Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Giving Editing Tips to Middle Schoolers

Because I've been writing in /Facebook about re-editing all my Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries, a middle school teacher I know told her class. They were amazed that a published writer would do so much editing. Frum that came the email asking me if I'd visit the class and talk about editing.

Of course, I will be there today.

I made up a hand-out--rather simplified editing tips. I'll expand on them as I talk depending upon how interested they are.

Watch out for overuse of a word such as that, just, very, etc.

Use descriptive action verbs instead of look, walk. Think what the person is doing and the best way to describe it.

For dialogue, use an action or description instead of he said or she said.  Examples:

Billy kicked off his shoes. “No, I’m not going anywhere with you.”

Karen flipped her long blonde hair behind her shoulders. “Okay, but I’m going with or without you.”

Be sure to stay in whatever tense you use—past or present. (Frankly, I think present tense is really hard to do well.)

Choose whether you are going to use third person or first person as to who is telling the story. First person is the easiest:

I knew when I stepped inside the door of the house I might be greeted by ghosts. (First person,
past tense.)

However, the “I” person can’t know what anyone else is thinking, only guess. This is the same for third person too.

Jason could tell by the expressions on his parents’ faces that something was wrong. (Or you could describe their expressions.) If Jason is the one telling the story, he can only guess what others are thinking.

Be sure that a pronoun refers to the last person mentioned.

Start a new paragraph anytime a new person speaks or does something.

When choosing names from your characters, be careful that they don’t all start with the same letter, rhyme, or sound too much alike.

Don’t use too many explanation points! Instead, make sure what is said is exclamatory enough.

Don’t repeat information you’ve already given. And don’t have one character tell another something they already know.

Be careful not to start every paragraph with the same word.

Vary your sentence structure, some short sentences (especially for action), longer for descriptions.

One thing I always do when I talk to kids is try to make them laugh. And of course, I'll answer all their questions.


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