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on 4 November 2014
A great little book, mercifully short (when you exclude the exercises), full of wise advice and well-written.

If you are a novice writer, you may not appreciate what skill is needed. This eminently practical guide tells you about common pitfalls and how to do better, for example: if the emotion isn't shown, re-write the passage; cut background information to the bare minimum; read every part aloud to find infelicities and the rhythm; interior monologue must be in the character's words; root out adverbs ... and so on.

The advice is conveyed not in lists but in readable prose, with generally good examples (though focusing on middlebrow American writers).
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VINE VOICEon 15 July 2009
Well, perhaps not. But quite honestly, this is the best book I have ever read on how to lift your fiction onto another level. It's clear, sharp and is never boring. It doesn't try to be funny or clever-clever. It just does what it says on the tin. Worth every penny.
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on 4 July 2015
This really is a mixed bag for a book about editing. On one level it tells writers what to look out for in their texts, but on another level, it tells writers how to write in the same way Ursula K. Le Guin's Steering the Craft does. Is this a book about how to write or how to approach editing after you have written? Judging by the title you would expect the latter but unfortunately this is not the case. If you haven't bought any other books on editing then you may well get something out of this. If you have bought Steering the Craft, like me, then you'll want to avoid it.
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on 20 August 2016
Great book for authors about editing and how to improve a draft novel, as well as how to improve your writing.
Topics include - how to show not tell, showing character vs exposition, how to write point of view, proportion of scenes to plot, better dialogue mechanics, writing internal thoughts, concept and practice of beats and breaking up paragraphs, introduction to voice.

I found this book very useful as a self-study guide and introduction to identify improvements in my writing and also how to better understand the framework behind professional author's writing, including the vocabulary for the craft aspects. Together with further in-depth study (and reading) for the deeper aspects of writing (plotting, character development, word choices, structure, voice) this is a must-have for authors on a learning curve. BTW - there are aspects that you may not agree with 100% (perspective for example), however the debate is a valid one and I trust the author's viewpoint as a strong baseline. As the saying goes - first learn the rules before learning how to to break them. The authors also show examples of the difference between expert writing and novice writing, which is a lesson in itself.
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on 10 November 2008
Don't bother with any other books on self editing. This is the one. Everything you need to know is in this book and this book has everything you need to know.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 February 2014
It is embarrassing just how many times I had one of those moments where I just had to slap my forehead and mutter "idiot" to myself as I was reading this book.

I have just finished the first draft of a novel and wanted to get some tips on how to edit it. Trust me when I say that you will almost not want to read this book as you will suddenly think back to all those scenes in your novel where you have done exactly what you shouldn't have and the task looming ahead of you will seem so much greater.

That being said it is rare to finish a book and feel as though I have genuinely learned a lot. There are so many pointers and guidelines in this book that I will definitely re-read until they become gospel in my mind and a second nature when I am writing. I have heard writers talk about some of these things before but it takes the specific examples in this book to make you really understand exactly where you have been making mistakes even when you didn't realise you had been before.

Overall I have a feeling that I will find this book invaluable going forward an I really can't recommend it highly enough to anyone looking to edit their own fiction.
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on 15 December 2008
This is a very helpful book. I've found a lot of the advice very useful indeed and this counts as one of the better books I've read about writing. It's clearly broken down into convenient parts so it can be dipped into should that make it more accessible.

The only book I would recommend to new writers more is Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style," which is truly exceptional and recommended to everyone who writes.
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on 13 November 2016
At times I felt another title would have been more appropriate such as 'How to Write Good Dialogue' for that is both the strength and the weakness of this book. I am disappointed in it for the following reasons. 1. It is just another book on writing fiction and not specifically on editing. 2. The huge number of sometimes lengthy extracts from novels make it seem almost like literary criticism. It also makes for tedious reading. 3. The style is somewhat hectoring, especially in the opening chapters - this is how you should be writing - there is no other way. 4. The type of fiction used as illustration tends towards crime, thrillers, suspense etc. Literary fiction just does not get a look in. 5. At the start of an otherwise good chapter on dialogue the authors give the game away when they claim that "the first thing [an acquisition editor does] is find a scene with some dialogue. If the dialogue doesn't work the manuscript gets bounced." Are these people really so narrow-minded as that. Narrative fiction is a perfectly good and valid genre but the authors give it no place. There are helpful chapters but do not expect too much from this book.
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on 2 August 2013
This book seems to provide a very good overview and insight into the editing process. How much of it can be adopted by the novice to self-edit their work is another matter. However it does provide some good tips that will be of value to those new to the writing discipline and dare I say it to some already published authors.

At the very least by following their more practical tips you will improve your manuscript and then if you choose to hire in some help the process will be simpler, less fraught and less costly. Even if you don't get further editing help the tightening up of the writing and focus on better ways to present your work will make it more suitable for the self-publishing route.

It is true the authors have the "temerity" to suggest improvements to venerated authors, but as these are mostly for books past copyright this should be viewed as a sensible update for modern tastes and styles.

So given one cannot expect a single book to make anyone a professional editor it deserves its 5 star rating.
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on 1 July 2015
I've found some really useful tips in this book for self-editing. I'd never really considered some of the things covered in this book, chapters one and two were especially helpful to me.
You could easily split your work into 4-6 rounds of editing using this book as a guideline.
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