Tag Archives: revising

Rekindling the Fire Inside an Older Manuscript

In February, 2016, I handed in first round developmental edits for book three in the FIRE IN THE WOODS series.

Read-hold up PKO_0016876I figured I didn’t have much time until I saw the manuscript again, so I picked up and older 52,000 word first draft I’d finished nearly two years before and gave it a read. It was pretty good, but I knew it needed “something”. I just wasn’t sure what. So, out to the beta readers it went.

Within a few reads, I’d learned that it was solid, but I needed a few things:

  1. A new beginning.
  2. A best friend character so my MC wasn’t always alone.
  3. I needed to severely slow down the pacing

happy smileWith this information in hand, I attacked with reckless abandon. By the time I’d finished the 12th draft in June, 2016, I had added 46,000 words, nearly doubling the manuscript to 98,000 words of alien-filled goodness.

I just rounded up five more beta readers to look over this draft, and as I read through the manuscript from start to finish, I find myself grinning.

Yup, I’m pretty darn happy with what this story has become.

But, of course, I will wait for five more opinions, and edit the poop out of the story five more times. I hope that the beta readers love it as much as I do. Hopefully, I will be shopping this new novel to publishers in September.

Have you ever picked up an old , dusty story, cleaned it up, and found a little gem?

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Ashes and Fire2You can find  the Fire in the Woods series at all these awesome bookish places!

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The Art of Procrastination: Isn’t Writing Still Fun?

I did something for the first time the other day.  I procrastinated.

Now, I’m not talking about the laundry, or doing the dishes—I procrastinated about writing.

Editing to be more exact.

Believe it or not, I have NEVER procrastinated before when it had to do with writing.  Never Ever.  Writing was always my escape.  What better way to get away from the world than with characters that I love.

So here I am, vacuuming, and actually shaving the dog (which I had been procrastinating over for three months.)  Now, I’m not talking about a little procrastination.  This dog was on the grooming table for a full two hours straight.  (No, she does not look like the same dog anymore.)

And it was all because I didn’t want to edit.  So, why is that?

I think it is because I have a list of things from the publisher to make sure that are not in my novel.  I think it is because I need to dig in and perfect it.  But wasn’t it perfect already?

Well yes, and no.  There’s nothing like pasting your novel into a manuscript analyzer if you want to make yourself run and hide.

By now, yes, I have started editing.  I am fixing and sculpting, and despite my initial hesitation, LAST WINTER RED is actually getting better.

Hmmmm.  Maybe these publishers actually know what they are talking about 🙂

The Road to Publication #3: The Bad News – More Editing?

Wait a minute… I just spent two months writing to a deadline.  Now I have more deadlines?  Yikes!

Wow, the day after the contract was signed, all the “stuff” came flooding in.  Tons of emails, and tons of information.  I knew that there would be a lot to do, but I must admit, when I saw it spelled out, I was a little daunted.

One of the emails contained a very long list of things that need to be done before the target release date.  Thank goodness, many of the things on the list are dates when the publisher needs to do things.  But there are things that I need to do.

***editing***

Ugh.  Editing.  I figured I would need to do a little work on it, but I was a little surprised when they asked me to go through LAST WINTER RED and look for about 50 possible things that the editors will flag, so it will be as clean as possible before they have to review it.
I am using a computer program to analyses my manuscript, and it’s surprising when a computer highlights possible problems how many things pop up that you don’t see when you read.  As always, I don’t agree with everything the computer says.  A computer does not, or instance, understand that you are looking for an emotional reaction when you purposely repeat a word five times in a paragraph, and that it was intentional…but in the instances where it was not intentional, I was able to make the changes, and the sentences are much stronger.

That is where I am now.  There are about six different reports to run like this.  Some of them overlap, but it is a lot to look at, and a lot to consider (see that… duplication of “a lot” for an emotional response… are ya feeling emotional?)

Anyway…tons to do, and now there is a new deadline, and five other authors in the same boat counting on me to finish in time.

No Pressure.

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

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. 🙂

Lesson Eighteen from a Manuscript Red Line:What makes your story Unique?

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.

This one might be tough, and was the subject of a one-hour conversation between the author and I as we tried to figure out how to do it.

The Publisher said that the story reminded them of Percy Jackson, and the world seemed too much like the Lord of the Rings.  Their comment was that they understood that not all plots are unique, but they want their authors to take what is not unique, and make it unique. They wanted to know what the author could offer in this world that has not already been done, and “why were people on horses and not in cars” (since the story does not take place in the past)

Wow.  Tough one.

One of the things that initially drew me to this story was the very “typical” medieval fantasy world.  Knights on horses, Kings, Queens, a sorceress, and throw in a few faeries and a centaur for good measure.  Simplicity.  I really liked it.  I read another beta with a similar world, but he threw in these outrageous sci-fi-like creatures that they had to battle, which seemed very out-of genre to me, and ruined an otherwise GREAT story.  The Gold Mine Manuscript has a great plot and characters that I can relate to, and it is simple and enjoyable.

But… the publisher wants more.

The author has discussed a few ideas with me.  Some seem great.  Some make me cringe.  I’ve only read the “Act One” revise, so I have not seen too much of the fantasy world yet (Act One takes place in Tennessee)  I don’t know what the author is going to do.  I am holding my breath and biting my nails.  I have the utmost confidence in the author’s ability.  I just hope that the simple pure nature of the original story does not get lost in reaching for “uniqueness”

For the rest of us…

How do you know if you story is unique?  I think mine is, but I don’t really know.  I haven’t read anything like mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

I might find a publisher who thinks my ancient flute buildings, next to old Renaissance architecture, next to newer modern buildings is weird.  Will I change it?  Dunno.  They might find it weird that my characters walk everywhere and don’t use cars, but they travel on space ships to other planets.  Will I change it?  I see no reason to.

There is nothing drastically bizarre about my setting.  Yes, it takes place in another galaxy, but the setting is not what my story is about.  It is about the characters and interpersonal relationships.  It is about a boy who has gads of magical power, but is so afraid of it, that he uses the power to erase his memory.  Unfortunately for him, he still needs to save the world.  I see no need to distract from my story by making it “freaky” so it seems “different”.

Is your story unique?

This is a tricky question.  You won’t really know until you get your manuscript into the hands of a publisher if your story is unique in their eyes.

All I can say is, good luck.

Jennifer Eaton

Row80 Update 11-20-2011

I giggled when I looked at my list of goals for this week.  One of them I forgot about completely after going on a rampage of doing other things.  I need to check back on my goals every few days at a bare minimum so I keep pushing myself to do some of those things I’m cringing over.

1.  Two blog posts?  Yea!  I did three, and one of them really hit home for a lot of people.  Glad everyone is out there MAKING THE BIG DECISION.  Thanks for all the feedback here and on Twitter, guys!

2.  Re-write the dream sequences to richen the character of Darkness.  OMG!  I like him so much better than I used to.  I think I actually managed to create a “Love to hate” character.  I think I also opened up a can of worms with him.  Such a fun character.  I was going to explore him more in book two.  I’m so glad I decidied to personify him earlier.  Great fun!

3.  Start the beta read I’ve been sitting on for two weeks.  DONE!  Yea!  I haven’t heard back from him yet.  Hope he doesn’t hate me 😦

Re-write the scene where Matt gets his memory back…  Ummmm…  Forgot.  Probably half on-purpose.  This is big decision #2–right after Magellan’s age.  Yeah, I gotta do it.  I know, I know.

1.  Rewrite that stinking Matt scene.  Gosh, I just don’t know what to do with it.  Don’t you hate it when you have a pivitol scene that just isn’t working?

2.  Rewrite the Matt scene again

3.  and again

4.  and again.

5.  When I’m not pulling my hair out over Matt, I’d like to make a dent in Jennifer Hubbard’s THE SECRET YEAR.  Yes, very out of my genre, I know.

I’ve been hearing that you should spend time with novels outside your genre.  This way I am doing this, and supporting one of the authors I recently met that was nice enough to give me some tips to push me in the right direction.

Happy Rowing!

Jennifer Eaton

Lesson Thirteen from a Manuscript Red Line: Keeping inside the Point Of View, Part 1

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

I used to slip out of my POV all the time, and now I am trying to really get my head inside the POV character so I am very aware of them and their surroundings.   I used to write partially omniscient, and I could see through walls and such.  Silly me.

This publisher noted that when you are in one character’s POV, make sure the narration does not tell something that the POV character cannot see.  For instance, if your character looks out the balcony window, thinks it’s a warm wonderful night, and then goes to bed.  Don’t Pre-tell with a three sentence closing scene of velociraptors swarming just on the other side of the trees, quarreling about who will get to eat your main character.

Great dramatic effect? Yes, and they use it in movies all the time, but the POV character can’t see it, so it’s a bit strange and out of place, right?

Now, if they heard something in the bushes, a growl, something unsettling… that would work fine. Then let them go off to nighty-night.

The same goes for a passage like “What Jessica didn’t know, was that someone was stealing her car while she put on her makeup.”  If we are in Jessica’s POV, this doesn’t quite work.  We need to wait and follow Jessica out the door to find out WITH HER that her car was stolen.

Make sense?

Jennifer Eaton

Lesson Eight from the Manuscript Red-Line: Magically Appearing Items in the Setting

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

This is really more like an amendment to Lesson Seven, but I figured I’d call it out separately, just to make it more clear.  In Lesson Seven, we discussed how important it is to make sure a character has a reason for doing what they do.

Also watch for “convenient” items popping up out of nowhere.  In a recent writers group meeting we discussed this very topic… making sure that a gun doesn’t suddenly appear in the glove compartment of an eighty year old grandmother from Ohio…  Silly things like that.

It is easy for a writer to place an item somewhere convenient…  but remember to give that item a reason for being there.

Example from my own manuscript:

Meagan has a candle in her room in the end of the novel.  It’s very important.  It’s never mentioned before, but I talk about it like it’s always been there.  I  caught mistake after digesting Lesson Seven.   I just can’t let the candle suddenly appear like that, and act like it’s always been there.

Convenient fix by me:  I needed a new chapter near the beginning of the novel, because I needed a place to SHOW that Meagan realizes that Magellan is supernatural.  (This is to avoid a “telly” section later).  I placed the scene in Meagan’s room, and actually used the candle as the driving force for that scene.  It worked wonderfully, and I killed two problems with one chapter in a neat little
package.  (And only about 550 words)

Like magically appearing characters, suddenly appearing items can be distracting, and make you lose credibility.  Give important items a reason for being where they are, and keep your settings fluid throughout your novel.