Polish Your Fiction by Jessica Bell

Cover of Polish Your Fiction
An indispensable guide for any author

Just as I’m in the throes of self-editing my imminent flash fiction collection, Quick Change, (to be published as an ebook on 21st June 2014, print edition to follow later), my friend and fellow member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Jessica Bell, was launching her own latest book, Polish Your Fiction: A Quick and Easy Self-Editing Guide. Great timing!

Jessica is a professional editor, so really knows her stuff, but is also a kind and sensitive soul who understands how tough and nerve-wracking it is for authors to judge and improve their own work.

I have spent a lot of time throughout my working life editing copy for various purposes, whether business reports, PR materials or journalism, yet this book offered plenty of advice that was new to me and an interesting new approach that I’m sure I’ll find useful.

French Polish for Your Words

The biggest surprise for me was her advice to pick off one aspect of your writing at a time, e.g. dialogue tags or chapter endings, and perfect them. This means going through your work multiple times to effect a single edit. Like French polishing, this technique promises to add another layer of gloss to the finished sheen of your work.

It’s also a great book for the 21st century writer, because Jessica harnesses tricks from Word to help you fine-tune your prose, e.g. search and replace, rather than relying on your own eye and brain.

With the objectivity and professional judgement of a career editor, Jessica is not afraid to debunk commonly held myths about writing, e.g. the old saying “murder your darlings”. With her characteristic incisive Australian wit, she advises “If everyone killed all their darlings, they’d have no family left”.

A Guide to Keep On Your Desk

The format of the book provides a really practical working guide, full of checklists to help you put Jessica’s advice into practice. Having bought this first as an ebook, I’m now going to order the paperback, because it’s going to have a permanent place on my writing desk whenever I’m at the editing stage. I guess recommendations don’t get better than that.

For More Great Advice from Jessica Bell

Image of setting for Homeric Writers' RetreatSo that you’re not surprised when you see I’m quoted towards the end of this book, I ought to point out that I do know the author personally, as we both belong to the Alliance of Independent Authors, but our friendship didn’t influence my review of her book.

I don’t see her often, as she lives in Greece and I live in England, but I am looking forward to seeing her again in August when I’ll be joining her Homeric Writers’ Retreat on the idyllic island of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea – a great way to pick up further great guidance and inspiration for your writing.

There are a few places left, so if you’re tempted, visit its website for more information: www.homericwriters.com.

3 thoughts on “Polish Your Fiction by Jessica Bell

    1. Haha! I woke up last night and couldn’t get back to sleep, so read it all in one sitting, and thought I’d strike while it was still fresh in my mind this morning. This book deserves to do really well. 🙂

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