Ep. 110: Self-Editing Your Fiction

This is a slightly different episode. Leslie and Clark talk about some personal challenges, then delve into self-editing. To get the most from hiring an editor, you’ll want to tackle certain tasks before you turn it over. There are plenty of steps you can take to improve your story so that your editor can focus on deeper issues. Plus, don’t miss Clark’s Healthy Author Challenge.

Self-Editing Your Fiction by Leslie Watts at writership.com.


Listen to the Writership Podcast


Wise Words on Self-Editing

All writers—restrained or lyrical, avant-garde or traditional, avocational or professional—need to revise, yet editing is commonly taught as an intrinsic part of writing, not an external tool. As such, the practice is elusive and random; it induces panicky flailing more than discipline and patience. It is vital to teach editing on its own terms, not a shadowy aspect of writing. Writers need to learn to calibrate editing’s singular blend of mechanics and magic. For if writing builds the house, nothing but revision will complete it. One writer needs to be two carpenters: a builder with mettle, and a finisher with slow hands.
— Susan Bell


Mentioned in the show

Find out more about Clark's Healthy Author Challenge and listen to the 90 Days to A Healthy Author podcast on iTunes or Spreaker. Here's the video that started it all:

If you're having a rough time, talking to someone can help.

  • In the US, call the Crisis Hotline on (775) 784-8090 or text: “ANSWER” to 8398.

  • If you're in any other country, click here to find your local crisis line phone number.


Get Peter Turchi's book Maps of The Imagination here.

You can explore David Mitchell's books on Amazon.

Check out episode 70, in which we discuss adverbs that end in ly.

Here's Steven Pressfield's blog post about his emotional response to receiving a critique from his editor.

In this podcast, you'll hear Shawn Coyne talk about moving from the micro to the macro. One of Shawn’s rules is, if you’re really concentrating on something small and you’re stuck, you then go big.


Editorial Mission—Interrogate Your Manuscript

Take your manuscript out and look at where you’re at.

  • Do you have your genre conventions in place?

  • Do you have a solid plot?

  • Are the scenes working?

  • Are your characters introduced well?

  • Do you have an arc for your main characters?

  • How is the language?

Look at a book in your genre that’s done well and assess how you compare. Don’t feel bad by comparison, but instead use this as a tool to see what you can work on. Pick one area in which you can grow your writing and choose to focus on that.


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