Intuitive Editing Your Fiction with Beth Barany

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Intuitive Editing Your Fiction with Beth Barany, How To Write the Future podcast, episode 68

“I’m going to show you how I edit my own work and make sure that my world-building is grounded and yet doesn’t take away from the pacing.”

In “Episode 69. Intuitive Editing Your Fiction with Beth Barany” host Beth Barany, science fiction and fantasy novelist, creativity coach, and writing teacher, shares a live edit of her own work. Also, she invites writers to sign up for her Story Success Clinic where they can be featured in an upcoming episode and get feedback on their story. 

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The How To Write The Future podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers.

Tips for fiction writers! This podcast is for you if you have questions like:

  • How do I create a believable world for my science fiction story?
  • How do I figure out what’s not working if my story feels flat?
  • How do I make my story more interesting and alive?

This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.

Transcript for ep 69 – Intuitive Editing Your Fiction with Beth Barany 

Hey everyone, Beth. Barany here with How To Write The Future podcast.

I’m here to support you fantasy and science fiction writers, especially, to help you create positive and optimistic futures.

Because when we vision what is possible with our stories, we help make it so in the world for our readers, for ourselves, and for the readers.

In this episode, I’m going to show you how I edit my own work and make sure that my world-building is grounded and yet doesn’t take away from the pacing.

So, take a look at it and take a listen, because this is both on YouTube and in audio format simultaneously.

I hope it’s helpful to you. If it is, please let me know. And if you have any further questions, let me know about that too. Also at the end, I will invite you: how can you get your work critique for free and be a part of my podcast too, so we help each other?

All right, and on with the show.

I am going to share with you a live edit of my own work and show you with my intuitive sense, which is really my body sense, working with my mind and based on all the knowledge I know, how to make sure there’s the quote-unquote right amount of details in the story about the world to move the story forward.

So I’m also paying attention to character, point of view, setting, tone.

And because this is what I consider a first pass, I’m actually not concerned with getting it right. I’m only concerned with: is there enough information here to move the story forward?

And here we are. Chapter 30.

When I write my first draft, I don’t give my chapters numbers. I just give them descriptive names. So the old descriptive name of this chapter, which is going to go away in the final draft, but I keep it here for a few more edit passes.

So it’s just called: Regroup and Getty One Police Station.

So Getty One is my space station location. And, That’s where we are. And then eventually I’m going to put a quote. I’m using a epigraphs.

I’m putting quotes at the beginning of every chapter and I’m putting timestamps, but I’m not working on that. I’ve decided to stop doing that for this edit draft.

All right. So let’s read the first paragraph as it exists right now.

“The local Leo’s showed up in minutes. They probably had squad rooms on every level. The station circumference was huge. It’d a…

I’m missing a word.

It would be a lot of work to get from level to level and a place this big. And with a population this diverse, the cops probably had their hands full with skirmishes and fights and thefts and the like. Thank the stars.

So thank the stars is her way of saying, thank God.

So let me work backwards.

Thank the stars.

Like I said, it’s, it’s her way of saying thank God.

How does your character exclaim 

So does your character have a unique way of praising or cursing or things that she or he might say, or they might say when they’re really grateful? And things they might say that they do say when they’re upset?

So I’ve already established that this is book five in my series, but I put a lot of time in the earlier drafts to think about how she expresses gratitude and how she expresses frustration and anger or shock even. And so I have a whole list and I, I edited it and I worked at, and I got feedback on it.

And so thank the stars is her grateful thing to say.

And now I’m going to go back to the first sentence and this is me being intuitive and how I operate.

so the sentence:

The local Leo’s showed up in minutes.

Okay. So this is the beginning of a chapter.

In the previous chapter, she called them. She called the local cops.

And LEO’s is if anyone reads crime fiction, then they know that LEO stands for Law Enforcement Officer. And I don’t think I ever explain it in this draft. And this is something that I will leave to see if my critique partners and editor think it should be explained. Otherwise, I’m just going to leave it because I, like I said, this is book five in this series. And people – if they’ve read the other books, then they know I’m writing science fiction mysteries. And they probably already know what LEO is.

A Bit of Exposition 

And then I go into explaining a little bit about the setting. This is called exposition.

They probably had squad rooms on every level. The station circumference was huge.

It would be a lot of work to get from level to level and a place this big. And with a population this diverse, the cops probably had their hands full with skirmishes and fights and thefts and the like.

As they show up, you can think in real time, the character’s called them. Now they’ve showed up in minutes and the fact that they’ve arrived so quickly, she’s thought about how that could be. Now I’m not explaining, like how could they. How could they arrive so quickly? She’s just putting two and two together.

So, I think this description is okay. So my main concern here is: does this slow the action down?

And I don’t think so, because if someone shows up in minutes, then you are already thinking, oh, how could they do that? And now she’s thinking about how they could do that. And she knows the station. She’s been there before.

I don’t explain this, but I can just imagine that in previous visits she would have paid not that much attention to how things are organized for local law enforcement. But here, she’s thinking about it.

So I’ve already established in a previous chapter that there are four levels to the space station.

So when we have the second sentence:

They probably had squad rooms on every level.

Then the reader already has a picture – I’ve already described what the levels look like.

And then we learn a little bit more about the scope and scale.

Why would they have squad rooms on every level?

And then she explains in her thinking, and this is sentence three and four.

The stations for conference was huge. It’d be a lot of work to get from level to level in a place this big.

So she’s putting it together from like an organizational, structural, geographical perspective.

Then it goes on. A little bit more thought about the fact that they showed up so quickly also lends her to this next thought in the next sentence.

And with a population, this diverse, the cops probably had their hands full with skirmishes and fights and thefts and the like.

So I’ve also in a previous chapter explained the kind of people who come to Gettie One. There’s military people. There’s miners, There’s families. It’s a transit station. It’s like a big, enormous airport, essentially, space station.

So there we go. And then now we’ve moved to her response to that. Like, thank goodness. They’re so busy. They know how to respond in a timely way.

And then we get back into the action of the story where she’s dealing with the suspect.

And I just saw typo.

So the next paragraph I’ll just read and then I’m going to stop.

She didn’t know how long she could go without hitting Monisch – who’s the suspect.- Or worse. She was just so mad.

And I found a typo.

So I’m going to stop here and just say not everything in your story has to hint or paint the picture of your setting. But you can dribble it in as needed.

All right. So, that’s it for now.

Questions and Next Steps 

If you have any questions about how to put your setting, your science fiction or fantasy setting, into your story without dragging down the story, let me know, and also sign up for a Story Success Clinic.

If you go to How to Write The Future, you’ll see a link to the Story Success Clinic. And you can sign up for the 30-minute Story Success Clinic. and I will brainstorm with you, but I can also do a live edit. it’ll just be a paragraph, maybe two paragraphs, if we have time where I will work with you on your work. So you can book your free session.

Every session is recorded. We do air it as an episode on How to Write The Future it will help you and it will help me.

All right, that’s it, everyone.

Have a wonderful week.

Write long and prosper.

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Image of Beth Barany

Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”


Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites: 


Author siteCoaching site / School of Fiction / Writer’s Fun Zone blog



Contact Beth:








SHOW NOTES by Kerry-Ann McDade


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