Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print

By Renni Browne and Dave King, Illustrated by George Booth

Published by Quill: Harper Collins in 1993.

In 2004, I was in an amazing critique group called the Mudskippers (For a 5 minute video about nature’s mudskippers click here.) As a group we Mudskippers read together and IMG_1400discussed a little book that has proven to be an invaluable resource for me year after year. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself  into Print.

At only 200 pocket-sized pages it seems slight. But every line of every page is packed with useful information.

I give this book 5 out of 5 highlighters.              MARKER_1 MARKER_1 MARKER_1 MARKER_1 MARKER_1

Browne and King’s twelve chapters cover with clarity and precision key areas that every fiction writer needs to hone.

  •       Showing AND Telling
  •       Characterization and Exposition
  •       Point of View
  •       Dialogue (two chapters)
  •       Interior Monologue
  •       Easy Beats (for dialogue)
  •       Using white space for dialogue and pacing
  •       Unintentional repetition
  •       Proportion (finding the right balance of details in description and action)
  •       Sophistication (avoiding constructions that slow the story down such as –ing and      as clauses and phrases.)
  •       Voice (definition and tips on encouraging developing your distinctive fiction voice.)

Incredible techniques for writing and critiquing fill every chapter.

Reading and re-reading Self-Editing made me aware of subtle characteristics that make writing great instead of good, and how to both identify and use those characteristics to elevate my writing to a higher level – a publishable level.

Probably the most useful thing I absorbed from Browne and King’s Self-Editing is something I use every time I write, revise, re-write or critique.



Assume that your reader is intelligent and can figure some things out for her/himself.

  •       Resist the urge to add too much description or detail.
  •       Resist the urge to use adjectives and adverbs instead of strong nouns and verbs.
  •       Resist the urge to give your reader more than a smathering of backstory.
  •       Resist the urge to use a lot of interior monologue – thoughts.
  •       Resist the urge to give your reader information dumps.
  •       Resist the urge to write a paragraph when a sentence will do.
  •       Resist the urge to TELL me about your character or plot when you can SHOW me.

I have a long way to go as a writer. But Self-Editing has brought me a long way from my first attempts. I believe that putting into practice the fundamentals in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers has transformed much of my writing from ordinary to something special.

And that something special is what agents, editors and readers are looking for.




Author: Jean Matthew Hall

I'm in a new phase of my life. And I'm enjoying the journey and the challenges that go with it. I love being Mama, Meme, writer, friend, sister and encourager. I pray that in all of these roles I show Jesus to the people around me.

One thought on “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print”

Comments are closed.