Perhaps the wisest thing I ever did was leave the US.  The first song I learned as a child was Tex Ritter’s “Don’t Fence Me In.”  My sister sneered at my obsession with freedom. “You ARE free!”  (I do look back and wonder why a 4-year old composed piano music about “I Want to Be Free.”)

It was actually pretty easy to go, but staying away for 18 years does get intense. The day I watched 9/11 on TV in Dharamsala, India, I knew things wouldn’t be normal for a long time to come. Things would change like lightning — and they have.  You’ve seen those changes, since you were born. I just drop in and leave.


Writing.  What would YOU like to write?  Your websites show good writing skills. Flash Fiction?  Poetry?  Paranormal Romance Novels?  Let me know.  If it isn’t something I usually do, I’ll get experts.  OK?


Today’s lesson is about Editing.  Here are a few on-line dictionaries to help you.




http://literary-devices.com/.  this one seems authentic.  I use the one in UK library in Delhi and xerox theirs. I also use this site:

http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/  It’s well-organized and ‘human.’  When I taught in China one year I was horribly alienated.  They replied to my occasional questions about literature. The site has time-lines and lots of poetry, too. No registration or passwords.


  I looked for a free online book of literary terms. They wanted to sell the dictionary but had advice for how-to write a book!

Today let’s work on editing the book, or a long manuscript you’re working on.  These ideas apply to shorter things you’re writing, too.  Let’s just get started today.  Forgive me for being very late again. These midnight posts, like yesterday, are hard on me.  Have you written for publication yet?  Then you’ll understand!

There is the school that says “Just write!  Don’t edit until you get to page 300, after a month.   Don’t even re-read what you’ve done until then..”   I offer a slightly different way of doing this.

Writers love to read what they’ve written; it’s a big part of the fun.  The trick is not to get swamped by it so you stop.  You can read and edit in batches of 4 pages, then spell-check after a few days and read through what you’ve written so far.  Keep notes to yourself in your general project’s folder and/or a ‘sticky’ from ‘gadgets.’ 

Batch editing after a few pages or after a work session can also mean editing work you did from 9 until noon or 1 pm – 4 pm’s work.  

Starting back to work: don’t keep editing. Read only as much as you need to so you can continue.  If your memory’s really a problem, by all means read a page before you start again, then write.  

Another kind of editing is line-editing or very careful reading, line by line. Some people recommend daily scanning or fast reading. I go for the happy medium, trying to keep The Big Picture, or the complete story, in my mind’s eye.  I honestly now see, with part of my mind, the book’s market plan, and if I’m adhering to what I said I’d do to make the book enjoyable and something people will buy.  (These are rough financial times, right?)

It seems like centuries have passed since I edited by hand, though it was only two years ago, in China. I haven’t found any editing program that isn’t horrible — invasive, time-consuming, bossy — so I do my editing myself.  I admit that R.A. Lafferty’s Slow Tuesday Night influenced me: machines that interject just the right among of adjectives…

Anyway, I just read what I’ve written. I make my changes, and keep the old document. I save my changes under a new name so it’s not in marble. I can go back to where I was before I changed things.

I look for big stuff: are the protagonists wooden?  Straw men and women?  Silly?  Is the dialogue idiotic?  What about dialogue tags?  Do I want to just say “he said,” like I promised myself I’d do?  Too much description?  Did I repeat myself?  Purple prose?  Too many compound sentences? Too choppy?  Sentence too long and involved? (There must be a better way of saying this!)

I try not to get flustered (and to my mind, pretentious) about the ‘mot juste’ (the exact word).  If you’re writing high falutin stuff you have to use le mot juste.  If so, you’re also using a fancier teacher than M Davis Writes!

We’ll continue again tomorrow:  I promise I’ll be here earlier.  Keep ‘liking’ and ‘following’ me and sending me your sites.  I read each one, by the way.  

Love from Chiang Mai,  Mary Ann/Martine/Ace

The photo is from a Hindu pilgrimage village in the mountains of North India.  I went to this temple daily for years, then I walked in the mountains…


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