Wednesday Words 5/10

With the editing of others:

Currently just cleaning up the wording on the coop website. It needs a whole redesign as the prez wants us to enter it into a contest next year but…for now the verbiage is approaching readable. LOL

With my own writing:

I finished rewriting chapter one. And I am actually happy with the results. The new version sounds much more like my voice and less like narration over a documentary.

Emotionally:

I’m doing ok. I don’t know yet what I am going to do with book 2 now when I am done rewriting it but I am working forward. I had a long talk with my co-teacher of the library series and we both committed to teaching next year as well; with a new topic, which I’m pretty excited about. I plan to do Camp Nano in July and I know what I want to work on during that period; so I am committed to finishing total rewrite number 94 of this damn soy novel by the end of June. LOL

Topic for debate on my writing:

Character Names. I have two characters in the spy novel with names that start with the same letter, Gareth and Galatea. A couple of people have mentioned that was confusing for them. Now they are different sexes, from different countries, and speak vastly differently – but people are confused. Yes, yes, I know, but I was a rookie when I started writing this damn novel. Hence all the rewrites it’s needed.

Do you think that is a wide spread issue and therefore I should change one of the characters names? Or is that it was just a couple of people who scan read and it won’t matter?

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Fiendish Friday: That was my time you wasted

I just want to growl. I have a friend who sent me a story for help. Line editing and some developmental advice. Ok. No problem. I like to help my friends and really I love to edit the written word. I made tons of suggestions and sent the document back.

Flash forward 18 months. Same friend asks if I will take another look. Sure.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. It is clear NOT a single change was made from the first set of editing suggestions I made. And I’m not talking about I suggested the plot needed x, y, z, and the friend declined to make those changes, I mean…

There used repeatedly instead of their.

Also were instead of we’re.

Running all the lines of dialogue into a single paragraph so you don’t actually know who is speaking.

Please shoot me now. To me that just says, you can’t be bothered to fix your shit but you want me to waste hours of my time. I didn’t go to yoga this morning to do this editing. I am not with my family on a Sunday, to do this editing. Because I gave a deadline, when I would have it back to you. And it means something to me to keep my commitments.

Sigh.

I have turned on my NO sign.

No one ask me for anything today, my answer will be no. It is Noday, all day. Nope. Nada. Nothing for you. No.

Saturday Seminar: King Says Con’t

It’s been a bit since I perused through my file of nuggets from Stephen King’s On Writing, but today seems like a good day to think about editing my disaster of a spy novel. In preparation I’ll consider what King says on the topic.

Two drafts and a polish. (209)

Completely reasonable. I’ve written my first draft and now I need to work out a second one.

Revision formula: 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10% (222) 

Oh dear. That could be problematic for me as a couple of my betas have suggested the second half of my spy novel needs fattening. It’s too lean, too rushed, too barren. Perhaps I should do 2nd draft = 1st draft plus 10%?

If what you hear from your betas makes sense, then make the changes. You can’t let the whole world into your story, but you can let in the ones that matter the most. And you should. (219)

Hrm, one of the betas who said feed my novel was the hubs. And realistically, he is always right. Always.

When you rewrite your main job is taking out all things that are not the story. (57)

It’s been suggested I should dump the sex scenes. But other people like them. So I think really the question comes down to, do I need the sex scenes to demonstrate the nature of the relationship or could I just allude to it and keep things cleaner?

When a novelist is challenged on something he likes-one of his darlings-the first two works out of his mouth are almost always Yeah but. (226)

Ah oh. Did I say Yeah, But in the last response? No, no I didn’t. LOL. But maybe the feeling was there.

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting. (227)

Ok, one of the sex scenes is back story. Maybe I should change that to a one line allusion rather than a half page descriptive.

It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pear, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters. (232)

Alright, I get the point. I should just dive in and see where that second draft takes me. But before I go…just a bit of amusement. Spot the mistake, courtesy of King. 

“Although deer season doesn’t start until November in Maine, the fields of October are often alive with gunshots; the locals are shooting as many peasants as they think their families will eat.”

Weekend Workshop Part Two of How NOT to Write a Novel

Amusing advice from Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman, written in a tongue and cheek style designed to make your next novel totally garbage. Last week I covered Plot and Characters, onto Style, Research, and Special Effects.

Style

flaunt your vocabulary, use the biggest words you know. Extra points if you don’t actually know the words and use them incorrectly. “The harder you try to be clever, the more momentum you will have when you arrive at that line(the one between clever and stupid), and the less likely you are to notice when you cross it.”

use common expressions, but change them just a little to give your reader a thrill. “She was the apples and oranges of his eye.” Fabulous. Don’t worry a thing about your reader falling out of your story while he tries to figure out just what you mean. All the cliches you add in will carry you through, as many as you can fit in there, right?

The exclamation point is your friend. And you can never have too many friends!!!

Substitute synopsis for description or lists. Lists are good! Your reader really wants to know every book your protag has on her shelves!

if you have a strong knowledge of legalese by all means, write in that. Better yet, write ad copy instead of a novel. Then your marketing will be done ahead of time.

don’t consider the fracturing of time to be a bad thing. No one wants to know what actually took place between finding the bomb and sipping margaritas on the beach later. Go back and forth using flashback/flashforward/present without any tags to notify the reader in a sort of collage of words. People like to have to think to figure out what they are reading. This won’t make them fall out of your novel at all.

write only your characters reactions to their world, don’t describe the world, that would be giving too much away.

Never, ever use the word said. Your dialogue tags should explain how things are said and what your characters are feeling every time. If you don’t know what your character is feeling then tell your reader what they should think of your elegant prose.

Use the same voice for all your characters. This will give your novel a sense of confusion, which readers love. Be sure to include all of their conversations, even the every day casual phrases.

Use your characters only as they are needed. If Julia and George want to have a private conversation in front of all the other actors from Oceans 11, go ahead and pretend Brad and Matt aren’t there.

make sure your characters announce things about themselves in conversation. It’s the only way your reader will know Julia is an art historian. And Julia should say this to George, just because they were married, doesn’t mean George knows what Julia does for a living.

If you need to bring in a non English speaker, just use his native tongue for the easy words you already know. Who has time for google translate?

head jump point of view whenever you need to. continuity if for amateurs. If you need George to know Julia is thinking without her saying it, go ahead and make him psychic, but don’t explain the new ability, it’s more fun when it’s a game.

don’t give any thought to the tense of your novel. Change tense as you need to, at will. Or use a single tense no matter the dictates of the English language.

If you’re having trouble with plot or action, substitute emotion, the more dramatic the better. If you find yourself short of words describe every scene by going through each of your protag’s five senses. Heck, add a sixth or seventh sense just for fun. If you’re really pressed for words you can reassure your reader that the protagonist still thinks what you already told them he thought last paragraph. Keep reassuring them.

Setting

allow your passion for shoes, cars, or guns to completely over ride the action or dialogue the scene could have had. Describe all locations as blandly and generically as possible so the reader can imagine your novel as their favored location.

Research

Don’t bother to do any. No one cares if there were cherry lollipops at the court of Charlemagne. Just have people say what you like and use whatever best fits your story. It’s your story after all.

Dirty, Dirty Author

when you want to talk about naughty things but you don’t want people to judge you for your opinions, just create a protag who disapproves of everything sees and everywhere he goes. But make sure he goes there a lot and you describe everything repeatedly so the reader really gets how much you disapprove of this type of situation.

if you find yourself unable to express what you really mean, just borrow from someone else; a popular song, or poem, or even a quote from a popular author who’s done all the hard work for you.

Whatever belief you wish to espouse with your novel, you should go right ahead. Who needs a soap box when you have the published word. And speak in the language of those already in the know, people love to learn, and holding a dictionary while reading a book is always a good way to expand one’s mind.

Special Effects

Sex: all genres require sex scenes, it’s all part of life. Describe in lurid detail. And make it imaginative. If it doesn’t further the plot, all the better, sex for sex sake, every time.

Humor: make ’em laugh. Old jokes are the best, as your reader will have already heard it, possibly from their grandmother, and it will make them comfortable with the material. make sure your characters laugh uproariously at all humor in the book so the reader will laugh with them.

Postmodernism: defined as referring to the author within the work or to the work as a novel within the novel. Good luck to you, it’s a bitch to do it well.

 

Weekend Workshop: Critique

I touched briefly on this last weekend but critiquing someone else’s work is such a huge part of the self publishing milieu these days. If you aren’t willing to critique someone else, chances are they aren’t going to help you. And we all need the help when we’re wearing 47 different hats in the pursuit of independent publishing.

When S and I were kicking around ideas for Nano to Publish we had a lot of thoughts on critique and in our infinite wisdom we decided to go to write in and ask other writers what they thought. The resulting list was born.

What is good, useful critique?

The primary goal of your editing critique should be to help the writer create the best version of their novel. By keeping this in mind, you can avoid many of the negatives that are sometimes associated with feedback, critique, dare we say criticism.

DO:

Ask if your partner has any specific concerns in mind that you could be looking for.
Be specific.
Talk about the work not the author.
Talk about things that will help them improve their work.
Note what works as well as what doesn’t.
Point out the repeated grammar or punctuation mistakes (once or twice) so the writer can learn not to do them.
Always explain why.

DO NOT:

Critique their voice until they change their voice to be your voice.
Rewrite things in exact words.
Line edit for them, unless asked to do so.

Questions to think about as you read for critique:

Are the characters relatable? Are they as likeable/detestable as they should be?
Are there any characters that don’t serve a purpose or are one dimensional?
Too much back story or not enough back story?
Are you confused at any point?
How is the pacing?
Where does the story really start?
At what point are you completely sucked in?
Are there any scenes that don’t make sense, that are out of place? Do they all drive the story forward?
Did you like the ending?
Did you feel the ending was appropriate to the story?
Would you have abandoned this book? Where and why?

When I went through this at the January Nano to Publish workshop a lot of groans happened at that last line. “That’s so harsh.” It could be. But think about this. If everyone who reads your novel prior to publication tells you only how wonderful it is, you won’t know until you publish if it’s actually any good. Imagine getting your first honest critique on Amazon in a review. That scares me more than zombies.

So tell me, did we forget anything on our list? What would you add? What do you like to see from your first pass, beta, and ARC readers?

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

Good morning. If you’ve missed a week or two I just started working from Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson. This week I learned subordinating conjunctions with the fun AAAWWUBBIS. That’s After, Although, As, When, While, Until, Before, Because, If, Since; in case you missed it.

1. Find three beautiful examples of AAAWWUBBIS sentences. (I’m not sure what follows is beautiful but it is a representative cross section of what I’m reading right now. LOL)

As noted previously in section about enthymemes, people are made curious when presented with an ambiguous, unresolved, or incomplete message. – Seducing Strangers, Josh Weltman.

While the room emptied, I turned sideways to better shield Brigit from the moving crowd. – Laying Down the Paw, Diane Kelly.

When one of the best-known stagecoach drivers in California’s Wild West died, friends who’d known him and worked with him for years were astonished to find that he was not the person they thought he was! – The Ultimate book of Impostors, Ian Graham.

2. Write a 100 word free write with every sentence starting with an AAAWWUBBIS word.

If my son doesn’t stop wiggling about, it will be impossible for my complete this blog post. When he wiggles, my thought process gets completely derailed. Because nothing makes it harder to concentrate than a wiggly woo. Although I want to make him happy by cuddling with him, I am on a time crunch to get this blog post out. Because I got very little done this week due to house guests. When my house guests go home and tonight’s party is over, I will work ahead to get all the rest of my posts finished early.

3. Uncombine your exercise one sentences into as many basic sentences as you can, then recombine them in a new way. (This was not easy.)

a.

You already read about about enthymemes.

People are curious.

People get more curious with an ambiguous, unresolved, or incomplete message.

Recombine: fail. I can’t come up with anything that isn’t the first sentence.

b.

People left the room.

Brigit needed shielding from the crowd.

I turned sideways.

Recombine: I shielded Brigit as the crowd left the room.

c.

A stagecoach driver died.

He was one of the best-known stagecoach drivers.

He drove in California.

California was the Wild West.

Friends who’d known him and worked with him for years were astonished.

He was not the person they thought he was!

Recombine: In California’s Wild West, friends and coworkers were astonished to find out how little they really knew about the man they considered one of the best stage coach drivers.

Post up your own free writes or sentences here, I’d love to read ’em.

Weekend Workshop: Saturday Edition

AAAWWUBBIS.

Huh?

After, Although, As, When, While, Until, Before, Because, If, Since.

If your sentence starts with one of these, you will need a comma somewhere in the sentence.

Did you see what I did there?

A fun way to look at this is to collect sentences that do this well. Anderson gives examples:

  • If I stand in a room and no one sees me, it’s like I was never there at all.
  • When something is fake, I want it to look that way.
  • When you first gave us this assignment, I thought it was lame.

Exception to the rule: When the introductory information is short and the sentence reads clearly, a writer may or may not use the comma. It is a matter of style and clarity. (giggle)

Combining sentences is an effective revision strategy to make writing more concise and connected and can enhance sentence variety.

Tune in tomorrow for some exercise examples and my amusing efforts.