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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

As I continue wrestling with my WIP, Apprentice Cat, using Larry BrooksStory Engineering strategies, I’ve suddenly realized it’s not just the writing I’ll need to edit.

Pantsers know (or should know) that they’ll be writing draft after draft in order to get the story just right. Plotters, on the other hand, use different methods to plan out what they’ll write before setting fingers to keyboard. For me, it’s several excel worksheets that include characterization, concepts and, of course, the actual plot.

What plotters may not realize…

As I’ve developed my scenes and placed them in their slots on the plotting worksheet, I’ve done my best to make things move smoothly from one idea to the next. I’m over 2/3rds finished and it just dawned on me: once I’ve filled in every slot, I’ll need to go over it again to make sure it all makes sense.

You would think I could do that as I go along, but sometimes I come up with brilliant scenes and slot them in without considering all the scenes that came before. Therefore, sometimes there are missing pieces. If I want readers to enjoy the story without being jarred out of it, I have to include the information they need when they need it. I can’t just throw a surprise into the work without foreshadowing it.

Enter the pre-writing, post-plotting editing phase…

Now that I know I’m going to have to go back over my plotting worksheet looking for missing details, it makes coming up with good scenes both easier and more difficult.

I’m a perfectionist, so I want to get it right the first time. This makes plotting difficult because, as Roz Morris reminds us in her book Nail Your Novel, the initial phase of plotting is to use broad strokes. These are just the basic ideas and shouldn’t be too detailed.

However, knowing I’ll be going back to put those details in before I write another word, also makes plotting easier. If I don’t get those details in right away, I know I’ll be able to do it before I get half-way through writing the book (unlike what I’ve done thus far :P).

I know I’m not the only one who has gone through multiple stages to develop a good book, so I’m very curious what you do? How do you plan your story?

***

On another note…

If you’ve been following The Road to Writing long, you probably know I have another blog called One Servant’s Heart on my web site. After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to begin merging the two blogs. I’ll be posting snippets to TRTW with a link to the full post on my web site for a while longer (probably the rest of 2011) before letting this blog go entirely. If you’ve subscribed to this feed, please go ahead and subscribe to One Servant’s Heart so you won’t miss anything.

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As if learning the craft of writing a novel isn’t difficult enough, after it’s finished you’ll need to edit it. If you’re going to be traditionally published, you’ll probably work with an editing staff to make your work marketable.

But before it gets to that point, you have to get it past the slush pile – that means doing a lot of self-editing first.

Of course, you may choose to go the indie author route and self-publish. No need to rise out of a slush pile, just a need to catch a reader’s eye out there in the big world. Sounds pretty simple.

But before you catch a reader’s eye (and you want to make a good impression, yes?), you need to have a great story – that means doing a lot of self-editing and perhaps hiring a professional as well.

No matter what you do, if you want to be read and have those readers give you great reviews, spread the word and buy your other books, you have to face the red pen. You must edit your manuscript.

Thankfully there are many resources available to help from blogs to books to videos. Here are 11 resources that will make editing just a little easier on you.

  1. Editing Your Novel: High Level Story Read Through by Joanna Penn – In this video, with transcript, Joanna explains some of the process she went through editing her first draft of Pentecost from weaving in back story to checking for consistency.
  1. A Perfectionist’s Guide to Editing: 4 Stages by Jami Gold – In this blog post Jami narrows our focus from revising the big picture to nailing down those pesky words that need to be just a little stronger.
  1. Proofreading & Editing Tips: A compilation of advice from experienced proofreaders and editors – This article is just what it says, a list of tips from general proofing to content editing.
  1. Copy-Editing And Beta Readers by Joanna Penn – In this blog post Joanna shares how she worked with beta readers and what benefits she found from their feedback.
  1. No Really: Kill Your Clichés by Leslie Wilson – This blog post takes a humorous look at how clichés can hurt your writing.
  1. Do You Copy? Tips on Copy Editing Your Own Work by Janice Hardy – In this blog post Janice shares several concrete examples of common problems such as tense issues, parallel series difficulties and ambiguous pronouns.
  1. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty – In this book Mignon helps writers understand complex grammar concepts by using simple examples and memory devices.
  1. 10 Actions You Can Take to Improve Your Proofreading by Randall Davidson – This blog post is rather on the nose with simple tips that include slowing down, reading out loud and asking for help.
  1. 10 Grammar Rules You Can (and Should!) Ignore! By Tracy O’Connor – In this blog post Tracy gives us permission to break those “hard and fast rules” like split infinitives and ending a sentence with a preposition… only when it makes the writing sound natural, of course.
  1. A Good Edit Would’ve Fixed That by April Hamilton – In this blog post April gives several concrete examples of how to fix problems such as using internal monologue for omniscient exposition.
  1. 5 Essential Tips on Self-Editing by Catherine Ryan Hyde – In this blog post Catherine reminds writers to use spell check, but don’t rely on it, as well as four other very useful tips.

Editing is unavoidable and can be painful, but it doesn’t need to be impossible. These are only a few of the resources I’ve found. What about you? What resources and tips have you picked up as you’ve gone through the editing process?

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I just read a fantastic post on storyfix.com by Therese Walsh about ways to get creative Right Brain working with analytic, “hatchet-happy” editor, Left Brain. Instead of trying to explain what Therese says, I’ve decided to repost it. Here it is:

Can Editing Be Fun? Maybe.

a guest post by Therese Walsh

First, I want to thank Larry for having me today on his fab site. It’s great to be here!

When I asked Larry what he might like for me to blog about, he gave me a few ideas. He knew I’d just turned a completed manuscript over to my editor and was waiting for the first round of notes and edits. Could I speak to the editing process? I thought about it; what did I have to offer here that might be fresh? And what I came back to is something Larry said: “I know in my experience this is the toughest stuff. The writing is bliss, the editing is WORK.”

You might think this crazy, but for me, editing is…fun. I have the harder time getting ideas onto the page to begin with. I toil over concepts, the timing of reveals, characterizations and descriptions and most especially the wording of my sentences (8,302 of them in my work-in-progress; I just counted).

Something happens to me, though, after I hit that final period in my draft—the end. I turn from fretful writer to dispassionate editor.

How? Why? And fun? Am I crazy?

Read the rest of the post.

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I’ve been writing most of my life, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got it down cold. If anything, I’ve learned I have a lot to learn. For example, although my first novel may spend the rest of eternity tucked safely in the darkest corner of the deepest drawer away from anything living it might otherwise harm, I would have to say I did a much better job of delivering back story in it than I’m doing with my current WIP. Of course, that begs the question: why?

Because my first novel was conceived and drafted under the tutelage of a wonderful high school English teacher (Thank You, Ms. Patti Jo Peterson!) who understood the need to plan the entire thing out before jumping in. This one I began as a total pantser. ‘Nuff said.

So what’s the big deal? I’ve always been a pantser.

That’s true, but I’m discovering that being a pantser can really cause problems later on. After reading posts like How do you know what to cut? Tune into the rhythm of your story by Roz Morris and 7 Deadly Sins of Prologues–Great Novel Beginnings Part 2 by Kristen Lamb, I’m seeing that what I thought were awesome scenes were really just a cheap way of dumping information. Not a great way to win readers over.

Fortunately there are ways to get that important information to your reader without slowing the story down. Roni Loren suggests 5 ways to include back story in her post How to Dish Out Backstory in Digestible Bites.

  1. Dialogue: Just beware of making this tool a hammer when you really need a screwdriver. It needs to happen naturally and in a way that doesn’t make your characters sound as if they are reciting a history lesson to your reader.

  2. Flashback: Most experienced writers strongly caution against using these. From my own experience I know using flashbacks can be tantalizing, but as Kristen Lamb says, “Flashbacks, used too often, give the reader the feel of being trapped with a sixteen-year-old learning to drive a stick-shift. Just get going forward, then the car (story) dies and rolls backward.

  3. Memory: I think this one is trickier because you can easily fall into creating a flashback. Roni uses this example — “Ex.) He smiled at her, and for a moment, she was reminded of the boy he used to be, the one she used to love.  (See, that tells us they had a previous relationship and that something changed along the way.  Just enough to whet the reader’s appetite.)

  4. Thoughts: This is my favorite both in writing and reading. It’s a great way to let readers into the characters internal world and have a glimpse of what their past has made them into. Unfortunately, it’s easy to abuse this one, too. Beware of pages of italicized text. They’re probably hiding an info dump.

  5. Action: Current action in a story can detail past events. Roni uses this example — “i.e.  A news story comes on TV talking about a cold case murder that relates to your MC.

Roni’s parting suggestion is probably the best piece of advice a writer can tuck away in her toolbox: “The easiest way for me to figure out how to put in backstory is to think like a screenwriter.  They cannot tell you things in a movie, they have to show it all.  So how would I convey this information if it were a movie?

As I continue to work and re-work my WIP I know I’ll run into the need to include back story, but with all the great resources available, like Kristen Lamb’s blog Warrior Writers, Roz Morris’s Nail Your Novel, and Roni Loren’s Fiction Groupie, finding an answer on how to include that important past information in ways that don’t slow down the story won’t be so difficult.

What about you? How do you include back story without killing your novel’s pace or choking your reader?

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Sorry folks, but this cold virus is really causing havoc here, so I’ve decided to do you all a favor (read: not write anything in gibberish as that seems to be how I’m speaking today :P) and repost Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips by Dustin Wax. He’s got some great advice I think we can all use, especially if you’re a DIY-er.

Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips

Teachers, business people, and just about everyone else it seems complain often and loudly that people today (usually “kids today”) don’t know how to write. I’m convinced, though, that a big part of the problem (perhaps the biggest part of the problem) is that people don’t know how to edit. We labor under the notion that good writing flows easily from the pen or typing fingers, and that editing too much will “kill” our work.

The best writers know differently, of course — their memoirs and biographies and writing manuals are filled with stories of books that needed to be cut in half to be readable, sentences that took weeks or months to get just right, and lifetimes spent tinkering with a single work that never strikes them as “just right”. To paraphrase a common saying among writers, there is no good writing, only good re-writing.

But if writing isn’t taught well enough or often enough these days, editing is hardly taught at all. This is too bad, since editing is where the real work of writing is at. More than just proofreading, good editing improves the clarity and forcefulness of a piece. Here’s some tips and tricks to help you make your writing more effective:


read the rest of his post, with all the great tips and tricks here.

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If you’re a highly sensitive person like me, then you’ll understand how stressful marketing yourself, your product or your business can be. If you aren’t an HSP, then today’s marketing landscape with its hurry, scurry push in social media probably doesn’t bother you. You may, in fact, thrive on the pressure, the excitement. The downside to that is that mistakes can be made at a faster rate and be more challenging to correct.

It’s also true that HSPs will suffer more stress and anxiety if we jump into all of the things we’re told we should be doing before we take the time to fully plan where we want to end up or if we don’t pace ourselves the way we need to — at a slower rate than the rest of the world. Regardless of whether you’re thinking about blogging or using Twitter or Facebook or any other social media, as an HSP it is imperative to think it through and take your time.

I’m currently working my way through Kristen Lamb’s WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, which I highly recommend, but I have to continuously remind myself that I am not in a race. As Kristen has pointed out in previous blog posts, writing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Building an author platform goes right along with that. I may not be able to fit in 15 minutes each for Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (or whatever other social media outlet I’ve chosen) everyday, but I can certainly spend that much time on one per day, blog at least once per week and still have time left to work on my “masterpiece”.

Jumping into anything before you’re truly ready, or even mostly ready, gives a higher possibility of failure. It also means a greater possibility of losing your passion to write altogether. Still, it’s very difficult to reign in our enthusiasm, especially if we’re newer to the process. As Jody Hedlund says in her post The Pressure To Jump In Too Soon, “It’s hard enough to have patience. Therefore, when we get involved in the cyber writing world, eventually, we might begin to feel left behind or the pressure to keep up with what others are doing—even if we’re right where we need to be.”

Jody suggests 5 things newer writers can do to keep those feelings of pressure to a minimum, which I think really speak to HSPs:

  1. Concentrate on your writing because that is what will sell.

  2. You can put aside the book you’ve written without editing it. Consider it a project to revisit later when you’ve had more experience.

  3. If your story isn’t working or you’ve lost the passion for a project, it’s okay to put it away unfinished.

  4. Take the time to try out other genres. You may find your best writing isn’t in the genre you thought it was.

  5. Most importantly, spend less time thinking about what everyone else is doing and more time being you. As an HSP you know you’re unique. Capitalize on it.

It’s not the popular choice to take the slow lane when trying to forge ahead in a writing career, but for highly sensitive people it can be the best way. What other ways have you discovered to keep your career moving ahead while maintaining the balance you need as an HSP?

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I finally ordered my proof copy of Simply Prayer, formerly Prayerfully Yours. While I’m happy with the file I uploaded to CreateSpace, I’m left wondering if I was my own worst enemy in getting the entire project done to begin with.

I had originally planned on having the book out before the season of Advent, but missed that deadline by a good two months. I reset my deadline to have it ready for Lent 2011 and I’ve just made it. Why all the deadline problems? I tried to cut too many corners. Instead of going the normal route of writing, editing, designing and fixing the details of the design I tried to write and design simultaneously.

Bad idea. Very bad idea.

What I had hoped would shorten the amount of time from the planning stage to the finished product bred headaches and nightmares too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say I won’t be trying that again. And so I want to leave you all with a bit of advice. Follow these four steps and you’ll reduce the irritations and frustrations of the DIY Independent Author.

  1. Write until the story is completely told, or for non-fiction until you begin repeating yourself. Don’t worry about page count and design elements like fonts, pictures or pulled quotes.

  2. Edit your manuscript completely before you even begin to think about what it should look like on the page. Once the design process begins it’ll make it more difficult to add new material, move passages around or delete entire sections.

  3. Design your book with an eye toward more than one media. Ebooks are growing in popularity and soon will become the majority when it comes to purchases, but that doesn’t mean no one will want a well-designed print edition. Yours may become a collector’s edition. If you’re not already proficient in designing print and/or ebooks, then either hire someone to do it for you or find some really good resources like The Book Designer or Elizabeth Castro’s book EPUB Straight to the Point.

  4. Fix the little details of your design, like making sure chapters begin on the right of a print book and new sections/chapters are new pages in ebooks.

What short-cuts have you tried that didn’t end up as you had planned?

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