Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “Editing and Proofreading

The Only Thing That Can Make You A Writer …

Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately — many people will help you unintentionally.

Santha Rama Rau

*Originally posted October, 2012


TIED Update ~ The Fire Born (Book 1) #yalit

So it’s been a while—too long actually, since I last posted about my progress with TIED. BUT … with incredibly good reason—writing takes time. Tons of it. And editing—takes even more.
TIED has officially been sent off to copy editing land and is out of my hands. So, my publisher will be allowing me to share more tidbits of what’s to come very soon.
For example, I will be having a TIED Bookmark Giveaway in the coming days, and excerpts as well as other exciting stuff will follow.
September 9 is coming, and I can’t wait to share Layla and Max’s world with everyone. 😉
Coming Sept 9, 2013

Coming Sept 9, 2013


What’s In Being A Contracted Author?

Our computers

Our computers (Photo credit: aranarth)

Fear.

Yep, I said that.

Getting a publishing contract is everything you’ve wanted, everything you’ve worked your ass off for, and when you sign on the dotted line, everything you’re afraid of.

It’s a truth I think a lot of authors keep under wraps because some days when you sit staring at your story, the one that has a deadline attached to it now, the one that needs to be as close to perfect as you can make it—some days, it can feel like you’ve signed yourself up to fail. The days when nothing makes sense and you wonder who in their right mind, including yourself, ever thought your story could actually sell. The days when fear seeps in and hangs on.

From the legalese of contracts, to the swell of accomplishment in your chest that is almost immediately replaced by the tightening of panic, to the real edits and real deadlines, being a contracted, and soon to be published, author is both thrilling and terrifying.

But, in those split seconds when rays of light shine through the blinds in your mind, it is incredibly gratifying. The times when, for once, there are no blue, red, or green edits marking up your pages and your comments come back with “Great!” instead of “Huh?” or “Powerful.” instead of “Make it clearer.” Those are the days when every drop of doubt and ounce of fear is worth it. The days when you’re proud as hell. Maybe they’re far and few between, but those rays of light keep the writing fire burning bright and remind you that you should feel proud, maybe even excited–even if only for a second. 😉


What’s In An Editor? (Why Do I Sound Like An Adult?)

I tend to scribble a lot

I tend to scribble a lot (Photo credit: Unhindered by Talent)

Young Adult fantasy novels are my first go-to on reading shelves. My first love of books in general. I write them too. Pretty well, I think. At least in content, anyway. 🙂 Sometimes, however, “Laney, YA writer” gets crossed with “Laney … well, Laney.”

Why do I sound like an adult sometimes when I write? Besides the fact that I am one, I get caught up in the flurry of the story–action scenes, love scenes– and I occasionally forget contractions and ‘teen speak’, as my editor calls it. When I’m on a writing roll, I write what I see in my head. The words kind of disappear. Strange? Maybe so.

Stories read like moving pictures for me. Like a blur of color. My editor slows the view down so I can see what’s staring back at me from the screen. It’s an invaluable tool.

Writers need editor’s eyes. They are programmed to see what we miss. Although, sometimes it may feel nit picky or overwhelming–we need to use it, learn from it.

My story reads tighter, cleaner … better. As far as I’m concerned, the frustration that can come from full-blown edits are worth every ounce of hair pulling and head banging. The goal is to produce the best story I can. Even if that means cringing every time I open a document to find blue ink covering my pages. 😉


It’s Always Too Early …

“It’s always too early to quit.”

Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and a...

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and author of The Power of Positive Thinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


What’s In An Editor? Part 2. (How Do You Feel?)

Pre-Final edits are in full swing, so forgive my sporadic blog posts of late. The writing pendulum is searching for the mid-point.

Turns out real editing with changes and revisions takes a while. Add in a deadline and … yeah, it’s a time stretch. With that in mind, I’m continuing my What’s In An Editor post series (a spin-off of What’s In A Beta Reader). And since I’m new to the editing game, it will be a work in progress. Here we go:

I keep asking myself, “How would you feel?” Or, “What does that look like?”

Feelings are hard to write. For me. Well, I should reword. Feelings are hard to show in my writing. It’s a point of head banging lately. Rewriting sections to show instead of tell. Showing say … scrutiny, for example, causes my head to ache. How would I show scrutiny? It’s a good question. One that I’m working on.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi is an invaluable tool. One that I use from time to time (more often lately). It doesn’t, however, give a writer all the answers. It simply leads them a bit farther down the ‘expressive’ path. After that, showing is still in the mind of the writer. Showing without repetition … harder still.

I’ll move back to my example. The sentence I needed to alter per my editor was this one: I scrutinized both of them. 

So, how do I show scrutiny?

Here’s the definition: A critical observation or examination.

I could have my character shake his/her head, but I do a lot of head shaking (it’s an easy and probably overdone fix).  I could have a disbelieving eye roll (also a bit overdone even though I like eye rolling). How about narrowing eyes? That works. When we are skeptical of someone’s behavior we narrow our eyes in disbelief.

Still, it’s a crap shoot. Seeing eye to eye on every little detail is unlikely when it comes to editing, but your words should feel right. Put yourself in your characters shoes and ask yourself, “How do I feel?”

Nobody said editing would be easy.

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


What’s In An Editor?

Grammar police

Grammar police (Photo credit: the_munificent_sasquatch)

An interesting thing happens when you work with an editor. You are quickly reminded (or I am) that although you may be a good storyteller and okay grammatically, becoming a terrific storyteller and a grammatical whiz, is quite another animal. Patience reigns. Glad my editor has a lot of it. 😉

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

** The homonym police got me…. reins vs. reigns. See what I mean about editing? Thanks, Carol. 😉


The Publishing Roller Coaster

A few days ago I received an email. A request for my manuscript in full to be sent to a publishing house I queried. And then I received another one.

YES!

Am I thrilled? Absolutely.

Do I feel terrified and on the verge of throwing up? Definitely.

I remember the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I completed TIED. Edits, beta readers, and all. It was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. For about an hour. Maybe.

A few weeks later, I queried my first publisher with shaking hands, and terror replaced accomplishment. Still, I sent it anyway. I had to. All of us writers have to. This whole process is well…part of the process. I think we need to go through it. It makes us a little stronger.

Now, after sending off my baby that I’ve loved and coddled for two years, I have a different sense of accomplishment. One that is mixed with the discomfort of judgement. The word all writers hate. But you know what? It’s a great feeling. It is. Because whether or not they decide to take my book on, they believed enough — and saw enough — to give it further than a glance. And although this could be the only elation I feel in a long run of disappointments — I plan to appreciate it for what it is — THE BEST FEELING I’ve had since I jumped on this roller coaster ride of writing.

I love what I do. And I’m thankful to be doing it. Even more thankful, too, that my betas also love my stories and I’ve been given a small pat on the back by yet another interested party. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Wish me luck. 😉


Make Your World Breathe

 

Just breathe

Just breathe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There is no such thing as too much description.  Okay, maybe later on when you’re a few drafts in some details will need to be scaled down. But in the beginning when you are just writing, just write. Tell your story and every little detail that you see in your mind. First drafts need to be loaded with details. There will be too many but come draft two and three you can pick  and choose what’s important enough to stay and what needs to go. And through those changes your story will start to become alive.

 

Every character in your story needs a voice and I don’t only mean the ones who can talk. I mean EVERY character. The buildings, the car, the woods, the town. The world you’ve created needs to breathe. It needs life. Life in writing is created through details. The edge in someones voice, the creak of a clock tower, the feel of a touch, the sweetness of a flower. The ripped, faded jeans. The wickedly flirtatious smile. The racing blood. The charred forest. The reader needs to see it, taste it, feel it, hear it and know it. They want to walk in the world you create, to feel what the characters feel.

 

I think we all can get caught up in writing dialogue. It is no doubt, extremely important but at the end of the day, if all you have is dialogue, where’s the setting? Why does the reader care if he can’t see your characters sitting on the hillside, or fighting in the alley? The only way to create your world is to give it a personality of its own. Give it an identity and make it come alive in the minds of all who read it.

 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

 


What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 4

Look right

Look right (Photo credit: dlombardia)

“You look like you just rolled out of bed.”

….leaving a lake-like gleam across the surface of the ocean.

“She doesn’t like you.”

“It felt like….”

Apparently, I really like the word, LIKE.

Like is a weak word writers use as a crutch. A crutch to tell rather than show readers what our characters are seeing, feeling, experiencing. It’s a lazy word. I was shocked to discover how many times I’d used it in my MS. Shocked.

Beta readers see what we, in a flurry of writing excitement (or drudgery), sometimes miss.

** I also like (see, I did it again!) the word AS. Oh, and felt. Yeah, felt. The worst!

SHOW DON’T TELL.;)

What’s In A Beta Reader?

What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2

What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3


Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3

Expressions.

“So jump,” he sneered up at me.

Apparently one of my characters sneers a lot. Who knew? My beta pointed out that unless I meant for him to be laughing at the MC with contempt, maybe I should reword it.

SNEER: To smile or laugh with facial contortions that express scorn or contempt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Ouch… Um, no, that was not my intent. At all.

Sometimes, it’s better to stick with said.

*related posts: ** What’s In A Beta Reader?

**What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2


Revisions. Listen to the Voice.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve logged in hours revising your novel, and then it dawns on you that you have to scrap chunks of it?

Yeah, I’m there.

I wanted to label it as a block. Pin it down to being “brain tired.” Chalk it up to, “I’ve been working on this piece too long, so now I’m just sick of it.”

Revision notes

Revision notes (Photo credit: jez`)

Reality?

That little voice in my head, the one that helps guide me down these cray writing roads I find myself on, that voice told me something was wrong. And it wasn’t because I was too tired, or blocked. It wasn’t because my story was too ingrained, or that I was sick of it. The voice stopped me in my revision tracks because something was wrong.

Scrap is a harsh word. Rewrite is a more appropriate one, and something I had not anticipated needing to do. But as I’ve said before, sometimes the story simply doesn’t work. Sometimes the ideas in your head don’t play out on paper in the grand scheme. Sometimes you need to rewrite a few chunks, so the rest of the chunks, work.

Listen to your voice. It doesn’t lie, and it won’t lead you astray. If something in your story doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t.


Don’t Stop

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

No matter how hard it gets, how overwhelmed you feel, keep going. You will get there. 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


What’s in a Beta Reader? Part 2

My eye

My eye (Photo credit: neuroticcamel)

“I rolled my eyes around the room, searching for her.”

My beta red-flagged this sentence, and made her remarks in the margins.

“Unless your MC is physically removing her eyes from their sockets, she can’t roll them around the room. Or is that what you mean? Can she?”

Um, no.

No, she cannot physically remove her eyeballs, and roll them around the room. I had to laugh, and then rewrite the sentence. These are the tiny errors that we as writers, all caught up in our story, usually miss.

I write fantasy, so the MC removing her eyeballs from their sockets wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But, no, she can’t. Nor is that what I meant to say.

I meant to say that she gazed around the room. Looked around the room. Eyed the room.

Our betas are useful for finding a wide array of issues. This was one of my funnier ones. They aren’t always funny. But that is something to keep in mind when reading comments from a beta (or proofreader, or editor). Humor. Don’t hold so tightly to your story that you become blinded by what others tell you is wrong. They are supposed to find problems. And we are supposed to fix them.

Have you tried to roll your eyes across the room lately?

WRITE ON!

*Related Posts: What’s In A Beta Reader?


A Week in Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Author Anne R. Allen has a great post up on her blog this week, When Should An Author Hire An Editor?

Author Kristen Lamb is continuing her blog series, Don’t Eat The Butt. Her 4th post in the series, Real Writers Never Struggle

Author Janni Lee Simmer has a post up on her blog, Desert Dispatches. On Publishing and being a writer in the Right Now

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


What’s in a Beta Reader?

Everything.

Writing

It took about four months before I mustered up the courage to let anyone read the first chapters of my current novel. That was back in August of 2010. I’d been writing since April of that year, and my book was nowhere–and I mean nowhere–near ready for viewing. Even if that viewer was my mom. Now, I realize that everyone says they let their mom read their book first because, of course, our mothers will go easy on us if it sucks. Not my mom. I’m not saying she flat-out told me it was awful, but she didn’t tell me what I was hoping to hear either.

I wanted my mom to read it first because I needed real feedback from an avid reader. My mom also happens to do a lot of editing. The first reviews weren’t good. Looking back, she was 100% correct. The book was a fledgling written by a poet and short story dabbler, not a seasoned novelist.

I tucked my tail between my legs, swallowed my pride, and listened to everything she had to say. And then I used it all. I studied and researched and let the ideas in my head germinate and flow.  I wrote and I wrote until I was sick of it. Until I almost gave up.

It has been a year and a half since that time and my novel has gone through at least eight drafts. Easily. After I’d tweaked, edited, hated it, and loved it, I put it back in my moms possession. And cringed a little.

I have three beta readers now, all doing slightly different things, all slightly different viewpoints, coming from different genre preferences and widely different age groups. I think the wide scope is necessary for a real perspective. I was terrified to let my words, my characters–my world, go. Everything in those pages is me. Everything in all our books as writers, is us. Our imagination, our thoughts—our creation. What if my betas hated my story? What would that say about me? I let it go, despite my trepidation, and faced the fear.

If they did hate the story, if my characters were whack and my voice was worse–I kind of needed to know.

What’s in a Beta Reader? If you’re lucky, a trusted reader who will give it to you straight.

I waited a long time after the initial beta read back in 2010 to release my chapters again. I was afraid to hear the critiques–to hear I wasn’t any good after close to two years of sweat and tears. But how would I ever know, if I was too afraid to let go? And if I was awful at writing novels, well…there was only one way to change that— keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting myself out there.

What’s in a Beta Reader? Your audience. Who without, you have no readership. So ask yourself, who are you writing for? I can say with all my heart, I write for myself. But when you decide to go live, and publish your work, that changes a bit. I write because I love it. And somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to do more than write stories to myself. So, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t also writing for my readers. And they, as well as I, deserve the best book I can put out. That’s where the Betas come in 😉

WRITE ON!


Novel 1 Update

I have had an inspired week filled with edits and revisions. My MS has now been relinquished for the real edits to begin and what I am positive will be full-blown revisions to follow.

Instead of going into an extended state of anxiety awaiting judgement, I plan to focus all of my energy on finishing my second WIP. As my current novel has taken what feels like forever to finish, I have a new-found confidence that the second will be a much quicker process.

I am hoping to gain some insight on creating a new title (or sticking with the original) as mine has been found elsewhere. I have created a list of around twenty possibilities, half of which I have already shot down. With any luck my title will be released here on the blog soon. My cover has also been completed.

Good writing to you;)


Getting back in my head…

When I finished my first novel I tucked it way for a few weeks to simmer and set. Then my break-need set in as well. I’d completely burned myself out. I knew it was coming on for quite a while. Fast forward to a few months later, and regaining entry has proved more difficult than I expected.

There is a disconnection that happens when you leave a WIP to rest a while. The positives are seeing your piece with fresh, often scrutinizing eyes. The negatives–what you see may or may not be something you like or can even use. Not all we create will be worth a damn in terms of publication, regardless of the time spent–weeks, months–years even.

In my attempt to pick up where I left off, many aspects are working quite well, while others, I see now, must be scrapped. I shall need to rewrite my first chapter for instance. A daunting prospect as it has given me trouble since day one. I would scrap it too if I could figure out how without losing needed story elements. It just refuses to roll off my tongue in the right way.  My playlists are providing some needed inspiration and with any luck  will carry me through the 25 or so pages.

Any tips for re-entry after letting the novel stew a while? Ideas to trigger to inspiration?


QUOTE

“The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished mss of today.”

Philip Unwin


The burning Knee

Having been a classical dancer for most of my life, injuries are second nature to me. I’m pretty good with grinning and bearing it. The best example would be spraining my ankle on stage during a performance in front of a few hundred people. I kept dancing that piece and the two pieces that followed. It’s part of the trade. Similar I would say to cutting or burning myself during a dinner rush, while working the line, on a wait. You just keep going.

Being a dancer and a chef taught me a few very valuable lessons. The most important one–Don’t Quit. I am utilizing these lessons in my writing — or trying to.

Let’s face it, writing is hard–very hard at times. And not only because the craft must be mastered, but also because of the emotion needed to create characters, worlds, dialogue and conflict. It’s a struggle.

Not at all unsimilar to struggling with say….an old knee injury. My recurrent knee injury is from many years past (the ankle is good now). I was 15 when my orthopedic doctor suggested, no , he flat-out told me, to quit dancing because of my knee. Ha! Not likely. I do remember making a sort of hyena snorting sound. I didn’t quit. It wasn’t in me to quit. After physical therapy and a few weeks on crutches (because PT was so painful I couldn’t walk out of the office on my own) I was back to my vices.

Later, running became my new source of self-inflicted pain. Due to this marvelous decision on my part, I am back in PT with the same old injury. Riding the stationary bike for miles and miles in burning pain. Yes, I’ve been here before. Me and the bike are old enemies  friends.

Eleven miles today at  18 mph and the knee is feeling better. Honestly. Strange how something you hate can actually make you feel better at times. Like the taste of Nyquil. Gotta choke it down but in the morning, you can at least say you slept. Granted, it could be because Nyquil is like 80% alcohol–but that’s another post.

Point here–I have one–is that moving forward or not giving up is a necessary part of life. I hate that damn bike, but I’m gonna keep riding it because it helps me. I hate editing. I reallyyy do, and I hate the place I am in right now with my writing. The stuck place. Can’t move forward–can’t move backward. But I know if I keep peddling, keep pointing my toes, keep my hands away from the flames and KEEP moving straight with my writing–I will be okay.

So DON’T QUIT! My advice to myself, my advice to you. None of what we are doing here is easy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. It just means—well, it means some of us take the long way around instead of plowing through the middle.


Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Let me just say it.

I’m going to be honest for a second here. I haven’t been writing much. I know! Bad Me. The truth? I’m tired of it. Not writing mind you–I’m tired of my story. Tired of messing with it, tired of editing and trying to make sure it’s where it needs to be, what I want it to be. Maybe that’s a good thing. I finally reached the ‘sick of it’ stage. The problem with this stage, — I am going nowhere.

What’s worse is that I am flirting with starting another novel seed in my plethora of ideas. I know! Bad again. I should be finishing editing #1 and releasing it into the wild. I even created decent cover art after the Gimp fiasco! I should be writing #2 in my series. I should, I should, but I CAN’T right now.

AND….I am ignoring the blog. I’m getting worse and worse at posting. No, No, I don’t need a break, I’ve had a break. What I need is to plant my butt in the chair and write.

So there. Spoiled Laney having another tantrum. Just to let you all know that yes, I’m still here. Still fussing around with 80,000 words I’ve been fussing around with for a year and a half. ;P


The Grind

Back to the grindstone. That’s code for editing. When in doubt about what you’re trying to write and banging your head against the wall doesn’t help anymore, edit a different work in progress!

Step 1. Reread, again.

Step 2. Cut and rewrite, again.

Step 3. Repeat, again.

Step 4. Question everything.

Step 5. Ditch it and create random blog entries.

Ding, Ding, Ding….I choose number 5.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! 


When you don’t know..

My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.

I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.

That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.