Tag Archives: beta reading

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #3 — OMIGOSH! You Gotta be kidding me!

You know the drill.  This is all I’m allowed to say.

Need a Hint?

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #1

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #2

Search and Destroy in the Editing Phase

Daily Writing Tips recently had an article explaining bad writing compared to poor writing.  The one part of the article that struck me was the end.

They presented a list which I will admit (giving them total credit) that I copied and pasted below.  I only want to talk about #5, but I am including the entire list, because I think there are a lot of writers out there who can benefit from it.

Here we go:  Total credit to Dailywritingtips.com (If you want to see the whole article, the link is below)

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Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls of bad writing:

1. Be Fresh
The purpose of metaphor and simile is to evoke recognition by comparison or allusion. Write these analogies to aid your readers with your clarity of vision, not to serve your ego, and avoid clichés.

2. Be Clear
When drafting expository fiction or nonfiction, record your voice as you spontaneously describe a scene or explain a procedure, transcribe your comments, and base your writing on the transcription, revising only to select more vivid verbs and more precise nouns and to seek moderation in adverbs and adjectives.

3. Be Active
Use the passive voice judiciously.

4. Be Concise
Write tight.

5. Be Thorough
Accept that writing is the easy part; it’s the revision that makes or breaks your project — and requires most of your effort.

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Okay then… end credit to daily writing tips.

(On a side note:  If anyone needs clarification on anything in the list above, let me know and I will do my best to translate.)

Let’s talk about #5.

This is near and dear to my heart, as I have just finished a roller-coaster ride self-imposed deadline of 5,000 words a week to finish a novel in 10 weeks.

I finished my first draft four weeks ahead of schedule, and dropped myself into editing.

Is my story great?  Well, of course it is! It’s my idea and I love it.

Is it well written…

Umm well, it will be.

Now is the tough part.  I need to attack all the sneaky “tell” that slipped in when I wasn’t looking.  I need to describe bronzed skin rather than telling “his skin was bronzed.”

Luckily enough, I have many words to spare, as I ended up short on my word-count target.  I have plenty of room to expand.

Right now, it is “search and destroy” on “Felt” “was” “it” and all those other nasty little tell markers.

I was paying attention this time around, and I tried my best not to have blatant run-on tell passages (as I’ve been guilty of in the past)  which is good, but all of my tell is now “subtle”.  It is the kind that will probably slip past most publishers.  But I don’t just want this to be a good novel.  I want it to be a great one.

Yes, it is this revision process that will make or break this novel.

I am approaching it by not reading for flow yet.  I am just looking for all those “little nasties”.  Once I think I am “nasty free” I will read for flow, and then ship off to betas, trusting them to slap me upside the head for everything else I may have missed.

How do you “search and destroy” during the editing phase?

Six Sentence Sunday – A blast from the past. This is funny.

It’s Six Sentence Sunday again.  Today’s is gonna give you a giggle. I’m going to allow you to wallow in my ineptness.

If you haven’t heard, Six Sentence Sunday is a group of people who mostly post their own work, but I just shoot out six sentences of whatever takes my fancy.  Sometimes what I’m writing, or sometimes what I’m reading.  If you want to find out more, click here.  Visit Six Sentence Sunday Site.

I’m still reading Oracle by JC Martin.  I didn’t want to post another 6 sentences from the same work, so I was sitting here at my desk, and I saw a printed copy of my early novel HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT hanging out, feeling abandoned.

I thought it would be fun to open it up to a random page, and just pick six sentences.

Now… I wrote this well over a year ago, maybe even two years, as last year at this time I was editing it.  I laughed when I read this passage.  I am going to curtail my inner-editor and post it exactly as it is printed.  Mistakes and all.

Yes, thank goodness, I have come incredibly far in a little over a year.

At his feet, an arbor bug struggled to scale a small mound of dirt.

Harris sighed as he watched it.  Why doesn’t it just walk around it?  After it fell back for the third time, Harris flattened the mound with his foot, and the small creature continued on its way.  He closed his eyes and smiled, actually finding gratification in helping something so small.  Would Daniel Hyelven have done that?

OMIGOSH!  Can you stand how much tell is in those six sentences?

Did I really use the word “it” four times in the same line?

This is really embarrassing.   I just couldn’t believe it, but I thought it would be worth a laugh.

I just love this story, and someday I will go back and fix it.  After looking at this paragraph, I know it will be a huge undertaking. 🙂

Hope you got a good giggle!

Have I mentioned my Beta Readers ROCK?

Thank you

I know this may sound hokey, but considering what I put my beta readers through, I think I need to give them all a big public hug and a Thank You from the bottom of my heart for:

#1:  Not being mad when I put my own beta-reading on hold

#2:  Being so supportive and honest, even though they knew I was stressing

#3:  Not hating me for asking for so much help in such a tight timeframe

I would like to introduce My Beta Reading Army for Last Winter Red:

Ms. Fran Metzman:  Thank you for pointing out that I needed more setting.  At the very last minute, I balked and added extra scenic imagery.  I have to admit that the story is richer with it.

Krista Quintana:  Thank you for being the only one who pointed out that my beginning wasn’t great.  I thought I knew what you meant when someone else said to start it a little later, but the publisher called me on it, and now it starts even sooner.  Also, you were totally right about Sara.  I didn’t change her much, and she was one of the fixes that the publisher requested at the last minute.  She’s now 15.

Ravena Guron:  Thanks for being so anal… and I mean that in a good way.  You made me look at every sentence more critically, and my story was stronger for it.  Your closing comments on the final version that you read really hit home, and made me think that maybe I had something here.

Nancy Krause:  Thank you so much for doing that read over the holiday weekend.  Thank you for giving me your phone number (even though we barely knew each other) so we could discuss everything live.  Having a voice attached to the comments helped breathe some life into me – and oxygen at that point.

Dawn Burne:  For reading and showing me things that I hadn’t thought of.  I would have looked so stupid if that talking/attacking furniture made it to the publisher.  Thanks so much.

Julie Reece:  For jumping out of the Scribophile world and offering to read for me even though you were preparing for the release of your own debut novel.  I sent you my final draft at 2:30 in the morning, and it was waiting in my email when I woke up the next day.  I also appreciated your help with that one transition element that we emailed back and forth on.  If I can ever repay the favor, please let me know.

Gloria Richard:  Thank you so much for your support and “whoots”.  I was excited that you liked the romantic elements, since I hadn’t done that before.  All those stinking typos that you caught too… that would have been embarrassing.

Jenny Keller Ford:  What can I say?  You totally Rock.  From long nights dwelling over rejections, editing nightmares, and draft after draft… here we are.  Feels good, doesn’t it?

Sandro Fletcher:  Thank you for jumping back in when we haven’t spoken in so long.  The one “missing plotline reolution” that you mentioned is fixed.  It is now in the last two pages, and sewn up tight.  Thank you so much for your support, not only now, but for encouraging me when I first started out.

This is a diversified group of people, and if you noticed, they each gave something different in their perspective of my work.  It is important to build your own little army.  Know which person will find what, and build relationships.

If any one of these people were to ask me for help, I would stop what I was doing and help them.  If you support me, I will support you.

We are not alone in the writing world, and I have been incredibly lucky to know this amazing group of people.  If you don’t have beta readers/partners… they are out there.  Find them.  They can be a lifeline in your time of need.

Writing to a Deadline 15: OMIGOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Writing to a Deadline Part 14: Publisher response

Holy cow!

I submitted my manuscript at 11:30 PM last night, and when I got home from work, there was a response that hit may mailbox at Noon!!!

Okay.  Deep breath.  Open the email.

“The revision was great. You did a fine job incorporating our feedback and adjusting the story to a simpler, more defined and well written product.”

Woa… hold on.  This is my first submission to a publisher.  Aren’t they supposed to belittle me and tear me to bits?  Did a publisher just call my work “great”?  Did a publisher just call my story “well written”?

Last words are “We’ll be in touch soon regarding final selections.”

Okay… we are back in “wait” mode.  I can deal with that.  I am just so tickled that I might actually be actually in the running—I can’t stand it.

I find a stream of emails from my writing buddy.  She’s been having an email conversation with the publisher all day.  They wanted more revisions done to hers.  They want to know if she’d be willing to revise further, to some pretty stringent specifications.

My heart sinks.  They went back and forth with her several times.  Someone there likes her submission enough that they want it really polished.  What does that mean for mine?  Was mine a form email that everyone gets?

They told her that they have eight submissions that they are currently considering, and only 5 slots in the anthology.

Am I one of the eight?  She obviously is.

I hop over to Scribophile, and another girl in my Scrib Group got a response that they liked her changes as well, and they were waiting to make a decision… The wording she used in her post made it sound like her response was almost word for word identical to mine.

What does that mean?  Did we both get the generic “nice” response?  Is that a bad thing, or are we both in the top eight?

Your mind goes crazy.  I swear.

I know, I know, there is not a dern thing I can do but wait… and have a few quiet conversations with the Guy Upstairs.

I put a heck of a lot of work into this over the last month.

At first, it was just a challenge to myself.

Now, it’s something I want so bad I can taste it.

Deep breath… and the wait begins.  Again.

Writing to a Deadline Part 13: Rewriting and resubmitting

Wow.  They were right.

I took out one relationship element, and the rest of the story just fell in line.  I read through my final product and shivered.

Yeah, I actually wrote that…

But that sting is still there… is it as good as I think it is?  Probably not.

Three days until I have to submit.  It’s a holiday weekend.  No one is going to have time to read, right?

This is where friendships you have made come into play.  I looked up every applicable beta reader past and present, and let them know my dire situation.  I even sent it to my very first beta partner… who was nice enough to teach “idiot little me” so much when I first started out (boy did I stink back then)  I haven’t spoken to him in over a year.  You know what?  He jumped on board.

A debut author from the same publishing house I am submitting to saw my plea on Scribophile, and offered to read it.  So did one of my current betas, and my writing buddy who was also in the same boat having to make revisions to her submission for the anthology.

Suggestions come back.  Minor changes.  The last beta to come back arrives five hours before I need to submit.  No pressure.  More minor suggestions.

Make the applicable edits…. And Done.

Funny thing.  I created a PDF, got ready to send, and got a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I checked back on something I had just added that night, and it didn’t flow. Honestly, it sounded HORRIBLE.  I took a few minutes and changed it.  Perfect…. Sometimes, you really need to listen to your gut.

  1. Create a new PDF.
  2. Write up and email thanking the publisher for their suggestions; this is how I used them… yadda yadda… thank you for your consideration.
  3. Attach PDF
  4. Send.

Now the painful waiting process… again.

The deadline has passed.  Whatever happens now, happens.  There is nothing more I can do.

I feel good about it.  I didn’t crack, and I held on to the bitter end.  No matter the outcome, I am proud of this 40 page little gem.  If anything, I proved to myself that I could do it.

Writing to a Deadline Part 12: The Slap of a Rejection

After a week of waiting… Rejected.

Wow.  That stung.  I read the email.  Well, that’s not true.  After the words “Not ready for publication at this time.” I pretty much skimmed it.

Two things stuck with me off the bat.  George was an unnecessary character, and the opening was confusing.  What??????????  George is the catalyst!  Deep breath… don’t scream.

Being a good little camper, I shut down my computer, and walked away.

I stewed over it for a while.  What were they talking about?  How could they say these things?

Then I took my own advice.  It was a nice day.  I got on my bicycle, and just rode.  I thought over those two comments, and cleared my head for an hour or so.  Once I was able to deal with it, I went back to my computer to read it again.

It’s very hard to take your own advice when something happens to you.  I have walked a few people through this very thing, but never myself.  I’ve sent out work before, but they all saved me this heartache by not answering my queries at all.  This time, I got the definitive “No”.

But was it really a no?  I read it again.  It wasn’t a yes, but it wasn’t completely a rejection either.  They gave me a full-page type-written list of areas they thought were lacking in the story.  Someone thought it through, and let me know everything they thought was a problem.

In my own advice to others: “If someone took that much time, they must have seen something in it that they liked.”

I printed out the page, went to my room, closed the door, and read it over and over.  I realized that if I took their advice about the character George, that the characterization inconsistencies that they pointed out with three other characters would just naturally fall in line.

The last line of the email stated:  If you would like to make changes and resubmit before the deadline date, please send the rewrite directly to “********”

Wait a minute… Go past the normal submission channels?  Hop over the other entries right into a special mailbox?

Not quite so much a rejection anymore, is it?  Thank God I submitted two weeks early!

Seven days for a rewrite, taking out a major plot element.

Gotta go…. Got something to do. 🙂

Writing to a Deadline Part 10: Rewrite and Beta Blast

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

Okay… fixed that climax.  Yeah!  I did it.  Oh no!  Now I am at 10,280 words!

That’s a whole page over!  Ugh!

Edit madness:  Extra word here, extra word there.  Unnecessary clause?  Can I tighten that dialog a little?  Does this person need to smile?  Is that dialog tag necessary?

Okay, I’m done.  Right?  Am I?   ARRRHGHHHH!

Beta Blast!  Call in the two people who the story really seemed to resonate with (Don’t bother with the person who didn’t seem to get it from the beginning)

Sorry, guys… I know it’s a lot to ask… but I need it back in two days.

Wait….  Wait….  Wait….  Tear a fingernail off.  Wait….  Water the plants… again.  Groom the dog… again (not that she’s complaining.)

Then the panic moment happens.  Through a writer’s group, I find out that someone submitted, and got a positive response.  Not an acceptance, but a request to make changes and re-submit through private channels.

Oh No!  There is a possibility that they will close for submissions if they fill all five slots.

It’s okay… take a deep breath.  I decided that I need to submit NOW, even though there are two weeks left until the deadline.

My two betas came back with minor changes.  Of course, while I was waiting I made changes of my own, so I pleaded for one more read.  Yeah, I can be annoying that way.

My worst writing nightmare is that all of these people call in the favor at the same time while I am up against a deadline of my own ***gack***

Okay… their responses come back.

Remove that comma, change that word…

Easy fixes.

Slow and steady.

Writing to a Deadline Part 9: “And the beta-reading verdict is?”

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

Note:  This post is mainly for those of you who have not yet been through the beta-process.  Just to prepare you for what it can be like.

Last week I sent out my story LAST WINTER RED to a small Beta Army.  And back the comments come…

Three fast “I just read it” responses came back in one day.  “Liked the story” on each of them.  At least that’s a step in the right direction.  Next step… they will go through and make suggestions.

Time to wait again

The professor got back to me noting “Great story” but lack of setting.  Yeah… I’m famous for that.  I only give what’s absolutely necessary.  I’ll think that over.  There was also a small element that she thought was lost in the middle.  Easy fix, but it will put me close to the word count.  She was also totally engaged and drawn in by my beginning. Yay!

Critical Beta Reader #1 comes back, and hates my beginning. She didn’t mention lack of setting at all.  (Don’t you love contradicting crits?)   She pointed out a few details that she thought were overdone.  Easy fixes.  When she finished, there was more red than black on the page, though. Ugh.

Getting nervous. Re-write of one section per Professor’s comment brings me up to 10,075 words.  Yikes! Editing per Critical Beta #1’s suggestions brings it back down to 9,975. Whew!

My long time beta partner says it just needs a little tweaking.  She likes the beginning, but not my starting point.  She’s probably right, and this might be what critical Beta #1 meant, too.  I think I can fix this now that I understand better…  Just move the starting point three minutes later of where it is now.  She also suggested inserting a little more turmoil over the conflict early on for the MC.  Hmmmm.  I can do that, my only concern is only having an extra 25 words before the 10,000 word maximum.

Romance Beta comes back and actually liked the kissy stuff????  Yea for me!  She pointed out things that the others didn’t even see.

Memoir writer also pointed out some minor things that others didn’t notice.  Easy fixes.

Two people thought my closing six words were absolutely brilliant.  They both mentioned it without me asking… but Critical Beta # 1 deleted them without comment.  Too funny.

So many suggestions fly at you so quickly… you need to decide what fits for what YOU want in the work… and at the same time, please the masses… not everyone.  It’s impossible to resonate with every reader.

Clock is ticking.

Three people made the same comment about a rock in the well during my climax.  Going for a complete re-write of that scene.

Ugh… no words to spare.

Tick tock, tick tock… no pressure.