drafting, Editing, Kindle, revising, Writing

Editing made easy

Okay, not easy. Easier.

You’ve probably heard that reformatting your word processing page single-spaced with narrow margins (making it look more like a book page) is one way to get fresh eyes on your work-in-progress. Even better, if you have a Kindle, try the personal document feature (Send to Kindle) to examine your manuscript. A different format helps you notice problems. For example, until I read my current project on Kindle, I didn’t see I needed another sentence in the first paragraph.

If you’re like me, you edit as you write. All advice is against this, but too bad, I can’t help it. Often when I finish a scene I examine it in MS Word’s two-page view. This is very handy for seeing across a lot of text, spotting sentence pairs with identical construction, the same word repeated too often, etc.

I hope at some point you read your text aloud, a tried and true method to reveal shabby writing. And here’s my newest technique:

Don’t just read your text aloud, record it! Then listen to it while you study your word processing page.

When you think you’re ready to publish, don’t. Submit your work to a critique group like critiquecircle.com. Not every bit of advice you receive may work for your project, but CC writers can teach you a lot. Some writers post several drafts of each novel whether they intend to submit it to an agent or self-publish.

Finally, if you self-publish, be kind to your book and hire an editor. It’s what every publisher does.



Editing, ing words, participle phrases, phrases at the beginning of sentences, Writing, writing strong sentences

Write Better Sentences, Part 1

It’s a tedious topic among writers: Is it all right to begin a sentence with an ING word?teacher.books.clip

Yes’s and No’s abound. Here’s my take. You may find some of it a little different.

First, to avoid being a “dangling participle,” an ING word that starts a sentence should have, immediately after the comma, a noun or pronoun that’s the doer of its action. Like this: Shining through the clouds, the sun warmed the deck. The sentence is grammatically correct because the sun is the doer of the participle’s action (shining). I consider it a poor sentence, though, for another reason.

This one is worse: Warming the deck, the sun shone through the clouds. Why worse? Like the other, it’s grammatically correct. I think it’s worse because the idea that appears to be less important (shone) is given the stronger position, the verb.

That brings me to my  nitpick with participle phrases whether placed at the beginning of a sentence or following the words they modify. When we make a verb into a participle (verb form) it loses some of its strength. Therefore, we should not write the more important idea as a participle. Warming the deck (with emphasis going to sun shone down) is not as strong as The sun warmed the deck. (I sense a few readers clicking away to a more interesting topic. Never mind. This is for the few who need to care about such nuances.) A better sentence altogether, in my opinion, would be The sun warmed the deck. (We assume it’s shining).

Here’s another kind of participle problem: Running down the street, the girl stopped at the curb. What’s wrong with this one? To me it feels illogical. Can the girl run and stop at the same time? I think the  action of the introductory participle phrase should happen at the same time as the action of the main verb.

We’ve been taught to use participle phrases for sentence variety, so we use them to death. I suggest that writers (1) skim over their copy to see how many paragraphs they’ve started with phrases, and (2) greatly curtail the use of participles unless they’re the best choice for the sentence and the idea. I’ll watch for good examples and present my findings in Part 2. (maybe)

Agree? Disagree? Join in. Maybe I’ll learn something and get help for Part 2.


Amazon, Drafts, ebook publishing, Editing, Kindle, Kindle Personal Documents, Kindleboards, Project Gutenberg, Research

I love Kindle’s “Personal Documents” feature

I’ll start with our personal use of Kindle’s Personal Documents.

My husband prefers to read and store important manuals and technical documents on his Kindle. If they exist on the web as word processing or PDF files, they normally can be sent successfully to Kindle.

I use the personal document feature to send chapters of my novel-in-progress to the Kindles of a few readers for early reactions. Seeing pages on Kindle gives me a different sense of the flow and pace of the story, something helpful for editing.

I also put research on my Kindle. Recently when I wanted to know more about mules used in transportation, I downloaded then sent to my Kindle a reprinting of The Mule, an instructive document written by Harvey Riley in 1867, made available by Project Gutenberg. Underlining and notes made on the Kindle are easier to retrieve than on paper or in a hard-copy book.

Other neat uses found on a Kindleboards forum: Shopping lists, driving schedules, camera manuals, notes for presentations—anything you want to take along in a compact format.

One of the best: A teacher puts her lecture notes on her Kindle and lets the Kindle read them aloud as she drives to work. Also great: A mom puts her kids’ textbooks on Kindle. Another mom surprised and delighted her daughter by sending to her Kindle a story the girl had written.

You can find your Kindle’s email address on Amazon by going to Your Account/Manage your Kindle. On the left side of that page, find the menu for Personal Document Settings. Clicking that link takes you to a page where you see the email addresses of Kindles to which you can send personal documents.

To exchange files with other Kindle owners, you need to add their Kindle addresses and they need to add your email address on their Approved Personal Document Email list, which is also on that page. In other words, exchanging files this way requires something to be done by both parties.


To send a file to a Kindle, attach it to an email that you send to the designated Kindle address. The address will be something like yourname@Kindle.com. In the subject heading, I type ‘Convert’ but I’m not sure if that’s necessary. Remember, the Kindle’s address is preset, and you find it on your Personal Document Settings page.

You can find other options for sending files to Kindle and Kindle apps at http://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle.

Kindleboards posters noted problems in sending some types of PDF files to Kindle. You can find their discussion and solutions here: http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,134169.0.html

How have you used Kindle’s Personal Documents?