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Book Review - Self-Editing for Fiction Writers


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Unsurprisingly, I'm reading a lot of books about writing lately. I consider it to be an investment, and these books help me a lot. This book was no exception. It's useful and clear and gets the point across. It's a manual. Most of the advice in it I don't think should wait for editing. I know that when I write, I try to write well on the first go. Sure, there will be edits later, but I don't expect to have to re-write the majority of the book. So I consider this book to be writing advice rather than editing advice.

There's some excellent advice in here. The book covers topics from the mechanics of dialogue to voice. One thing I particularly liked was the idea that word choice colours the narration in accordance with the point-of-view character's mood or interpretations. So, for example, choosing to describe a wintry scene as gloomy and bleak conveys something quite different than describing the same scene as serene and sombre. That's a nice touch that I never thought about consciously. Thinking about it made me feel like I'm "upping my game" somehow, becoming more professional.

I would caution new writers not to fall into the prescriptive trap. In the words of the brilliant Chuck Wendig, "Writing advice, as I am fond of saying, is bullshit. But bullshit fertilizes. It has function, if you want it to. These most common pieces of writing advice are useful for newer writers, but never good to keep as gospel." He wrote it in a fantastic post about writing advice of all kinds, and yes, the first one is "Show, don't tell", which is also the first advice in the current book. If you haven't read that post and you're interested in writing, go check it out now.

Have a great sunny day!

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