Tag Archives: Writer

Editing Under Pressure. Yes, It can be done #1

My first round edits came back for FIRE IN THE WOODS, which has been contracted with a three-month deadline to publication.  I took a deep breath, knowing that the completed edits were due back in FIVE DAYS.

Yikes!

I was pretty surprised, though.  This is the content edit phase, and they asked for very few changes.  In one spot, they thought the father should have reacted more quickly.  I fixed this simply by editing the dialog a smidge.

The next thing they said, which made me sweat a little, was that they didn’t buy the reason why my MC was afraid of another character. So I thought this over, and realized they were right when they said it felt like a forced conflict.  I really hadn’t developed that secondary character at all. He was too flat, and had no history.

Soooo

So I thought over why she might be afraid of him, and gave him a 100 word history based on a strategically placed inner thought/flashback.  I have to admit, this little change really gave both the MC and the secondary character depth.

Another thing I had to fix was a product of the multiple revisions this manuscript has seen over time.  Jess comes to a conclusion about “what’s going on” with no reason for it.  After thinking it over, she had a very good reason to come to this conclusion. The problem was, I never let the reader in as to HOW she came to this conclusion.  Again, an easy fix with a simple inner thought right before she comes to that little epiphany that drives the story onward.

The other changes were simple. A missing word here or there.

Then I hit the OMG part. And I will admit, this was totally MY DOING. In the spirit of always keeping my posts short, I’ll tell you all about it in my next segment. This is something I usually check for. I don’t even know how I missed it.

JenniFer_EatonF

Simple Rules to Writing a Great Novel

Writing_A_Great_Novel

For the past 32 weeks, we’ve been discussing Guthrie’s 32 Rules to Writing A Great Novel.  Here is a handy-dandy list of all the articles and links to them, all in one place.

This is a great time to review, especially if you are editing your manuscript.

Please let me know which one you found the most helpful, or if you think this guy is just off his rocker. :-)

Enjoy!

And Happy Editing!

01- Writing is Subjective – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1yw

02- Oblique Dialog – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1An

03- Whatsa Strong Verb? – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1AK

04- Easy on the Adjectives – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1B8

05- Two for One is not always a good thing – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Bc

06- The shorter the better – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Cd

07- Once is enough, Thank you very much. – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Ci

08- Show, Don’t Tell – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Cl

09- Just the facts, Ma’am – The important facts – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Cp

10- Don’t be cute – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Eg

11- Sound like a writer, without SOUNDING like a writer – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1El

12- Who’s talking now? – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1El

13- Yep. Your Write. Ya gotta change it. – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Ff

14- Stop “saying” things – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Fk

15- They’re not psychic – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Fq

16- Come late, leave early – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1H0

17- Don’t dump on me! – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1H2

18- Goals, anyone? – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1HL

19- Don’t sleep with him/her – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1HP

20- Go ahead, torture ‘em! – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1HR

21- The stinkier the better – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1HT

22- The long and short of it – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1IP

23- Stop being all proper – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Ke

24- Stop feeling! And no thinking! – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Kp

25- Don’t repeat the tense – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Kt

26- Cut your weakest player – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1Ky

27- Plant Vegetables, not information – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1KD

28- Keep it to yourself, Jerk! – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1KG

29- No happy shruggers – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1KK

30- Pronouns. Tricky little suckers – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1KM

31- Shoot him later – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1KO

32- Forget about it – http://wp.me/p1HIMV-1KQ

Writers: Don’t worry about the Statistics

I came across this article that really hit home.

Why statistics discourage prospective writers

We all hear the statistics.  1 in 500… 1 in 5000… 100,000 novels are being queried right now.  They are all scary.  Many people are daunted by this.

This article points out something that I hadn’t thought of.  Think it over.  All of us have at least one friend who is querying thinking there novel is great, and they are getting rejected.  I talked to someone the other day doing this and the only other person whose read her novel is HER HUSBAND.  Really?  What are you thinking?

Now, if all of you count up their one or two friends who refuse to get beta readers, and are SURE they are geniuses without getting a lick of feedback… are you counting them up? Are you getting a mental picture?  Get my meaning?

This is what I am getting at.  So what if you and 499 other people query at the same time.  If 300 of these are sub-standard, your chances just increased, didn’t they?

If 50 of the remaining 100 had bad queries, or boring plots, your chances just increased, didn’t they?

What you have to ask is this… Are you destined for the slush pile, or are you one of then ten that the agent or publisher is actually going to read?

Make your choice now, and work hard to get yourself out of the slush pile, and onto that agent’s desk.

Rule #2 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #2

2: Use oblique dialogue. Try to generate conflict at all times in your writing. Attempt the following experiment at home or work: spend the day refusing to answer your family and colleagues’ questions directly. Did you generate conflict? I bet you did. Apply that principle to your writing and your characters will respond likewise.

This is one of those things that I read and said to myself “huh-wha?”  It seemed like a jumble of words that should be important, if I knew what he was trying to say.  Here’s my take on it, after doing a little research and thinking it over.

This is what I came up with.  Let’s take a look at some dialog. I’m going to take out movement and emotion so we can just look at the dialog, and see how it works.

“Helen, I’m home.”

“Hello, George. How was work?”

“Oh just dandy.  Martin was out, so I had to take care of all his problems and got to none of my own work.”

“I’m sorry to hear that dear. What would you like for dinner?”

“Pizza is fine.”

“Okay, I’ll place the order.”

“I went shopping today.”

“Yeah, what’d you buy?”

“Milk and eggs.”

“Good.  I like milk and eggs”

“You know what? We need to talk about Billy.  He turned into a velociraptor today, and he ate three of his classmates.”

“Whaaaaaaat?”

0026_CracksAndCrevasses

Okay – don’t judge me.  I’m trying to make a point.  There is a lot of day-to day babble in here that is really unnecessary, right?  The only important thing is that Billy turned into a dinosaur.

Conflict needs to be evident in every scene.  Don’t just have people talking about nothing just to kill time.  Each scene, and each bit of dialog needs to move the story forward.  I mean seriously.  Do we need to know that Mommy picked up milk and eggs?

Look for your dialog to be concise and to the point.  Give it the impression of being longer, without actually boring your reader with the babble.

Make sure each scene has a start, conflict, and resolution.  Each one of these miniature stories needs to draw your characters further along in the story. If it doesn’t move the story forward, no matter how much you love the scene, it’s time to take out the hatchet.

How often do you find your characters babbling with no forward movement in a scene?  What did you do to rein your dialog in?

Jennifer___Eaton

 

How about a 250 word critique blog hop?

Note:  I’ll be posting a follow-up on my cancer surgery tomorrow.

Critique Hop:

Well, I tried to get you guys to contribute what you were working on, but that only seemed to spark moderate interest.

I’m trying to think of a way we can flop around each other’s sites and help each other out.

What about posting up to 250 words of what we are working on, and hopping around and critiquing each other’s work? Maybe make it a rule that you will hop to whomever gives you a critique, and critique theirs? (Everyone would post on their own blog)

That way the more you critique, the more you get back in return. Anyone interested? This is something we can do weekly, even maybe post the same thing as you improve it.  I know a lot of people don’t have beta readers, and this would be like gold to them.

I thought this would be a great way to get quick thoughts on our first pages.  After all, it’s the most important page of your book, right?

And yes… that means if you give me a well-thought-out critique, I will do the same for you.

What do you think?  Interested?

JenniFer_EatonF

Give that stinking publisher what they want, DERNIT! The Basics #1 – Contact Information

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)

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Last week, we discussed that nothing will help your manuscript if the editor in question is not even willing to read it.

This week, we’re going to dig through “the basics” to get your foot in the door, even if you don’t have their requirements right in front of you.

The Basics #1

Contact information. No matter who you are sending your work to or how many times you have sent them work before, you always—let me repeat that—ALWAYS include your full contact information in the upper left hand of the page. (The editor could be your brother, and you should still follow this rule, if nothing else but because it is common courtesy and shows you respect the relationship between hopeful author and potential publisher.)

If you aren’t sure what is considered full contact information, here it goes: legal name, mailing address, email address, and optionally, phone number. I can’t tell you how many times I have received manuscripts without this information. Usually from an author I’ve worked with before, but not always. See, we fall into a trap of informality thanks to the internet. With so many manuscripts being submitted electronically we don’t always consider that the email might become disassociated with the manuscript file, thus leaving the publisher no way to contact the author. Bad enough when what is forthcoming is a rejection. An absolute tragedy when they want to send you an acceptance. Face it…they have to know where to send the contract…or the check!

Next week we’ll talk about the basics #2:  IDENTIFIERS

Be there or be square, or, ummm… rejected?

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

http://www.badassfaeries.com/

http://www.sidhenadaire.com/

Give that stinking publisher what they want, DERNIT! Let’s not get all creative now!

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)

—————————————————————–

Telling the greatest story is not enough.

Having the best grammar is not enough.

Hitting the perfect market trend is not enough.

Nothing is enough if the editor in question is not even willing to read your manuscript.

The Truth about Submissions

Psst! I have a secret for you…well not really a secret, unless you are really new at this, but anyway…here it goes:

Editors look for reasons NOT to read your manuscript.

(ooh…I can just hear a lot of minions going “Wha?!”)

Sorry, it’s true; I’m not making it up.

See, the reality is there are a loads of people that want to be authors. Even though only a small portion of those following the dream ever reach the stage of actually submitting something, that still means that editors of all sorts have piles and piles of things they need to go through. And frankly, most of it is drek. Editors just don’t have the time or inclination to put in extra effort puzzling through a manuscript that only might be acceptable and then cleaning it up afterward. Think about it, the longer the production process takes the longer money bleeds out instead of—with hope—flooding in.

Besides, they want to know you can follow directions and there are very few publishers out there—book or short fiction—that do not have submission guidelines available somewhere. Look for them. And if you don’t find them, ask! You want to stand out because of the quality of your writing, not because your manuscript is an annoyance filled with stylistic errors. The best thing you can do is show that you will make extra effort to meet their requirements.

Of course, even if you don’t have the publisher’s submission guidelines there are plenty of things that are standard.

Next week, We’ll talk about “The Basics”

Tune in! As my son would say, this is Awesomesauce!

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and New Blood.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

http://www.badassfaeries.com/

http://www.sidhenadaire.com/

I’m still eating chocolate — So how about a free copy of the novel “Surrender”? Guest Post by Author Aimee Laine

***If you are looking for Write a Story with Me please check back tomorrow.***

I win!  While Jennifer is out gorging herself on chocolate, I’m here to talk about writing a second book. Not a first second, but a second second.
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If you’re going ‘huh?’, then I shall explain.
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One can write many, many, many first books. First of a series. First of a trilogy. First of a set of books in some set of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. These are still all ‘firsts’, no matter how many you’ve written.
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But if you take even one of those ‘firsts’ and then add in the 2nd, that’s where things get different.
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First off, you have to know if it’s a series 2nd or a sequel. One is very different than the other. In a series, you might change main charaters, the first book’s plot was fully resolved and/or a new conflict arises, and all books may be standalones. In a sequel set (like a trilogy or epic), the story continues, the plot has not been fully resolved and if you didn’t read the first book you will very likely be lost.
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Secondly, no matter which you are writing, you have to decide how much it matters if the readers have read book 1 to understand book 2. In a standalone series, it might be useful to have read book 1, but not necessary. There are often hints toward a first book, but not the outright retelling or recapping of the plot.
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Now, let’s say you’re writing in a series, where every book builds, this is even trickier because if someone is keeping up, adding in the backstory takes away their need to read book 1. But … you don’t want to whole heartedly confuse them (in case you can make them love book two enough to want to buy book 1) so you have to add little drips and drabs for clarity but not too much.
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What’s the balance?
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That depends a little on the writer, a little on the editor and a little on the reader.
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Are you willing to anger readers by forcing them to read book 1? You could. Not all will get mad. Some will go, ‘uh, but oops … I started in book 2, guess I need to read book one’. Others will turn away from the series altogether.
The reality is, you’ll never satisfy all readers, so, it comes back to what YOU as the writer wants to say. Some books literally have no book 1 backstory. Some are full of it to the point that by book 3 or 4 or 5 the reader is bored to tears with the same repeated description of characters already well known.
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So writing a book two is even more subjective than first books! Crazy, huh?
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I will say, though, that the key to clarity is having someone read book 2 who has not read book 1. Then, right there, they can tell you where they needed a little more backstory and you can determine how best to fill in the blanks and to what level.
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Writing a book 2 is far harder because of this logistical aspect, but as a writer of 3 book 2s, now (two standalone series, Surrender which JUST released this month, Silent Echoes which releases in March, 2013 and 1 trilogy book 2 – Day After, the second in the 19th Year by Emi Gayle) I find it even more fun because I get continue on with characters I’ve already fallen in love with, get to experience more of their life and get to enjoy them all over again.

So all that being said, I have a book 2 giveaway for you, and you can decide if I’ve managed to confuse or entice you to read book 1.
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Just answer this in the comments of Jennifer’s blog, today or tomorrow, and we’ll randomly choose one person for an ebook of Surrender as well as a signed bookmark!
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The question: “What else do you think has to go into a 2nd book to make someone want to read book 1?”
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I look forward to reading your responses!
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Visit Aimee’s blog:  http://www.aimeelaine.com/blog/

Anyone interested in critiquing my first page live?

Sorry for posting two times in one day, but I just found out that the first page of my WIP novel Fire in the Woods will be featured Sunday Night on Writer’s Chatroom for live critique.  **GACK**

I’ve never done anything like this before, and I’m not sure what to expect.  I think my first page will pop up on the screen, people will be able to read it, and then BAM they get the chance to start ripping away.

Nervous?  Maybe a little.  It sounds like a neat opportunity to have multiple critiques on the most important page of my novel, though.

Want to check it out?  Tune in Sunday at 7:00 Eastern.  My first page will be the sixth work featured.

Here are the details:

WHEN?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Eastern USA Time…..7 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?  http://www.worldtimeserver.com

WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at:  http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

See you there!

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #5: Please Sir, May I have another?

Writing and Critique groups are like potato chips – you can never eat just one.

Each writer’s group you find will offer something different.

For example, in my area there is a writer’s group that looks for odd places to write.  They set up folding chairs by the lake, for instance, looking for inspiration.  Is that for me?  Ummmm.  No.  I like my solitary computer, thank you.  But this works for some people.

Some writers groups charge a fee, but they give you great speakers in return.  If you think that the speakers are of value to you, then it is okay to pay extra.  If you are looking just to meet people, you might not want that extra perk.

Look around, and join a few if you can.  The worst thing that can happen is you make a few friends.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com