Review of Polish Your Fiction

Polish Your Fiction is another title in Jessica Bell’s “in a nutshell” series. It is subtitled “A quick and easy self-editing guide”, which is a very apt description. Interestingly, although Jessica gives great tips on self-editing, she very much advo0cates using a third party editor too.

Editing the old-fashioned way! Photo by Nick McPhee

(Please note: that is an affilate link. By buying Jessica's book via that, you will helping to put a few morsels on my table. You know it makes sense.)

The book contains information and advice about how to tighten up on your descriptions and dialogue, and also advice on the correct way of writing numbers, dashes, dates and other stuff. She even goes into differences between American and British spelling. 

It’s very readable, because it’s written in a very down-to-earth style. What I especially like is the admission of oversights and errors—there’s even a section at the end of the book in which other authors relate their nightmare experiences. What Jessica and the other authors have done, in effect, is to offer further proof of the truth of a rule I came up with a long time ago: if you want to spot a glaring and embarrassing mistake, have 5,000 copies of the item printed or, latterly, send it out to several thousand readers; it never fails.

I don’t write fiction much, so I was unsure about whether this book would be useful to me. I found that it is, for two reasons. First, there are enough tips about punctuation and other things to make it relevant to me. Second, I think the advice on tightening up your prose applies to all writing. There are enough examples given to enable you to apply the suggestions to other forms of writing as well.

There are also some useful tips on using Word, and some handy websites included.

A “lightbulb” moment for me was the advice to use em dashes rather than en dashes. I’ve always preferred the latter, but Jessica points out that using an en dash can result in a rather awkward-looking dash at the end of a line. So I‘m now training myself to think “em” rather than “en”!

I think as far as this book goes, it is very good, and great value for money. It does what it says on the tin, and is a very easy read.

Rating: 5/5