Is there something at stake for the characters to keep your reader involved?
Was it all worth it in the end?
Does the beginning grab your attention and pull you in?
Do it again – Revision #2 - Now it’s time to trim the fat. Make every word count. Cut adjectives, adverbs, and qualifiers. Eliminate any words that aren’t needed.
The Final Draft - Print your manuscript out and sit down in the corner of your couch on a day when you can read it from beginning to end undisturbed. Make notes on the page. This isn’t the time for a huge revision but the time to add little parts that might make the work come to life.
A writer or an editor be, never the twain should work in your head at the same time. The writer is positive, the editor is critical, the two cannot work together.
Your idea and story are just right – now change them. Love your story at the concept stage; love it while you’re writing the first draft. Then rewrite with no attachment or emotional commitment.
Rewrite the entire manuscript. After reading, making notes and suffering through feedback and critique, avoid the temptation of merely “editing” the text on your computer.
Edit backwards. Read and edit the text of a manuscript paragraph by paragraph, or bit by bit from the end of the story to the beginning. This avoids getting caught up in the story and helps you focus on the text.
Understand the critique and listen to only constructive comments.
Don’t be afraid to start further back. If your story needs a major rewrite, go back to the outline and work forward from there.
Nothing is sacred. It is all clay, everything is changeable to better suit the story. Don’t be afraid to alter anything unless it is an historical fact (event, date, person) or it is the central element of the story.
Don’t do don’ts. Watch for anything that is dishonest or borrowed, either from cliché or from popular culture unless you want to pin the dialogue to a certain era. Don’t avoid contact or conflict; make the argument and friction real, no euphemisms. Don’t lie, do your research.
Search for weak words.Every passive word or adverb you use makes the whole thing weak.
Watch for inconsistencies of tense and Point of View.
Revision is a key part of writing your story where you can discover or rediscover the depth and quality of your characters.
Once you decide on a purpose for your scene, choose a POV character. Whose thoughts and actions are the focal point of the scene?
A scene can be comprised of dialogue, narrative, or a combination of the two. When you are having difficulty deciding which approach is best, consider writing the scene in question twice – once with a dialogue focus and the other scene description heavy. This will help you decide on what is the better scene.
The foundation of a perfect scene has a lot in common with plot writing because just as the plot, the structure of a scene needs a beginning, middle, and end. Remember that the ending is critical because the words on the page is what makes readers continue reading the following scenes.
Sometimes it’s difficult to get out of our own way when it comes to writing. If you are experiencing writer’s block when you are working on a scene, step away from your novel and practice writing scenes that aren’t related to your book. For example, sit in a public place, describe the setting and choose a couple that is interacting. Make up a conflict between the two.
Use colorful language when writing dialogue in a scene. For example, instead of the old cliché “your biting off your nose to spite your face, write ”your cutting your own throat.”
When you finish writing the scene, determine whether its vital to the story or if you can scrap it. Just because you wrote a scene doesn’t mean you have to keep it, especially when the scene doesn’t work.
Now how about you see how the pros do it. Take your favourite book, chose a scene and ask yourself the following questions:
Why does this scene work?
Could the writer have chosen a different direction?
What is the balance between dialogue and description?
What’s the scene’s pattern, sequence, and structure?
What happened at the end of the scene? Did the ending make me want to continue reading?
“The biggest difference between beginning writers and experienced ones is that the latter are better at seeing the faults in their work before they submit it to editors.Unfortunately, faults are very good at hiding from beginner writers. However, if you want to be published you have to fix them. If you can’t work out where to start, put your story away for a few weeks, preferably at least a month. You need to be able to read it with a fresh mind, as though it’s new to you—or at least as new as is possible to its writer.”