Sunday, June 1, 2008

Edit Your Fantasy Novel - Part 1

Once your epic manuscript is penned, leave the novel to age for a few weeks, or months. Then take the time to polish your work before pursuing publishers. This isn't the signal to panic, but to take a deep breath and spend time self-editing your story. Even more than when you are writing, while self editing, you will need a Do Not Disturb sign. (A lesson learnt from experience.)

Outline the plot. In contemporary Fantasy the basic plot Arc is when your main character, your Hero embarks, on his quest, gathers a troupe of companions, faces antagonists, develops through conflict and prevails in a climax. All loose ends are tied to the satisfaction of your reader in the denouement. Plot your story keeping to these simple arc guidelines. For fiction writing in the fantasy genre you will need to include some form of magic.

As you write each scene or chapter, include five instances where the plot is propelled forward. Develop your Hero's character, the conflict, the rules governing your magic, and/or the overall plot. If you find your fantasy scene does not propel the story forward, consider omitting anything that deviates from the plot. Use this simple plot devise to keep your fiction writing tight and your fantasy reader captivated.


While re reading, and self-editing have a list of things to look for to improve your grammar and your writing. To target the mainstream publisher you must present a polished manuscript. To help you achieve this, keep lists of 'words to avoid.' Check and correct your grammar. Correct the overuse of adverbs, adjectives, passive voice, telling not showing, cliches, repetitive words and phrases, and altered POV.

Example List of Words to Avoid. Was, Were, Had, That, Still, Felt, Noticed, Saw, Just, Nice, Thought, Up, and Down. Also, avoid cliched words like really, beautiful, dark, almost, very, just and so.


In English the rules for grammar change from region to region. These differences can cause a great deal of confusion. Once you have the English usage rules for your region, or the region of the publisher and your prospective readers, apply them throughout your writing.

Read Your Work Out Loud

Make every sentence flow. Print out your fantasy manuscript once you feel it is polished and you have completed self editing. Everything looks different in print. Go over your writing again on the computer. If possible, seek the help of other readers and writers. Have them review your work and look for plot flaws or errors in your grammar.

Compare these Examples.
'deposited roughly onto a rain-drenched beach, coarse sand abraded his exposed flesh, and had coated every surface and filled every crevasse with grit. He ignored the discomfort while struggling against each successive wave, to drag his companion's inert body higher onto the storm battered beach. Coarse sand dissolved beneath him as an undertow greedily tried to suck his heavy burden back into the foamy tide. Against nature's fickle temper, he bravely held ground. He dragged a mouthful of damp air into tortured lungs, and ground grit filled teeth as he waited impatiently for the next incoming surge.'

Remove unnecessary adjectives, adverbs words ending in ly had, pronouns, gerunds words ending in ing and try again.

'deposited on a rain-drenched beach, coarse sand abraded exposed flesh, coated every surface and filled every crevasse. Ignoring his discomfort, he struggled to drag his companion's body higher up the beach with each successive wave. Sand dissolved beneath him as a greedy undertow reneged on the ocean's bounty, trying to suck his burden back into the foamy tide. Against nature's fickle temper, he held his ground, dragging air into tortured lungs.'

Again, cull every unnecessary word and simplify.

'deposited on a beach in driving rain, he ignored the discomfort of clinging sand. With each successive wave, he lifted his companion's body higher onto the beach. A greedy undertow dissolved the sand beneath him but he held ground against nature's fickle temper. Dragging air into tortured lungs, he waited for the next incoming surge.'


Rosalie Skinner said...

Thank you Donna for using my article on your blog. Can I take a moment to mention that my book Exiled: Autumn's Peril, is due to be released by Enspiren Press in Sept 2008. Exiled: Winter's Plight and Exiled: Summer's Peril are available now, on Amazon, for those who can't wait.

For anyone who is interested in Fantasy, please drop by 'A Gathering of Fantasy Readers and Writers'...on Facebook. You would be more than welcome. We have discussions on what to read, how to write, getting reviews, a chance to promote, pretty much anything to do with Fantasy.
Thanks again, Donna.
Rosalie Skinner
Author of The Chronicles of Caleath.

Donna Sundblad said...

Hi Rosalie,

You sure can. In fact, how about we do an interview for the readers here so we can learn more about your book.