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This week we have a showcase for the eight-title author Laura Lyndhurst. You won’t want to miss that, but first, I thought this blog could be turned over to some writing tips and ideas for your author’s career. We don’t give our trade secrets away very often.
At Best Book Editors, we’ve seen it all, and we’ve seen it on repeat. New writers only have one fault, one error, one mistake. However, this one thing is a biggie, and like Rosie Barton’s possession, it can manifest in a multitude of ways. We don’t leave the crucifix out around Rosie. It took a week to clean it last time, and we have no idea which orifice the green slime came from.
I only have one error—that must be easy to put right.
I’m afraid not, lovely. It’s one of the hardest things to get right because you have to kill words you love.
Every new author overwrites, and many old ones do it too. It’s as simple as that. I haven’t had a novel through our books that wasn’t overwritten to hell. Even Peter J Merrigan, the overall Editor’s Choice Award winner in the 2021 Best Book Editors Book Awards, is prone to overwriting on the first draft. Peter’s writing is sublime, and he’s one of the best authors on our books—but we still fight to make him give up some of those overwritten words. His books are fabulous and a joy to read.
The last thing you want to do in the first draft is cut anything. You should overwrite any old rubbish that comes into your head. It’s all about flow, ideas and getting them down before they float away to the mists of time. Know that when the pruning comes, you’ll lose about a third of your book—so fling every thought you have at it. Get the words down, any words, in any order. Don’t worry about your spelling, grammar and punctuation. They aren’t important and don’t mean anything. They are there to laugh at. I’ve been known to write three sentences of blah, blah, bebop boop until something comes to me rather than stop writing. As you progress in your author career, you’ll write in correct tense and POV as a matter of learned behaviour.
By the end of the first draft. Well done. You have a story. It has a beginning, middle and end. It’s as rough as a bear’s arse and is overwritten in the extreme—but it’s there—a book.
The second draft is the hardest and harshest to do. Be hard. That’s when you hobble your story—cut it at the knees and leave bleeding in the dirt. In this draft, you cut all the crap. Strip it down to a clean text and give yourself an easel to build on. Get rid of all those purple words and adverbs you worked so hard to get out. They don’t need to be there. Lose the tail-off sentences and ellipses. Turn internal questions into statements. And most of all, pare back the stage management—particularly around dialogue and kill the repetition. You told us five, three and two paragraphs ago that he’s the long-lost brother of the piece—Hell, we don’t need telling again.
Second draft cut, cut, cut the crap. It’s hard. It hurts, but I promise your book will be 100% better for it. We aren’t done cutting, by the way. When I said, be hard on yourself—I meant a lot harder than that. Come on, you thought we wouldn’t notice and let all those beautifully, wonderfully awfully overwritten adverbs slip through?
However, you’ve made a start, and guess what? You still have a book. It has a beginning, middle and end, and it’s already 50% better for that edit.
By the third edit, we’re getting down to business. By the end of this one, we’ll have something that, if you close one eye and squint a bit, you can see the end product. This edit isn’t going to hurt as much as the last one, but it’s hard work. This is the correction edit. All that devil may care writing you did on the first draft? Yes, well, now it’s coming to bite you on the bum. We care about spelling, punctuation and grammar; you’ve got to sort it out on this edit. You’re looking at tenses and POV. It’s got to be perfect because if there’s so much as a misplaced comma, some smart-arse will point it out to you. The good news is that you’ve made the biggest cut, so at least you don’t have to trawl through the full wack of the endless overwriting that made reading your book like wading through treacle. We’re still cutting as we go. If it doesn’t say anything, it doesn’t need to be there- get rid. We’ll talk about good padding over tumbleweed for the next edit. Every word in your book is important, even the conjunctives and words that improve sentence structure. The order of words is important, getting the optimum relevance from your sentence. And sentence structure is one of the hardest things to learn—along with where to put your commas. This is the nuts and bolts edit where you must know your craft. Well done. You still have your novel—and now it’s shaping up to look like one. But we have a long way to go.
Three edits down—hello number four. Tidy up. Cut some more. This is the edit where you should be padding out and down and looking at what you can put in and what you can lose. Remember we said you can expect to cut a third of your book. Look at replacing it with good padding.
Writers get confused by what constitutes good padding and tumbleweed or white noise. Below are some examples of BAD padding.
She walked down the corridor.
He turned around
She cocked an eyebrow
He waited for the elevator to arrive. When it did, the doors opened. He stepped inside (never walked, always stepped, it’s awful). He pressed the button for the fifth floor, and the doors closed. Etc, etc, etc. Just get him to where he’s going before he dies of old age.
He sat, stood, looked left, right up, down.
If it’s relevant to the story, great. If he’s just had bandages removed after an eye operation, fabulous have him looking all over the place.
She turned around and said…. Why did she turn around? Doesn’t she look stupid turning around every time she speaks? Is she a ballerina?
Empty words and weak sentence openers. Again you aren’t thinking about your writing, and you’re writing the first thing that goes from your brain to your fingers. Damn, that’s lazy. Well, so, rather, quite a little bit, almost—it’s lazy writing.
By the end of the fourth edit, you can send it to an editor if you like—but I’d still give it at least two more runs through first.
When it comes back from your editor, it is on YOU to edit it again. Editors are human. Typos will still slip through sometimes. Your book needs to be perfect before you publish it; if it isn’t, you need to edit it again.
Unless it’s relevant. These tired, overwritten old phrases that writers spit out on default are horrible examples of writing. It’s lazy. You aren’t thinking about what you’re writing—but you expect people to pay good money to read it.
Examples of good padding.
She had never been here before. It’s telling us something.
Today was his 34th birthday. Again, imparting information.
She suspected her evening class might be cancelled. It’s telling us something.
If I had to give one piece of advice to make your book brilliant, it would be:
Every word in that book is important. If it says nothing—it shouldn’t be there.
And so we move on to our showcased author this week. Laura Lyndhurst has released a new edition of her books after pulling them all for an edit. Another BBE tip is to remove your books every five to ten years and re-edit them. Your writing will have evolved over those years, and your books can be improved.
Laura has eight books currently available and two more in the pipeline. Check out her brilliant work here.
Amazon book links
You Know What You Did https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B091662WCC/ref
Fairytales Don’t Come True https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B088PWWCML/ref
Regenerate Degenerate https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08TRJYY6C/ref
All that we are heir to https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B097DX4694/ref
October Poems https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MD6MPNJ/ref
Social Climbing https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09H5Z1H82/ref
Thanksgiving poems and prose pieces https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08PDNBT12/ref
Want to know more about this incredible author. Her work is going from strength to strength. She told us all about herself in her interview below.
This is the ogfficial BBE review for You know what you did.
And to finish you can’t click off the page without getting a taste for her intense thriller You Know What You Did, in the book trailer below.
Laura has done a lot for Best Book Editors both as a sub-editor and as admin on the BBE Group. To show our appreciation it would be great to see a flood of support for her and that’s the reason for this showcase. Thank you Laura, you are a shining star and we love you and your books.
Best Book Editors has slots for all kinds of things this week. Marketing for Life Packages, press packs, book trailers, get in touch and ask for a quote for any or all of our services.
And in other news our little dog Tenmen has had his nicker-nacker-noo-noos chopped off. Far from feeling sorry for himself, the idiot’s running around like a lunatic and is in danger or bursting stitches from breakfast to dinner time. I’m a bag of nerves, and the threat of going back to White Coat and Needle Man doesn’t phase him. Has anybody got any Cellotape to stick him to the wall, and stop him hurting himself, please?
Because of Tenmen’s castration, Heidi, the camper van is grounded this weekend, but we’ll have more tales from the road next weekend all being well.
That’s all Folks!
Here’s Jennifer. https://www.bestbookeditors.com/books-by-katherine-black/
Born in South Shields, Tyne & Weir, Katherine Black lives on the tip of the beautiful British Lake District. She lives with her partner, father-in-law and 4 dysfunctional but co-mingling pets. She is mother, grandmother and secret keeper of all. She is Best Book Editors’ principal editor.