There was an Old Lady Who … Wait Stop Telling Me.

Ever want to re-write the classics?  I mean, with everything you are learning as a writer/author you can do better.  Yeah.  I don’t know about that always.  Today though, as I stood brushing my teeth it came to me.  Show vs tell – again!   I know. I am obsessed. It happens to be the one thing that was killing my writing above everything else.   

Sure I still have grammar mistakes and odd sentences here and there.  Sure I sometimes think everyone is in my head.  But – show vs tell was killing me from getting a publisher.

So let’s look at the sentence and rhyme “there was an old lady who lived in a shoe.”

There are a million ways to write any sentence.  But I think this rhyme is riddled with tell.  Here is my attempt at making it more “showy.”

An old lady live in a shoe.  The seams were bursting. Children were everywhere. Confusion and desperation consumed her.

Or

An old lady lived in a shoe. She balanced a kid in each arm and watched the countless others run amuck.

Well it was worth a try. This rhyme wouldn’t be what it is, written any other way. It’s still an example of what authors are told daily, what not to do. So good luck. I hope you find inspiration or a laugh from this today.

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Rewriting and a New Release

I can’t not mention my new release! It’s officialy out today. Please stop by the blog tour every day for some entertaining interviews and excerpts!

Now on to today’s post.

This post might be somewhat of a benefit for those that did NaNoWrimo.

When you have a manuscript that is written, what do you do next? I have a manuscript that I wrote and it was accepted for publication; that’s a good sign right? Well not really. The publisher is no longer around, which is why the story never saw the light of day. The story was written for a specific niche and has a lot of tell not enough show. The editing process was going to be brutal.

balI found a new purpose for this story.  I think it would fit somewhere new, but I have to do a lot of rewriting though.  I need to fix the issues I know it has.  It’s scary.  What should I do.  Edit the story as it is?  Or start over from scratch?  I think the obvious is, why reinvent the wheel.  I sometimes get too caught up in the current words to do a good rewrite. This is where I need to stop and remind myself that editing is simply that.  Rewriting, fixing, and adding to the existing manuscript.  As long as you are keeping the bones of the story, the first round of editing should be less daunting.

My next hurdle is how to keep myself streamlined.  Does anyone else have ideas somewhere on page fifty and realize they need to go back to page three or worse, page one hundred, to fix a few details?  That’s where I start to get side tracked.  I am starting a notebook of these problems. Making a general statement of where I think something will need to be added or changed.  The best idea of all is to turn on tracked changes and add comments.  Editors use track changes all the time these days.  Thank you technology! Granted I still have a love affair with sticky notes.

Really I am all ears.  What is your editing style on a finished manuscript or a first draft?  After you get the first rewrite or edit out of the way, the next round of edits don’t seem nearly as daunting, at least I don’t think.  It’s getting through that initial edit or the first complete rewrite.

Happy Monday and happy editing!

Story Vs. Writing Quality

I really wanted to like it. I really did.  Those are the words I find myself saying through a lot of books these days.

The word is out that publishers are becoming more picky.  They don’t want to take on new authors as often. Breaking into the writing world has become harder.  So…

I find myself stumped.  I found a book that was a freebee.  Oh the ploys of publishers and writers. Get me hooked to buy the rest in a series. I get it.  So I did.  The problem is that the story was a great idea, but it wasn’t well executed.  Can we say repeat?  I found myself skimming over entire pages of repeated information – or whining in this case.

How did this book get popular?  Well, it breaks down to the age old question. Story or quality of writing?  Twilight was a mainstream book that baffled many.  I truly have a hard time re-reading those books, but the first time through I was obsessed.  This book isn’t quite to the obsession level, but sucked me in all the same.

I am scratching my head.  The book in question is a small publisher that also dabbles in self-publication assistance.  People complained of editing, as in punctuation, but for me it was the story.  I can’t tell if she is self published or not.  Either way, she is a success and rightfully so – great story, but getting past the info that should have been cut can be daunting.

Lesson learned from this book – don’t repeat, repeat, repeat. We get it. We read it the first time. Reiteration can be useful as a reminder, but DO NOT REPEAT.  If I can skip pages and miss nothing there is a problem.

I know authors who have awesome editing skills and their stories don’t seem to be half as successful. Long story short.  What matters the most. Story or writing?

 

Related links:

Editing

Editor

Editor 2

Don’t Annoy the Reader

The Ultimate Revamp

 So you have a story.  So you have a story someone wants to buy.  So you had a story someone wanted to buy. 

 What happens when acquisitions occur or small publishers break down?  Rights are returned and stories begin to collect dust.  That seems logical. edits

 The thing is. There are a lot of authors who actually didn’t sit long at all.  They had marketable stories and were determined to find a new home.  Several of my stories were written for specific themes and therefore needed to be changed a little.  I am finally getting back on the wagon and doing just this.  I know too many authors that have had amazing success to give up now, and yes, they were where I was.

 What is my point?  If you have a story don’t give up.  Revamp things if you need to.  If you know someone valued it, the odds are someone else will do the same.  All things that are worth doing usually take a lot of work for the payoff.   Perk up and keep on trucking!

 Related Links:

Jennifer M Eaton

Vonnie Davis

Linda Carroll-Bradd

Thoughful Tuesday – Advice or Opinion?

When is it advice based on fact vs. an opinion from your own little mind?  There are a zillion books on writing, editing, and selling. Don’t stop there. Look at all the parenting books and books on finding your soul mate.  So out of all these books which ones are really helpful and which are simply a string of opinions that worked for one person. We are not cookie cutter. Just because Author A got published without editing a single word doesn’t mean Author B can do the same. Just because your child responds to time outs doesn’t mean that another child will. Now the book/movie, He’s Just Not that into You, might actually have some legs to stand on.

He's Just notWhat self-help or instructional books do you rely on? Writing, parenting, dating or otherwise. I personally like Dr. Sears books for child rearing and my own personal gut of course. I have yet to find a query letter book that is perfect, but The Guide to Query Letter’s isn’t bad. The Element of Style for basic grammar isn’t all that bad either – are there better?  I guess it depends on who you ask.

Self-Editing Check List

drawEditing is daunting. It’s annoying. I absolute despise editing. Well, actually I don’t absolutely despise it. My issue is that you finally get to write ‘the end’ and then it’s back to the start. I have a small check list that helps me focus in on my biggest issues.
1. I Check that my characters are consistent – eye and hair colors and motivations are clear.
2. I check for punctuation to the best of my ability and misspelled or misused words.
3. I check for that and was. I remove as many as possible.
4. I check for overused words or repeated words in the same paragraph.
5. Check for any major story flaws – granted being really close to the story can make that hard to do. That’s why there are editors.
Those are the biggest issues that I check for, although I am sure I am missing some. What are your editing checks? Maybe together we can create an amateurs list to self-editing. Does anyone else hate SAMSUNGtrying to read a one hundred and fifty page book on how to edit?
I read an editors blog that said she actually reads every sentence backwards to find spelling and grammar errors. Check out some other authors and editors blogs on editing.

 

 

 

Related Links:

Jamie – Editor

Jennifer Eaton

Kelly Hashway

Fun Fact Friday – Meet Jami Deise (an Editor)

Meet my first editor to appear on Fun Fact Friday! I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jami on a previous short story. She got to tear apart my work and I figure it’s only right that I get to pick her brain. Maybe this will help me

Does everyone know that most editors write also? I guess you can say they moonlight as writers and authors too. Of course I had to ask about her writing!

Michelle: When does an editor stop editing their own work?

Jami: When someone else starts editing it.

M: Do you have a quirky story that inspired a scene in your WIP?

J: My WIP was inspired by my son’s first summer playing travel ball. So quirky story, no; life, yes.

 

M: Inspired by the thought that our heroines are usually a reflection of who we are or who we want to be I had to ask. What color is your heroines hair and why?

J: I gave her brown hair. She’s a divorced working mom and doesn’t have time to color it.

 

Okay enough on her writing – now to get to know the lady behind the red pen!

M: Who is your favorite hero and why?

J: Jaime Sommers. The Bionic Woman was solely responsible for my name going from a boy name to a girl name. Thank you, Jaime. Also, the bionics stuff was cool.

 

M: Do you have a pet and where do they sit when you are working?

J: I have a dog, and she is always under my feet, which makes it very easy to stay in the chair!

 

M: Do you collect anything and why? (shoes count)

J: Old General Hospital videotapes. If anyone has stuff from 1978-80, please let me know!

M: Did she just say videotapes? Don’t worry she can do editing on a computer J

M: What is your favorite season and why?

J: I currently live in Florida, where there are no seasons. So it’s a good thing I love summer.

M: I think I need to send poor Jami a cooler of snow next Colorado winter, that could be next week or a few months from now. One never knows. I think she needs to cool off during those humid Florida summers. I watch house hunters and see those people sweating.

 

Finally I am sure all minds want to know why someone goes into editing – or at least those that hate to edit. <Raises hand> That would be me.

 

M: Why did you start to edit?

J: Because my high school English teacher’s voice (and red pen) got into my head and won’t leave. Don’t ever try to start a sentence with “this” without a noun immediately following it. The red pen of death will get you!

J: Thanks, Michelle, this was fun!

M: Thanks Jami for letting the world meet you.

For anyone needed editing services Jami is available @ JamiDeise@aol.com

Thoughtful Tuesday – Holding It

The baby starts to cry and I’m a sucker. I can’t let him cry so I put my bladder’s needs aside and run (or do the potty dance) to his aide. I can’t help but think that this one action in life is applicable to more Pottythen just my bladder and baby.

When you have edits coming along – or if I do, I have a hard time diving into to a new story. Instead I am mentally holding back the new ideas.

Or maybe you have a major project at work or school that is making to hold back a million others.

I am sure there are better analogies, but what else does a mom of a new born think about at 3am? What are you holding back on in order to finish something else?

Less is More

I thought I wouldblah break my once a month posting rule on writing.  This just might help someone.

Just because people say they want every detail doesn’t mean that they really do.  What I have learned through the editing process – with an editor, is that less is actually more.  Cut words.  Cut phrases.  Get to the point.  So what if you can write a beautiful paragraph on the snow and it’s movement.  Did it do anything to help move the story along?

So it hurts to cut paragraphs.  Lick your wound and get over it.  The editor I had the pleasure of working with at Still Moments Publishing helped me cut out 5000 words.  Yes you heard that right.  5000 words.  That was for a short story.  Why 5000 words?  Well.  Lets see.  I had a few paragraphs that although fun or cute, didn’t move the plot.  No one cares that she was wearing a hat and she was fighting with it and static electricity.  Did it help give you an image of her?  Well yes.  The difference was that I had established her personality already in the two paragraphs before.

I’m not sure how many people have heard rules about establishing what a character looks like off the bat.  Well that rule apparently isn’t really a rule.  After I cut out the paragraph on her hair issues there is no mention of my characters looks for several chapters. No one found this disconcerting.

Next, cutting her actions from five sentences to two helps tighten things up a little.  Everyone got she was cold in sentence one.  Commenting on how she handled said cold in sentence two and three is efficient. No need to add some flowery sentences or elaborating.

What i learned – I am wordy.  I love to talk, or write. Some of the pre-edit additions were because of critiques and others were because I liked the visual they gave.  If there is anything i am learning, its that editing is subjective.  The one rule that all editors seem to agree on is that less is more.  Getting there might be a little different, but you will hear it from all credible editors out there.

As a reader what do you do if there are too many details?  As a writer, how do you notice you are being too wordy? I don’t know that I will ever be able to really edit myself in full.  Thank goodness for Editors.

 

Related articles:

http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-much-is-enough-or-too-much.html

http://ajbooks.blogspot.com/2010/12/ajs-3-rules-for-successful-writing.html

http://calisarhose.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/wednesday-wrap-up-with-editor-stacy-holmes/

 

Fun Fact Friday – The Authors First Edit

The book you see is probably not the one that was originally written.  Close your mouth.  I get it.  The shock, the horror of it all. Try telling the author.  So the author sent out her/his book and it was accepted for publication.  One thing no one expects are the line-by-line edits that will be coming.

Like me for instance.  At first I stared at the computer screen for what seemed like forever in complete horror.  My mouth was gaping open – until a fly attempted to land there anyway.  After quickly and frantically scrolling through the edits I uttered the phrase “she killed my baby.”   So it was a little over dramatic.  It was none the less my initial reaction to my first manuscripts first line-by-line editing experience.

I have to say a huge thanks to the authors for sharing their stories as well.  Click on each name for contact information and past Fun Fact Friday Blog Posts.  If this doesn’t tell you how much every experience is different, I don’t know what will.Kelly Hashway  Feel free to secretly hate the authors that say their edits weren’t ‘that bad.” 🙂

*****

Kelly Hashway: My first ever editorial letter sent me into a full on panic. My lovely editor told me to stock up on chocolate before I started on my edits. Of course I thought that meant I was in for major rewrites and lots of hair pulling. But when I opened the document, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Yes, there were comments galore, and most elicited thoughts of, “how am I supposed to do that?!” Okay, maybe I pulled out some hair after all. But in the end, it was worth it. My editor’s comments were spot on.

****

Denise Moncrief:  My first real line edit was done by the wonderfully talented AJ Nuest. I expectedDenise Moncriefd a thorough edit, but I didn’t expect how it would make me feel. Like my writerly feelings had been thoroughly pummeled! For two days, I rambled around the house muttering things like… “Who does she thinks she is?” and “Why did she change that?” and “What does she mean by blah, blah, blah?” It’s never easy to take criticism, no matter how constructive it is. I sucked up my pride and worked through those edits. That first line edit was an intense experience but well worth it, because my story is stronger for the attention to detail she invested in it.

****

Jennifer Eaton: “My first reaction?  “What the heck is this chic smoking?”  (After  cutting the middle of a scene completely out.)”jack-jill-volume-one-cover

*****

on with the showLinda Carroll-Bradd “My reaction may be different

than some because I’d spent years in critique groups and was used to seeing comments made on my writing projects.

But I do remember being surprised when point of view mistakes were pointed out because I’d thought I had that craft issue nailed (this was 7 years ago). I thought the editor had to be wrong. Of course, as I read the comments, I saw the words or phrase where I’d inadvertently shifted POV and vowed not to make that mistake again.”
****
Jamie Ayers: “Don’t kill me . . . but my edits weren’t that bad. I was just really, really confused about how to do the track changes, lol. So I panicked about that!18 things

However, the first time I had someone seriously critique my work, I thought about punching them in the face the next time I saw them. Then, I thought, nope, I’ll get sued and I’m a teacher so that’s no good. I settled for taping their image to my dart board instead ;-)”