Carol Kean's Reviews > Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne
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Dec 06, 11

Recommended to Carol by: I found it at a book store
Recommended for: all fiction writers
Read on January 01, 1999 — I own a copy, read count: 5

The "bible" for all writers, the most-recommended of all the many how-to-write books out there. You'll still want your Strunk and White if you don't understand grammar and syntax, but this book is the most articulate, easy to read and understand of the fiction writing manuals. A great investment. Funny thing is: you'll read this and think, "I know exactly what they mean. Of course I don't write like that." Then you'll submit your manuscript to a critique group (most likely, all members are disciples of Browne and King, even the newcomers from Asia or India), and they'll catch you at every little thing you thought you were above doing. But when someone ELSE betrays amateurism in his or her prose, it'll be so obvious, you'll shout, "This is EXACTLY what Browne and King were talking about. The man didn't take off his shoes *as* he was walking into the tent, unless he's an acrobat." But as Dave King says at his website, he's "a little scared at the influence of Self-Editing--too many beginners take the advice Renni and I give and turn it into rules. We tried to warn against that sort of thing a little more strongly in the second edition, but I think it still happens."

Indeed, I've seen workshoppers who turned advice into RULES which they use as battering rams to beat newbie writers into humble submission. Well, most of us are nicer than that, but there is indeed a sub-cult out there who consume the wisdom in this book and like Moses and his stone tablets, they pound sinners who over-use the was + -ing construction.

This book keeps selling and getting reprinted because it's GOOD. My #1 recommendation to writers. Even published writers say they like to revisit this one periodically. It's amazing how we forget the wisdom we've picked over the years, and get sloppy...
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