Book Review, by Annie Haws
This is a delightful approach to a necessary “evil”. As the co-authors (independent editors themselves) remind us, writing and editing are two very different capabilities, which ought not to be engaged in simultaneously. Write first–get out that first draft–THEN edit–not before.
The aim of this book is to guide authors to edit wisely, whether the intention is to submit to a mainstream publishing house, and independent press, or to self-publish, online or via publish-on-demand. The principles still stand effective for any of these options.
The authors set out with the prime directive for any writers: “Show Don’t Tell”, and work through the various aspects of editing to make a really excellent (and publishable) book. With the down-home writing style of a personal touch, and the inclusion in each chapter of a checklist and exercises, the reader (and future published writer) finds herself settling in easily and learning to follow the instructions–as if this was a one-on-one mentorship program. Examples from published works illustrate the points, and the inclusion of recommended books is valuable also.
Just as a writer does not produce a first draft in one day (unless perhaps it is flash fiction), this book is not intended to be consumed in one day, or even a few days. My recommendation would be: write that first draft, whatever its length; put it aside for a while (also one of the book’s many good suggestions); only then, pull it back out of the drawer (or open the computer file), and set in to edit–one chapter of this book at a time. Read a chapter of “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers”, absorb the material, think about how you can apply it to your work, then go edit. Set the work aside for a while, read the next chapter, absorb, edit.
In writing and in editing, nothing good is produced by a rush-through. All in all, I recommend this as one of my top suggestions for published authors, about-to-be published, or just hoping for publication–to improve the quality of writing and to make one’s work worth reading.