REVISING, EDITING & POLISHING A GENRE NOVEL
This is an excerpt from my booklet how I go about “Writing a Genre Novel” the full version of which is available for free on my website.
I would like to start by putting the excerpt into context by giving a summary of the overview of my approach. I think of genre writing as having four components: concepts (theme, idea, plot, story etc), process (six stages: discovery, planning and research, organizing, revision, editing & polishing), language (grammar, prose-writing, figures of speech) and story-telling (the 6 elements of fiction, use of details, characters & symbolism). In addition I have a short “Random Thoughts” category for ideas that don’t easily fit into the four components just mentioned.
4th stage – revision of craft – here’s where I make sure there’s enough detail for verisimilitude (having researched the accuracy of that detail during the previous stage) – not too much in one area and not too little in another in order to keep the story balanced, where I check that the descriptions of people and places are neither over nor under done, where I flesh out the characters and sensory reality, cut out “purple prose”, plant the short and long term hooks you keep readers turning the pages and generally apply all of the craft techniques that I can and which I talk about later.
5th stage – editing – in a way editing is a funny animal because there are two kinds of editing: developmental editing and copy-editing.
Developmental editing really happens all the way through the book. In conventional publishing where you have a publisher or a major literary agency standing behind you they often provide input all the way through the writing of the book. They suggest or discuss with you, as the writer, writer possible changes in approach, storyline, character development etc. As an indie author you have to do this for yourself. You are your own developmental editor.
Copy editing is much more straightforward. You are looking for typos, inaccurate description of people or places that exist in the real world (yep – a copy editor has to research all that stuff all over again), spelling mistakes, unintended errors in grammar, the flow of the narrative, contradictions within the work itself etc.
6th stage – polishing – we are nearly there now and what I do here is to go through the whole manuscript again, word for word eg, are there any unnecessary adverbs and adjectives? can anything be changed that would improve the story? could something be stated in a different way that would be less likely to be misinterpreted? etc.
I hope this gives some insight as to how one writer goes about his business. A free copy of the complete booklet on the subject of how I go about writing a genre novel can be found at my website: http://jackwelles.com and just click on the “For Writers” tab.
~ Jack Welles
~ Jack Welles