Stage II: Self-Editing
(3 of 3)

As stated at the outset, IQ140 is not about teaching you how to write, but to direct you through steps taking your writing to a new level, transforming a raw manuscript into a polished work that an agent or publisher might consider.

The working assumptions are:
  • You've spent some time formulating ideas about your story. You have a handle about where to start, how you might proceed, and a glimmer of how the story may wrap up.
  • You've read a few books that are in the genre in which you wish to write so that you are familiar with the tempo, pace, and rhythm of the idiom.
  • You've read a number of books about the craft so that terms such as pace, rhythm, balance, show & tell, arc of the plot, character development are familiar.
  • You've moved through the last sections, purifying spelling, grammar, punctuation, word frequency and usage, or you understand the work before you when you are ready to do so.

Pacing, Balance, and Show & Tell

Hemingway wrote short sentences and compact paragraphs. Faulkner could protract a sentence for several pages, his longest topping out at 1,288 words. Curiously, it's been said, neither could get published today as readers' tolerances for both extremes has waned. Their works are classics, and as Mark Twain once said, "A classic is a book everyone wants to have read, but no one ever wants to read."

Pacing provides control over how fast readers move through the story, or more skillfully, how fast it seems to the reader. Fast paced action scenes, moderate paced description of surroundings and character interactions, a few slower-paced periods of character self-reflection.

Showing versus Telling, the touchstone of successful writing, delivers images to the reader, allowing their imagination to fill in unrevealed visual dimensions of the story. At its finest, it puts the reader in the scene.

Balance avoids reader fatique by varying the delivery of the story via dialog versus action versus narrative.

It should be evident that these three modalities intertwine and are inextricably connected.


The next editing task is to review and analyse how well these principles have been applied to the manuscript.

If you're an Outliner—and you've followed the outline or modified it as you've made changes—then you have the raw data you need. If you're a Pantser consider scanning through the manuscript and noting the scenes, essentially outlining it after-the-fact to determine how well you've set pacing and balance.

Medias Rea is a Latin term meaning "in the middle of things."

Google search for "Books about plotting a novel"
Google search for "Books about showing versus telling in a novel"




Stage II - Self-Editing page 2
Writing Intermezzo II
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Stage II: Self-Editing
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  Stage II, page 3
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