Quality Books Take Time

Quality Books Take Time Back in the early ’80s there was an ad campaign for Paul Masson wine where Orson Welles famously uttered, “We will sell no wine before its time.” The message was powerful; it conveyed, “We care so much about producing the highest quality wine that we refuse to rush the process. We won’t try to bring it out faster to increase profit. We won’t skimp on the craftsmanship that makes our wine so good. It takes time, and we will give our wine the time it needs.” I couldn’t help thinking about that as I considered what I wanted to say today about the time and craftsmanship it takes to write a high quality book. I’m not talking about a book that everyone has to love. I’m talking about a book that has the basics: a solid story,...
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How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear

How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear Strategies for Writers, part 3 of 3 Is your book too long? Does it feel a bit wordy, perhaps slightly bloated? Or . . . does it feel perfect but it’s a little high in word count? There comes a time in every writer’s life when they need to reduce their word count. Ack! Not my precious words! Even if your word count is fine, most writers would benefit from tightening up their manuscripts before submission. (I, for one, would appreciate it.) But how do you do this? Most writers can significantly shorten their manuscript simply by eliminating extraneous adverbs, adjectives, gerunds, and passive verbs, i.e. things you don’t need anyway. If you cut 10 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already shortened it by 3,500 (unnecessary) words. So how do we do this?...
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Writing and Rewriting

Writing and Rewriting “More than half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.”                                                 ~John Irving   How much do you enjoy the revision process? How much effort do you put into revising? Percentage-wise, how much of your life as a writer is...
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The Editorial Letter

The Editorial Letter We’ve discussed editing before, and it can be confusing that the word “edit” can mean so many different things. In publishing, there are three basic types of edit that a book might go through (although the lines can be blurry): The copyedit: Detailed editing including the nitty gritty of grammar, punctuation, typos, word choice, even fact-checking. The line edit: More concerned with the clear expression of your ideas; internal consistency; word choices; believable dialogue; and other mechanics of the craft. The substantive edit: Sometimes known as the content edit, the developmental edit, or the macro edit, it deals with big-picture issues of story crafting, plot, and character development. For non-fiction, it’s concerned with the clear and logical flow of your ideas, your...
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