Editing - 10 Steps
by Bonny Franke
Westwood Books Publishing LLC

"The experiences, style, or attitudes of the writer may be the only distractions that deter the story from being well told."

Emerging from written guides produced by Franke for the discussion group Writers Anonymous, a gathering of multi-level writers which she led for four years, this book grew into a comprehensive guide for authors of both fiction and non-fiction writing. Specifically addressing the writer as editor, the book is a valuable tool for any writer wishing to improve skills and produce a clean manuscript.

Consisting of ten chapters, the first tackles the nightmare of many writers: grammar. This subject is handled with understandable examples that illustrate the rules of English grammar most writers have forgotten or are buried deep somewhere in the darkness of their subconscious with the periodic table of elements. Following, one will find chapters expounding on points of view, plots and themes, scenes and settings, characters, action, dialogue, structure, publishing, and a final chapter filled with practical advice on things such as editorial quality, dealing with discouragement, writing query letters, adhering to publishers’ guidelines, dealing with agents, and marketing. Also included is a handy list of items to consider for a final review. The organization and presentation of each chapter falls into a rhythm that lends itself nicely to the writing process with each new chapter building the framework needed to turn the willing writer into a proficient editor.

For many authors, the process of editing comes with much anxiety and procrastination. It isn’t the most loved of all tasks. After all, writing is fun. The rough draft isn’t supposed to be picture perfect or even grammatically correct. However, one wastes much time when there is no plan at the beginning of writing. One of the most valuable aspects of this editing guide is its ability to help even the most lost writer get a grip and grapple with those wayward words, uneven scenes, unnecessary characters, and other horrid hobgoblins before the writing even begins. The author addresses ways in which writers can begin the editing process with the rough draft and carry it through to the completion of the book, saving time and rendering the writing process much easier. Her suggestions are thoughtful and can be easily executed by writers of all levels of expertise.

There is much to learn from the well-presented steps in this short but worthy guide. In just 198 pages, it covers a wide range of subjects in clear and succinct language and cuts straight to the problem, offering solutions to help those at any stage of the craft. It offers a distinct and understandable guide to editing one’s own writing which can lead to a clean, polished manuscript. Clearly, the writer must engage in the act of embracing the editor’s hat in order to produce a well-edited work, and Franke points out the merits of having a good, external editor on board, but any writer who endeavors to learn the art of editing will become a better writer for the effort. This guide is a great place to begin the process. It is unpretentious, easy to follow, comprehensive in scope, and written with an undeniable desire to help the writer who wishes to improve. With today’s market filled with self-publishing opportunities, easily accessible websites, and blogs where one needs to produce clear, well-edited work, this will be a helpful resource for many writers.

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