Saturday, May 14, 2016

The One Book Every Writer Needs

 I came across “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print” by Renni Browne and Dave King in the local library. I loved the book so much that I went on Amazon and got a used copy very cheap. I’m not only going to tell you why I like it but also how to effectively use this book. 

First off, the chapters:
Show and Tell
Characterization and Exposition
Point of View
Dialogue Mechanics
See How It Sounds
Interior Monologue
Easy Beats
Breaking Up Is Easy to Do
Once Is Usually Enough

Even the most seasoned writer needs a remedial course on all these things once in a while. Beginning writers are probably clueless on many items, such as voice. This book concentrates on craft. Craft is hard to explain, it’s one of those “I know it when I read it.” But finely crafted writing elevates a book to a whole other level.

In addition to clear writing, great examples and even cartoons, each chapter follows with a “Checklist” that asks questions to make sure you have a clear understanding of what was covered. Then there are exercises and answers to the exercises in the back of the book.

While there is a tendency to sit down and consume a writing book as if it were a novel, I feel with so much info, nothing really sinks in. The most effective way to use this book is to read a chapter, go to your manuscript and check your first chapter to see if you covered all the points. Read Chapter Two, apply what you learn to your second chapter while also correcting what you learned in the first chapter. The more you put the ideas into your own manuscript, the more automatic it becomes.

Whenever I lecture to writing classes, I push this book. At this point, I should be receiving royalty checks for sales.    


Linda Thorne said...

Yes, and when you mentioned it to me a few years ago, I bought it and loved it. It gets to the heart of what a writer needs to know and do. The section on "sophistication" mentions some problem writing that none of the other "help" books I've read have ever gone into. It's about misuse of "ing" wording. I think one book had a sentence or two on the subject, but I've never seen it addressed like in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I copied that section for a friend who was rewriting her book and had asked if I'd noticed anything when I read it. Her use of "ing" words had stood out, so I copied that section and sent it to her. The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery, authors Ray and Remick, is also a good self-help book, but for totally different reasons.

Sunny Frazier said...

Thank you for your detailed comment and mention of yet another writing book we should all check out!

Marla Cooper said...

Thanks for the great recommendation—and timely, too, since I'm just about to dig into edits on my second book!

Ritter Ames said...

I totally agree. Hands-down, this is the best book on the writing craft out there. It not only helps authors self-edit, but it actually helps improve writing, too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely a good one. I need to reread it.

Augie said...

This book has been a tremendous aid in self-editing. Sunny, thank you again for this suggestion

Maggie said...

Thanks for not one but two recommendations. Excuse me while i check on my ING words!

Liane Spicer said...

Sounds like a great book, Sunny. I'm putting it on my list. Many writers I admire have mentioned it and it's time I got a copy.

G. B. Miller said...

I actually got this book. I think I need to clear off the dust bunnies and look at it again.

Anonymous said...

I just checked and it's not in any of my local libraries. Guess that means I'll have to buy a copy! Thanks for the recommendation.

Vickie Fee said...

Thanks, Sunny -- adding this one to the reference library!

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KeVin K. said...

Since I earn my rent by editing as much as writing, I have always proceeded from the assumption that a writer is too close to the ms to edit it properly. Either that, or a lot of writers are thoughtfully providing me with work. But you've sold me on picking up a copy Self Editing for Fiction Writers.