Ciao, SEers. Today is part eleven of the series, and we’re continuing with self-editing. We’ve reached the mid-level revision. By now, you should have corrected the biggest issues in your manuscript. It’s time to read it again and look for problems with execution.
Is your dialogue sharp? Are the words you chose appropriate for the speakers? Did you use realistic language? Did you bury dialogue in the middle of a paragraph of exposition, or does it always start or end a paragraph so it doesn’t get lost? Did you use enough attributions (but not too many)?
Have you analyzed your paragraph structure? Is there only one actor per paragraph? Did you head-hop? Is any paragraph suffering from author intrusion?
Have you analyzed your sentence structure? Is your message always clear? Did you vary the sentence style to create a pleasing rhythm? Did you find any awkward structures that need fixing? Is your word choice strong, or did you use weak words and phrases? Did you use active voice wherever possible? Is your tense correct and consistent? Are chronological actions linked by “then” and concurrent actions linked by “and” (in lists)? Can you vary some of the structures to eliminate too many occurrences of those sentence types and words? Did you identify and correct misplaced modifiers? Do your lists of phrases comply with the rules of parallel structure? Have you avoided clichés? Can you make your similes metaphors? Are your comparisons mixed or awkward? Are they appropriate for the character thinking or speaking them?
Have you included the right level of description? Did you get rid of all instances of white-room syndrome? Did you tone down purple prose? Do your descriptions use all the senses, or did you rely too heavily on sight? Are your descriptions in your POV character’s voice? Did you kill any darlings that don’t fit?
Are all your sentences written in the proper tone to establish both character and mood? Did you use contractions for your casual speakers and formal English for stuffier characters? Does your internalization sound like your dialogue, or did your “authorly” voice intrude?
To summarize, work on:
- Paragraph Structure
- Sentence Structure
These were all the mid-level issues to address in your story. Next time, we’ll delve into self-editing on the micro-level. Until then, I’d love to know more about your mid-level editing process. Please leave a comment below. Grazie!
Links to the Whole Series:
January 7: Idea Generation
February 2: Story Bible
February 28: Character
March 25: Dialogue
April 20: Plot
May 16: Constructing Chapters
June 10: Pacing/Tension/Suspense
July 6: Writing Suspense
August 1: Writing Action
August 26: Macro-Level Self-Editing
September 21: Mid-Level Self-Editing
October 17: Micro-Level Self-Editing
December 7: Planning a Series
Note: Links will only work on and after the date the post goes live.