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Writing Books/editing a scene


I just finished by first draft of a paranormal romance and now I need to go back and edit it. What are the steps of editing, what things do I need to look for as I go back through it?

This question falls within the category of being too broad to answer in a simple e-mail, but Iíll give some general suggestions that will help.

Congratulations on finishing your first draft!

First, let the book rest, if you can, before you go back and edit it. Once a little time has passed, you will have a better perspective and more objectivity about the editing phase. If you can give it a month, do so, but at the very least, give it a week to breathe before you tackle the editing.

In the first pass or two, look for extraneous things that can be deleted, including wordy phrases, weak scenes, unnecessary chapters, and redundant information or words. Look for ways to tighten, tighten, tighten. If the novel is more than 100,000 words, read Sol Steinís book, Stein on Writing, to learn how to identify weak scenes and chapters and delete them.

Watch out for inconsistencies, lack or organization, and unclear sentences. Also check for weak or missing transitions between scenes. Make sure the main characters stay in character yet grow or change because of the events in the story. Look for too many sentences that begin alike or words that are overused. The second or third edit is also a perfect time to apply my trademarked Find and Refine Method explained and detailed in my book on creative writing, Write In Style. The book tells you exactly what to look for and delete or repair to give your writing more zing and power. It also addresses the most common flaws in manuscripts, so you can avoid them.

The final edit should be the line edit, where you find incorrect word choices, punctuation errors, noncompliance with Chicago Style, and all the other little details that polish the prose to a high shine.  

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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