Editing Tips Tuesday

pen imageI’m getting ready to open up my doors as a developmental editor. There’s still more to do before I officially hang out my shingle and I’ll keep you posted when the time comes. But I decided to add editor to my resume because 1) I like helping other people make their writing better 2) it’s fun (I know I’m weird) and 3) I realized after years (around 8) of helping other writers mold their work, I’m good at it. In the vain of being an editor, I thought I’d offer up some kind of tip every Tuesday (Editing Tips Tuesday) on how to fix or make better what you’re working on. I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts on Editing Tips Tuesday. Don’t be shy. We’re all friends here. (And if someone isn’t our friend, I’ll kick them out. ;-] )

Now might be a good time to share the experience that qualifies me to be an editor. I wrote six books and published three. I attended countless workshops and seminars on the craft of writing over the past twelve years. (Not to mention all the books I read on the subject.) Educating myself has been a priority to creating good fiction. Many authors, published and unpublished, have asked me to review their work and taken my advice. (That’s when it started to occur to me I might have a secondary career here.)

Know your genre. Read widely in it. It’s important to know what readers of that genre expect. If you’re writing a thriller, your book can’t be 900 pages long. Unless you’re David Morrell. No first time or unknown author can publish a 900 page book and keep the reader or hook an editor or agent. If it is 900 pages long? There’s stuff you need to cut. Stuff you have probably fallen in love with and think the reader desperately needs to know. I promise you they don’t. Reevaluate. Cut out the backstory. Backstory is all the things that happen before your story begins. Ask yourself: where does this story really start? Answer: At the action.

Another rule of thumb: Think of your book like a movie. A two-hour screenplay is 120 pages long. The inciting incident needs to happen in the first 20 to 30 minutes to hook the audience. That’s 20-30 pages in. Where is your inciting incident? If it’s happening past page 30 move it up. And if it happens off-screen? Big no-no.

I’d love to hear from you. Are you having trouble cutting pages from your book? Unsure where your story should begin? Drop a line. I can help.



6 thoughts on “Editing Tips Tuesday

  1. Hi Stacey,

    Good luck on your new endeavor! I’m happy to know you’re hanging up your shingle. I will be looking for a developmental editor for my WIP in Sept. (I have 3 in progress) Will you be working with specific genres?

    1. Hi Kimberly! Thank you so much. I will be working with fiction and all genres. Middle grade and up. Good luck with the WIP. I bet it’s going to great!

  2. I like the “think of your book like a movie” tip. When I watch a movie, I’m always looking at the red timeline that comes up when I push the “info” button on the remote, just to make sure it’s on track, as per screenplay guidelines. I like applying that model to page numbers in books. Good luck! Keep us posted!

  3. Hitting the red info button. What a great idea! I’m going to do that too. Novelists can learn a lot from movies. And having the visual doesn’t hurt either. I started rewatching The West Wing. What I really like is the characters are always leaving a meeting and going somewhere else. Keeps the pace of the story up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s