One of my goals for 2011 is to read a book on the craft of writing in between each work of fiction I read. Lofty goal.
Currently, I'm reading THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White.
Some of the concepts seem basic and obvious, however, oftentimes when we are writing our first, or even second, draft of a WIP, we are so close to the story, we don't see the mistakes.
Which is why we should always "put the book to bed" for an extended period of time to gain distance from the writing and from the story. The time period to walk away from the ms is debateable, but maybe a minimum of three weeks is necessary. Then, when we come back to the ms, we can see it with more objective eyes.
Read one or two books on craft before starting the revision process. Then use the tid-bits gained from these books to help you with your editing.
For example, do a pass through your ms where you only look for misplaced modifiers. Strunk and White list examples of these on page 28 of their book THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE:
Incorrect: "He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center."
Correct: "He noticed a large stain right in the center of the rug."
Plus, by correctly placing the modifier (right in the center), not only does the meaning become more clear, but also two words are eliminated, tightening up the sentence.
For more tips on editing your WIP, click on the "revising" tag on the right side bar of this blog.
What does your editing process look like? Do you put your ms to bed for awhile before starting the revision work?