Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King

If you think you’ve noticed an increase in grammar and typographical errors in books and magazines over the last few years, it is because you probably have. Most of the major publishers have cut way back on editing and rely on the writers to provide work that needs minimal reworking. While this has saved the publishing houses a lot of money, it has occasionally resulted in printed work that exhibits a number of errors.

This policy also means that writers are more than ever responsible for the quality of their work, and that publishers are much less likely to consider work that exhibits a multitude of grammar, punctuation or spelling errors. If you are wondering how to get published and worrying that your grammar might not be up to snuff, you are not alone. So, what is a writer to do?

Browne and King come to the rescue with help in just those areas. Both of the authors are professional editors and offer in this book their combined experience to help authors better self-edit their work.

The information that Browne and King offer is generic enough that it can be found elsewhere in greater detail, excluding perhaps one or two little tidbits that I haven’t found discussed in my other readings. What the books does offer, is an overview of the things that professional editors find most important. These are tips on writing a book that the average writer can readily adopt to produce a manuscript with the highest likelihood of sale. Even in the event that Browne and King haven’t provided enough information to correct every individual writer’s problems, most of us are still better off by knowing what problems we have.

I hesitate to recommend this book for absolute beginners. While there is a great deal that a beginning writer can learn from Browne and King, I think the real value will be unrealized until the beginner has gained at least some knowledge in story construction. If I were to tell a beginner that scenes are about people, it wouldn’t mean as much as the same advice would to a writer already somewhat skilled in scene structure. I believe that a beginner would be better off looking at some of the books that cover basic story and scene structure first, then graduate into books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers later.

I’m rating this book for intermediate writers and above.

Four stars overall.
Four stars for ease of reading.
Four stars for usefulness of information

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