Tag Archives: proofreading

Lesson Twenty-Three from a Manuscript Red Line: Kindle Syndrome

Does your novel have Kindle Syndrome?

Would you be able to recognize it if it did?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

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2015 NOTE: Since I wrote this a few years ago, I have now purchased and fallen in love with my e-reader. I have to say that I am note sure that I would find white space a problem … but since it was pointed out, it is at least worth thinking about.  But what I DO AGREE WITH is mixing EVERYTHING up with some action. Let’s keep those stories moving! 

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I read right over this comment at least five times.  I do not own a kindle, so I didn’t understand what the publisher was saying.  This past weekend, I messed around with my sister’s Kindle.  Now this makes sense.  Let me explain…

The publisher said:  “This is a very long section that takes up two kindle pages of material.  Break it up with action and reaction.”

I believe I’ve already blogged about the overall problem of info dumps that go on too long, but this time when I read this comment, the “Kindle” word jumped out at me.

It would be foolhardy for anyone to think that their novels are going to be read 100 % in printed form.  In this new era, it’s just not feasible.  As we all know, technology has finally taken over the publishing world.

When I beta-read novels, I sometimes blow up the pages and just look at them.  If it looks like a text-book, I know there is a problem.  People want white-space when they read recreationally.  A dense page seems like too much work, right?

Now think about the Kindle (or choose your e-reader)…  What does it look like?  Do you see a full page like in a book?  Unless you are reading on something large, the screen is much smaller than an actual page.  A Kindle reader may press the forward button 2-3 times to get through a printed page of material.  I checked the word count on the section that they were talking about, and it was 230 words.  That’s about one page in a standard book.  If you change the type font and make it larger, there would be even more clicks to your page.

Do you really want your reader to click forward 3-4 times and have them still skimming reading the same description?

This is what I am getting at… The importance of White Space

White space is when you can “see the paper” behind your words.  White space can be achieved by new paragraphs, but it is done most effectively with dialog sequences.  Open up a few novels.  You should be able to see what I mean.  Your novel should not look like a text-book.  If there is dialog, it will look more “interactive”

I know as a reader I like white space.  It makes me feel accomplished.  True, on a kindle you cannot feel yourself getting to the end of a novel.  You might not even know you are at the end until you are there, since there are no page numbers (at least on the one my sister showed me)—so feeling accomplished while reading one must be hard…  But because of this, your reader will be effected EVEN MORE by lack of white space, because it will be so much more dramatic on a kindle screen rather than on paper.

I know a lot of you might not care… but I thought this would be worth mentioning.  We are living in a new world.  We have to consider what your novel will look like on the new media.   One or two long dense paragraphs might be fine once in a while, but make sure your scenes are broken up not only for pacing, but to get some of that “all so important” white space.

Amendment:  Since writing this post, I was given a Kindle Fire by my wonderful husband, and I am now 75% through my first novel.  Now that I am in this “electronic world,” I have to admit that everything I said up above really does apply.  Some of the description in the novel I am reading go on for 5 or more kindle pages of dense text.  The prose is beautiful, and well written, but to be honest I always start skimming somewhere in the middle of the second kindle page, which is far sooner than I would have on paper.

Also, on the Kindle Fire there are no page numbers, but it does tell you “percentage read” so you do see yourself getting to the end.

For me though, it makes the long descriptions even more monotonous because I like to feel accomplished.  I try to read a certain percentage each night, and I don’t know how many pages I have to read to achieve another “percent” read.

Yeah, I’m a nut.  But I am sure I am not alone!  Have mercy on a nutty reader.  Avoid Kindle Syndrome.

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Lesson Fourteen from a Manuscript Red Line: Keeping inside the Point Of View, Part 2

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also look under “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

Lesson Thirteen talked about making sure we only see what the Point of View character can see.  We also have to worry about accidentally getting into the heads of other characters as we describe what the POV character is seeing.

It seems to happen most for me when I describe what another character in the scene is doing.

“Mike studied the sign on the wall.”

Is Mike the POV character? No?  Then how does the POV character know that he is studying it? He may just be looking in that direction but thinking of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Right?

Hold up your right hand and say:  forever more I will call this…

The publisher red-lined something very similar to this, and said that you need to show what the characters are doing by showing what the POV character sees them doing.  You cannot get into their heads, or assume what they are doing.

You might be able to fix something like this with “Mike stood in front of the sign on the wall, and scratched his head.”  This would work especially well if there was a little dialog afterwards that made it obvious he looked at it.  REMEMBER NOT TO SAY HE LOOKS AT IT.  (See my earlier post on “Write without Looking”)

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Lesson Two from the Gold Mine Manuscript Red Line: Do we like your main character yet?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

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I wasn’t going to write about this, but someone told me once they didn’t particularly like my main character, and I tried to make him a little more endearing right up front. If I had a bad Main Character (MC) intro, and my BP (Beta Partner) did too, then some of you may have done it, also. So, yes, I am going to blog about “making your main character likable”, even if it seems like a “Duh” thing to talk about.

On page three, the publisher said that the Main Character is portrayed as spoiled and we’re not led to feel any compassion for him. Now, in the case of the manuscript in question, this was partly done on purpose. We aren’t supposed to completely love this character. It’s part of his growing experience. I understood that once my BP explained it to me after I told her I didn’t particularly like him when I read the first chapter.

Think that over. I UNDERSTOOD THAT ONCE SHE EXPLAINED THAT TO ME.

You are not going to have the chance to “explain” to the agent you are querying, or the publisher you are submitting to, or to your reader… why your main character is the way they are. Even if they are completely despicable, there needs to be something about them that makes you drawn to them to keep them reading on. Either that, or something has to happen in the plot, and QUICK, that grabs their attention and distracts them. (That’s my two-cents… not sure an agent or a publisher would agree on the plot hiding what they would consider character flaws)

So, go back and look at those all-important first few pages, and make sure that your character is lovable to someone other than you.

Not to beat a dead horse (I will be talking about cliches shortly by the way) but GET SOME BETA READERS THAT YOU DON’T KNOW. You might be too close to your story to realize that your MC isn’t likable.

Amendment:  Just read a great blog  from CB Wentworth  about an author thinking up a character and falling in love with him.   I think we all fall in love with our characters in one way or another.  We just need to make sure our readers feel that love, too.  (I’m not saying Noah isn’t likable, by the way!  I’ve never met CB’s work.)

http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/one-photograph-changed-everything/

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Editing Under Pressure. Yes, It can be done #2

I am knee deep in the content edits for my new novel FIRE IN THE WOODS. The turn-around on the editing is KILLER.

So far, I’ve done okay. Easy changes to make the plot-lines flow more smoothly.

Then I got to the hard stuff.

The editor mentioned three words she felt were over used. So I went back and revised them to a minimum.  However, in doing this, I made notes of what I changed those words to in order to make sure I did not overuse these new words as well.

Ugh.

This is when the editing became a nightmare.  Each overused word I found, I changed. If it was a new word, I added it to the list to check later.

In the end, I had a list of 94 words to check. Each time I made a change, if it was a new word, I added it to the list. My goal was to use the words no more than once every twenty pages. Now, I have to admit they got a little closer than that at the end. There are just so many ways to explode something. But this process was long and tedious for me.

This led to long nights and a weekend behind the computer.

Okay, maybe I did NOT need to do this now. This kind of thing is normally not part of the content edit, but now that I saw the problem, I could not send it back until it was fixed. The perfectionist in me just wouldn’t allow it.

Seriously___Come_on..._Seriously___00000

I mean seriously: Do characters have to shake their heads/hands/or other extremities 94 times?

For your own search-and-destroy pleasure, here is the list of 94 words, and the rabbit trail that followed. Not all of these words were overused, but most of them were. For instance, “spewed” only appears once in my manuscript, but it was a word that I used to replace something else.

My challenge:  Take a look for these in your own manuscripts. Some involving explosions may not apply to everyone, but some of the everyday words might surprise you.  Try to use them only once every 20 pages and feel my pain.

Dang/Darn/Dernit

Shoot

Wow

Woa

Holy cow

Yikes

Sheesh

Geeze

Crap

God/Oh God

Say

Boy

Funny

Screamed

Howled

Shriek

Flinch

Gritted

Trembled

Adjusted

Moved

Shrugged

Pushed

Gazed

Scared

Terrified

Beckoned

Reeled

Burned

Itched

Seared

Handling

Recoiled

Throbbed

Spewed

Echoed

Yearn

Warn

Shuddered

Quaked

Bite cheek

Straighten

Eyes wide

Gape

Hunch

Looked

Spread

Slid

Churn

Singed

Shoved

Shimmied

Shiver

Tremor

Begged

Darkened

Strode

Startled

Gasp

Gulp

Alarmed

Chilled

Dumfounded

Frightened

Petrified

Wheezed

Whimpered

Sigh

Succumb

Groan

Moan

Grunted

Hitch

Shouted

Wailed

Stared

Shift weight

Thunder

Shook

Exhale

Finger

Grimaced

Slumped shoulders

Rub temples

Clenched

Puffed

Spoke

Hollered

Yelled

Called

Barked

Huffed

Sneered

Grumbled

I’ve already handed in my edits, and just reading over that list again made me tired.

What words do you tend to overuse?

_JenniFer____EatoN

Just how good is the first line of your manuscript?

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a submissions editor (you never know who you’ll run into at a coffee shop) and we had a discussion about first lines of a book, and how important they are.

I knew already how important it was to hook a reader quickly, but Mike told me that he actually knows by reading the FIRST LINE if he is going t request a full or not when he reads through submissions.

Wow.

Now Available from Jennifer M. EatonThat’s not much time to make a first impression, is it?

That’s why I jumped at the chance to post ONLY MY FIRST LINE for “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” over at The Ladies Cave website today.

http://theladiescave.blogspot.ca/

Hop on over.  This line obviously grabbed my editor’s attention.  Tell me what you think!

But while you still here…

What’s your first line?

Do you think it has the goods to grab a reader/editor in once sentence?

JenniFer_EatonF

Road to Publication #17: Getting the ARCs for final approval

Why is my blood pressure up today?  The Advance Release Copies (ARCs) for the Make Believe Anthology have been released.

They arrived while I was at work, and unable to download them.  I see a flurry of “Yay” and “high-fives” from a few of the other authors during the day as they review their own, and see the other author’s work for the first time.

They seemed excited.

I’m not excited.

Excited is definitely not the word for it.  I think nauseous covers it about right.

I think part of my problem is that the first 500 words were recently released.  I found a sentence in the wrong place.  My heart sank.  I contacted the publisher, and they said to go ahead and fix it for the first page release, and to make sure I fix it when I got the ARCs. Whew!

But now I’m worried about what else I might find.  Maybe I’m overreacting.  I hope I’m overreacting.

Okay.  Enough stalling.  I’m going to download it to my Kindle now.

Okay.  Wow.  So cool to see it for the first time.  I need to fix any errors in mine in the next two weeks and return it.  So… sorry ladies, but I will read yours later.

I flip to my story, and my gaze hovers over the cover page.  Yep.  That’s my name.  Feels good.

I flip to the next page.  Something’s wrong.  Have you ever stared at something, not even read it, and known something was not right?

The formatting.  Oh, crud.  The Font in my title pages is important.  It gives an emotional impact… a “feel” of being outside.  They replaced it with a blocky, emotionless ruggedly bold text.

The first “first 500” that was sent to me to post on-line had the correct font.  Hopefully this will be a simple fix.

Before I really get down to reading, I receive an email with the instructions on how to notify them of changes, and what kind of changes will be accepted.  One phrase stood out.

“We won’t guarantee all your final changes will be made, but now is the last possible time for you to make them.”

Now my blood pressure is pumping because I never had the chance to “okay” a final completed version before it went to ARCs.  I have no idea if the changes that I discussed with the editor “piece meal” were inserted correctly BEFORE it was sent to copy editing.

Okay… Deep breath.  You have two weeks.  Just get it done so they have time to fix any errors you may find.

Oxygen anyone?  Nah—skip the oxygen.  I need chocolate.  And lots of it.

I am Such a Stinking Idiot. I Swear!

I’ve submitted two works in hopes of publication.  Last Winter Red was accepted, and will be published in December.  Yay!  But what was the other one?

The first writing I ever submitted was early this year.  It was a 2,000 word short-story for a magazine.

This magazine is very well-respected, and takes submissions until the end of January.  They choose the best out of the submissions to publish at different times during the year.

Their requirements were very clear.  It needed to be about a dog, the dog could not talk, and it had to be polished and ready for publication.

Hello, let me introduce myself.

I am an idiot

Well, heck, I had a story about a dog!  I ran it through some betas, worked it until I wanted to spit, and submitted it.

I never heard back from them.  Not a squeak.  And I can’t even say they didn’t get it, because I have a tracking number.  They got it.

I guess it’s okay that they didn’t respond.  They said they would only notify those who were chosen.

Anyway… I stewed over it for a while.  Why wasn’t mine good enough?

I read the magazine, and my story beginning might not have been a fit for their readers, but the ending sure was.  A story is a journey, right?  I just figured my beginning may have been the problem, and moved on.

A few months ago, my writers group announced that they would be publishing an anthology, and asked all members to consider submitting.  I thought about this 2,000 word story.  The chances that I would send it out to any other magazine were slim.

Soo….. I opened up my final submitted version, and gave it a read for the first time in four months.

My eyes widened after reading the second line.  No!  It can’t be!  I scanned back to the beginning, and started over.

Yes.  It can be.  Right there …  In the second stinking line.

A TYPO.

How the heck many times did I proofread this?  How many betas did I go through?  How much time expended?

A Typo.  Not just a typo.  A BIG BLARING TYPO!  So much for “Polished and ready for publication”.

Hello, let me introduce myself.  I am an idiot.  They probably never even read past the second line.

Yep, it’s me.  I am an idiot. Feel free to smack me. Ugh!