Stop. Edit Time.


Ah, Editing. The magical time in an author's life when we hammer our manuscript to tiny little pieces and then put it back together again. We may not have all the king's horses and all the king's men to help us (though without hands I'm not sure how much help the horses would be), but there are plenty of other resources.

I have a new workbook I've been using in preparation to start edits on my latest project and I can't say enough good things about it. Enter, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass.

Here's what I like about this book. For starters it's a workbook which means each section is followed by several hands on your manuscript tasks to work on. And while it has some space for writing notes and such, it isn't one of those workbooks that's mostly pages of blank lines.

I'm also a fan of the way Maass presents the information. Most of the time his techniques are about getting you to think about your book in new ways. He gives you permission to think crazy about your characters, their problems, the world they live in and the impact of other characters actions. And while he encourages you to use this new material as much as possible, he doesn't follow any hard and fast rules. He observes the use what works and toss the rest approach.

Most editing book that I've read are about polishing your story as it already exists. Maass's focus isn't on accepting what you have and tweaking it into perfection. He wants you to look at what you have and see if you can do better.

I can't wait to incorporate the new ideas I've generated using this workbook. I know that they are going to deepen my characters, add more tension and excitement and in the end, I'll have a much better book.

Have you come across any editing books that have made a difference in your ms. Which ones and why were they so helpful?