Self-Editing: How to edit when every word is priceless (continued)

Whether you are a fiction or nonfiction writer, you have to edit your work. But what if your family and friends tell you that your writing is so good you should not change a word?
Well, they are wrong. Every work can benefit from objective analysis and editing. In this workshop, we discuss how to improve our stories with better word choice, eliminating repetitions and clichés, shorter sentences and paragraphs, clarity, toning down the melodrama, creating mystery and suspense, unloading too many ideas, clarifying the point of view and voice, refining the characters and dialogue, adding detail to the action and using the active voice.
The purpose of journalism is to convey information, usually as quickly as possible. The purpose of creative writing, as in novels and memoirs, is to withhold information until the last possible moment. More than anything else, we creative writers are entertainers.
Word choice
When we like a word, sometimes we tend to keep using it. Our role is to create variety in our choice of words and depth of meaning.
Clichés and repetitions
Sometimes we want to repeat a word or phrase for emphasis, but more often we need to delete or rewrite a repetition. Most of the time, we want to eliminate clichés, which are words or phrases that once meant something but have been used so often they have lost their meaning. We discuss how to transform repetitions and clichés into meaningful statements.
It’s easy to get carried away in our writing and “overwrite” or create melodrama that tends to make a serious sentence laughable. How can we tone down our writing so that doesn’t happen?
Creating mystery and suspense
There are many ways to create mystery and suspense, but one of the most effective ways is to write so the most important thought comes last, either in a sentence, paragraph, scene or chapter. We examine how to achieve mystery and suspense while editing.
Too many ideas
We often pack too many ideas into one sentence or paragraph. Then we have the obligation to develop every idea, and that makes our task quite daunting.
Point of view, Voice
Who tells the story? Is it you, a character or an omnipotent narrator? Is the story in first person or third person? Whose voice does the reader hear?
What does a character need to “flesh” him or her out? What personality or physical attributes? What can we write into the character to make him or her work?
Dialogue is not conversation, but it has to sound like it is. How do we accomplish this? How do we edit dialogue so it doesn’t just convey information, but feeling, mystery and suspense?
Common editing problems
We review common editing problems and how to correct them. Problems such as wordiness, incorrect subject-verb agreement, passive versus active voice, awkward sentence structure, punctuation slips, spelling errors, wrong capitalization, overdoing adverbs, telling instead of showing, overuse of adjectives, abstract versus concrete nouns, use of qualifiers and contractions, correcting or not correcting poor grammar. We discuss these problems keeping in mind that, depending on the context, a mistake may or may not be wrong.
That’s entertainment
Writing to me is sacred. But for many readers it is entertainment first. How can we edit and rewrite to entertain and inform at the same time?
Morning session
In the morning session, we discuss common editing problems and how to edit story elements.
Afternoon session
During the afternoon, we will focus on examples from both literature and from your own writing, if you wish to share.
Writing skill level: Beginner to Advanced.
Prerequisite: You have written a book, article or short story.
Time: 9 AM-12 noon. Lunch break. 1 PM–4 PM
Cost: Free workshop

Sign up to reserve your seat!
Important Note: If you sign up, but cannot attend, please call at least two days before.
Instructor: Allen R. Kates, MFAW
Contact Information: Tucson, AZ. (520) 616-7643.
You covered material I had no idea I needed to consider.”

     —Harold Marshall, Sonoita, AZ

About the Instructor
Allen R. Kates, MFAW, is a professional book editor, writing coach, ghostwriter, and author. He has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFAW) degree, an Arizona Community College Teaching Certificate, is Board Certified in Emergency Crisis Response (BCECR) by the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and has conducted many writing workshops. He is author of the bestseller, CopShock, Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); among other books, he was the ghostwriter for Just Plain Dorothy, by Dorothy H. Finley, and Gifts My Father Gave Me, by Sharon Knutson-Felix.
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