Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Didn't Die

I've just been taking a break.

My focus was off because of things in my life... mostly good things, but they still interfered.  Life does tend to get in the way of writing; but sometimes what I've written gets in the way of writing...

I reached a part that was giving me fits!  I didn't like the flow.  I wasn't happy with the story line... it seemed to lag a bit.  I want the important parts of these chapters to be more compact.  The voice didn't match the rest of my ms.  I was spending way too much time fixing little things, when I really needed to start over with that whole part.

I've been spending less time reading blogs, but still daily follow  Susan's blog, A Walk In My Shoes.  She has become a friend, offering me priceless advice.  ...reluctantly, I might add.  Not reluctant to share and to help, but reluctant to call it advice.  Rather, she modestly says it's just her opinion.  Susan supports my opinion to start over with this section.  She's been in a similar spot, wasting precious time on a part that just wasn't working.

It's so wonderful to have other writers to share with, and to glean from.  If you're a new writer, I encourage you to follow not only the blogs of agents and publishers (though much priceless information is freely given there) but to also follow blogs of other writers...  people that have been where you are, that can offer opinions to steer you around the roadblocks that can sometimes cause a new writer to give up too easily.  And don't just limit it to writers in your own genre.  All writers have common problems and solutions.

Hopefully, when you've found a few blogs to follow that you can relate to and learn from, you will be able to ask questions and get good sound answers.  Just because the current problem you're dealing with is not a current topic in Blogville, doesn't mean you can't ask it in a comment form, or even e-mail it to the blogger.  The people I've met through blogs are eager to help ,and to develop friendships.  Even though there are infinite great books that talk about specific topics concerning the craft, feedback from other writers is priceless.

It's hard for me to think about tossing such a huge section of my WIP; but if it's not working, what good is it?  So any day now, I'm going to go back to the outline process for this section, and add more structured detail to keep me on track.  I know what needs to be in there.  That's all that needs to be in there.  Once I establish my direction, my words should again flow as they did in the beginning.

As I get further along with my book, I do plan to join local writers' groups for the face-to-face support they offer.  But, in the meantime, I'll meet up with the talent right here in Blogville.  And Susan... thank you for everything!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Read it to me...

As if I didn't have enough to do...  My BF was telling me just last week that she was going to purchase a voice-to-text program (very affordable) to allow her to dictate her book.  (We're supposed to be co-authors, but she needs a fire lit under...  oh well, that's another subject.)  It sounded like a good idea... for her - not me.  I like writing my ms.  I type almost as fast as I think.  I don't know that I could focus as well by dictation.

I never gave a minutes thought to the flip side of this possibility...  At least, not until I read a blog just now on QueryTracker.  Even though I keep vowing to stop editing and get finished with the writing, I have read portions of my ms aloud as an editing tool.  It is effective to a point.  We do tend to read it the way we meant it, and not necessarily the way it truly reads.  So what if a computer read it to you?

Check out today's post:  Was Blind But Now I See-- Text-to-Voice: An Underappreciated Editing Tool

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Danger of Agents' Blogs Part II - My Brain is a Sponge

...and it's dripping all over my manuscript!  Have you seen that commercial for bing, the new search engine?  It's the one where the people keep spewing strings of information.  I'm having a similar problem.

I am constantly editing.  I write, then edit, then write some more...  I wish I could just write the whole thing down, and then, when the story is finished, go back and begin the editing process.  I've written on this before... my obsessive need to edit, but now I've taken it to the next level!

I made need to take a vacation from my WIP.  Not because I need distance from it, but I need to escape the thoughts that are consuming me.

 I absorbed all this information from reading the blogs, and now it's flooding my consciousness.  As I'm writing the current chapter, my brain keeps jumping back to previous parts and telling me, "You're supposed to..." or "Don't you remember what she said about..."  I think it's a form of mental illness.  Whatever it is, it's driving me crazy!  I think about it while I'm cooking and doing dishes.

Isn't this a good thing?  I mean, I've really learned a lot about the structure of a good manuscript.  That has to make me a better writer.  On the other hand, if it drives me over the edge, will I have access to my laptop in the padded room?

Is there anything in your writing process that you're extremely obsessive about?  Share with me so I don't think I'm all alone...  Hello?  Are you out there?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are We Suckers?

I'm desperate. I'll do anything... well, almost anything to get my book published... to become AN AUTHOR. How far will I go? Will I grasp at anything that promises me success?

It seems that when I read all the agents' and editors' blogs, I get this picture of almost gloom and doom. They leave me feeling, as maybe they should, that my ms must be the absolute best to have even the slightest chance at publication. Getting representation is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

There is all sorts of help offered. You know I love the free stuff! But what about the stuff with the price tag? How much are you willing to invest in this process? Oh, don't look at me with that 'I thought they'd pay me?' face... I'm talking critiques, query help, editing, etc. Are you willing to pay for the expertise you might require to get your book published? How do you know you're getting your money's worth?

Let me put the fear of God into with this:

Florida sues Boca Raton literary agency

This story ran today in the Miami Herald. It's worth a look. Did you think the publishing world was immune to the vultures? No matter where we go in the world, there is always someone waiting to capitalize on our ignorance. I'm not going to say guilty or innocent in this matter, as I've just now heard about it; but I will say 'author beware'.

I can see how easy it would be to get sucked up into a scheme because of our obsession to be authors. There are so many opinions out there, who do you trust? In the last few months, I've read more than a couple of articles on how to select an agent, etc., that is reputable. I'm sure there are vast numbers of sources that will point us in the direction of honest experts in all the above mention areas.

I encourage you all to follow as many good agent blogs as possible. Sign up for free newsletters from publishers lunch (where I first heard of this suit) and any other newsletters you can find. I know... You say you have enough to read. Who doesn't? Scan.

I am not yet involved in any writers' groups. I do plan to be, before I get to the point of hiring experts for help with my book. Take advantage of the wisdom out there and don't fall prey to these varmints!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

English as a First Language - Grammar for Beginning Writers

Do you second guess yourself while writing? If you're like me, you do it often. I know I'm not as careless with my spelling these days because word doesn't underline things as often. (It doesn't like my fragments; but hey, isn't that the way we talk and think?) Grammar... ugh! I've always thought my grammar was very good. It is, compared to the people I've spent the most time around. But what about in the world of publishing? I'm just guessing, being a newbie; but I'd say the standards in publishing are probably higher.

I've read so many blogs of people that are aspiring writers that have worse grammar than my pre-schooler. I know we're all more careless with our blogs than our novels. I don't proof read my blogs. I can imagine the things you've seen in my posts! Thank you for your kindness in not mentioning it... (except for that time I misspelled Shih Tzu. EVERYBODY commented on that one!) But honestly... If you don't know the difference between to, too, and two, or weather and whether, should you be writing? If the notion of starting a sentence with a capital letter is foreign to you, is writing your talent?

I'm not saying you should give up your dream if you're grammar is not stellar. But, if your writing resembles that of a grade-schooler, maybe you should put the manuscript on the back burner while you brush up on your weaknesses. If you're serious about writing, you'll want to improve.

What if your writing is good, but you have an occasional dilemma? Or maybe you're stuck on using the same three punctuation marks because you're unsure of the others. If you're looking to perfect your grammar and punctuation, where do you look? Do you Google? Do you use an 'answer' site? If so, how do you if the source is reliable?

I'm addicted to ellipses... true. I could use them... oh... say every sentence... though I try not to. Seriously... I use them a lot in my e-mails... I don't know why. I use them frequently in my blog posts. Fortunately, they are not as prevalent in my ms. Do you know when it's correct to use them?

How about colons and semicolons? Punctuation inside/outside quotation marks? Do you know the difference in a dash, an en (--) dash, and an em (---) dash? Do any of these marks of punctuation draw questions? It seems, no matter how comfortable we are in writing and using punctuation, we all have moments where a certain passage makes us doubt. Why do I say that? Because I see the questions posted by so many on sites that give the answers... and on sites that don't. (Please don't use a bulletin board type site as your reference. A lot of contributors think they know the answer.)

If you're serious about learning correct form and punctuation, then there is a bible for you. It's called the Chicago Manual of Style. I don't remember how I discovered it; but I immediately bookmarked it! Don't get me wrong... I'm not the queen of grammar! I do, however, want my manuscript to be as perfect as possible before I even thing about sending out a query.

While writing last week, I wrote a sentence that didn't seem right. I wasn't sure how to punctuate it. Maybe I needed to completely reword it. I remembered the bookmark for the Manual of Style. I had my answer in no time. It's the first time I've used it since starting my ms, but I'll probably need it a lot during the editing process.

The website offers a subscription for around $30, I think; but if you're a long way from being finished, don't worry about shelling out the bucks. They have a great Q&A section that's totally free, and will probably provide the answers you need for now. Once I'm finished and ready to seriously edit, I'll probably subscribe. I think it would be a good place just to spend time surfing. We can never learn too much...

BTW ;) is not a form of punctuation!

Friday, July 31, 2009

How many times can I go through Chapter Eleven?

Don't I have to wait so many years? Just kidding... It's not THAT Chapter Eleven.

Did you ever get the feeling your manuscript was more like a jigsaw puzzle? Maybe you've put a piece into the wrong place, and that's why you can't find the piece you need now? Or maybe a Rubik's Cube would better describe it...

I cut out Chapter One. Yep, sure did. But it's not gone; it's right after Chapter Two. Or, should I say it is Chapter Two, and now Chapter Two is Chapter One? What about Chapter Nine? Well, it's way behind Chapter Twelve. So now it's Chapter ?? and Chapter Ten is Chapter Nine. And since I left off with Chapter Twelve, it is now Chapter Eleven. The old Chapter Nine will come along much later in the story...

Have I lost you yet? It was hard for me to keep my head straight too. I did a lot of editing last night. The first two chapters of my ms, being totally separate scenes, could easily be flipped. I decided, that since Chapter Two had much more 'grab' in the opening sentences than Chapter One, that it should be first. I am very please with the results.

Looking through my outline, I saw I needed to change the chain of events. Chapter Nine would be better off later in the book to keep the time-line more sensible. There will be many more chapters before that one now, so who knows what number it will end up being!

It wasn't easy, taking the saw blade to my book. I loved the jump from Eight to Nine, and from Nine to Ten. (I'll let you know what chapter it becomes; then, if you read it someday, you can see what I'm talking about.) It was like taking a pair of scissors to your grandmother's wedding gown. But hey, if it doesn't fit... We must bear in mind that our readers have no interest in our grandmother's wardrobe. If we do not consider their taste, how will we be successful?

I surmised the general market for my book would be distracted rather than pleased by the jump. (Sometimes they just fail to see the artistry:)

It was a very good lesson for me. Sometimes we get into such a strong flow that it can lead to erosion! But changing the flow of my chapters, my book now has a flow that will be more relaxing. So have your inner-tubes ready...