Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “Writing and Editing

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?


The Pendulum Swing

I’ve been revising my novel for a few weeks now, gearing up for its release. I’m nowhere near completion, but working on it every day gives me a sense of forward motion and accomplishment. Which is why after finishing Chapters 1-7 in their entirety, I found myself surprised to feel that old familiar pang. The stab in the side.

Burn Out. It happens. Sometimes when you least expect it.

Figure two (a) Equatorial pendulum with longit...

Image via Wikipedia

A year and a half is a long time to dedicate to writing a novel in these technologically fast-moving times. Too long. Nonetheless, a year and a half it has been since I began. And throughout that time I have swung through emotions with the swift fluidity of a pendulum. One day in love with my words, the next, ready to chunk my laptop out the window.

I have tried editing or writing from the end of the story or somewhere in the middle for a fresh perspective. I’ve tried working on other stories in the toolbox of ideas I have amassed. But, always I come back to my current novel.  It never shuts up. I both love and hate it. I picks me up and drops me again.

Today I received an email on my chap nine revisions. The chapter that I knew was still rough after all the edits and continued to need work. I was ready for the slashes of red across the text, the comments in the margins, ready for the question marks. I didn’t get them. At least not that many. Instead, I got the opposite. My editor said she liked the chapter, she said it had life in it.

Life.

Not sure I could receive a greater compliment than that. So today, novel, I love you again. You still need work, but you have life;)

Good Writing!


Finding my way

Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.

This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.

The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.

So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.

Listening to:

Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears

Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside

Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release

A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark

Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You

Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory

Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition

Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.


This is when writing gets tricky

This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.

This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything.  And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.

This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.

My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.

I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.

Walking away isn’t my plan.

But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.

So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.


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! 


Why it takes so long.

I am not a multitasker. At All. Thus, my scattered mind and anti-focusing ability. No I do not have ADHD. People with ADHD probably focus better than I do as of late. I think back on the first six months or so of writing my novel, when all my thoughts were a flowing faucet. When my energy was high and my enthusiasm was higher. When I was positive my story was right on course. I wrote my first draft in three months. The full story. A year later, I’ve rewritten that story probably five times.

I wonder about authors like JK Rowling. She took five years to complete The Sorcerer’s Stone. I wonder how she didn’t lose interest after all that time–how she kept her focus. It’s applaudable really.

Here in the 13th month with my WIP, I am the closest I have been to actually finishing–I’m just not sure how close that is. If I could sit and write for hours like I did in the beginning maybe I would already be done. But the constant questions hanging over my shoulder as I write, quash that possibility. They urge me to look deeper, question more–take longer.

I am trying to embrace my style of writing, find it useful in my progression and learn from it. After all, it is the way I write, frustrating one day, over-exuberant the next. At some point I’ll nail down the ins and outs and reel in the over-bearing devil on my shoulder. In the meantime, I’ll try to embrace what he says instead of fighting him all the time. Or…..I’ll just knock him off;)


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.


Quote of the Day

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place. Trust your demon.

– Roger Zelazny


What I Know

I know that writing a good novel, one that is worth reading, can’t be rushed. That sometimes it can take years…and that’s ok. (*sigh*)

I know that the social media surrounding this industry is not what it used to be. And that for a lot of writers, who would rather just write and let the rest fall where it may, it can be difficult to see through the haze.

I know that in spite of that haze, we (I) need to find a comfortable space somewhere within the madness of the social aspect to succeed.

 I know that some days I can’t get my head out of the clouds to save my life and that focus can be a four letter word if you spin it just right.

I know that I LOVE my novel and that I love to write. And those two things should be enough drive to keep me moving forward. (But some days they’re not.)

I know that running will clear my head and help me organize the cluster of randomness that my thoughts often become.

I know that I am following, listening to, and taking advice from, some of the best writers in this industry (published or not). And this only makes me a better writer.

And I know at the end of the day, I need to relax about all of it because I will succeed.

If in doubt from time to time, I highly recommend these writers and their blogs:

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Lisa Kilian’s Blog

Nathan Bransford’s Blog

Bob Mayer’s Blog

Good day:)


When it’s not writers block or inspiration lack..

…When it’s not procrastination. What the hell is it?

 It’s something–something I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s a break. Maybe I need one. Maybe that’s all it is. I literally can not focus. For days, I can’t. Maybe its burn out. Maybe working on something else for a while would help. Suggestions?  Been here before?