Monday, 1 December 2014

Favourite Craft Writing Books - Iola Goulton

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King



I give five-star ratings to books I know I’m going to read and re-read, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers certainly falls in that category. It’s a book that was recommended to me by several authors, and I’ve recommended to others (who, in turn, have recommended it to others …).

If you are a fiction writer, this is one of the books you should have on your bookshelf. It’s not the first writing book you should buy (I’d recommend an up-to-date dictionary as the first book), and it won’t be much use until you’ve got a complete first draft that has been revised for plot, structure and characterisation. When you think you’ve done everything you can to improve the story, then it’s time to focus on line editing, which means it’s time to buy and apply Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

The three main problems I see in fiction (especially self-published fiction, or fiction from certain small presses) are bad dialogue (and inappropriate dialogue tags), the tendency to tell not show, and the use of omniscient point of view. Self-Editing goes into all these issues in detail, explaining why you should (for instance) show not tell, how to spot the issues, and how to fix them.

It also covers subjects such as characterisation and exposition, interior monologue and personal voice or style. Some reviewers criticise Self-Editing for prescribing rules that make all fiction sound the same; I applaud it for showing why I find some fiction hard to read. The process of editing won’t take away your unique author voice, but it will help you refine and smooth that voice so your reader can understand and enjoy it. And isn’t that the point of writing fiction?


By Iola Goulton. I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website (www.christianediting.co.nz), or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christianediting), Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog (www.christianreads.blogspot.com). I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500.






11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review Iola. This is a great book on modern stylistic issues. I've found it helpful and it was recommended as part of the post-grad course I'm studying in creative writing. Good book for the writers toolbox :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think this is the first writing craft book people should buy and read, but once you've got a completed manuscript? An absolute must.

      Delete
  2. Definitely one of the best, Iola. A sign of its standing is how many top authors recommend it.

    Thanks for your review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I first started editing, I asked a group of online author friends what editing books they recommended. They all agreed this was the first and best title to read.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a great book, Iola. Thanks for the heads up :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What! You haven't read this? Then I'm afraid I've just added another book to your to-read pile.

      Delete
    2. You are a master at doing that, lol

      Delete
  4. Hi Iola - This was one of my texts for the Grad Dip in Creative Writing at Tabor and I found it really helpful. The exercises at the end of each chapter are also really good. Thanks for the reminder. I probably should go back and have another look at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect fiction authors should read it every time they finish a manuscript, to remind them of what to look for when they revise and edit.

      Delete
  5. Iola, great review! It's one of my favourite writing craft books that I refer to often. I agree, the book defines the fundamental fiction writing principles and explains why these writing rules work.Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also like Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. I think that's better for revision and developmental editing after you've finished a first draft, because it examines some of the big-picture story and character issues.

      But this is definitely better for line editing, for strengthening the actual words on the page and ensuring they are consistent with what publishers and readers expect.

      Delete