This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

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Question of the Month is on writing craft…

 What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

Hmm. The advice or training I was given is summed up as “write loose and edit tight.” Meaning get it all out there and sort it out afterwards.

So although I have read Stephen King’s On Writing, and some of the other writing craft books mentioned in my creative writing course, I don’t go and reread them. I write.

Books for Editing

The real work begins when I start editing. Some people might call it redrafting, but in general, I call it editing, unless it’s so bad I have to lose whole chunks and rewrite it from scratch.

Then I refer to all sorts of blogs, most of which are very useful, but some can be confusing. There’s all sorts of useful stuff about editing, and book structure and improving your writing, which I read and digest throughout the year. I stick the best of it on my Pinterest ‘Business of Books‘ folder, and flick through when I need some inspiration. Sometimes things just come up in my inbox. An example is this reminder of filter words (and other things) from Louise Harnby, which I have bookmarked and left open as it’s relevant to what I’m doing right now.

The books I refer to while I’m editing are the excellent Emotion Thesaurus by Ackerman & Puglisi, and my Oxford Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms, which has a permanent bookmark for the entry on ‘look’. This week I discovered I over-use ‘think’ also. Partly because this lot of characters said ‘I think’ a lot, and I’ve stopped them doing it!

Another book I reminded myself about before I started editing was J Lenni Dorner’s wonderful Writing Settings as Characters, and I’ve been attempting to make more of my places as I went. I did make something of them in the first draft, so I took in something from my reading of it at the start of the year! Highly recommended. I also learnt a good deal about structure from his book on Book Reviewing for Authors.

So those are the books I’d recommend if you want to enrich your writing 🙂


I spent most of July editing my scifi book Zanzibar’s Rings, and I did an update last week. I could do with a couple more beta readers, so if you like a science fiction novel with grown-up characters (it’s not YA), or you enjoyed my Rise Up story in April, and have time to read and comment on the beta version, I’d love to hear from you. Just pop a note in the comments and I’ll email you. The beta should be ready by the end of this month, and I’d like comments in October.

My July Sale – please review them!

This year’s July sale was fantastic. I ‘sold’ loads of books–some of them even for real money! If you bought any of them, please feel free to write a review after you’ve read them–it really does help, especially those new ones, the short story collections. Thanks.

#IWSG August 2020 | Writing Craft
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22 thoughts on “#IWSG August 2020 | Writing Craft

  • 4 August, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Editing has been a real struggle for me. I am feeling better after reading your experience. I will need to pick up the emotion thesaurus. I am realizing now that I am far less emotionally aware than I ever considered. Maybe that will help me! Also, your new book sounds awesome. I’m not sure how helpful my feedback would be, but I would love to read it.

    • 4 August, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      I think there’s a difference between being emotionally aware and finding the right clues to show your character’s emotions. I did a lot of stuff on body language a few years ago, and sometimes I ‘disagree’ with how the Thesaurus interprets things, but it still is helpful and makes me really think about what I want this character to do to show the reader what state of mind he’s in. Actually, I find the girls really easy to write! Hmm… must check that. Another editing run-through…

  • 4 August, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    I really like The Emotional Thesaurus too. Glad you sold so many books in July.

    • 4 August, 2021 at 3:11 pm

      The sales were quite a surprise, really. I gave up on it last year, I think. But maybe people are in the mood for short stories?

  • 4 August, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    Wish I had time to read for you.
    The Thesaurus books are great.

  • 4 August, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Im seeing a lot of J Lenni Dorner. Thank you for the recommendation. Editing is certainly the bigger job. And as you rightly said Jemima, what we finally need to do is write!

    • 4 August, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      There’s a lot of J Lenni Dorner about, thank goodness 😉

  • 4 August, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Love the ‘write loose, edit tight’ may have to post that on my computer. I also appreciate your list of books for editing.

    • 4 August, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      It’s one of the reasons I use ‘just put one word after the other’ when people want advice on how to write. Getting the words down is important. Stringing them together well is another issue!

    • 5 August, 2021 at 4:42 pm

      It’s worth it, probably, but then, your writing is full of great ‘show’ anyway 🙂

  • 4 August, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    I do have the Thesaurus books but I glance in them every now and then when I need something specific because I know I will find it there.
    Take care.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    • 4 August, 2021 at 9:41 pm

      Yes, it’s the inspiration when you find yourself saying ‘she’s feeling x,’ and you can’t think of how that might show itself. I run down the list (if I can find the one I want) and go ‘no, no, no, ah…’ I’m tempted to get the new version, because I often find the emotion I want isn’t listed, or sufficiently close to something that is. It’ll probably be in the new version.
      Hope all’s well with you, Pat.

  • 5 August, 2021 at 12:10 am

    Good post. I’m currently in the writing loose stage, and keenly aware that it’s going to be a job and a half cleaning it up!

  • 5 August, 2021 at 1:33 am

    This is a perfect quote, Jemina. I loved it–“write loose and edit tight.” You don’t need more advice than this.

  • 5 August, 2021 at 1:54 am

    That’s the rule I live by too— first get it down, then get it right!

  • 5 August, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    That’s a good point about needing help with editing. I hadn’t even thought of that, but you’re right. I definitely need more help with that. Thanks for the tips.

    • 5 August, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      It helps you focus on things you might otherwise miss. I mean, I’d probably been through it three times before I spotted all those “I think” stutters. I probably say ‘I think’ a lot myself!

  • 5 August, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for your recommendations, Jemima! I’m glad that you sold lots of books in July! Wishing you health and happiness in August and beyond!

  • 12 August, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Hi Jemima – this is a great post about you ‘sort’ your work out and how you find things … then the four books you mention – interesting to see – cheers Hilary

  • 12 August, 2021 at 10:52 am

    I just read something that I want to save for myself:
    Read each scene. What is essential to the narrative plot? What is in it that contributes? What can/should be left out?
    Says it all really.

  • 12 August, 2021 at 11:03 am

    OMG I’ve just noticed the date I put in the header! I won’t change it – the links might mess up.

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