Tag Archives: Writing and Editing

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 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 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.

The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer Won’t take time to Review!

I have a problem.  It’s a good problem.  My kid won’t stop reading.

“Sweetie, would you like to do another book review for me?”

“After I finish reading this book, Mom.”

“Ummm, okay, but you said that after you finished the last two.”

“But this is just sooo good!”

Ugh.  Now, here is my problem.  I cannot afford to feed this kid’s reading habit!  I filled his kindle with Literature.  Tarzan, Huck Fin, etc.  It’s all stuff my husband SWORE he would like.  But no dice.  He starts ‘em, but he doesn’t finish them.  He is just not interested in the classics.

He is extremely particular.  He needs high action, suspense, and comedy all wrapped up in a neat little package.

He’s interested in big block-buster novels, which shouldn’t be a problem, but he wants them when they just hit the bookstores, and some of them are $24.  Okay, so, yes, I have paid that much for a book for myself, but it takes me usually a month to read it.  This kid will plow through a 300 page novel in two days!

Maybe someday I will just yank a book out of his hands and say “You can have another after you tell everyone why the heck you liked the last ten so much!”

Hey… he may as well earn those books rather than me just handing them over, right?

Now if I could just get his brother to pick up something OTHER than Calvin and Hobbs, maybe I could at least get a second read out of these novels.

Maybe someday.  ***sigh***

Row 80 4/2 Writing to a Deadline Part 6: “Writing from the Outline”

My goal is to get published.  At the moment, I am working on a novella for an Anthology.  This is where I am:

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.

I’d love to tell you that this outline is absolutely useless, but I’d be lying.  I think it is actually helping me.

I keep referring back to it, which is good, because it is keeping me on track.

Since I have my story clearly outlined, I know all of the “little carrots” that need to be dropped early in the story so they are not “big surprise veggie bombs” later.  I even caught myself forgetting one, and I had the chance to re-write a conversation that included that little snippet before it was too late.

In the first three scenes, I set up my world (and clearly defined it since it is a Futuristic Dystopian).  Introduced all the characters.  Gave the conflict of the main character and all subordinate characters.

I looked at my word count— 2,685.

Hmmmm.  The submission guidelines say the story needs to be between 5,000 and 10,000 words.  Can I finish it in that parameter?

My outline has 26 items/scenes/”things that need to happen”.  Some are more in depth than others.  I very carefully looked over the list, and placed a word count next to each number.  This is how many words I think I will need to get each idea down.

300 here, 500 there, 1000 there, 2000  for the climax.  You get the idea.

When I totaled it all up it came to 9,685.  That was a bit of a surprise.  I thought it would be higher.  However, I am also brutally aware that I only have 315 words to spare.

Now, my challenge is to hold to those numbers.  If I can’t finish each item it the allotted word count, I need to subtract words from somewhere else.

The writer’s retreat is here.

Two full days of writing with a goal to finish.

Too lofty a goal?  We’ll see.

Writing to a Deadline Part 5: “I Love this stinking outline”

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.

Wow… one thing that the outline “in my head” wanted me to write just wouldn’t work.  Yikes, would I have wasted a lot of time.  The whole scene would have been lost in editing.

And I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t outline first.

Yes, I’m a pantser, and I cringe every time I read over this outline.  But it is helping me to figure out how one scene will flow into the next.  I stare at the outline every day and make changes to the story before I’ve even written it.  It’s a very strange place for me.

Why aren’t you writing yet?  Deadline, Jen, remember?  What are you doing?

I do most of my writing in the car driving back and forth to work.  Okay, stop gasping… I do it in my head.  I have a pretty good idea of where key scenes in my outline are going.  My question now is whether or not I will be able to write this story in the “10,000 words or under” parameter.  Being concise was never my forte.

I am now four weeks in.  Yes, everyone else is a month ahead of me.  Some of them may have even submitted.  The publisher may have already picked a few that they may include in the anthology.

Maybe.  I have a little cheat card up my sleeve, though.  I am going away to a writers retreat over a weekend.  Eight writers closing themselves in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no internet, and no ambition other than word count.

My challenge to myself is to be completely prepared going in.

Ready, set— go.  Write, Edit, Polish, Complete.

When I get home, send it out to Beta readers.

Re-polish.

One last read from whomever I can convince to put up with me

Submit.

Cutting it close?  Well, honestly, yes.

Today I actually start writing to my outline.  New ground for me.  Let’s see how this pantser does.

Stick to the outline, Jen.  Stick to the outline.

Resist the urge to explode something.  You can do this.

What stupid writing thing did your beta find this week? I bet you have a writing crutch, too.

Do you have a writing crutch?  Is there something you do over and over again, but you have no idea that you are doing it because it feels right?

Mine, apparently, is the use of commas.  SEE!  I just did it again!  I naturally place a comma anywhere where I would pause if I were speaking.

Funny, a beta called me on this last year, and I thought he was nuts.  Several other betas have corrected my commas here and there, but didn’t mention my overall addiction.

Recently, a new beta said (paraphrasing) “I’ve read your blog, so I expected you to overuse commas in your novel, but it really slows down the reading.”

I honestly didn’t even realize I was doing this.

Now I am looking for them like a hawk in my novel.

So, what about commas my blog?

I don’t know.  I might let them fly here.  When I type out a post, you should feel like you are talking to me.  If there is a comma there, I am probably taking a cyber-breath.

What do you think?  Do they annoy you?

I find this extremely funny, to be honest. (Tee hee, there is another one… they just fly out of my fingers.)

I’m not editing any of my natural commas out of this post, just for the fun of it.  This is how I speak.

Now, I just need to make sure all my character dialog and narration doesn’t suffer from my comma frenzy as well.

What do you do in your writing that shoots out of your fingers without you even realizing it?  (Gosh, do I want to put a comma in that last sentence, just to break it up a bit!  ARGHHHH!!!)

Writing to a Deadline Part 4: “I hate this stinking outline”

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.

Outlining is not a waste of time

Outlining is not a waste of time

Outlining is not a waste of time

ARGHHHHHH I hate this stinking outline thing!

No!  I am not going to give up.  I have an idea, but I just want to start writing dern it!  I know where I am going.  The outline is in my head.  Just let me GO!

But it’s already in my head.

Don’t you just hate it when you argue with yourself?

My problem is I have precious little time to write.  Half an hour during the day while I’m at lunch.  That’s it.  I just can’t “get into a character’s head” at home (Dog, husband, three kids… you get the idea.)

Writing down this outline when I could be writing the story makes me want to throw things!

In my writer’s group last night we went off-topic, and someone mentioned that after they outlined, the story flew out of their fingers because they knew exactly where every scene was going.  They are probably right.  There is a “bridge” that I need and I am not sure how my character will get there. That is usually the fun part for me… finding out.  The problem is I don’t have the luxury of the time to figure that out while I am writing a scene that might end up getting deleted.  Deadline, remember?

What fun is that?

Erggghhhhhh!

Going back to the outline, now.  I’ll let you know how I do.