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Archive for the tag “Bootcamp”

1, 2, 3, edit! Things to do before you hire a copyeditor

By Katy McDevitt

Are you ready to get your manuscript edited? Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out whether you’re as ready as you think.

1. Have you tied up all the loose threads?

This sounds really obvious, right? But it’s surprising how often I come across bits and pieces in a manuscript that indicate a thought that the author didn’t quite finish, a sentence that circles round on itself, or even an ‘X marks the spot’ indicating a bit of research or fleshing-out that the author meant to come back to. Go back through your work and resolve all those small, but accumulative, outstanding issues. Your copyeditor can certainly help spot missing or incomplete elements, and raise them with you as author queries, but it’s not the editor’s job to create or research content on your behalf, and it will take longer and cost more to complete the editing stage if you don’t fully resolve your work. Tie up as many loose threads as you can, before submitting your work for editing, and your editor will thank you for it (and probably bill you less).

2. Have you done your self-editing duty?

What is self-editing? It’s when an author attempts to anticipate textual issues that an editor might find during the copyediting stage, and fixes as many of them as possible. Why do it? Because it makes the editing quicker, smoother and (if you do it right!) cheaper. Self-editing can be a painful chore if you’re not a detail person, for sure, but it’s well worth doing. My fellow workshop presenter Patrick Allington will be giving guidance on how to do it during the Editing Bootcamp. Look critically at your chapter titles, headings, paragraph structure, syntax, and punctuation; run spelling and consistency checkers; proofread your own work, onscreen or on paper. Step back, for a short time, and pretend you didn’t write the book. Be your own worst critic. What would distract you from the core meaning or message if you were reading it for the first time? Where do you see inconsistencies of fact, style, language or formatting? Remove the tripwires.

3. Have you run your work past someone else?

A copyeditor is certainly a fresh pair of eyes. But if you’re hiring a professional, you can expect to pay a professional fee, and a copyeditor isn’t going to review your work for issues like narrative drift, irritating protagonists or a downer of a conclusion (though a developmental editor will – but that’s another post!). So, it’s a good idea to get someone you think is an eagle-eyed reader to do an editorial dummy-run. They won’t pick up all the textual details that a pro editor will spot, but they will be able to give you a good idea of what kinds of issue a new reader will find in your work. Again, it’s about testing out your writing, at one remove from you, so that the manuscript is as tight and resolved as possible by the time your editor starts work.

So, you’re ready? Let’s get started.

How do you find a qualified professional editor, assess their suitability, figure out what to pay them, and brief the editing work you want done? I’ll be sharing tips on all this at my ‘What is Editing?’ workshop on the morning of Friday 16th May. Come along and find out whether your manuscript is truly ready for its editorial close-up.

Dr Katy McDevitt AE is Principal Editor at Katy McDevitt Editorial Services and Publisher at Simply EBooks SA. She has worked with dozens of authors throughout her career, as a copyeditor, proofreader and publisher, and she loves collaborating with writers to help them achieve their publishing goals. She is leading a workshop for authors, called ‘What is Editing?’, as part of the Editing Bootcamp on 16th May.


Plotter, Pantser, Necromancer (for teenagers)

By Vikki Wakefield

One of the questions most commonly asked of a writer is: where do you get your ideas from? Short answer: ideas are everywhere. An idea is  the brilliant start to everything, a comet of the imagination, a blazing possibility that will fizzle and die if you don’t pay it some attention. The  bigger question is: how can I turn an idea into a story?

You know you’re a writer if a) you write and b) you constantly waver between states of acute observation and dazed daydreaming. It’s like you can suddenly see through a filter to another dimension where the shadows of ideas are always jostling past. Everything—headlines, movies, music, overheard conversations—has the potential to become a story. If you’re a writer, finding ideas will not be the problem—the hard part is choosing, working out whether your fledgling idea has the legs to carry through to a complete short story or whole novel, pushing through disenchantment, roadblocks and indecision.

The best way to prepare for this journey is to start hoarding the elements for a story. Ideas don’t have a use-by date. You have time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a plotter (you outline before you start to write), a pantser (you let the story lead where it will) or you channel the spirits of the dead (please show me how to do this)—essentially all writers need to nail a process to make their ideas BIGGER.

In my workshop, as part of the Writing Bootcamp for Teenagers,  we’ll be talking about the genesis of ideas (including some surprising ideas/beginnings from acclaimed YA books, straight from the authors’ mouths), training our minds to look for the pathways to a story and finding those elements we need to travel the whole journey. And the next time someone says, ‘Hey, I have a great idea for a story’, you’ll have perfected your response: ‘I’m looking forward to reading it once it’s written’.

Or, you know, you can just say, ‘Pffft’.

Vikki Wakefield is an award-winning author of contemporary Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel All I Ever Wanted won the inaugural Adelaide Festival Award for Young Adult Literature in 2012, and her second novel Friday Brown is a 2013 Children’s Book Council Honour Book. Her novels have been widely shortlisted for state and federal awards and published overseas in the US, UK and Germany. She would also like to mention that she failed Year 12 – convincingly. Vikki lives in the Adelaide foothills with her family, a blue-eyed dog and a nasty cockatiel.

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