A year ago, I decided to balance the scales and devote 2014 to reading 18 books by female science fiction and fantasy authors. In 2012 and 2013, the ratio of male to female authors on my reading lists was about 2:1. You can check out my previous series of blog posts for the details:
In my last post, I talked about how I started with a broad list of developmental editors, how I narrowed down the list, and how I ended up with a difficult decision among 5 really fantastic editors. In this post, I list those 5 editors and talk about why you might want to hire them for your own novel. But first… what is developmental editing?
Editing a Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel
There are lots of terms out there for editing: developmental, structural, substantive, story, content, copy, line, and maybe some others I don’t remember. But in general, most editors agree there are three levels of editing:
Developmental, Structural, Substantive, Story, or Content Editing
Sometimes editors will break this task up into two. They’ll send an editorial letter or give an overview of opportunities for improvement. And then they’ll do a close read, leaving comments line by line. Regardless of whether they break this up, the list below mentions some things this type of editor helps you with. Continue reading
A while ago, I talked about how I scoured the Internet for tips on self-editing a novel and concluded that three passes made sense. Today I’m back to share a checklist for revisions. (See the first pass here.)
Tomorrow, I’ll send the first five chapters of The Agelessoff to my beta readers, which means I’ve already done most of the second and third passes on those chapters. I’ll talk more about the third pass in March.
The Purpose of Dividing Self-Editing Into Passes
As a copyeditor in my day job, I’ll be the first to admit that no one can truly self-edit. You’ll need outside eyes to spot all the errors your brain skipped. Dividing your editing into three passes can help you focus and avoid missing obvious things. (Though you’ll still need actual editors, of course.)
Additionally, it doesn’t make sense to polish up your prose on the sentence- and word-level when you haven’t finished slicing and dicing the scenes and chapters yet. During my first pass, I deleted at least three chapters, rewrote several chapters from scratch, and even added a few new ones. Polishing the prose on any of those beforehand would’ve been a huge waste of time.
So the first pass was for major story arcs, story structure, escalating tension, character development, etc.
That’s my revision board to the right. I do big revisions on the computer, and most of my notes are also on the computer. But sometimes, I have to think in ink.
Revising a Novel: Second Pass
Every writer is different, so what I’ve listed here may be part of your first pass or thirteenth pass. But if you’re trying to find a place to start, this may help. For me, there was some slight overlap between Pass 1 and Pass 2.
Establish where and when at the beginning of the scene
Add refreshers throughout so the setting doesn’t fade
Portray setting from the character’s POV
Help your reader experience the scene
Try to use at least three senses
Read dialogue out loud
Make it unique to the character with diction, cadence, etc.
Internal voice: Match internal monologue to their dialogue style
Realism: Is this really what this char would do?
Realism: Does this seem out of char?
Development: Their arc should continue compared to past/future scenes
Voice: Their voice should be unique
Style: The narrative style should change depending on POV char
Establish viewpoint character in first line of scene
If third person, avoid sliding between limited and omniscient
Watch for POV violations (viewpoint character knowing another character’s motivation)
Show emotions through actions
Make motivations clearer through emotions
Foreshadowing: Add where necessary to support later events
Repetition: Avoid saying the same thing multiple ways or times on the word, sentence, and paragraph levels
They have to match, noun and verb
Example: A ball doesn’t bloom, so a “ball of fear blooming in his chest” doesn’t work
Consistency of story terminology
Example: Changeling vs. transmelder
Example: Unstained vs. Purebreed
Overload: Is all this info necessary right now?
Consider trimming down or cutting internal monologue
Show, don’t tell (but don’t go overboard)
Tell when it makes more sense than showing
Eliminate exposition in the middle of the action — there’s no time!
Tone: At the end of the scene, ask yourself if it invoked the right emotions in the reader
The examples above are from early drafts of The Ageless. The checklist itself is inspired by suggestions I found on the sites below, my own hurdles (problems that kept cropping up), and feedback from my wonderful critique partners on what I should improve. For example, I often added way too much internal monologue during fight scenes, which would slow down the action.
Along the way, I’ve learned that writing the novel is quite possibly the easiest part. Revisions take time. I toiled over the first pass for an entire year, which you can always see on my writing calendar. I’m hoping future books will go a lot quicker!