Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Editing – A Necessary Chore

May 14, 2019
mandyevebarnett


Normal programming will continue with an author interview. Slight hiccup with the interview being completed. In the meantime I am re-posting this. It is rather apt as I am currently in the midst of editing a sequel myself and also involved with a small NaNoWriMo editing group where five authors and I are going through each other’s manuscripts. Several chapters a month works well for our process.

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As writers we love to be immersed in our own creations -weaving plots, planning and following story arcs, creating character profiles as well as their trials and tribulations. Our minds are full of questions : What happens next? How would my character react? Is that plausible or believable? Can I improve on that scene? Have I shown not told? Is there too much exposition? Would the reader have enough description to envisage the scene?

Freytags_pyramid_svgGraph – speedofcreativity.com

All these questions need to be answered but not when we are writing the first draft. This initial phase is the most enjoyable part of creating a story. Remember to give your inner editor time off enabling you to create freely and get the basic story line written. Once you have finished, the ‘real’ work starts. Continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming. Where should you start?

Once the story is complete put it to one side and go onto new projects. Leave it for a month or more (I’ve left two projects for nearly 6 months). When you go back to re-read you have fresh eyes giving you new insights. Your revision process may be to correct everything above as you read each page or you could concentrate on one item at a time, re-reading each time giving you a particular focus. This second method does lean itself to sharpening the process as you are not trying to ‘spot’ numerous revision types at the same time. With your editing done let your favored readers have it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any  errors they may find. No matter how many times you or your beta readers go through the manuscript there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. How do you make your manuscript as good as it can be?

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A professional editor – if you can afford one – is a good investment. However, one trick that may work for you in finding those elusive errors is to read the book from back to front page by page. Another is to read it out aloud to yourself or a understanding friend (a glass or two of wine helps with this one!) A missed word is very obvious with this technique.

When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene.  Deleting these is hard – it is your creation and your words were written through hard work. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed.  They are a writer’s jetsam so to speak, which is my link to today’s calendar word. I had to squeeze it in somewhere!

These ejected words from our ‘ship’ may float on our hard drives or become washed up in a document folder but wherever they end up they are part of our creative soul and never truly lost. We may pick them up from the shore in the future to use in another piece of writing or they may stay hidden in the depths of our files. No matter which scenario occurs, they are born of you and precious all the same.

As writers we endeavor to produce the very best manuscript or article we can and that is why we endure the editing process. Without this method of correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.

I wish you fortitude in your process to make your work excel and delight your readers.

What is your editing process like?

 

Friday Fun for Writers, Authors & Readers…

January 27, 2017
mandyevebarnett


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I would love these emotions!bookworm-emotions

Finding a way to engage the technologically imprisoned youth.

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Jokes:  How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to screw the bulb almost all the way in, and one to give it a surprising twist at the end.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
– Stephen King

If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.
– Kingsley Amis

Beware of Being Monotonous…

February 25, 2013
mandyevebarnett


My morning was certainly not humdrum. I had to take my daughter for surgery so we were out of the house by 5.15 am – good grief! Everything went really well and now she is home and comfy with a doting mother. I will file away the experience it may help with a story sometime.

Humdrum – definition: monotonous, dull.

Paper- WritingWhen an idea for a story strikes we struggle to keep up with the twists and turns our mind creates. We write or type furiously so we can capture it all. This first draft is primarily getting the words onto the page and character development, word usage, grammar, even spelling often go by the wayside. It is when we start revising that we notice particular words repeating, mediocre descriptions and continuity errors. It might be a humdrum start but the foundation of the story has been built. Now we can begin to embellish and elaborate, delete repetitive words, hone our characters personalities and create tension. Enticing our reader onto the next page is key for any novel.

To ensure our writing isn’t humdrum there are ways to strengthen our work. Here are a few tips, but by no means an exhaustive list.

1. Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. 2. Avoid repeating a word in the same sentence and especially if the word has a ‘double’ meaning. 3. Try to omit words such as ‘go’, ‘went’, ‘that’, ‘very’ – most sentences do not require them! 4. Avoid clichés.

The best way to ensure your writing is clear, concise and enthralling is to expand your vocabulary. Word games, actively learning new words, and using a dictionary and thesaurus are all effective ways to accomplish this.

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We all have words that we over use, mostly unconsciously but once we begin revisions they are revealed – well hopefully. I have found some internet sites that  you can paste a section of your work into and it will highlight them. This is a useful exercise for any writer.

Try one for yourself – http://prowritingaid.com/Free-Editing-Software.aspx#.USrPE0BrbIU

A creatively paced, descriptive and intriguing story is our goal – fight the humdrum and excite your reader.

Inept – now there’s a word that resonates…

January 23, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Inept – Definition: 1) not suited for the occasion: inappropriate 2) lacking in skill or ability: incompetent

No matter at which point we are in our writing journeys, feelings of being inept plaque us. We can all make a long list of insecurities and worries about our style, skill level and current Work in Progress. My question is – if we didn’t have these uncertainties would we be a ‘better’ writer or not?

Striving for perfection can easily become an obsession and our work will suffer for it. There is a fine balance between a polished piece of work and a ‘ruined’ one. On the other hand expecting an agent or publisher to over-look editing and grammatical errors because we feel our manuscript is unique is a major flaw. Reading as a professional would, is the key, although this in itself is a difficult task after spending months if not years creating our story. We are engaged with the characters and their conflicts and struggles. They have become ‘real’ to us and the story runs in our minds rather than on the page. This is the crux of the problem – are we actually reading the words or playing out the story?

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The Internet is full of writing tips as we all know but some recurring ones on tightening up a manuscript have commonalities.

  1. Leave the manuscript unread for a period of time.
  2. Read the story from back to front – chapter by chapter.
  3. Focus on one aspect of editing at a time. i.e. grammar, plot lines etc. (I’ve even heard of one author printing her manuscripts on different colored paper for each revision!)
  4. Have other people read it and critique (honestly).
  5. Send a section to a professional editor.
  6. Take advantage of a local Writer in Residence for feedback.
  7. Read a section out loud to your writer’s circle and ask for comments.

Author Reading

However, feelings of being inept are not just limited to our written work. Are you confident in public speaking? It is one thing reading to a group of people you know but what about in the public domain? Author readings are a great way to present your work and create interest in your stories.

  1. Practice the piece you are going to read in front of a mirror.
  2. Take care in your selection of clothing, depending on the venue and audience age.
  3. Choose a section or chapter with lots of action or intrigue.
  4. Remember to look up at your audience and gesticulate.
  5. Project your voice and don’t mumble.
  6. Don’t rush – this is the hardest!
  7. Be prepared to answer questions at the end.

The above tips work well for live interviews as well, either on radio or television. You may have some flexibility with these if they are not ‘live’ and can re-take the whole interview or a part of it.

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Social media is another avenue of uncertainty for many writers and authors. Cherishing your work in a desk drawer is great but if you are serious about releasing it into the public domain you need to invest some time into this resource.

  1. Research what type of social media, authors in the same genre are using.
  2. Carefully investigate the multitude of options available. There is not a ‘one fits all’.
  3.  Pick the sites that best suit your level of commitment. (How much time you are willingly to put into them as it can take over your life if you let it!)
  4. A blog is a useful tool to increase your profile. Decide on what theme, style, subject and frequency you can fulfill.
  5. Link to similar genre writers on web sites such as Twitter.
  6. Utilize your personal sites to connect to groups.
  7. Utilize ‘sharing’ sites, such as Networked Blogs and options on other web sites. i.e. WordPress.com links to face book, twitter and Google +

Conquer your feelings of ineptitude with your ‘writing’ support system, whatever that entails. Whether a writing circle, close friends or family that encourage you or virtual supporters – reach out – you’ll be surprised. Remember to offer support back too – it is not only very rewarding but expands your writing ‘community’.

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