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!

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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

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

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 ;-)”

What are the Stakes?

I’d never thought about the phrase ‘what are the stakes.’ I know my character and why she is who she is.  I know why she did what she did.  The issue is, what would she lose if she chose the alternative path.  The path that could be your turning point in your plot?  What does she/he risk losing?

You have to know this.  I thought I knew the stakes, I really did. She risked losing her best friend. But my editor pin pointed it for me and made it all that much more clear.  She not only would lose her best friend if she makes a specific choice, but she also risks losing an extended family and the love of her life.  It was another “duh” moment.  And it helped me write a few more sentences that were clear and concise and will probably help the reader relate to my story.

risk

While writing your query paragraph or your synopsis think hard about the stakes.  Maybe you like to plot?  That’s a great place to find what your character is risking by making certain choices.  Having a clear vision of what your character is up against will help make your story more clear to your reader.

Do you have some great examples of the stakes from different popular books?
Here are a few i can think of.

What were the stakes in The Hunger Games or the Harry Potter books?

I think for the Hunger Games – Book 1 – the stakes are pretty clear.  Kill or be killed (life or death).  But at the same time I think they go further.  Katniss has to choose how to come to terms with how she will survive while remaining herself.

Harry Potter has a resounding theme throughout, but of course each book as it’s own mini stakes.  The over all story is comes down to life or death.  If he can’t overcome his personal feelings of fear, failure, and anger he will be killed and so will most of humanity.

How about the movie How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days?  The steaks are get the job of your dreams or the man.

Here’s a fun one – what are the stakes in Fifty Shades of Grey?  Can you come up with a PG version?

The Editor and the Author – Round Two of Re-writes

What did you expect after the contract was sighed?  Did you think you would get line by line edits and be ready to go?  Because I have known a few authors I had a little more of a realistic idea of how things would go.  Although each editor has their own approach.edits

The first round of edits worked out a major plot issue that needed to be addressed to make the story satisfying for readers.  Now on to the second round of edits.

The second round of edits are still rewrites, but a lot less substantial then possibly having to change a major plot point.  My editor is great at giving leading advice.  She steers you in the direction that makes the most sense while still allowing for my own creative voice.  Once my story is published I will give specific examples, but for now I feel the need to be general in a specific sort of way.

Some example comments:

 “Here is another place to be very specific.”  What I learned from this statement, is that even though word count matters, don’t skimp.  People actually do care about specifics.  I always hate when authors go into random details that have no bearing on the story.  What I failed to realize is that a characters past love interests matter, even if just a one liner; generalization of “all his past girlfriends” may not cut it. My change now says ‘the girl who expected him to change everything, or the girl who refused to visit him in the hospital, and the list goes on and on.’ Or close to that. This actually falls under show vs tell.

“Here is sounds like they actually were dating because you use the word date.”  Although in my mind the word date doesn’t mean to actually date, it does give off the impression doesn’t it? Word choices are huge.  If you don’t want someone to get the wrong idea, stop and think.  What was it they were actually doing and describe the action.  In my case they weren’t on a coffee date, they were meeting up for hot cocoa– the closest they could ever get to a date.

“This is a huge moment and deserves more dialogue.”  Another show vs tell situation. That moment in your book that is a catalyst or the turning point, something huge, shouldn’t be all internal monologue.  Yes, we care about their feelings, but show this through dialogue or action vs. feeling.

“Great place for a new chapter.”  Obviously means start a new chapter – the why?  It gives more emphasis to the major milestone before it.

“Heroines don’t use the word retarded.” This was not meant in an non PC way.  I used this word instead of profanity.  I should have stuck with simple and said “jerk”.  When putting words in your characters mouths – yes they need to fit the character, but check who your audience is.

“Why didn’t you type out the email?”  I had an email in my story.  Why didn’t I type it out? Word count really.  That and now I have to actually figure out how to make it that the supporting character isn’t hated, but the heroine is still crushed.  Oh bugger!

And yes, the list goes on and on.  But the good news is, most of these can be fixed with a word change or an addition to a sentence or two.  There are only a few changes that suggest building the world a bit more –but also not a hard change here and there.

So again what did you expect when you signed the contract OR when you get a contract would you have thought that there could be multiple rewrites before detailed edits started?

The Editor and the Author-and What Your Beta Readers Didn’t Say

So you’ve had a story accepted for publication now what? The editing process could seem a little scary or exciting depending on who you are and how crazy you might be.  Well I am happy to be learning from this process, so for me, I go with exciting for now.Hit the Nail Head

Your first step towards officially being published is to meet your editor! What do you expect an editor to do?  Do expect them to look at your work day one and think you are a literary genius?  Well, that would be nice, but not realistic.  Why do I think that?  Well most likely the beta readers you had missed something.  Or what if you didn’t have beta readers?  You will defiantly missed something.  Being too close to your own work you will miss some crazy detail, but having beta readers isn’t always the 100% surefire answer either.

My first official request was to rewrite a few pieces of my manuscript and I have beta readers. None of them caught something the Editor did.  When I got her initial response , the first thought in my head was “where have you been my whole life.”  Of course I really mean for the writing part of my life of course. None of my readers told me that I had a character that actually made the story emotionally unsatisfying.  Let me clarify.  In a Romance almost always, all relationships are resolved in the end.  A romance by definition needs to have a happily ever after ending, but that doesn’t stop at Mr. Right.

Here is what she meant.  I had a supporting character that was crazy.  Not crazy like she had a millions cats, although I could see that happening, but she was the reason why my main character couldn’t allow herself to be with the man she dreamed of.  I had to step back for a moment and look at this supporting character. It dawned on me, I write romance and romance readers expect resolution for all parties in a positive manner – except in paranormal YA.  That’s another issue.  Anyway, in the end my main character has to move past her issues with the crazy supporting character and just ignore the problem.  Well, since the ‘crazy girl’ is supposed to be the main characters BFF it is emotionally unsettling to have this relationship left hanging.  I 100% agree.

So what do you do when looking for beta readers?

  • Find readers who know the genre you write.  If someone reads Romantic Suspense and you write Romantic Comedy the odds are you will only get half helpful feedback.
  • Find readers who know a little about the craft if possible.  Do they understand the basic parts of a book in your genre?
  • Is the reader a member of the target audience?

If you can say yes to one of the above you have a reliable source to start with. Your editor will still find holes and gaps, it’s what they are good at.  The difference is that you will start with a quality story that might have fewer issues than it might have had if you didn’t have a few outside pairs of eyes.

Be aware that Beta reading isn’t for the faint of heart and in the end you still need to trust your gut.  Also realize that family, although trustworthy, may not always be brutally honest.  The best gift a writer can get is some really harsh CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.  You aren’t perfect and therefore neither is your story.

What is your experience with beta reading or are you still working up the courage to branch out?  We’ve all been there!

Related Posts:

Rachel Gardner

 

Inciting Incident Part 2 – Examples

For those that still aren’t sure about what the inciting incident is, answers.com gave the best summary:
* The conflict that begins the action of the story and causes the protagonist to act
*Without this event, there would be no story. Also, it is better described as the State of Imperfection made explicit.Maybe This Time

I tried to find some big name books to give you inciting incident examples; it’s a little harder than I thought. Mostly because I have been sticking my nose into romances for a while and sadly those are not always the big, big names out there.  But I will try anyway.

So here are some books that I think everyone has heard and/or read:

The Hunger Games (YA) is a great example, thank you to my commenter- Jamie  .  To see her response click here.

Marked (YA) – PC. Cast and Kristin CastDarkest Power - Kelley Armstrong

Inciting Incident occurs in the first chapter where Zoey is marked by a vampire to be destined to be a vampire.  Her mother’s reaction to the marking changes the course of her life and her actions.

The Summoning (YA)– by Kelley Armstrong

The inciting Incident again appears in the first chapter when the main character is encountered by a ghost in school.  She reacts as any normal person would – badly – and is sent away to a special school.  Her father’s lack of interest in her situation and his decision to send her away changes her life.

Twilight (YA) – Stephanie Meyer

The inciting incident is in the first chapter after the prologue.  She moves because of her mother.  Not exactly exciting, but the move to live with her father and changing school is what allows her to meet Sense and SensibilityEdward.

Sense and Sensibility (Romance) – Jane Austen

Their father dies in the first chapters and because women in that time period don’t get to keep anything their lives are altered forever.  Without the father passing and the greed of the half brother their lives would never have changed course.

Anne of Green Gables (YA) – L.M. Montgomery

Again – in the first chapter Anne is sent in mistake of a boy for adoption.  Matthew is too sweet to turn her away and takes her home anyway.  Because of Matthew’s actions Marella is forced to get to know Anne and allows her to stay.

Maybe This Time (Romance) – Jennifer Cruise

In the first chapter– Andy goes to try and get closure from her ex husband, but lucky for him his distant relative just died and named him guardian of two children.   If it weren’t for this morbid start, North would never have had a good reason to get Andy back into his life.

Cell (Horror) – Stephen King

In the first chapter a tone is sent out over cell phones that causes anyone who was talking on their cell to become a Zombie like creature. Creepy right? The main character doesn’t even own a cell.  Because the tone was sent over cell phones and he doesn’t own one he is now immersed in an apocalypse like world trying to get to his son.

It’s hard to think of any big books where the incident that gets the story going isn’t named in the first chapter or two.  I had stated that you need to cover it in the first three and still stand by this, although it is best to get it done quickly.  Some background may need to occur before the inciting incident is given.   That isn’t to say that all the details of how the incident occurred are reveled in the first chapters, but it is very clear as to why the story is moving forward.

Do you have any great examples of inciting incidents or any examples breaking the rules that actually work?  Even better – where is your inciting incident in your story?