The Cutting Room Floor

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cutting room floorWelcome back, loyal listeners! This week, Al and Aaron talk about editing techniques they use for their manuscripts. We ran out of time toward the end of the cast and didn’t get to spend as much time talking about the prose side as we’d hoped, so I’ve included (by way of show notes), our list of things we look for when going back through our work. Enjoy.

Editing Categories


Character
MISSING KEY DESCRIPTION—hiding the character.
EMOTION FAULTS—missing or overcooked emotions.
EMOTION TELLING–instead of showing.
CONSISTENCY–character actions are consistent with their personalities
SURPRISE–when does the character do something that surprises me as a writer?

Setting/Scene
MISSING STAGE—Inadequate stage setting.
MISSING ESTABLISHING “SHOT”—reader doesn’t know where he is.
MISSING SCENE BREAK—sudden shift in location

Action
MISSING ACTION—action scene is missing setup, or information, or logical flow.
TIME FAULT—action that takes place in too short a time, too long a time, or in some manner that is improbable.

Plotting
CHRONOLOGY—issues of timing.
FACT FAULT—a factual mistake.

Narration
LOGIC FAULT—action that defies logic
POV FAULT/SHIFT—head jumping
CONTINUITY—consistency in use of names, places, action, etc.
WORD CHOICE—in correct use of a word, or poor choice of word
AWKWARD—sentence needs rewriting, modifiers misplaced, convoluted construction
AUTHORIAL INTRUSION—Author interrupts the story to explain things to the reader.
NARRATOR INTRUSION—Little did he know, dear reader, what danger awaited him in the dimly lit manor. Parenthetical.
TELLING—Telling at the expense of show. Often shown as “he felt,” “she could see,” “he realized,” etc.
STATING THE OBVIOUS—Telling what the reader already knows or has assumed from previous text. (TRUST THE READER)

CONTRIVANCE— a person or item that pops up just in the nick of time.

Prose
PLEONASM—use of unnecessary words, ex, “She blinked her eyes.” What else would she blink.
TAUTOLOGY—saying the same thing twice with different words: free gift, they entered in succession one after the other.
CLARITY—a passage difficult for a reader to understand or misleads the reader.
PROLIX—overwriting, using unnecessary words.
TURGID WRITING—swollen prose, overwritten, bombastic
PURPLE PROSE—flowery, overly descriptive writing.
UNNEEDED ATTRIBUTIONS
SNEAKY PROSE KILLERS–words that sneak in and make our writing loose and sloppy. More info here.

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