On January the 30th, we held the first in our series of 2016 workshops, Developmental Editing: the Editing Skills Every Writer Needs. This full day program offered four guest speakers, plus offered one-on-one critiques of manuscripts. We were supported by a strong attendance – the venue was full! – with writers coming from the Guild, the Hagley Writers School and the wider Christchurch community.
We started the program at 10am, with an introduction by Janine Lattimore, the Guild secretary. Then our first guest speaker, Barbara Arnold took the stage to discuss “Dialogue and the Traps”.
Barbara is an author and has previously tutored at the University of Canterbury. She is also published in various collections and has penned a series of historic novels available through Amazon and your local library.
She first talked us through the basics of dialogue and its role in narrative: how it can reveal information in an accessible manner (including backstory), show a character’s personality and relationships, and advance the plot, amongst other functions. Any dialogue that does not fulfil any of the above is nothing more than filler, and should be reconsidered or removed from the narrative.
Dialogue should also be realistic, but not real, and every character needs a “voice” of their own. And, I’m sure many of you will be pleased to note: bad grammar is perfectly acceptable in dialogue, as are cliches (although please do not overdo the latter).
We also discussed dialogue tags – the overuse of “said”, when to replace it with other adjectives, and when not to, as well as alternatives to using tags at all. For a bit of fun, we got to list adjective alternatives, which could change the shape of the story somewhat dramatically. Best bit of advice: alternatives are powerful tools, to be used sparingly and to the best impact. And an adjective is better than an adverb. (ie: ‘”stop!” he shouted’ VS ‘”stop!” he said loudly.’)
Second presenter was freelance editor, Judy Mohr, speaking on “What is Editing? Why and Who?”
Beginning first with the “who needs an editor?” (answer: anyone who intends to share their book with the world), she educated us on the various types of editors available and various stages of editing: from developmental editor to the final copy-editor and proofreader. Also, sharing with us a few tips and tricks to make the way easier – and cheaper – for self-publishers.
Her lecture was particularly useful because it highlighted how many different stages there are to the editing process; finishing the first draft is a huge achievement, but it is really only the first step upon your publishing journey. Finding beta readers, compatible critiquing partners and a good editor are all necessary in transforming your story from a manuscript into a strong and polished novel. And yes, I’m afraid that does involve a lot of work – and several exhausting rewrites!
You can read a little of her lecture here.
We then parted for a short lunch, before continuing on with the afternoon lectures.
Deb Donnell, of Keswin Publishing and Writing Diamonds was one of our sponsors for this event. She set up a lovely display with Keswin Publishing’s Christchurch-themed books: Responders, and Christchurch, NZ 2015, as well as her introductory books to the Writing Diamond Publishing System.
She also provided her services as one of our Editors in the Critiquing Program.
The workshop was sponsored by:
The Workshop Report will continue next week.