Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Revision is a Process" by Catherine E. McLean

Revision is a Process:
How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing
by Catherine E. McLean

Revision is a Process: How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing by Catherine E. McLean

Revision is a Process by Catherine E. McLean is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader's money and time.
Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. Revision is a Process is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to's, and why-to's for taking the frustration out of self-editing.

From Section 9 - Said is not Dead
One of the most controversial aspects of writing dialogue is the use of said as a speech tag. Some think using said is pedestrian and boring, others pepper every line of dialogue with said for fear the reader won't know who is speaking. The fact is that said is nearly invisible to a reader. However, overuse is a common problem, so delete as many as possible without jeopardizing clarity or use beats. (Revisit the Oubliette example on the previous page. Said was not used. Beats were.)
In your review to minimize using said, watch for LY or ING ending speech tags like: "Drop dead," she said dramatically. That tells (and does so poorly). Instead show with a beat: "Drop dead." The anger in her voice was unmistakable. You should avoid such tags as "Of course," he said knowingly (which has an ING and an LY). You may catch the LY and ING tags in the passivity check, which is discussed in Section 11. However, don't mistake the ING words when they're necessary, such as "Oh, that dialogue speech tag has a participle added to it," Marsha said, squinting at the underlined word on the page.
Yes, that's right, squinting is part of a participle phrase, which can be useful in speech tags.

Praise for the Book
“... this book was so well organized and clearly written that I was motivated to pull out an old abandoned story I had attempted earlier. That story had proved difficult to revise and Ms.McLean's book now provides the guideposts I need to get the revisions completed. I definitely recommend this work to any writer (beginner or experienced) who needs a simple, direct road map to revising their written project.” ~ Willow
“A good book for those who are learning to write. The book is worth reading because it has a few nuggets worth reading for.” ~ ALS
Revision is a Process by Catherine E. McLean is a nicely detailed guideline of the steps that need to be taken to polish a manuscript. […] This is a great reference work and I highly recommend it.” ~ Elf2060
“Her book is not only a convenient source of knowledge, it is also a welcome addition to any writer's library. […] Years of trial and error have produced this excellent work that will save you many hours of editing and frustrations encountered in all revisions.” ~ Cal McFarland
“Excellent book. Catherine explains things clearly and leads you through the editing process with ease. Her book Is very educational and a excellent tool.” ~ Lou Gross

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
In order to enjoy a book, the reader needs to become immersed in the story and not be dragged into reality by glaring errors in logic, punctuation, or grammar. This handy guide points out the most common errors writers make, many of which annoy me as a reader but which I was previously unable to pinpoint. The author breaks down the editing process into manageable pieces, thus making the task less daunting. She also provides concise advice and examples to illustrate the process. There is even a summary and checklist of the twelve steps at the end of the book.
This is an invaluable guide for the self-published author or any author who wants to polish their work before showing it to anyone else. I’m glad the author states that, even after undertaking the self-editing process, you will still need to give your manuscript to “the best fiction editor you can afford.”
I'm disappointed this book is not available in an ebook edition.

Guest Post by the Author
What are the most important elements of good writing?
My three essential elements to good writing are:
1. Clarity trumps all rules.
2. Craft can be learned.
3. Ruthlessly self-edit to generate a worthwhile manuscript.
W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” I disagree. I think clarity trumps all rules. After all, if the message isn't clear, who will understand it?
One of my favorite books that drives home clarity is William Zinsser's On Writing Well, in which he advocates for simplicity and says that “Every writer is as obligated as every other writer to make themselves understood.”
If clarity in fiction and storytelling is to be achieved, it begins with sentences that are clear and understandable. Those sentences must naturally sound like words belonging to the story's narrator (through their opinionated view, diction, syntax, and vocabulary).
Two elements make sentences awkward and hard to understand. The first are clauses. Keep this in mind: clauses clog a sentence. Cut as many of them from your sentences as you can without destroying the narrative voice.
The second element of awkward-to-understand sentences is the overuse of prepositions. They often pepper sentences, making them lengthy.
Did you know that the experts consider 20 words to be an average sentence? So, when self-editing, look for long sentences and see if clauses and prepositions are hampering clarity. And do ask: can some of the sentences be broken into two sentences or reworded for clarity?
Now for learning the craft. I often use this analogy about writing - if you wanted to learn to swim, would you jump into the deep end of a pool and expect to swim without any problems? Of course not. Instead, you would go to a recreational center that offered swimming lessons. You would learn the basics, and you would learn how not to drown. If you really liked swimming and were good at it, you would take more lessons and do butterfly strokes and breast strokes, maybe even enter competitions to see how good you were.
It's the same with writing. You have to learn the basics and then test the waters, then learn more and more about storytelling and its techniques and devices which will turn your work into a winner of a marketable story.
Talent will take a writer only so far. It is craft that enhances and liberates talent. Best of all, craft can be learned.
Now let's look at ruthlessly self-editing to generate a worthwhile manuscript. It took a six-month binge of reading only texts about revising fiction to open my eyes and realize that revision should not be the frustration it is. I discovered a writer needed to change their mind-set about how to revise and concluded a writer should consider revision is a process, and treat it as such. Once I gained such insights, I created my Master Revision Cheat Sheets so that my manuscripts are edited in weeks, not months or years. In 2015, I shared my insights in a twelve-part series at my Writers Cheat Sheet blog and at the end of the series promised to put the posts into a guidebook. Revision is a Process: How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing was released in April 2017. This guidebook contains more information and examples than the original posts. Also, at the end of the text is a Master Revision Cheat Sheet check-list.
Does a writer have to go through each of the twelve steps? Of course not. You see, some things a writer knows they did right from the onset and won't have to look for them. However, other things need to be checked so an editor won't waste their valuable time pointing out the same things ad infinitum.
Having a revision process also means a book is less likely to have errors that will turn off readers, editors, and agents. Having a process means a writer doesn't read through a story a million times trying to find and fix things. (Such multi-tasking doesn't work.) However, searching for specifics and fixing them (and only them) before moving on to the next item, does work.
I welcome your comments, thoughts, and insights on clarity, learning craft, and ruthlessly self-editing.

About the Author
Catherine E. McLean
Catherine E. McLean's lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include Jewels of the Sky, Karma & Mayhem, Hearts Akilter, and Adrada to Zool (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and adventure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is Revision is a Process: How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card.