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Content Editing With Netta

The Second First Step

It's all about the preparation.

Okay, your masterpiece has been marinating in the trunk for a couple of weeks, right?

Yeah, right. Don't lie to me. I can tell. *sigh* You writers are such rebels.

Let's just get on with it, shall we?

You might be a pantser, or you might be a plotter. A pantser will work without an outline, while a plotter outlines their story first, or uses a map, if you will. I'm not here to debate which process is best, except to say there is no right or wrong way to write your story. You do what works for you, whether it's sitting in front of a blank screen and typing your fingers to the bone or you plan everything out on post-it notes, a whiteboard, or scratching in the dirt.

Construct an Outline

In any case, whether you are a pantser or a plotter, the first thing I suggest is constructing an outline based on the completed work. Chances are even if you work from an outline the story may have taken a turn or two you didn't expect. Stories are like that. Or maybe a character popped up and hijacked the train to Albuquerque instead of Spokane. It's all good! But in order to edit properly, it helps to have an accurate outline from which to work. It doesn't have to be detailed, but it does need to show the basic bones of what happens in your story.

Everyone outlines differently. Just like writing your story, there's no wrong or right way, just the way which works best for you. You'll find a worksheet at the bottom of the page which might help you deconstruct your story.

Set Up a Style Sheet

Next, a good idea is to create a style sheet. A style sheet helps you keep track of the correct spelling of your character's names, and maybe a short description including eye color, hair color, and/or other distinguishing physical characteristics. Maybe they have an odd mannerism. It would be nice to have this handy when you're deep in chapter seventeen and can't remember if Martha's eyes are brown or green. You can also utilize the style sheet for the spelling of locations used, unique words, etc. Where a secondary character first shows up, whether they survive or die and in what chapter, historical details and so on. Sometimes this is known as a compendium, and it can be as simple or complicated as you need. An Excel spreadsheet works great for this.

Bugger Those Bug Words!

And finally, start a Bug Word list. Bug words are those words or phrases which can get stuck in your head like a tick. You won't see them at first, but trust me, they are there. Every writer has them, and the tricky thing about them is they'll change from manuscript to manuscript. When you notice them, make a note on your Bug Word list and then you can go on a Search and Find mission to obliterate them.

Below you will find the beginning of a Bug Word list, and we'll cover more about Bug Words in a later module. You'll also find a sample outline template. Go ahead and download those and get yourself situated.

Now. You ready? Let's go!

Questions? Leave a comment in the comment section and I'll answer!


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Copyright © 2015 by Annetta Ribken

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    Annetta Ribken