My Passion's Pen

Helping to polish what your passion pens.

Archive for the tag “self-editing”

Character development is mostly unseen

I spend a lot of my editing energy helping my clients refine their characters. And in my own writing I can never know too much about my characters. But readers don’t need (or want) everything about the inner and outer lives of our characters presented like a stenographer’s notes. It’s my belief that character is revealed through action on the page, but the motivation for that behavior is all off-screen. And motivation is the pulse of a story. That’s what keeps us turning the page.

We’ve all seen the iceberg analogy, and it’s one of the most universally true writing axioms: 80-90% of the story is behind the scenes and, in my opinion mostly embedded in characterization. Characters, though, are their own icebergs.

Image from

Screenwriting guru Scott Myers explains here: “Screenwriting Tip: Character Work as Iceberg.”

Happy writing!


“FLASH SALE: 50% Off ProWritingAid for the next 48 hours!”

I’ve been a causal user of ProWritingAid for quite a while and find the editor helpful. Although no editor (AI or human) is perfect, ProWritingAid’s suggested edits are parsed out by category so writers can focus on one element at a time. And that, in my opinion, makes edits less intimidating. They’ve made some updates to the program, but I haven’t played with most of the new features yet.

Now that school is back in session, why not grab a lifetime license. It’s a good investment even for causal users like myself. The linked article has a coupon code.

“FLASH SALE: 50% Off ProWritingAid for the next 48 hours!” @sandfarnia

Exclude Us From Novels

Print this and post it at your workstation as a self-editing guide.

A list of what shouldn’t be included in novels, including words and common fiction elements. Use this list to safely exclude unnecessary elements from fiction.

via Exclude Us From Novels.

Self-editing: knowing how to listen to your gut

A great list to focus self-editing tasks.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

Self-editing: are you only listening to your gut or are you hearing what it’s saying?

A big part of the writing process is self-editing.

Self-editing means different things to different people. I’m not talking about the little things like missing words and grammar right now, but the bigger issues like plot construction and characterization–the things that can have big holes, but are harder to fix. And harder to know how to fix.

Everyone says listen to your gut. But what I am talking about is the difference between listening to your gut and actually hearing what it’s saying.

Listening to your gut: a passing thought that something might not be working.

Hearing your gut: recognizing specific weaknesses, articulating them to yourself and others, and knowing how to fix them. 

Those residual feelings that your character might need to be stronger, and a bit larger than life or your plot might…

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Self-editing: 4 reasons why you must kill your darlings

Advice to take to heart and put into practice.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

530973.stock.xchngI’m a big proponent of self-editing and teaching writers how to tackle revisions on their own. I’ve given talks to writers’ groups, presented at writers’ conferences, and blogged about it before (see below for further reading). Self-editing is the difference between a novice and and someone who has trained in their craft.

So many times I get asked “Should I hire an external editor?” And I always direct writers to teach themselves editing and revision skills before going elsewhere. It’s a life skill for a career author.

Here are my 4 Reasons Why You Must Kill Your Darlings:

1. There is only one chance to make a first impression

You want to make reading your manuscript a smooth and enjoyable experience for the reader. Edit and rewrite so that your novel begins in the right place, the stakes are high, and the plot moves quickly. When…

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