Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Revision, Writing

Imminent book demise averted!

You may have noticed, it’s been over a week since I last wrote a real post—and if you didn’t notice, please don’t tell me. I’d like to keep the illusion that you’re all hanging on my every word. Anyway, I’ve been busy editing and revising An Illusion of Trust.  The editing was no problem. Then along came revisions.

Actually, part of those went well too. I added two short scenes and made minor revisions to another. But the biggie stumped me. So I took a break and read—a whole book. I still couldn’t think how to revise. So I looked at a few thousand stock images for the cover. Still nothing.  So I printed out my scene synopsis and marked the four problematic ones because seeing something in print often wakes my Muse.

This time she only opened one eye and mumbled a few words. So I did the logical thing. I decided not to revise those scenes. I’m just kidding, of course. I decided to toss the whole book.

Over-reaction? Maybe, but I was frustrated. However … I took one last stab at the four scenes. I decide there were good reasons not to change one of them, but I made notes on ways to subtly revise the other three. I knew that wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t fix the problem my alpha reader cited. So I started an email to tell her I wasn’t a good enough writer to salvage the book. But then I decided, before I gave up, I’d show her the only changes I came up with. And …

She said, “You need to take ‘I’m ready to just walk away from this book’ out of your vocabulary forever.” She also said the revisions I’d suggested were “perfect”. So … yeah. I’ve made those revisions and now I’m doing another read-through before I send it off to beta readers.

Want to hear something funny? Over-reaction was the issue she wanted me to fix. Now can you imagine me having a character do that? 😉

Editing, Feedback, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Writing

Step, step, step … the novel progresses

I need to make a list of the steps left to get my next novel ready to go. Otherwise, I’ll run helter-skelter and accomplish nothing. Writing the first draft was, of course, the first step. Editing and revision will be the next several steps. I think—hope—I learned a bit writing the first novel, so there won’t be as much work to do this time.

I have my previous task list here somewhere. On my hard drive. Somewhere. I have a gazillion files for The Brevity of Roses. I’m great at creating files, but lazy sorting them logically into folders. So, yeah. That task list is here … somewhere.

During the past ten days, I finished the second and then the third draft of my new novel [Insert Title] and sent it to my alpha reader. Now, I wait to see how much revision she advises. I’m hoping she sends me the perfect title along with her feedback. Or maybe I already have one. I keep adding possible titles to my list. None have really taken my breath away, but my husband has already cast his vote. Though I suspect that’s just because he knows how indecisive I am, and he’s trying to move me along.

One editing tool I’m using this time is my Kindle. Three times during editing of my first novel, my husband printed the manuscript at work, but now he’s retired, so instead of printing I upload it to my Kindle. I read a chapter at a time, with my manuscript loaded in Word, and edit directly. I do miss marking up the actual pages, but the “distance” created by reading on the Kindle makes poor syntax, typos, punctuation and other errors jump out just as printouts did.

Last night, I started reading my manuscript straight through on my Kindle. I didn’t even make it past the first paragraph before I reached for paper and pen. I don’t know why I never heard it before, but when I read that paragraph last night, the duh-duh-duh-duh-duh rhythm of the first four sentences made me cringe. So I noted the need to mix up the sentence beats to add some music to that opening.

“So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.”

Have a wonderful week. Maybe I’ll even find time to comment on some of your blogs … don’t faint.

Critique, Editing, Feedback, Revision, Writing

Writing feedback, how much is enough?

Well, I guess this means I’m blogging again—more or less. I spent my time off thinking, and reading, and traveling. Now, I’ve returned to writing. Though, obviously, I didn’t write a real blog post for today. I just have questions for you.

Once upon a time, I wrote a novel. At the time, I belonged to a critique group with about fifteen members. After several months, I left that group for one of four because the smaller group could work through a book quicker. A few months later, I also joined a group of seven or eight, but that didn’t last. Now, with my foursome on hiatus, I’m not sure how I’ll get the needed feedback on the stories I’m writing.

Maybe some of you are supremely confident in writing solo, but except for what you read on this blog, I can’t imagine ever submitting, or publishing, something without it being critiqued, edited, beta-read, then edited again. That’s why I’m curious how you all go about getting feedback on your writing.

  • Where do you find your help?
  • Are your critiquers all fellow writers? (I presume you incorporate non-writers at beta-read stage.)
  • How many people do you involve for the initial feedback?
  • Do those answers depend on the length of the work?

Please share your method with me.

Advice, Author, Craft, Doubt, Fiction, Goals, Motivation, My Books, Novel, Tips, Writing

On being an accidental author

In case you tuned in late to this blog, maybe I should explain that I started it as a public journal of my adventures in writing. I often confess things a professional author should probably keep to herself. Lately, I’ve come to doubt my professionalism. Maybe I’m more an accidental author.

I stumbled into writing The Brevity of Roses for publication. It was inspired by a dream, written into a story for myself and a friend, and then kept growing. I joined a critique group for help. I read books and blogs and sites to learn how to write better.

For the two years I wrote, edited, and polished, I thought about little else than Brevity. What I didn’t do was think about myself as an author. I didn’t think about a writing career in any sense other than generally. I didn’t think about being where I am now.

In a sense, I feel like I’ve just awakened in a strange place, confused and … nekkid. What the heck have I done? I feel so exposed. Of course, it’s only my writing that’s exposed, but it’s hard to see that as separate from myself.

I can no longer pretend that my writing is this or that, that the story is something it’s not. Some days, that hits me hard and I want to hide my eyes and pretend you can’t see me. I think about closing this blog, my Twitter account, and my Facebook Page. On the worst of those days, I consider pulling my novel off the market.

Then, something else clicks in and I lecture myself. So you’re not quite the writer you want to be. Keep working at it. So you jumped in the deep end. Dog-paddle for all you’re worth. Whether you got here by accident or design, you’re an author. Suck it up and write—and keep writing until you reach your goal—and then you’ll continue writing because you’ll be the writer you always wanted to be.

Professional or not, I wanted to be honest about my journey. I hope none of you do or ever will feel like an accidental author, but if you do, remember you’re not alone. Just keep writing.

Advice, Craft, Critique, Editing, Feedback, Fiction, Novel, Revision, Writing

With a little help from my friends

My self-confidence in some aspects of writing never falters. But some tasks so overwhelm me, I’d rather scrub my shower with a toothbrush than tackle them. Query letter writing was one of those. The latest is composing the back cover blurb.

First, I looked at my query letter and took a chunk out of that to transform into a blurb. With fingers flying, I whittled and expanded, clarified and obscured. After several versions, I thought I had a fairly decent start, and asked for feedback.

I couldn’t decide if I should give this group of writer friends credit by name or protect their anonymity, so I’ll just paraphrase their response. They said, “I like your blurb … but let’s change 80% of it.” You gotta laugh. I love these guys.

I know what I’m good at, and I’m not good at writing succinct and sizzling descriptions of this novel. I needed their input, and I’m grateful they generously gave it. After nearly two dozen group emails back and forth—Try this word. No, try this word.—this sucker is finally looking good.

When I first joined a critique group, I felt a little guilty getting feedback. If I needed help, my inner critic told me, I wasn’t a real writer. Because of her harping, I think I resisted some good advice early on. But now, I don’t have a problem acknowledging my writing weaknesses and seeking help for them.

I don’t write by committee, that’s a solo job, but when it comes to editing, I’d be stupid not to take advantage of other writers’ knowledge—especially when their strengths are my weaknesses. Each time I ask for their help, I learn something. My weaknesses grow weaker.

Your turn: Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you seek help from writer friends?


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