During Banned Books Week we consider who dictates what we can and cannot read. How do we decide age-appropriate reading for kids?
Space Coast Writer’s Guild Hosts Editing Workshop
My best advice is don’t bother editing until you complete the first draft.
If that’s all anyone learned from the workshop, then follow it and you will thank me. I know writers who have rewritten their first chapter for years and never finished the book. You cannot judge the value of that first chapter until you can look back from the perspective of the last chapter. You might end up throwing away that first chapter!
There, there. This may come as a terrible shock, but you will discard much of that first draft, because the first draft helps you find the story, discover the characters, and shape the action. That first draft is not the final product. Think of it as fertilizer out of which your beautiful story will grow. Nobody picks up a cello for the first time and plays Vivaldi. After you write your first million words, you will learn how to shorten the process of reaching that finished product. Statistically speaking, you will write five novels before you write one worth publishing.
We discussed how the story’s structure is the foundation for the story. Is it sturdy? Is it complete? Does it have the elements of the bestsellers in your genre?
For further reading on structure, become familiar with what the experts of storytelling have to say.
I recommend buying a hard copy of these books because they will become your reference books.
- Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and Hero with a Thousand Faces.
- Robert McKee’s Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
- Evan Marshall’s The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing
- Michael Hauge’s Writing Screenplays that Sell (2011 edition)
- James Scott Bell’s Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story and Write Your Novel from the Middle.
Other topics covered in the workshop were:
- choosing a point of view—whose story is it?
- composing scenes by cause and effect
- ordering scenes for maximum impact
- establishing the story question and when to answer it
- using the value of setting
- choosing the types and levels of conflict
- discerning scene from sequel
- timing the use of backstory, flashbacks, and transitions
- developing sensory details and fact-checking
- crafting figures of speech and imagery
- setting the pace
- proofreading and line editing with critique partners and professionals.
Thank you, Space Coast Writer’s Guild, for hosting my workshop. All the best to you!
If your writer’s group seeks workshop presenters on dialogue, editing, or writing for magazines, see my Events page.
The Space Coast Writer’s Guild sponsored me to teach an editing workshop and it was a huge success! Editing Down to the Bones!
East of Evil is a semi-finalist in two unpublished categories of the Royal Palm Literary Awards!
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