I received official notification from WordPress that my blog is now a year old:
Thank you to friends, followers, and everyone in this wonderful writing community for your friendship and support. I love working with writers, and my goal for my blog posts is to provide useful content that will help you whether you write for publication or “just because.” In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m listing links to some of my most popular articles and guest posts from the last 12 months, and I hope I’ve grouped these in a way that makes searching topics a bit easier for you. Feel free to add a comment on any of them—your comments are always welcome.
Whether you plan to self-publish or try for a traditional publishing contract, your post-writing/prepublication steps begin the same way. In Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers: Macro Issues, we looked at some “big picture” strategies you can use for your first round of revisions and self-edits. In this continuation, we’ll consider the smaller details, the “small-tooth comb” review, that every writer should consider before declaring a manuscript ready for the copyeditor.
As you may recall, addressing a manuscript’s macro issues includes reviewing for global details, like how the characters develop over the course of the story and whether or not the story arc works; micro issues include sentence structure and word choices.
Whether you plan to self-publish or try for a traditional publishing contract, your post-writing/prepublication steps should be the same:
Pat yourself on the back for completing your manuscript, and then put it away for a few weeks.
Once you’re ready to begin self editing, review your outline (if you have one) to refresh your memory about your original plans; this step will help you remember, for example, that the character who was originally named “Mary” was later changed to “Marie,” so you can do a search to be sure they were all changed. It will also help you if (when!) you begin moving chapters around.
Run a spell-checker and grammar checker. Be careful, though—don’t automatically assume the computer software will catch all your mistakes. Here’s a fun example of correctly spelled words that prove the point:
Now it’s time to begin going through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. For most writers, moving from macro to micro works best, but if you’re easily distracted by minutia, you might want to reverse the process.
I’ll cover micro issues in another post. Macro issues include big-picture concepts, like how the characters develop over the course of the story and whether or not the story arc works; micro issues include sentence structure and word choices.
When checking a manuscript for macro issues, here are some points to consider:
Last month I wrote about why I believe writing in the present tense is problematic for many writers. Today’s guest blog is from talented author C. B. Wentworth, who confidently uses the present tense in her writing. I asked her to share her thoughts on the subject, and she graciously agreed to do so. Be sure to visit her blog at http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com/ for some wonderful posts on a variety of subjects.
As an editor, I’ve made no bones about my preference for past tense in both fiction and memoir writing. And I know I’m not alone. Yet there seems to be a movement toward writing in present tense, and there have been some passionate blogs written about the past versus present debate. In a blog titled “Does (or Did) Tense Matter?” D. Thomas Minton wrote:
“Stories in the present tense feel more urgent and immediate to me—I feel like I’m there with the characters, instead of listening to the story after-the-fact, while sitting in the cozy comfort of a coffee shop. In contrast, the temporal distance that comes with past tense removes this immediacy, but past tense is more conducive to reflection, as if the narrator has had a chance to digest what has happened to him or her prior to telling me.”
So maybe I prefer the reflective aspect of writing? Or perhaps I’m just an old dog who doesn’t want to learn new tricks—the author of The Singularity Sucks blog suggests it’s an age thing: