What is that? It's a term I use to clean up the gunk in my prose:
- misplaced backstory
- poorly hidden guns and other story framing devices
- redundant exposition
- unnecessary dialogue
- padded description
- monsters and metaphors
- adjective drowning
- grammar rules
- dropped threads
- the usual dust bunnies
Why is this important?
For three reasons:
- The industry isn't the same. Agents and editors want your stories clean when you submit for consideration. Although they make minor tweeks to your story for market value, they don't have time to delete your first paragraph/character sketch. You need to do that on your end.
- The industry isn't the same. I'm a book reviewer and I can't tell you how many books I read(am reading) that clearly got a shoddy copyedit from their publisher or author pals who submitted a rough draft of their manuscript to find it bound and sitting on my review table just the way they sent it. Publishing houses don't have the man power to cherry pick all your flaws anymore. You need to do that on your end.
- The industry isn't the same. There are too many books in too few bookstores for two short weeks that never get reviewed, publicity, or anything. Reviewers, avid readers and book club presidents love great books. But when we have to step out of your story to correct a grammar mistake, if we have to step out the story because you're telling us way too much information on the front end, or you left a loose theme thread hanging in the wind on the end, then guess what chicas we won't read the book. We'll return it to the store or if I have to read it...you don't want that.
In the meantime here are a few books that I keep next to me as resources while I self edit:
- Strunk & White's Elements of Style.
- Self Editing for Fiction Writers
- The First Five Pages
- Plot & Structure
- Stranger Than Fiction
- The Plot Thickens
- Writing the Break Out Novel
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Any Easy Rawlins Mystery :)
Elspeth cleaning her car. Photo courtesy of Gothelina