Five Awesome Books on Self-Editing

Five Awesome Books on Self-Editing

IMG_4888Following on from our latest blog about When and Why you need an Editor for your novel, I’m recommending five of the very best books on self-editing.

These lifesavers have bailed me out of trouble countless times, and they’re recommended reading for any author. They will help get your book to the best that it can be in your hands, before you submit it to an editor, proofreader or beta reader.



An all-rounder …

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell is designed for the writer who has finished their first draft. Now the fun begins! Bell explores a range of invaluable techniques relating to plot, structure, character, theme, etc. and includes ways to tighten your work to help keep readers hooked. This is absolutely my favorite book on editing. Perhaps that’s down to Bell’s experience as a teacher of writing, because his instructions are crystal clear, and once you’re done reading you’ll be clawing at the computer to get to your manuscript. This is one of those books where you know you’ve become a better writer just by reading it.


Getting the grammar right …

Here’s one focused on the copy editing side of things. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White was first published over half a century ago and is as indispensable now as it was then. Frankly, this is a must have for any writer of any writing discipline. What’s the difference between a colon and a semi-colon? Am I using commas correctly? Can you refresh my memory about adverbs and adjectives? This book covers it all. And, quite conveniently, it’s of portable size. I try to read it at least twice a year (airport departure lounges being my venue of choice).


Characters from a Sci-Fi wizard …

I had no idea that Orson Scott Card wrote a book on Characters & Viewpoint, but he did! I found this gem one day while browsing the book store. Scott Card famously wrote the sci-fi masterpieces Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, however this book is firmly grounded in reality. You’ll discover tips and tricks to make your characters leap off the page, plus methods for using point of view to your advantage. I found it very useful after I had finished my first draft; I was able to go back into my manuscript and boost many of the character details. I even rewrote several scenes, because the book convinced me that I was not using the strongest possible point of view character available to me.


A highly regarded entry …

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King is regarded as one of the very best books on editing for fiction. Just check those ratings and reviews! The book expertly offers tutorials in showing not telling, point of view, dialogue, interior monologue and voice, among much more. Granted, with reading so many editing books you are going to be covering the same ground again, but who would consider that a negative? Personally, I can’t have enough books on editing. It’s like having one hundred different masters.


Collection of wisdom …

Another entry from Sir James Scott Bell is Writing Fiction For All You’re Worth. This is more a compendium of the numerous article and blog posts about writing that Bell submitted to the world wide web. Although, it does contain new material too. This is another must read book that will get you thinking critically about your work. Personally, I can read this one at any stage of my writing process, but if you’ve just finished a draft of your work then this book will suitably inspire you to go back and improve your efforts.

Of course there are countless books on editing, but these were just five of my favorites. Did I miss a great one? Please share your thoughts!

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