Category Archives: Editing

Character Interview, Part 2

So, now you’ve seen the crap version of Chapter 5 opening.  I should have mentioned that chapter 4 is where she meets Jerok after fleeing from a gang of murderous robbers.  She has accepted Jerok’s offer to accompany her to Trior.  What she doesn’t know is that Jerok is a thief  of sorts as well.  After originally planning on robbing her, when he found out she was a priestess traveling to the castle, he decided to tag along so he could swipe some goodies from there.

Continue reading Character Interview, Part 2

Scene editing checklist

I finished reading “Story Engineering” a few days ago, and have been trying to digest it all since then.  One of the things I have done is adapt the scene checklist that he presents.  I have tweaked it to work better for me.  This is what I fill out, in full, for each scene of each chapter.  I find that it helps remove the unneeded fluff.  At least I hope so.  I guess I will know for sure once the crits start rolling in on the new version of chapter 1.  It did reduce the word count by about 800, anyway.

What is the primary piece of story exposition in this scene?

Does that information move the story forward, or is it a side trip?

Does the new info require any foreshadowing or setup from prior scenes?

Does the scene open with something clever, poignant, surprising, or interesting?

What is the precise moment – in action, dialog or other narrative context – at which the scene’s payoff will be exposed?

What is the latest moment you can enter the scene without compromising the info or the potential for a dramatic experience in the delivery?

Does the scene have its own tension and stakes and flow?

What is the reader experiencing — feeling, understanding, clarifying, or other emotion — as the scene unfolds?

Is the tension built leading into the payoff? If it is hidden, is the reader set up to make the revelation as jarring as possible?

how are you demonstrating character in the scene? Is characterization driving the exposition (goal is to show something about the character) or is exposition driving the character(goal is to show the character’s reaction)?

Is the scene efficient? Does it drive gracefully and fluidly toward its payoff moment or does it mark time needlessly?

Does the ending transition align with the mission and context of the next scene? Is it consistent with earlier transitions?

Have you avoided redundant or unneeded description?


Does any of this look helpful to you?  Do you have any checklists you use to keep you focused?


I have a system

I think I found a system that works!  I am not doing the database after all, because that is still a lot of time spent on meta-writing, which could be time spent on writing.  Here is what I came up with instead for doing my rewrites:

Step 1.  Print out the chapter with all of the inline critiques.  Chapter 1 clocked in at 37 pages doing this.

Step 2.  Go through the whole chapter, deciding which critiques to work in and which to ignore.

Step 3.  Go back through the whole chapter again.  This time working in MY changes, sometimes overriding what I just put in from the crits.  (Oh yeah.  Somewhere around step zero was putting the whole story on my kindle with the paragraphs numbered so I can take notes while I read)

Step 4.  This was the magic for me.  (IMHO, anyway)  I break the chapter into scenes.  Separate file for each scene.

Step 5.  Print out one scene, latch it onto the clipboard, and focus only on word selection.  No story telling, as that is already done.  This is where I go through and remove weak words and phrases.

Step 6.  Recombine the scenes into a chapter.

YAY!  I think that it results in a much better piece of work.  I guess I will find out when it hits the  critique site.  With any luck, both of my loyal readers will let me know what they think!

So there it is.  My system.  Still interested in what others use for their editing efforts.