Category Archives: editing

From Gold to Junk

 

My father and mother loved garage sales. Each Saturday morning they would wake up very early, outline the sales in the newspaper and drive around looking for treasures. Their idea of treasures differed. My mother loved to find costume jewelry, purses with tags still on them, kitchen supplies and sealed makeup. My father’s idea of a treasure was a first print edition, a series of books or a signed copy. He hunted for books so he could sell them on ebay. Once, he made a four hundred dollar profit and was ecstatic.

Their love of garage sales rubbed off on me. I liked finding high ticket items for pennies. If my father were alive he would be disappointed in me today. He would ask me “Why didn’t you look inside?” The same question I have been asking myself for the last week.

A year ago, I wondered into the giant flea market at our church bazaar. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I, like my mother would go directly to the jewelry, hoping to find a unique piece. I skimmed over the bangles, earrings and plastic necklaces but found nothing. I searched the purses, glanced over home decorations but wasn’t impressed.

I ended my visit to the flea market by rummaging through a mound of books. I wasn’t looking to find a first print or a signed copy. I only wanted something to read. After tucking a few under my arm an author’s name jumped out at me. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Piccoult rested atop the literary mountain. I snatched up the book made my purchase and went on my merry way. When I arrived home, I placed the book on the lower shelf of my bookcase and thought, I will read it soon. I wasn’t expecting to receive the Kindle as a gift which meant for a while the hard covered books nestled on my shelf would take a back seat.

It’s a year later, my Kindle is broke, we got a new puppy (Edgar Allen Pug) and I feel like throwing up.

Edgar has a thing for wood, feet, blankets and books. Last week he pulled The Tenth Circle from the bottom shelf and ripped the cover off. Ugh, I thought looking at the strips of book cover lying on the floor besides my shelf. The next day I found the book lying on the floor again. This time the edges were chewed. Puppies, I thought. I might as well read it, I thought again. I curled up on the couch opened the book and wanted to cry. For a year, I had a mint condition signed book by Jodi Piccoult and I had no idea. What’s worse is I am a writer, I should have thought to look.

Do you think if I wrote to Jodi and said my dog ate your book she’d give me a new one? 🙂

Surely, my father was looking down from somewhere shaking his head saying “Didn’t I teach you anything? The first thing you do when you get a book at a yard sale or flea market is check to see if it is signed.”

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Filed under books, editing, emotions, Giveaway, random, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, Writing, Young Adult

THE TEN D’S ALL WRITERS NEED

1. Diligence – You must push forward, even when you don’t want to.

2. Determination- Believe in yourself. Trust that others will see the beauty in your written word.

3. Dedication- Once you commit to becoming a writer set aside time each day to hone the craft.

4. Drive – A writer with drive and passion will eventually get noticed.

5. Desolation- Find solitude so you can create without interruptions.

6. Daily Routines- Writing should be done every day. If you set a routine, you will be less likely to break it.

7. Deadlines- Give yourself deadlines. Eg. Chapter one must be finished by Monday. The short story has to be completed by Saturday.

8. Dreams- Dream big. Never let anyone make you feel that your dreams are not possible.

9. Desire- You must want to write. If writing doesn’t feel like a necessity it might not be your passion.

10. Decision making abilities- Chapters need to be edited. Word counts need to be cut. Favorite sentences need to be chopped. It’s not always easy making decisions as a writer but it is required. Characters need to love, get hurt, evolve and occasionally die. You have to be able to make those decisions in order for your masterpiece to appear.

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Filed under character, editing, Inspirational, story telling, story writing, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

EDIT ALOUD

 

     All writers edit. How we edit may differ. Some of us might play music while reading through the work in progress. Some may need complete silence. The purpose of editing is to re-read the work written in hopes of catching mistakes or improving the rhythm of the sentences.

     How many times have you read through your work and thought, sounds good, only to have a critique partner point out that you repeated the same word twice? You have tons of run on sentences. You called your character Lori in the first paragraph and Cindy in the second. I have found that reading stories aloud helps highlight these types of mistakes.

     Our brains are much quicker than our mouths. When we scan through works without reading aloud we tend to see what is supposed to be there instead of what actually is. Last night a Facebook friend sent me a brain test where all the words were jumbled but somehow I was actually able to make out exactly what the sentence said. Eg. Our M1ND5 C4N DO 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5. Were you able to read that sentence? Chances are you were. This is the exact type of thing that happens when we are editing silently.  

     Reading aloud slows us down. When we read our words out loud we are forced to read more slowly and pay closer attention to what we have written.

     Reading aloud also allows us to hear the rhythm of our words. Words should have a flow and read effortlessly. There is nothing worst than having an interruption of your flow. It will stop a reader dead in their tracks and take away from the story.

     Editing aloud might not help you catch each and every mistake but it will most likely help you catch a few more than you would have.

     Do you have any editing tips you would like to share?

 

 

 

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Filed under critique, editing, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

CAN YOU SEE WHAT THEY SEE?

How many times have you edited your work? If you are anything like me, you have scanned over your manuscript too many times to count. It’s what we do. We write it, read it, adjust it, finish it and then come back to it. Upon coming back to it, we fix it, add to it, read it aloud and then send it off to someone else (usually a critique partner) to do the same.

No matter how many times we look at it ourselves, chances are someone else will see something we do not see. My critique partner and I were discussing this topic this past weekend. We shared thoughts on how amazing it is that we can’t pick up on things we write as easily as a fresh pair of eyes can. In her manuscript she chose a very creative name for one of her leading characters. She must have played around with the spelling before she decided on how she would spell it. As I skimmed through her words, I noticed that in some areas she had it spelled one way and then others a completely different way.

She noticed missing punctuation in my manuscript and a few missing or double usage of words.

No matter how many times either one of us checked our work there were still things we missed. I read once that when you are reading your own work your thoughts are filling in the gaps missing on paper. If it is not your thoughts it is easier for you to spot something missing, misspelled or overused. We all make mistakes, but it is better if we have another set of eyes looking for the mistakes we make. Four eyes, six eyes, eight eyes, are all better than two when it comes to perfecting your work.

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Filed under constructing, critique, editing, Uncategorized, writers, Writing

I FAILED MY CHARACTERS

This past year has provided me with many ups and downs. I received five full requests, and thought for sure by year’s end I would be announcing that I finally landed myself an agent. When the first one came back rejected stating “I’m not connecting in the way I need to be,” I thought, Okay, that’s just one person’s opinion. But when they all came back rejected with identical words, I knew it was time to go back to the manuscript. I gathered all of their rejections and came to the conclusion (something I think I already knew but didn’t want to believe) that my characters were flat. I received some positive feedback such as “This is an extremely marketable idea” and “The plot is good and pace is nice” but it was the last rejection that clicked and made me realize there is no depth to my characters. The very kind agent added a few more words to her I’m not connecting in the way I need to. She specifically said it was the characters she wasn’t connecting with. I felt embarrassed because here I was writing blogs about creating characters and questions to ask them. I should have been following my own tips and advice. She did leave her door open and said she would be willing to look at a rewrite or any other queries I might have.
I have been given a gift. An insight to why exactly my manuscript has failed to get me an agent. The day following her rejection, I headed to the book store and bought myself two writing books. I am ready to breathe life into the characters that mean so much to me. In my mind these characters were very much alive which is why I think they were dead on paper. I failed to add background stories, I gave no inclinations of how they ended up in each other’s lives (despite the fact I knew). I failed them. I failed myself.
Today I see through different eyes. I am prepared for the challenge. A story is nothing if you don’t connect with the characters. Wish me luck!

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Filed under character, character building, editing, Writing

MY GUEST BLOG POST FOR AGENT BREE OGDEN

Do you think a writer needs to go on a diet? A writing diet that is. Check out my guest post over at This Literary Life. Bree Ogden (a super agent) was cool enough to allow me to write a blog for her site. It is the first time I have written for another blog as a guest and I’m super excited.

Make sure you leave a comment so I know you stopped by.

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Filed under audience, Author Interview, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, critique, critique groups, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Getting Rid of My Book’s “Baby Fat”


I’m approaching the end of my YA novel titled The Cult. I have been writing this suspense novel for about two years. The idea came to me in a dream right around the time Nanowrimo was about to start. I was about three chapters into a middle-grade novel (I’m excited to get back to that one) when my sister-in-law presented me with a challenge. “Hey, let’s do Nanowrimo,” she said. She had been contemplating writing a book for some time and Nanowrimo was the push she needed to get started. I accepted her challenge and began writing never realizing at the time it would take me two years to finish the book I never planned on writing. Writing this book was different from the others I have written. It was the first time I chose to just keep writing and not look back. My previous books I would write a chapter, edit a chapter, and then continue. I took more of an organic approach with this one and I’m hopeful it will pay off.

Growing up in an Italian family meant that eating was good. The more you ate the healthier you were. As I got older I realized that what I ate mattered more than how much I ate. It was time to get rid of the “baby fat”. Today I am getting rid of my book’s “baby fat” and replacing it with healthier options. I have to be honest with myself and admit that some of what I wrote was nothing more than junk or fillers. At the time it sounded good but in the end it weighed the book down. The junk made the pace sluggish and hid the story inside.

It’s time to sculpt my book and help it become the best version of itself. I don’t want it to be filled with empty words. I want it to be healthy and full but not stuffed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on editing your book for publication. How do you know when your story is weighed down?

“Do you have a hard time putting your book on a “diet”?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, NaNoWriMo, novel, random, rejections, routine, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Stay Tuned

I have been soooo consumed with life lately and my blog has suffered. Plus, my two-year old stepped on my laptop and cracked it. Anyway, I will be returning soon with an author interview that I’m very excited about.

Sorry for the absence. What’s a writer to do when life becomes extremely hectic?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, contests, creating, critique, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, random, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Writing Contest

10 Reasons Writers Can be Labled Crazy


1. They are forever talking to themselves
2. They have imaginary friends
3. They are known to cyber stalk agents, editors and publishers
4. They often go into a zone making them appear catatonic
5. They can be found wearing the same clothes for days, especially when hammering out final drafts and edits
6. At any given time you can find them laughing out loud or crying uncontrollably while no one else is sitting by them (The outside world does not realize they might have just thought of a great ending or an extremely funny scene)
7. They often stare at people which others may find rude, but to us it is observation
8. They possess many obsessive compulsive qualities such as checking their e-mail every two minutes, looking up their blog statistics every five minutes and lurking around twitter to see if an agent they queried mentions something that can possibly relate to what they sent
9. Interrupting them can cause them to shake and scream
10. They live in fantasy worlds

Did I miss anything?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, query, random, routine, stories, story telling, story writing, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Why Writers Needs To Be Like The Bear

When I was a little girl, I spent time singing songs with my father. One of my favorites was “The Bear Went Over The Mountain.” I loved the tune of the song but didn’t understand why we had to keep singing the same lyrics and why the bear never saw anything other than another mountain. The other day I found myself singing this song and for the first time, I realized exactly what I was singing about and how it could pertain to me the writer. A writer is constantly climbing mountains only to get to the top and see there is another mountain to climb.

Think about the process of writing. An idea is sparked (Woo-hoo! Something is brewing), you feel inspired. You are thrilled that you have found something to write about. You take that idea and begin creating a story. All the thoughts that percolate in your head are exciting and you think this will be easy. But then, you hit a snag. The idea that seemed so simple is not flowing as effortlessly as you imagined. You come to the realization you have just climbed your first mountain. The only view from the top is another mountain.

You scribble down an outline. Fill in the blanks (High five the imaginary editor in your mind) and bang your story out. Seeing your thoughts manifest is thrilling. You complete the story and let it sit for a few days.

After some time has passed, you pull back out your work in progress and see errors that must be fixed. You edit, reedit (Try to shut up the loud shouts of self doubt echoing through your head and attempt to give yourself your millionth pep talk). When all is said and done you pat your self on the back for reaching the top of that mountain.

It’s time to start querying. You replenish your dehydrated mind and begin submitting. You feel pumped. Surely, someone will see the brilliance in your work and offer you representation. Days turn into weeks which turn into months. The smile that was decorating your face has been replaced with a frown. Rejections pour in and self doubt revisits. You are about to give up when an unexpected e-mail arrives and you are invited to send your full manuscript to a very cool agent. Where are we at? The bottom of another mountain getting ready to climb back up hoping when we do we will finally see that magical land we have been searching for.

When the “super cool” agent ends up rejecting your manuscript, you feel like you just fell off a cliff. You pick yourself up and begin scaling again.

A writer is never done. Their journey is long, the hills are endless, and the destinations are not known. Once you reach one goal you immediately must set another one. We must be like the Bear. We must keep climbing.

Share with us a moment when you reached a goal in writing. What happened once that goal was met? Did you climb another mountain?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, critique, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, novel, query, random, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing