Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Five Top Writing Tips (From an Editor)

“Did I hear you say you’re an editor?” Yes, indeed. It’s one of the many hats I wear. What’s not to like, though?! I get paid to read pre-release books?! I’ve always had the super critical “Grammar Nazi” eye, anyways, so it’s my cup of tea.

Long, long, long before I was an editor, however, I was just a reader. When my mom taught me to read at four years of age I unlocked not just a whole new world, but countless, immeasurable new worlds, just awaiting my exploration.

Next came writing. Now I could create worlds for others to explore with me! How powerful! Magical! Exciting! Most of my first short stories (which I still have somewhere, of course) were knock-offs or parodies of stories we all know—the three little bears and little red riding hood, to name a couple. I even had a whole series going of Winnie the Pooh stories for a while, with all of the same characters, just different names, because copyrights, you know.

Somewhere along the line I volunteered for tribute—eh, a-hem, I mean volunteered to beta read for an author-friend, and that somehow snowballed into a full freelance editing business for me! I have now fully edited all kinds of things, college papers to 400+ page novels, fiction, non-fiction, and whatever we call that genre right in between where it’s kind of like a stretched version of the truth. It’s fun! It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s really good for me, and I’m so blessed to have been led into this by my Creator. He is the only One who could have guided my paths into the places they are now, believe me!

Anyways. Livy, an author I've done some editing for recently (more from her coming soon!) asked me to write and share some writing tips, I guess from the perspective of an editor (it makes sense; I have read and written a ton!). Without further ado, I give you five quick tips for anyone writing—bloggers, published authors, anyone.

1. Tell the story you want to read.

One thing I wish writers would really stop doing is taking notes on other writings. Yes, read! Artists visit galleries; writers read! Don’t stop reading! But also, never ever pattern your book, plot, characters, voice, style, or anything else after someone else’s versions of the same. Please. We want to read your story. Not your mashup of all of those other stories. Besides, if I’m reading for pleasure, I only re-read one in a hundred books. Reading something once is plenty for me 99% of the time. So if your book is a lot like that other book I already read, what’s the sense in me reading yours? Make it you. Pour yourself on that page and don’t worry with anyone who isn’t interested. The right audience will love it.

Also: I really, really love talking to authors about their personal motive. Sometimes they know their characters better than they know themselves. So, here’s to you, why do you write? God’s glory? Your own? Money? Fame? Watch out and keep your priorities straight!

2. Keep writing and editing separate. 

I know. I know you also have that good grammar eye. I know you can catch typos as you write and might as well fix them while you’re there. But guys. Stop. I think fixing typos as you see them is usually okay, but pleeeaaasssee do not intermingle editing and writing. What happens more often than not: you edit just a bit too much on the actual story (because you caught something changeable when fixing that capitalization typo, you know) and make a tiny little minor change to a seemingly unimportant step of your plot or sub-plot and then—wa la!—you’ve unknowingly thrown a big monkey wrench into the whole story! No! Write the whole thing. Then if you want to change some plot, do as you will. This is especially detrimental if you plot/outline your stories in full before you write. So. Messy.

3. Know your voice and perspective.

Probably the single hardest element of copyediting: streamlining the voice, style, and perspective. I’m not just saying this, though, to make your editor’s life easier, but to make your story more consistent even in your own head! If you don’t even know who’s telling the story or when it’s taking place, how are you going to effectively tell this story to others? You must know the story well yourself, and knowing voice, tense, perspective, and such are crucial in this. So, if you’re writing in past tense (most common), make sure all of the verbs agree with that and are past tense (i.e. said vs. says). If you’re writing in first person perspective, make sure to stick true that the reader only knows as much as our first person character knows. 

4. Take breaks.

Uninspired writing is rarely radically world-changing. Sorry. I know it’s fun, challenging, and invigorating to push through that writer’s block, but your story will (probably) start sounding forced and your characters will (probably) start doing the blandly expected. I am in big favor of taking breaks and holding out for the big revelations and plot twist inspirations. If it seems that they’re just never going to come, and you’ve got to keep plowing through, take notes of what pages you wrote uninspired and be willing to revisit them. Boring parts where every character is trudging along just as the reader expects can also be spiced up by good descriptive adjectives or an interesting bit of well-written dialogue. But as you can, do take breaks.

5. Just finish.

Here’s some revolutionary advice for you: finish. I know it sounds simple, but this is probably the hardest point I’ve given you here to actually accomplish. I’m preaching to even myself, I tell you, as I too have many unfinished drafts on my hard drive. However, I encourage you to finish. Even if the 700-page planned and plotted novel only ends up being a 46-page short story that never ever is gazed upon by any other eyes but your own, finish. It will not only do wonders for your writing skills and creative powers, but it will also give you such confidence to see a project started and completed! So what if it’s not as “great” as you hoped it would be when it was still in the daydreaming stage? You finished, and that is great! Now, move on to the next one. Maybe just maybe, you’ll finish all your started drafts and really figure out writing in the process. Maybe just maybe, you’ll come back here to thank me for my advice using such poetic language only a real author with finished stories could muster.

I just want to say… I believe in you! God created this world and filled it with creators! How beautiful is that?! In writing, you are adding to the world, and you have the chance to change it forever—for better or worse! I believe you can sway for the better side, in His strength.

God is going to do what God is going to do. He actually doesn’t need us, but He chooses to use us, imperfect though we be, for His greater glory! Praise Him! Let us be vessels willing and ready for His service, in writing or whatever else, to help accomplish what He’s going to do whether we help out or not.

I hope you have a lovely day, and I wish you best on your writing endeavors!


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  1. Thank you so much for these great Writing Tips, Kimblery! And thanks for being part of The Coronation Blog Tour! ����

    1. My pleasure, dear! Thanks for having me! <3

  2. Bella MorganthalJune 27, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    Wow this was such a good post! Great job, Kimberly and thank you for sharing! Number 2 was especially encouraging to me ;)
    (Also, can't wait for Livy's new book!!)

    1. Thanks, Bella! Glad I could encourage! Happy writing! :)

  3. I think it's so neat that you are freelance editing! (It also kinda worries me when I leave comments, and I'm terrified of your critiquing "Grammar Nazi" eye. ;) But, seriously.. That's nice. And I would love to read those knock off short stories you wrote. :D

    I'm not really writing anything at the moment..I have written short stories in the past, and I have two that are unfinished that I'd like to complete.. But I'm too busy working on them in my head for that! ;P The problem is that they rely on each other, and I'm not sure which one I want to come first... Oh well! Tip #2 was particularly helpful to me! :)

    1. Hahaha nahh... Those stories are under lock and key, but maybe one day! ;)

      I'd love to read your stories! What genre do you like to write? You could try like a parallel series so they rely on each other but one doesn't necessarily come "first"... Maybe when your busy summer is over you'll have time to work on them! Maybe. ;)


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