Category: Writing tips

What to do after that first draft is done

What to do after that first draft is done

I recently completed the first draft of my fifth manuscript that’s set in India. I challenged myself to write at least a thousand words a day and planned to complete the work by Christmas. When I reached that goal, it was time to take a break—time to read more again and do some of the activities I’d set aside.

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One of the best editing tips I learned

One of the best editing tips I learned

This is a tip I learned from one of our critique facilitators, Julie Ferguson, who led our local writing group for decades. Unfortunately (for us) she has since moved cities, but I haven’t forgotten her many gems of advice while editing.

Read aloud. Two things happen when I read my work aloud. Firstly, I hear what I’ve written more clearly than merely reading in my head. Secondly, when I stumbled on a phrase, it usually means there’s something not quite right with what I’ve written. 

Those favoured words

Those favoured words

Have you ever read a book where a word keeps popping up? I recently read a book that had a paragraph where three sentences began with and then. Another highly praised English author I read had me gritting my teeth at her use of began. It appeared over one hundred times in her otherwise great novel.

This kind of repetition can pull a reader out of a story, so I save lists of — words to use instead of — because it’s easy in a manuscript to repeat favoured vocabulary. I also have a short list of words I over use — that, looked, walked, relieved, for example. The list raises my awareness when I’m at the editing stage.

But opposing this suggestion is a tip I learned from author, Julie H. Ferguson about repeated words.

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More on research

More on research

On a visit to New Zealand some years back, I took over one hundred photos in one day at an important setting in a historical fiction manuscript I was preparing. Many were of signs that I didn’t actually refer to once I began writing, but having all those photos allowed me to choose the best fit. For example, the photo above may seem insignificant, but it was a location two characters passed over. Without the photo I would have forgotten this tiny detail.

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