Saturday, January 28, 2017

Writer Tips: The Why's & Where-fore's of Self-Editing

Today we welcome, Author Sara R. Turqnuist! Not only is she giving us some GREAT writing advice, but she's also GIVING AWAY an eCopy or Print version of her latest release, Off to War, to ONE LUCKY WINNER! Enter to win below!

Writers Gotta Write, but Writers Gotta Edit Too! 

Hello! It is a privilege to be on Hannah’s blog today. And I want to share with fellow writers something that I find quite difficult, but rather necessary and very rewarding: self-editing.
In general, I find it, frankly, to be a time drag. It’s time, I think, that could be better spent creating new work. Imagine if I didn't have to do any editing? How much quicker could I produce work? Wow! But the fact of the matter is, we all have to self-edit. It’s a vital part of getting the manuscript ready for an agent/publisher.


It makes your manuscript stronger. Editing helps catch mistakes we may have made in earlier drafts and alert us to gaps in the work. It basically allows us to present the best to a publisher or a potential agent/editor (whomever is reading your work). Especially if the manuscript was written a while ago and it has been resting. Or there has been more learning about craft in the meantime through online courses, workshops, or conferences. Bring that back to the manuscript - enhance and hone the work.

It is required by many publishers before they send it through their editing process. My publisher requires that a round of self-editing with their criteria and my own skills before I submit it to their three rounds of editing (content, line, and proofing). I have been surprised how many things I’ve caught between my editing before the initial submission and then self-editing with their criteria. And what they ask me to look for is basic stuff. It's just stuff that a newbie (like me at the time) wouldn't have thought about.

Look for Grammatical Errors. This one is a no-brainer. One of the things I have found that is helpful is to run your document through a couple of word processors. For example, I used to write in LibreOffice. Well, LibreOffice catches a certain set of things. Word will catch a set. Some of these things overlap, but some do not. Word will catch things that LibreOffice did not. So, it behooves me to put my document through Word also. And that's only one example.

Check for flow. Another thing that is helpful and is great for checking flow is to read it out loud. It is equally amazing what can be caught that way. I know, it doesn't seem that it would make that big of a difference. But it does. When going through the manuscript, make sure words are not repeated. Make sure to vary sentence beginnings. These are things that help with flow.

Double check for inconsistencies or content flaws. Be ever watchful for things missed when writing. Have eyes like a hawk when it comes to this. We all know in our heads how our story works out, but try to look at it as a reader, fresh to the page. If it's not clear in the document, it's not clear. If it's not written down, it doesn't exist. A reader can't ask for explanations.

Tighten where you can. There needs to be some flow to your manuscript, but it also need not be extraneously wordy. Jerry Jenkins gives wonderful tips about tightening, especially dialogue. You can check out his blog here. Extra words are sometimes that - extra words.
There are more, but these are the biggies. I also strongly encourage everyone to get more eyes on the work. Be that a critique group, critique partner, or beta readers. Someone else should look at it for the purpose of giving honest feedback. 

And that, my friends, is my two cents worth on self-editing. Happy writing!

Sara is the author of The Lady Bornekova, The General's Wife, Hope in Cripple, and Off to War. A native of Middle Tennessee, Sara attended the University of Memphis where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In the years that followed, she utilized every opportunity she could to travel and she fell in love with history, as the many places she visited inspired the stories she would write. Though she is an avid reader, Sara enjoys many creative outlets – music, art, and drama. You can usually find her either writing or into her latest art project.

Connect with Sara:
  Facebook AuthorSaraRTurnquist (
  Twitter @sarat1701 ( )

 Get to Know Sara:

1: Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration
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behind it.

This book, Off to War, is about a young woman who must watch her best friend and beau leave for war. But she is not satisfied to stay behind. She sneaks off into the night and joins his camp’s Sanitary Commission (the women who followed the camps and cared for the men). A history program I saw that talked about women during the Civil War and their involvement in the war effort, specifically the Sanitary Commission, inspired me. I find that history itself provides plenty of inspiration!

2: Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

My work in progress is called Second Chances. It is about a woman in 1870s Arizona (during the time of Billy the Kidd) whose first husband dies and she is left with no other option to provide for she, her son, and her late husband’s small herd of cattle, but to remarry. Brandon, the man she marries, needs the cattle to increase his herd and raise his profits at auction in order to save his ranch. The inspiration for the story was a wondering about second marriages when the first spouse dies. Does the surviving spouse memorialize the first in the sense that she would glaze over the “bad” memories and only remember the good? Many people tend to do that. Could a second spouse, even when love blossoms between them, compete with that?

3: Do you have a favorite time of the day to write? What about a favorite place?

I don’t really have a favorite time of day to write…other than when my children are not around. That means that they are out of the house or unconscious (that means napping). I find I am more productive at a local coffee shop called Lasaters. They have these really comfortable booths that allow me to spread out my research and everything I need. I also have an office in my house that has proved productive. More than anything, it has been the discovery of Scrivener and it’s “Compose” mode that really helps. It blocks out the desktop and any pop ups. Wonderful!!

EXCERPT from Off to War

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        “I need you to be strong for me now, Lizzie.”
She wanted to. Breathing deeply, she attempted to rein in her emotions.  
All the while, he continued to rub her arms, her shoulders, pressing kisses to her forehead and her hair.
Why did he have to be so wonderful? Tears threatened to break through again, but she held them back.
Once she calmed, he used his finger to tilt her chin so she looked up at him. “Can you be strong for my parents?”
She knew what he meant. He spoke not only of today, but also if something were to happen to him. “Yes,” she lied.
“I know you can, even if you don't,” he assured her, cupping her face.
She hung her head, fighting more tears.
“Write to me?” He hooked her chin with his finger so she had to look at him.
“Every day.”
“Wait for me?” he asked, his voice as tender as she’d ever heard it.
John's face broke out in a slow smile at that.
Elizabeth allowed herself to get lost in his eyes. They belonged together. In that moment, she knew… that's why he wasn't afraid. He would return to her because he had to.
His lips met hers again in a gentle kiss.
She returned his kiss with everything she had, longing to communicate all of her love, all of her hopes and dreams in that one kiss.
When John broke contact, her head still spun.
“I must go.” He blinked, moving toward the door, his step wavering.
Was the room spinning for him, too?
“I carry you with me, Lizzie. Always and forever, remember?”
“Always and forever.” She fought down a fresh wave of emotion, refusing to cry in front of him again.
He reached over and pulled her to him for another quick kiss. 
Then he was gone, and she was alone.

Readers can purchase Off to War HERE, or enter to win a copy by entering below!

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