Here are some notes most generously copied for me by the talented Laura N. Stephenson. I met her at ConDor in San Diego and we swapped panel notes. Conventions are a great place to make friends, learn from pros and strut your stuff. For more on convention prep, check out this post.
- Writer’s ticks – Words/phrases you overuse.
- Read it aloud – ear will pick out mistakes the eye glosses over.
- Read your sentences backwards to prevent brain glossing over mistakes (Sentence 3, sentence 2, sentence 1)
- Don’t edit before the manuscript is done.
- If a section is terrible, rewrite rather than edit.
- Put cut material in separate document to look at after the manuscript is over and judge if its worth putting in somewhere else.
- Read one character’s dialogue at a time to be sure they’re consistent with themselves and different from each other.
- Make sure sentences don’t go longer than two lines.
- Gail Carriger writes 2k words/day
- Write a mark in the manuscript for where you need research, whether into your own work or to fact check.
- Don’t use too much or too little stage direction.
- Act stage directions out.
- Scrivener is a useful tool (K. M. Alexander swears by it)
- Too short? Ad another POV character.
- Before making a major edit, back up current version.
My own two cents, on top of these tips, is to make sure you do all your spell-checking and re-reading BEFORE you hand your work off to a beta reader or editor. Let them help you with the things you miss; not the problems you ignore.
“The great artist is the simplifier.”
— Henri-Frédéric Amiel
“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
— George S. Patton Jr.