Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Need practical techniques for editing your own work? Still time to register for Secrets of the Dark Arts April 10

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Apr• 08•21

In case you missed my workshop, Secrets of the Dark Arts last fall, I’m teaching it this Saturday, April 10 at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. It’s part of the Mystery Writers of America Conference, Northwest Chapter.

Here’s the link for more information on registering.

Secrets of the Dark Arts: Revising, Rethinking, Rewriting

Revision is a learned skill and like many others requires a strategy.

This workshop is designed for fiction writers and memoirists to help you refine your first draft in thoughtful, organized steps. Step 1 begins with the macro picture that focuses on structure and determines if the central dramatic question carries through all the three acts.  It’s where you first address pacing and plug any plot holes.  You’ll make certain you’ve included all the necessary scenes and start weeding out the chaff. You’ll question if you need all the characters and subplots.  The first pass also focuses on balance and determines if there is too much or not enough exposition.

Step 2 focuses on making it more immersive while tracking your key characters, homing in on motivation and goals. Step 3 examines individual subplots, scenes, and dialogue. Are the subplots needed and can they be tightened?  Do the scenes contain tension and forward momentum and have you included cliffhangers?

Step 4 (finally!) means you’ve reached the copyediting stage where you refine until you cannot stand it anymore are satisfied.  You might still be tightening, fixing typos and punctuation, while placing “perfect words in perfect places”, amping up verbs and adding music to your prose through alliteration and figurative language. This workshop includes a cornucopia of cheat sheets and handouts as you learn tricks of the trade from a developmental editor with more than 25 years of experience.

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