Saturday, May 17, 2008

Editing Your Manuscript

Editing your manuscript can be one of the more difficult parts of writing. After all, you've finished writing your story, article, or poem. What's left to do but send it off to a publisher?! Well, there's a lot left to do. If you send in a piece of writing that is full of typos and grammatical and/or spelling errors, it will be rejected quickly. If you've taken care of those problems, but your writing is dull or inconsistent in its pacing or characterization, it will still be rejected. So how do you take care of those problems?

One way to get started with editing your manuscript is to go to Fiction Factor. From there, click on "Writing Articles". On that page, you will find boxes with different classifications of articles to help you with various parts of your writing. For help with editing, click on "Honing Skills". You will find half a dozen articles on editing that point out what to look for in your manuscript and how to go about finding problems that need to be fixed.

One example is "Editing Made Easy" by Lee Masterson. He lists 12 things you can do to spot problems in your writing. You can print out your piece of writing. The difference from the computer screen will help you get a different perspective on what you've written. Read your piece aloud. This will also give you a different perspective and will help you find where the rhythm is good and where it's not so good.

Another good article is "Editing Fiction" by Lee Masterson and Tina Morgan. This article lists six things (plot, pacing, setting, characterization, dialogue, and point of view) to look at carefully and lists questions to ask yourself to see if you've gotten off track. The questions and comments give you general ideas of what to correct, of how your piece should read.

This page also has articles about critiquing the work of others, or having someone else critique your work, and about workshops.

Look around some writer's websites that you are familiar with and see if they have some articles about editing. Editing and revision are essential parts of writing and a little guidance can help you learn how to do this so that the writing you submit to publishers will have a much better chance of being accepted.

If you know of a good editing article, feel free to mention it in the comments. Thanks!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Critical Thinking Can Help Your Writing

I found a website about critical thinking that you might want to check out. It's the Foundation for Critical Thinking. There are quite a few different pages, but I would suggest going to the articles index and starting your exploration there. What I like about this site especially is that it describes and defines what critical thinking is much more than any other site I've found.

There is quite a bit about teaching critical thinking, but also about learning it. A good introductory article is "Critical Thinking in Every Domain of Knowledge and Belief" and it has a couple of charts that let you know the kinds of topics the other articles will cover in more detail.

What I get out of this site is that clear, thorough thinking will help you in every area of your life. It is not necessary (or, in my view, desirable) to use critical thinking to talk yourself out of beliefs or religion or patriotism. What it is for is learning to be clear and understanding the purpose of what you are thinking about at the moment. Clarify your question and think through any answers to see what the consequences would be.

How does this help your writing? It helps you write more clearly, plot more realistically, and can help provide your characters with more believable actions and motives. I think as you read the articles, if you're interested, you will think of any number of ways critical thinking can help your writing, your reading, your studying and learning. See what you think! And let me know if you know of other sites of this nature that are clear and don't mind explaining things from the beginning for people like me!!