I’m actually excited about editing again.
But back up first. My summer plan was to get my ms almost ready for querying, but I lost my motivation and haven’t done too much. I had several critiques from my betas/friends and I needed to make those fixes they suggested.
Luckily there wasn’t big structural things, but more character issues to fix. Which is mostly adding to develop characters or cleaning things up. So I was glad about that.
Still, there was a lot of stuff to fix. Which is why I lost my motivation.
But now I got it back.
I was reading a series of blog posts about tightening your writing. Words to cut. Most of those word are in my big edit list, but I found a few new ones to add.
And now I’m ready to get back into it. I need to fill in a few things, maybe make some cuts, and then I’ll be ready to start those little things. Cutting filler words. Replacing words like walk with more descriptive ones. Stuff like that.
Maybe I’m a little behind schedule, but at least I’m back on track.
And that feels good.
Archive for the ‘Editing’ Category
I’m actually excited about editing again.
So a while back I wrote a pretend letter to my future (and current) CPs about how wonderful a CP I am. Okay, it wasn’t really that, but it was about how I do things… kinda. And it’s funny. Really. Go read it if you want.
(And since I was in the mood to talk about beta reading…)
A letter to all the people whose manuscripts I critique.
(Bear with me, it gets kinda long.)
And I know I sometimes mark things that are more a style issue,
And other punctuation. In my comments, I’m probably gonna forget to add the comma before the conjunction of 2 independent clauses. But in your ms, I’m probably going to add too many commas, even when it COULD fall under the exception rule and even though it seems like everybody’s doing it. But hey, I like commas.
And I’m sorry that when I insert a suggestion into your sentence, I have started NOT crossing out the stuff I think doesn’t belong. But again, I think you are smart enough to figure that out.
And I like to make up new words. (Well someone else probably used them, but I didn’t until now.) Info-dumpy is my latest. It also makes me laugh.
And I use way too many smiley faces.
And I hope you don’t mind personal comments that have nothing to do with your story. But it just crossed my mind at that moment, and I thought it was important to mention it. Although we both know it wasn’t.
And sometimes I way over-explain stuff. But that might be because I tend to ramble,
And sometimes I’ll make suggestions on how to fix something. But other times I don’t because a.) I’m sure you can figure it out, or b.) I’m lazy, or
And I promise to do the best job I can.
Okay. So today I’m going to post my IWSG-like post. Even though I don’t belong to the group. But I have a question that I’m curious about too, what other writers do.
And something I worry about is if I get it wrong. You know, like the grammar rules. I’m no expert, and I’d feel bad if I say something wrong.
Comma splices are another thing. Sometimes I look at a sentence with a comma splice and think, yeah, that feels right. (Probably more so with dialogue) But it’s grammatically wrong. But maybe the author just missed that conjunction. Maybe they don’t want it. But maybe they do.
Maybe I should add a standard note to my comment lingo: JPO, which means I’m just pointing out. Doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. Then it could differentiate between things I heavily suggest changing as opposed to things I think they should be aware of. (I might have to do that.)
Just wondering if I’m the only one who worries about this.
I’m working up to my last rounds of edits for The Proper Way to Say Goodbye. At least I think I’m close to the end. But I’ve said that before. And thanks to the help of the amazing Jolene Perry, I am going to do some major cutting because she’s helping me to recognize some of those scenes I don’t need.
And why I didn’t see that before, I don’t know. But that’s what happens with all my beta readers. They point out stuff I don’t see. They help guide me when I get off track or do something silly. I’m very lucky to have all the beta readers I’ve had–they’ve all been a terrific help.
I’m pretty sure my manuscript will be better once I do my cutting, but it sucks because I’ve got some stuff in there I love. Certain bits of dialogue that make me laugh. (And hopefully would make others laugh.) But I understand now that these scenes are either:
1. Redundant. Whatever I’m showing, I’ve done it before, just a different way.
I haven’t done it yet, but I estimate I’ll cut up to 6,000 to 8,000 words. Which is okay because I’m at 74,000 words and may pad in some more. I’m actually excited to get this wrapped up, so I can start querying. But I don’t want to rush it either.
So is it easy for you to recognize these scenes that need to go? Or do others usually have to point it out?
So I experienced something new recently. I’ve been waffling over making major changes to The Proper Way to Say Goodbye. Now granted, I’ve only queried one novel, so that means I’ve only edited heavily one novel, but I’ve never changed anything big in my stories during the editing process. Little details, yes. But major things like POV shifts or Tense for instance? No.
You may have seen the other posts. My concern is this:
Chloe is an 18 year old freshman in college. Technically, that is not young adult, although you do see other books marketed as YA but with main characters in college.
Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
My concern is that I may get an automatic rejection on my queries based on the setting alone.
As of now, self-publishing (as new adult possibly) is not an option. I’m not ready for that.
So what I’ve been waffling on is… should I change Chloe to a high school senior? I’ve read all sorts of blogs about this issue and have talked to other writers for differing opinions.
Then I analyzed my story to see the parts I’d have to change. Chloe would have to attend a few classes at the local college, but could still be in high school. No problem there. And most of the changes could easily be dealt with. Minor things.
But, it wouldn’t be the same. And I have one big issue. Chloe has a relationship with her graduate teaching assistant. Yes, ethically that is wrong and breaks school rules. But I can forgive that for my story, because the TA is a positive character in Chloe’s life, and Chloe is a consenting adult.
But if I changed Chloe to a high school senior, I couldn’t be as forgiving of the TA having that relationship, even if technically Chloe is an adult. To me, that’s a bigger line to cross.
Which is why I’ve been waffling. Going back and forth between thinking I should change. Then back. Then forth. Then back.
But I think I’m done. I’ve decided to stick with it. And when I query, I will keep my fingers crossed that an agent who is interested, but rejects because of the setting, lets me know that. Because that would at least leave options open to change and possibly resubmit.
I love my story the way it is, so I’m going to take a chance and leave it and see what happens.
Have you ever waffled over major story decisions?
Editing sucks, you know. Writing is the easy part, the fun part. The way the words flow out of your fingers. Editing is slow and tedious. And repetitive. It’s not so bad after the first read, maybe the second. But by the 6th or 7th, it gets a little old.
I’m not keeping track, but I’ve spent way more time editing Frosty than I did writing. (which took about a month.) Reading Frosty straight through might take 3-4 hours. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, but I’d guess at least 6-8 times. And when I read for editing, it goes much slower of course.
It’s also a good idea to read the novel aloud. Hearing your words spoken helps you catch mistakes and shows you where things might be choppy. But of course, reading it aloud is a very slow process and can give you a sore throat if you try getting it done in one or two sittings.
Every week I seem to learn something new in my editing—which is why I started Sloppy Writing 101. There are so many words you don’t want to use/overuse. Therefore, the easiest way to find them is using search/replace. THAT is one of my overused/unnecessary words. With Frosty, I spent 3 hours searching for and fixing the THATs.
Yes, that’s 3 hours for just one word. (The lesson here is that in when I’m writing, I should not overuse THAT.) But I had to do it because I ended up killing about 500 THATs.
Of course, in the editing process, you hopefully delete more than you add. I did with Frosty. A critiquer told me Frosty was moving too slowly and that I was in my mc’s head too much. I deleted lots, including about ¾ of one chapter. In a few weeks I went from 64,000 words to 52,000. That is huge.
This ability to cut the words down with Frosty gives me hope with the first young adult story I wrote. It clocks in at about 95,000 words, which is high for young adult, especially considering that I’m an unpublished author. That is the reason I decided to pursue an agent with Frosty instead. And now I’ve seen how much I’ve cut from Frosty, I will get to editing on my other novel too, in addition to When the Mist Clears.
I’d much rather be writing, but if you want to get published, you have to edit, edit, edit. I have several ideas for new stories, but I don’t know when I can get around to them. As things sit right now, I have written enough novels to keep me busy editing/revising for fifteen years. Therefore, I have to choose which I like best and hope that might be the one.
At least now I’ll know what things to avoid when I’m writing, so that in the future, editing will not take so long.
Every writer has crutch words—ones they use too often.
When I gave a manuscript to my friend Liz, she pointed out that I had a lot of justs and a lot of wells. So I went through my 95,000 word document and found almost 260 justs. I cut out 2/3 of them. I didn’t have as many wells, but I got rid of quite a few too.
You can search you Word document and find how many numbers of a certain word you have, but you might not know what those problem words are. For that, now you can go to the internet to use programs that create word clouds (or tag clouds–I’ve found several names).
An example of a word cloud is on the right side of this blog. It is a visual representation of text—or in my case blog tags (categories). On these websites you can upload your text (or blog page) and it will find the most used words and put them in a fancy design. If the word is bigger, it’s been used more often.
This is a really great application because it pulls out your most used words. I went back into Frosty and did this and here are my results of the top twenty used words—the one at the top being the most used.
So with this, now I will go back and look for a few of these words and try use different ones. So far I’ve done looked. I went from 183 to 38. And with going, I went from 195 to 61.
I’m glad that just and well didn’t show up, even in the top fifty. That’s a good thing, but I will search some of the others in this list to using better more descriptive words.
If you want to do one of these fun clouds, just search word cloud or tag cloud and you’ll come up with a number of sites. It’s fun.
I’m a beta, he’s a beta, she’s a beta, we’re a beta, wouldn’t you like to be a beta too. Be a beta. Be be a beta. Okay, the tune popped into my head when I started this post. Dr. Pepper is my 2nd favorite pop after Coke, so it fits because I’m now a beta reader now.
I belong to a site called AgentQuery Connect, a forum for writers and aspiring writers. It’s huge—contains all sorts of information/advice. They have it split up into all different areas; query help, info on agents, publishing/networking, groups on different genres… it’s a lot to wade through and I could easily spend hours looking though everything.
Anyway, a woman posted that she was looking for beta readers for her young adult novel. She gave the description and I thought it looked interesting so I replied back and said I would do it. It’s good timing because right now I’m letting When the Mist Clears sit a bit before I pick it up and start editing.
I read through it the first time, only making small notes. Now I’m going through a second time, making my comments and proofreading. (I’m no expert proofreader, but I can help a little.)
It’s actually kind of fun. I like the story and her writing style is easy to read.
One interesting thing to see is the different words she uses, that I attribute to being in a different region. On AgentQuery Connect, your profile states the part of the country you live in—Midwest for me.
Know what nalgene is? I didn’t, until I googled it. Another one was a booshie restaurant. So either I’m not hip anymore or it’s a regional thing. Of course I live in a state that is known for a lot of things—hipness not being one of them. By the way, a nalgene is a plastic bottle and booshie means uppity/fancy.
But back to the beta reading. I hope that by analyzing someone else’s work this closely, it will help me with mine. I’d definitely do the whole beta reader thing again. It would cool to be a part of someone else’s publishing experience. And when her book comes out, I can say I was a part of it.