How to Write a Good Book – Post 6. Editing

pen6At last your manuscript about Rudolph and Santa is complete and has  gone to your beta readers for one round of testing. What next?
This is where the hard work begins. Most writers don’t enjoy it, but editing is the stage that will lift your work from just a rough story to a world-class bestseller. Well, okay, we hope it will. Seriously though, without good editing, you book will not stand a chance in an increasingly competitive market.
If you can possibly afford the cost, I recommend you get another writer or professional editor to do the final edit on your work. You can always swap books for editing with other readers, if you are short of money. Why do I tell you this? A writer reads what he thought he wrote, not what he actually wrote, when he reads it back. He or she will read the same paragraph 20 times and not see the typo. It has has happened to me in a very embarrassing situation; a submission to a pubisher had an error in the first line of the query letter. Two other people close to me checked it and didn’t spot it. I read it at least 20 times and missed it. Once the tension of submission was over and I received their rejection, I saw the error and it was blindingly obvious!
But whether you are editing somebody else’s work, or your own, the editing process is the same. Do it in this order:
  1. Development editing
  2. Copy-editing
  3. Proof reading
Development editing
Development editing is looking for ways to organise and rearrange the text to tell the story better. A good example is for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, as mentioned in lesson 4. Structure. I took the few pages just before the climax and inserted one paragraph at the beginning of each chapter of the book in italics. I could do this because the Main Character (MC) used a tape recorder, so we don’t lose tension by revealing whether the MC lives or dies.Copy-editing
Copy-editing is basically getting the gammar right. It is done to improve the flow of ideas for the reader, clarify what you are saying and sometimes to reduce the length of text. You will probaby find that you also correct some typos, thus saving yourself work during the last stage; proof reading.
Read this sentence:
After that, the conversation went on but I left to find the dormitory
There is a lot of ambiguity here and at least 2 typos; there should be a comma before the conjunction ‘but’ and there is no full-stop (or period, if you are American). Some writers will not use a comma after a preposition of less than five or six words. This practise is becoming more common. So the comma before ‘the conversation’ could probably be removed.
But the sentence is very ambiguous. Did the person leave before the conversation, during the conversation or after. As it stands, it suggests that the person probably left before the conversation. But think hard. Is that what you intended to say? If you wanted to say that they left after the conversation, you would want to use this form:
The conversation went on, but I left to find the dormitory after that.
And if you want to say that they left during the conversation, you would write:
The conversation went on, but I left to find the dormitory.
Notice how this is also much shorter. If you want to reduce the length of text and it really doesn’t matter whether the person left before, during or after the conversation, then use this form.
Hemmingway is a great writer for economy of prose. He never uses a word when none is required. This is the typical approach of journalists, because each word would cost money to print.
Proof reading
Now you are simply looking for typos. These are not always picked up by your wordprocessing software’s spell-checker. For instance, look at this sentence:
The convection went on, but I left to find the dormitory.
If you have your auto-correct feature turned on, you are more likely to have the wrong word in a sentence. Here, ‘convection’s is not the word we want, but it is spelled correctly, so spell-checker will probably not highlight it. Beware of misplaced words!
I would recommend turning on the grammar checker in Microsoft Word. This will put a blue underline under a word, phrase or sentence that seems incorrrect, according to common grammar rules. If you see a blue underline, take a close look at the phrase. Here is a good example:
In fact I didn’t know what was wrong.
Word will underline ‘In fact,’ because that particular type of preposition is always followed by a comma. You will learn a lot about grammar by checking phrases that are underlined in blue. But don’t feel you MUST make the change. Sometimes word simply doesn’t understand the specific situation.
Here are my top tips for proof-reading:
  1. Do it twice. Once reading forward, to improve the flow, and once as in 2.
  2. Start at the end of your story and work back, reading once sentence at a time. This way, you are less likely to expect what you read and miss the typos
  3. Use a macro to check for unmatched speech marks. I doubt there is a writer on the planet who can write a book without leaving out some or putting them in the wrong place.
  4. If something feels awkward, it is. Try rewriting it in as many different ways as you can think of. Eventually you will get it right. You might even improve the story.
DRthicknessLastly, if you think editing is a waste of time, take a look at these pictures of December Radio. The copy on the left is before editing, the one on the right after. See how much the text was reduced. In my opinion, the story improved greatly as a result. The cover on the left was my visual. And as a bonus editing tip, pick your best scene and send that to your cover designer.
DRcoversThat is the end of my series of tutorials on How to Write a Good Book. I hope you have enjoyed and learned something from it. You can find all my books online. December Radio is in bookshops in the UK and USA. And there is a special deal:
Get 4 eBooks and the December Radio Paperback for $16!
If you find any errors in my books, email me!

Coming Soon! RIP – the greatest story adventure!

RIPSubscriptions will soon start for RIP – a scifi, paranormal and  alternative history adventure in the online magazine format.

There is a RIP in the fabric of time space which allows two spirits, joined by the dream of a world that might break out of a cycle of progress and destruction, to seek each other out, again and again. Omah is a man with a key, but he knows not what it will open. Bri is an empath of outstanding ability. Together they will find a way to open up the RIP and find man’s destiny.

Subscriptions will be for $0.99 for 2 chapters per month (RIP Prime), or $0.49 for one chapter per month (RIP Stream 1 or 2), of a story that will build into seven novels of up to a million words and take years to complete.

You will be able to get all chapters or choose your genres from two streams:

Stream 1: Mostly Alternative History and War thriller, with some Romance

Stream 2: Mostly Science Fiction and Romance, with some Alternative History

The first two chapters will be FREE! And you will get one month free after you subscribe and a further month’s trial subscription after that.

Be the first to hear of the start of this new story by subscribing to the Lazlo newsletter:


The Best Robot in Scifi? Vote!

Terminator - 800 Series
Terminator – 800 Series

Nominate your best robot in a scifi book or film with a comment (or tweet me @Lazlo_F or FB me at so I can add it. Mention the film or book too in case we haven’t heard of the robot. In 2 weeks, we will vote!

Who could forget the menace of Robert Patrick as the T1000 advanced prototype in Terminator 2 or the lovable R2D2 in Star Wars. Then there was Robby, the not quite so innocuous robot in Forbidden Planet, one of the best early scifi films.

But for me, the scariest was the Cybermen in Doctor Who. Sometimes it is the tiniest detail that makes a robot effective in a story and for me, I think the Cybermen’s tiny and inexpressive slot-mouth that seemed most strange. It had me hiding behind the sofa!

The nomination can include cyborgs and androids.

So be creative. Search your memory for a robot that impressed you. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

3CPO – Star Wars (movie)
R2D2 – Star Wars (movie)
Robby – Forbidden Planet (movie)
B9 – Lost in Space (TV)
T1000 – Terminator (movie)
800 Series – Terminator (movie)
The slice-and-dice robots with built in chainsaws in Screamers (movie)

Top Quality Science Fiction in Urdu?

Inchoate is finally published in Urdu

I am over-the-moon to announce that Inchoate, my science fiction story about a time-traveling paleontological investigator, is now available FREE and in Urdu. My deepest and sincerest thanks go out to Atiya Adil, a teacher, for undertaking this huge task and seeing it through to its conclusion. It is extremely satisfying to see this project come to fruition after such a long period of sustained effort.

I have long wanted to provide a free and representative sample of my work to people in Asia and the Middle East, of whom I seem to have many followers (I have more followers in Cairo than any other city and more followers in India than any country other than the UK and USA). I frequently see mountain-loads of downloads in these countries during my free promotions so I know the readers are there and I also know that getting online credit to buy books, let alone having the outlet to buy them, is not easy there. Now, these readers should be have both.

Below is just a short excerpt from the Urdu version.


2008: مصنَف لز لو فعرن Lazlo Ferran   : ©کا پی رائٹ

تمام جملہ حقوق محفوظ ہہیں

ترجمعہ: عطیہ عادل

نمود سے پہلے

کسی نہ کسی کو تو یہ نقصان پورا کرنا ہی تھا- میرا قصور نہ ھوتے ھوۓ بھی ، لگتا یہی تھا کہ یہ خسا را مجھے ہی اٹھانا تھا- جلد ہی مقدمہ ختم ہو جاۓ گا اور سارے جہا ں کو اصلیت کا پتا چل جائے گا-

ادھر میں جیل کی تنگ کوٹھڑی میں پڑا منحوس قسم کے سر درد میں مبتلا ھو گیا تھا – ا س کی بڑی وجہ اس کوٹھڑی کا ٹوٹا ھوا بلب تھا جس کی جلتی بجھتی روشنی نے مجھے بیمار کر دیا تھا- نجانے یہ لوگ کب اس بلب کو ٹھیک کریں گے؟

بہت ساری سوچوں کے درمیاں مجھے وہ مضحکہ خیز صورت حال بھی یاد آگٰئ – مقدمے میں دفاع کا میرا پہلا دن تھا – سب کی توقعات کے برخلاف میں نے تقریباً سچ اگل دیا- جو بات میں نہیں کہ سکا وہ یہ تھی کہ واقعہ کے روز میں شدّید قسم کی بوریّت کا شکار تھا-

” جناب اس-قینو! آپ کی کمپنی کے اندراجات ظاہر کرتے ہیں کہ وقوعے کے روز یعنی چار اگست اور دو اشاریہ چار ارب سال پہلے (جب کرّہؑ  ارض کی نمود ہوئ ) آپ شمالی ٹیکسس میں بطورِ               خاص مشاہدات کے اندراج پر مامور تھے-“

اس بیان کے کچھ دیر پہلے میں اس بات سے انکار کر چکا تھا کہ میں وقوعے پر موجود تھا- بلکہ میں تو یہاں تک کہ چکا تھا کہ ایک دن پہلے بوجوہ ناسازئ طبیعت میں رخستی لے کر گھر چلا گیا تھا- سرکاری وکیل کو میری یہ با ت کچھ زیادہ پسند نہ آٰئ – اس نے ناگواری سے ایک نطر میری جانب ڈالی اور پھر معنی خیز انداز سے جیوری کی طرف دیکھنے لگا-

یہی وہ لمحہ تھا جب میں نے بوکھلا کر کہا: ” جی جی ! جناب معاف کیجۓ گا ! میرے خیال میں بس

ذہنی دباؤ کی وجہ سے میں سمجھ نہیں پایا اور وقوعے کے روز کو میں اس دن سے ملا بیٹھا جس دن میں جلدی گھر چلا گیا تھا- یہ سب جو اس دن ہوا ، وہ ایک نادانستہ بھول سمجھ لیجۓ جو شاید میں بوریّت کی وجہ کر بیٹھا تھا-“

اپنی بات کی اہمّیت بڑھانے کے لیے میں حاضرین کی طرف مڑ گیا-” میں کئ دنوں سے لگا تار اپنا فرضِ منصبی ایک ہی طرح سے انجام دے رہا تھا- بڑی تندہی کے ساتھ میں تما م مشاہدات درج کر رہا تھا- مقامی آبادی سے میں گھل مل تو جاتا تھا مگر ان سے بہت قریب ہونے کی کوشش نہ کرتا، کیونکہ میرا کام تو ان کے معاشرے اور تہذ یب پر ناقدانہ نگاہ رکھنا تھا- پھر یہ بھی تھا کہ میں کئ ہفتوں سے بھینسے کا گوشت مختلف صورتوں میں کھا کر تنگ آ گیا تھا- اوپر سے وہ ریچھ جیسی حرَافہ بڑھیا میرے پیچھے ہی پڑ گئ تھی- اس کی قربت سے ناگوار بدبو بھی آتی تھی-پھر یہ کہ اس کا نام انگ-ڈ ویڈ تھا- ہے نہ عجیب اورمشکل نام-“

Atiya can be reached a this email address:

You will find the Urdu version of Inchoate on Amazon, right after the English version in the FREE volume of short stories: Inchoate: (Short Stories Volume I), at the following locations:

Google Play:


If you sign up for my FREE NEWSLETTER NOW, you will also get 3 other books FREE.

My first book available in India and Egypt is Inchoate: (Short Stories Volume I) and it’s FREE!

Short Stories Series (all use same cover)
Short Stories Series (all use same cover)

Inchoate: (Short Stories Volume I)

This eBook is now available for FREE for these countries at the indicated outlets:

India through FlipKart:

South East Asia through E-Sentral:

Egypt or any part of Africa through, I am told. I need somebody in Egypt to test this.
nb: you will have to convert the book to .mobi using a free software programme called Calibra if you want to read them using a Kindle device.
If you have problems let me know by commenting or emailing me so that I can send you a workaround.

You can always find details of availability and updates on the Catalogue page of this website.

If you live in Egypt please can you test the Kobobooks source and get back to me?

Science Fiction book – Too Bright the Sun, Caption Competition

Just a reminder: Love Blade Runner? Download the 5★ Science Fiction novel FREE NOW on Amazon until 7 May: It’s currently #845 in Amazon Free kindles and #10 in Science Fiction (see screen grab below). If you don’t have one already, make sure you download a copy!


Too Bright the Sun is now in the goodread lists: Best Military Science Fiction Books (listed #65) Can’t Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2014 (#96) and Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction so if you have time, please vote for it here: by clicking on the list name at bottom of page and then clicking on the ‘vote’ button beside the book title!

I am soon to release World Like Dust, the next part of the Iron Series. In this episode, the Stamford Torus space station, J5 (looking something like the illustration below) has to leave the Solar System under it’s own power as a final refuge of mankind. I think it should have a new name for this voyage so I want you to choose one. All you have to do is download a FREE copy of Too Bright the Sun, comment here AND share a Facebook post or a Twitter tweet to win the prize of a free copy of Worlds Like Dust. It will be published as two, novel length books so it is a prize worth winning! in addition, your name will be used in the published book and you will also get an acknowledgement at the beginning of the book.

Don’t forget, the main difference between the station in this image and J5 is that J5 has a half-scale replica of the Golden Gate Bridge over a half-scale river, where Jake Nanden spent much of his youth.

I look forward to hearing your ideas! Good luck!

Caption competition - name this station
Name this space station