Self Editing Made Fun and Easy*

*You’re mileage may vary.

I am bragging again. My chapter of Romance Writers of America is The BOMB! We get the best speakers, the best programs, we help with the best covfefes, and we have a HIGH percentage of published writers, like 77%.** Just last month, May of 2017, we were presented with a workshop by Carina Press’s Editorial Director Angela James! She has an amazing workshop on self-editing called Before You Hit Send. . . . This blog goes up on June 4th so you will have to act NOW to register for her class that starts June 5th and goes through the 30th of June. Hurry, do it! The class notes are already up. Oh, here’s the link.

** I totally made that number up.

She condensed this 4-week on-line workshop into six hours for us. I knew Angela was sharp when I saw the blue in her hair. And she gave us permission to blog about her talk. I’m just giving you the first lesson here. I may pull up 2 through 17 in coming weeks, but no promises. (Lesson 17 is about Pacing. Ha!) Without further ado, I present my notes on:

060417 Angela James


Lesson One, Introduction, Read Aloud

Even with just hitting the top lines of this workshop, we got broad strokes. The details can be filled in as we work with this material. She promised she will not make fun of us if we have to leave the room. Note: Ms. James said it’s okay to write up a blog about this. But all the material is copyright, so do take her class for the best results.

Angela liked that the crowd at the RWA meeting represented a good mix of Romance genres. She has been with Carina Press for almost 8 years. This self-editing and writing workshop is very popular. She likes shoes. Even after she purged 100 pair, she still has a bunch. She likes sports, car racing, Sioux hockey (now the Hawks), is a soccer fan by way of her husband. She does not like baseball. Loves Dr. Who and believes the best doctor was Tom Baker. She likes her men a little dirty and scruffy. And she loves books. In a typical year, Angela reads 615 books for her personal enjoyment, not including her work reads. She’s been married for 12 years to a really great guy. They have a beautiful, intelligent daughter. Follow Angela on Twitter @angelajames, not the hockey player. (To find out why all this information is part of the workshop, you need to take her class. )

060417 hockey aj

All lessons in this session build on each other. You need to have the same understanding of the subjects so that you will not get lost. Basic grammar and editing marks are required.

To start, read your work aloud or have someone read to you. Your computer and/or phone can read to you. Listening takes you outside your head. You pick up if nuances are missing, will hear if you used a word incorrectly or left out a word. The dialogue will tell if you have perfected your craft or if you are a noob. Watch for repeated sentence structure or a word used repeatedly. You will also hear if the work flows properly. Is your pacing too much or too little? Do you need to slow it down or speed it up?

Blocking is a term and a process that comes from theater, moving people around on the “stage” which is your pages. Remember when you send a character to the kitchen, don’t have them join in the conversation without saying they returned. (I can almost see this being improved if you set it up like a Dungeons and Dragons board with little figures for each character)

060417 board game

Writing rules: Angela is not a fan of rules, especially absolutes. These rules have good intentions but can bind up your writing. Someone tells you that you can’t ever use passive voice, you think, OMG, I have to rewrite everything! Sets you back years, maybe, if not discouraging you completely. Understand the rules but don’t take them as absolute. “Rules” should just be guidelines. Go with what your editor suggests

Figure out where you bore even yourself. Is it because you were more faithful to a rule than your voice? Change that.

How to listen. Edit in chunks, the better to catch what needs to be corrected. Chapters 1 through 3 are usually in good shape. She claims this it due to Contest syndrome. Be prepared to fix chapter 4 through the end. Get a sense of the flow of your writing by picking a big enough chunk to know. Don’t edit as you listen. Maybe print out and highlight what you think could be improved as you listen. Pay attention to how much attention you are paying. Wow, that’s so meta.

060417 listen

Do you know why it’s better to have someone else read your work? People tend to see what they expect to see. That sucks, but it’s the way we are. Here are three examples of this: “What I if told you, you read the first line wrong.” “I love Paris in the the Springtime.” “I got a dig bick.”

You might have caught the errors, but most people wouldn’t. So let the computer read!

For Lesson Two: Know Your Word Processing Program, take the workshop!

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.


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