Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter Word

Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter Word

How to create the best first impression

All you need to know about polishing your fiction for today's competitive market


A one-stop refresher course in editing fiction, suitable for both new writers and more experienced ones. When to edit, how to edit, why to edit – and when not to edit. The different stages of editing. Checklists, examples, and advice from other writers, editors, competition judges and a literary agent.


Packed with useful, down-to-earth workable advice from successful authors on honing and polishing your prose, this is an invaluable tool for all writers. It's also very readable, featuring chatty interviews. I have to confess that I'm featured in it, but don't let that put you off! ~ Iain Pattison, Goodreads

EDIT IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD Book review by Steve Bowkett This is a very thorough and highly practical manual for all writers wishing to submit their work to potential literary agents, editors or competitions. Glynis Scrivens’ style is light, readable and authoritative without ever becoming didactic or overly prescriptive. Indeed, one of the central messages of the book is that while editing is an essential part of the writing
there is no
formula or
golden rule
for doing it.
Every writer
will evolve
his or her
own working
methods over
time. This
point is well
illustrated by contributions from a range of authors, including Simon Whaley and Lynne Hackles who have long-standing associations with NAWG. The book is well set out into accessible sections – The Nature of Editing, The Stages of Editing and Editing in Practice. These are further broken down into smaller chapters that cover, as one would expect, aspects of punctuation and grammar but also more unusual topics such as ‘when NOT to edit’, ‘when does rewriting stop and editing begin?’ and ‘reasons not to use spellcheck’. Contributing authors also deal with editing for different forms of writing such as the novel, short story and magazine article. The book concludes with some useful tips from a number of editors themselves who explain their own editing techniques, plus advice on how to judge when the editing process is finished. I highly recommend this book for all of us who strive for the highest standards when seeking to ‘make our work public’. ~ Steve Bowkett, Link magazine NAWG

As an editor, the title of this slim volume Edit is a Four-Letter Word by Glynis Scrivens caught my eye on the new book display in my local library. It is a guide for fiction writers on how to edit their own work, but still relevant to all writers. Here are some messages I liked from the author and other writers in the book: Edit is a four-letter word which requires other four-letter words: hard work, task, slog, pain and time. Editing is all about creating a good first impression. Aim for maximum impact with minimum words. A badly edited piece of work will appear to be poorly written. Language is your tool – use it wisely. 90% of writing is rewriting. Editing will transform your first draft. For fiction writers, “edit” is the only path to other four-letter words: book deal, sale, cash and fame. Writers can and should edit their own work and a professional editor can add even more value. ~ Dr Rhonda Daniels,

What a wonderful way to help writers! It’s packed with helpful information, but in an entertaining way that makes it all so much more acceptable and interesting. I’m sure many people will be grateful for all you have written here, so succinctly and pleasingly. ~ Peter Lovesey

This is an invaluable book for any writer out there who struggles with editing. The advice is clear and concise and was just what I needed at the time as I was struggling with writing a new book. This book helped me define when was best for me to edit. ( I had been editing as I went along and felt that I was becoming frustrated as my work wasn't flowing well.) I found it very encouraging reading how established authors approached editing. In fact this book is full of great insights from people who are successful at their art. It shows different ways of doing things. The author is engaging and straightforward. I enjoyed it immensely. ~ Colette Brown, amazon

If you never read past the first line of Glynis Scrivens’ ‘Edit is a Four-Letter Word’ you will find that the author has imparted one piece of creative writing knowledge that will last a life-time – “Editing starts when writing is finished.” I know from the experience of tutoring writers’ workshops that a large number of scribblers will write, re-write, hone, and sharpen every sentence, paragraph and chapter before moving on to the next – and wonder why they never get around to finishing an article, short story or novel. In fact, untimely editing is one of the most popular displacement activities a writer can indulge in to prevent them from getting on with their writing projects. Glynis Scrivens manages to take the boring subject of ‘editing’ and transform it into a highly entertaining guidebook that should be read by every fledgling writer – and rather than sounding like a bossy English teacher, her style is chatty, inclusive and above all, instructive. With a growing interest in self-publishing via e-books, I would recommend that you don’t take another step until you’ve read this book from cover to cover. Suzanne Ruthven: Author and freelance writer ~ Suzanne Ruhven, FB/Compass Books Blog

Practical, clear, easy to read and understand, Glynis’s book is perfect for those who quake at the thought of editing their work. In her no nonsense, no waffle account anyone who gets in muddle polishing their work will gain confidence as they journey through the pages of this book. It starts with the all important advice of when NOT to edit and leads us through the editing process to the point of knowing when to stop! Glynis has interviewed writers, editors, competition judges and literary agents for an overview of what good editing entails and it is interesting to see how other writers approach the editing process. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the various methods from different writers, which illustrated clearly that what works for one might not work for another. There is a confidence that comes from learning that there is no one right or wrong way just the way that works for you and this book offers it in abundance. There is a clear explanation of grammar, different types of editing, common mistakes and exercises to strengthen your editing skills. Her subtitle -How to Create the Best First Impression says it all. When sending out your work it needs to be polished and professional and with this book to hand you’ll be able to achieve that with ease. ~ Tracy Baines

Don’t know how to edit your work? Not sure when it’s ready to send out? Glynis Scrivens’ book answers all your questions. Follow the excellent advice given by Glynis and the experienced contributors she has included and reap the rewards. If you are serious about sending out your best possible work you cannot be without Edit Is A Four Letter Word. ~ Lynne Hackles

Edit Is A Four Letter Word will show you how to fine-tune your editing procedure. A writer’s editing process is as personal as their writing style, but it’s always useful to know how others do it. As the book says, there is no obvious cut-off point. Knowing when to stop is just as important as knowing what to edit. Even amongst these pages, writers disagree. (Should you have your spellchecker switched on, or off?) But that’s not the point. Glynis has written a book that shares the tips and methods other writers use, enabling you to select, refine, hone and perfect your own editing technique. There’s no right or wrong way to edit: just your way. This book will help you discover your way of editing. ~ Simon Whaley

Whatever you write, a properly edited manuscript can make the world of difference when submitting your work. This book, packed with hints and tips and the experiences of published writers is all you need when setting about the daunting task of editing. Glynis guides you through the process from beginning to end in a friendly and easy to read format. A must for any writer’s bookshelf. ~ Teresa Ashby

Glynis Scrivens
Glynis Scrivens Glynis Scrivens is a full-time writer. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and newspapers in Australia, the UK, Ireland, South Afri...

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