Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print
Authors: Renni Browne and Dave King
Length: 237 pages
Even though this book was published 25 years ago, its advice for aspiring authors is timeless. From those just starting to veterans still polishing their craft, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is perhaps even more relevant today than when it was initially released. After all, the pre-eminence of self-published authors has spawned a plethora of poorly-written and amateur works that seriously need some form of editing. On the plus side, the more self-published authors who take the advice in this book and put it to good use, then perhaps there will be less of a stigma against them in the future.
Breaking down the editing process into 12 distinct parts, this book shows the reader—through numerous examples—how a lousy piece of prose can be edited into something much more palatable. That being said, there are a lot of examples, some of which take up multiple pages. Occasionally, the errors are shown in bold print, which would probably have been helpful in other sections as well, instead of relying on the reader to pick out the problems they just learned how to fix. It also would have been beneficial if the answers to the exercises were placed immediately after each section instead of in an appendix.
It is encouraging to note that this early-90s book recognizes that writing conventions change over time. While many authors want to write “the great American novel,” the definition of what that is has morphed over time as different forms of media have shaped the landscape. Despite all this, there were certainly many chapters that I was able to use to recognize weaknesses in my writing, as well as techniques that I have since become proficient in, merely to be reminded what my writing used to be like.
An excellent guide for authors of all skill levels, I give Self-Editing for Fiction Writers 4.0 stars out of 5.