Tanara McCauley

Culturally Imagined Stories

Book Review of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & David King


I loved, loved, loved this book! And at the risk of breaking the “once is usually enough” rule I’ll say it again, I loved this book!

Writing, like any other art form, might be born a talent; but it will soon die without some level of technique. In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne & King reveal enough technique to put even the most pedestrian author on the path to literary success.

Ahem. For the sake of time I’ll forego editing this blog post to the standards set forth in the book and simply share why it’s a must have for every author.

Browne & King use a blunt but humorous approach to outline what writers need to get rid of, add, tweak, and try; then toss in the hows and whys for good measure. You walk away with a better understanding of point of view–why your hick from the sticks shouldn’t think of the sun as a timeless orb whose golden fingers caress the horizon.

Adverbs–the amateur author’s best friend–become all but taboo. Because as Browne & King explain, “when you use two words, a weak word and an adverb, to do the work of one strong verb, you dilute your writing and rob it of its potential power.” (p. 198)

They do drop one f-bomb. And I am sooooo not a fan of the f-bomb. But they use it to prove a point about the use of unnecessary swear words in writing. Point successfully proven.

Writers, particularly new ones, tend to guard the words they’ve written like a newborn child. When someone suggests a change, said author might smile on the outside, then place the critic on their “do not ask again for they know not what they’re talking about” list. Such a writer will either sink into oblivion with the poor work they’ve written, or worse, become known for it. To avoid either, get a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, which I gave 5 out of 5 stars. Read it, study it, highlight it, read it again, give it a permanent, accessible home on your writing desk, and watch your writing morph into something far beyond your expectations.


4 responses to “Book Review of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & David King”

    • You and I both :-). In a perfect world we all hit the ground running with both shoes on the right feet. In a not so perfect one–the one we live in–we run out the door still pulling up one pants leg. That’s part of the beauty of the journey though right. God bless you!

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