Tag Archives: Editing

Seven words I learned reading the sport section

To obtain a strong vocabulary, we need but two things: the desire to read and the desire to learn.

However, all too often I gloss over words I don’t know, confident with the thrust of the sentence to assume meaning from inference. If you take the time just to quickly look them up – and how easy that is in this day and age – you can fill your mind from the word-well.

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#Meanwhile… Strong Writing Made Easier

Starting today, I’m going to be devoting Fridays to fellow bloggers I discover on these here internetz. You may not believe it, but sometimes other people have already said it better than me – yup. I know.

So, strap yourselves in, you writerly, readerly bastards, for here’s the first instalment of my #Meanwhile series…

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Dialogue tags, action beats and punctuation – a quick guide

Among the most debated topics in the writing community – aside from the Oxford comma, of course – is the humble dialogue tag. I’m not going to say which method I prefer, because I like a mixture. But I am going to show you how to punctuate them properly – I’m a sub-editor by trade, after all.

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Breakthrough! – ye draft bastard

I’ve finally finished my plot outline! – No easy feat when you’ve been rambling into your computer for a decade, hoping a structured novel will spill out of your head like a Homeric poem, and all that came out was a meandering stream of consciousness that more resembled Lost than Paradise Lost.

The biggest step was breaking everything up into chapters. Previously, I didn’t know if I wanted the novel to be structured chronologically or to shift back and forth according to narrative perspective, so I just left everything in one document per character.

I have no idea why I didn’t change this earlier: it makes the process so much more palatable – as a writer and for the reader.

I mean that sincerely: use chapters, always.

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Having a domestic with the first draft – editing is a bitch

Editing that first draft is an act of mutilation – it’s messy, emotional and unforgiving.

But that’s because I write like a maniac – without forethought or planning. I just do a mind-puke over the page like I’ve been on some boozy ideas binge.

Now I have to sift through this literary vomit and pick out the chunks that might still contain some nutritional value. It’s horrid.

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A world-building Rift

I experienced an Oculus Rift the other day. It was sensational – in a sense.

I’d never worn a virtual reality headset. I lowered myself into a bolted-together driving seat, complete with plastic steering wheel with gear paddles, a wobbly shift stick and a full complement of pedals at my feet. The room I was in was a small, dimly lit box-room office, and my friends stood behind me as I lowered the headset over my eyes.

Suddenly, I was sat in a Ferrari in the pit lane at Silverstone. Hands that were slightly too small to be mine gripped a pixelated steering wheel in front of me with a functioning dashboard behind it. I looked to my right and saw my rear view mirror, my friends ominously absent in its reflection, despite the sound of their merriment at my apparent open-mouthed glee.

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Focus – the nemesis of the Chaos Draft

It took me the best part of a decade to write the first draft of my book. That’s a long, freaking time.

In 10 years, a lot has changed, not least me. I’m a very different person to the borderline-alcoholic, early-20s buffoon that started scribbling down a scene on the tube. Now I’m a moderately sensible 30-something borderline-alcoholic, with a new-found love of reading.

As I’ve changed, my characters have changed, my plot has been twisted and my world has been turned upside down. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end – but their relation to each other is warped, as though light refracts through each Act.

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