Recently I’ve begun to seriously edit my work. Which you can guess is a slow process compounded by the sheer volume I’ve written.
During this time I’ve read as much as I can about writing and editing and had a few thoughts on the subject.
Editing and grammar are in some ways highly subjective. For example The Publishing industry has set criteria that excludes elements they do not like, both in writing style and in gramma. (IMO)The end result are large numbers of homogeneous boring books in an attempt to appeal to the masses.
I think thats one of the reasons that internet self publishing has taken off, its allowed niche markets for writing styles and story lines that mainstream publishing has ignored in its attempt at blandness. Its also brought us things we wished we could unread LOL.
this is not to say that cleaning up a story and trying to make it readable for more people is a bad thing, it is not.
Going back to edit something I first wrote five years ago, I’ve discovered that discounting the style I had adopted, there were clunky sentences that screamed to be fixed. The repeated use of and and but when starting sentences that I did not notice when I first wrote it and my seeming obsession with comma’s. I have no idea how that happened but its there and its my fault. LOL not to mention fragments and run on sentences. As Grud would say, Grammar EVIL, KILL.
so here are a few tips and some opinions for those of you that want to start writing….
Take it from me, do not sit down and write a thirty plus page chapter in two days and think its finished. try for ten pages a day then wait a day or two or longer. let it get stale in your mind then pick it up and read it. If your like me, when its still fresh in your mind you do not really see whats on the page, but the story in your mind. So all those clunky sentences and escaped comma’s sound good because your not really reading it as a first time reader. Time and distance how ever allows you to go back and see the mistakes more easily.
Let friends or even strangers read it. You need the input.
research things you do not know… if your writing about zombies and want to use bombs in the story, research how they work and how they generate damage. What might the blast radius of a 26 pound propane tank be and what kind of damage might it do, etc..
use reality…..yes some people love to think that a 16 ton vehicle can’t kill a zombie by rolling over it, or that a character can actually fall three hundred feet and live. but it just ain’t so. Unless of course there is a logical and realistic way to achieve that end.
There are of course exceptions for example In a Fantasy world you as the writer build up the rules on how that world operates so some normally impossible things can happen.
I cut a scene that would have been a really cool rescue, that involved lots of death defying moments. It sounded great, It would have looked good in a movie but the reality was, there was a simpler way for the character to do the same thing that made more sense and was more realistic.
Fight scenes and battles fall under both research and realism. its fluid, fast, furious and scary not static sit in one place trading shots or banging on each others shields while waxing philosophical about life
if your going to write a horror story, or a zombie story ask yourself what skills does the Character bring to the table to survive. a burger flipper at McNasty’s or the mousy secretary who answers phones is not going to stand much of a chance with out a lot of luck or some one taking care of him.
Do not ever fall for the old, let the reader create the image BS… Create a vivid scene with out ten pages of description, scatter the characters description through out the book or chapter. Its your world, your characters and your story tell it.
granted describing each and every item in a room is a waste of time and many readers will just skim past it, but there are ways to give the full image with few sentences.
Cliches.. avoid them except when you can’t.
For horror stories for gods sake enough with the almost obligatory “Everybody dies” ending. its unrealistic 99% of the time and a cop out for bad story telling.
I feel cheated and like I’ve wasted my time reading books or watching movies when the obligatory ending rolls around and it makes me less likely to read or watching anything else by the same person. Why bother when I know how its going to end.
Last thing and in some ways the most important.. Write the story you want to read, some people will love it, some will only like it and others will hate it. That my friends is life.