As many of you know I am in the midst of editing and revising two projects. Yes, I’m mad! The first is the prequel to my fantasy series, Malgraf’s Dawning. It is currently being beta-read and revisions are coming back to me chapter by chapter. The other is a western romance manuscript, Willow Tree Tears, that until recently, had languished in my ‘to do’ folder for quite some time.
As authors and writers, we have to refine, revise and rewrite our manuscripts to ensure they are ready to submit. As we all know though, some will slip through the cracks – we have all read books and noticed slip-ups in every book we read. So let’s look at the editing process:
Editing encompasses several elements in order to achieve a well-polished manuscript for submission. Editing includes among other things, continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.
Where should you start?
Instead of plunging directly back into a first draft, let it sit for a while. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the world and the characters you created. Ideally, leave it for three to six months, depending on any deadlines you have, of course. This will allow you to ‘see; it with fresh eyes.
When you go back to re-read there will be new insights. Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements mentioned above, concentrate on one item at a time.
Limit each read through to a specific task.
When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt, or a continuity slip up. Once this is done it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.
Here are a couple of tricks that can help you edit more effectively:
Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.
Go through the manuscript correcting one area at a time, instead of everything, which can become overwhelming. Such as spelling, or continuity.
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 can be hard. 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. A writer’s jetsam so to speak. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if at some point in the future you decide to use them in a sequel!
Without 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.
It feels good to be back in the writing saddle again after a break after National Novel Writing Month and the Christmas & New Year’s celebrations. Leaving a manuscript for a while helps refresh our brains (and Muse). Obviously, we do not need to return to the frantic writing style of November, thank goodness! With a sizable word count from the challenge, we can now relax back into the story.
There are a couple of options we can take. Firstly, to continue where we left off or to go back to read the text and make changes or plunge into editing. We all have a specific target for our NaNoWriMo manuscripts. Some will be filed way for another time, others completed before the editing process, while others may be subject to a full revision. Whichever, method you use, it is always a personal choice once we see the work of November.
My second book in my detective trilogy – The Tainted Search, took an unexpected twist during November, so I am keen to follow the story line to see where it takes me and my characters. I did know one of the characters was the cause of the procedural mistake, but until NaNoWriMo not the method of how he was found out and by whom. It has created an unlikely alliance.
What are you doing with your NaNoWriMo manuscript?
It may be a day late but I hope you enjoy this Halloween themed story. I wrote it 3 April 2011, when my writing career was starting.
A Glimpse Through a Window
It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.
Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window. Instinct made her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.
“Hello, who are you?”
The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.
“Come follow – you will find.”
“Find what, where are we going?”
Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms. The dark lady stops in the center of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.
“Write its story, Janice and release me.”
“Release you – I don’t understand?”
“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”
“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”
“You know my story it is deep within you.”
Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?
A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.
Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.
During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.
Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.
Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and revelled in the adulation.
As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.
The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.
Most of my writing for the next couple of months is going to be my freelance project – I have to keep to the deadline! If my brain needs refreshing I will return to my YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria, I have maybe 2-3 chapters to complete now. Then I can send the whole manuscript to my illustrator with ideas for the chapter header images.
What projects do you have planned for the winter months?
I am reading this novel by a young local author. She has created her voice and a wonderful cast of characters. Review to follow.
Writing Tips: Hashtags for writers.
#amwriting: Commonly used by writers to indicate they’re generating pages.
#amediting : a writer is going through his or her pages, revising.
#writingtip or #writetip Writing coaches, editors, and others whose livelihoods depend on authors will offer up their tweety pearls of wisdom, marked by these hashtags.
#writingprompt This hashtag is used when writing coaches give a suggestion about what to write, an idea to get the writer going and help to stimulate the flow of the pen on the page.
And good luck to all who are participating this year.
#nanowrimo National Novel Writing Month (November) helps create solidarity among those toiling on their magnum opuses
#book #novel #nonfiction #fiction #paperbacks #short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads #litfic (for literary fiction) #histfic and #histnovel (used for historical fiction) #womensfiction #scifi or #science #fiction #romance #paranormal #crime #suspense #kidlit #cookbooks
My main concentration over the past week and into this week has been my ghost writing project. Fueled with ‘technical jargon’ from my client, I have been incorporating it into the story. The characters are taking shape and after this evening, I will send the revisions ready for our meeting on Thursday. With all narrative’s, be they creative or non-fiction, there has to be a ‘voice’ present. My main character is clear to me and the supporting characters interactions with them is ensuring an engaging story.
I will get back to my YA story in time but need to focus on freelance work for now. I am still undecided on which ‘pending’ novel to tackle next. Each one has its own unique qualities. The Giving Thief – a suspense/coming of age, Willow Tree Tears – a western romance and Life in Slake Patch – a speculative fiction. Logically I should complete Slake Patch, as it is the oldest manuscript and has been rewritten and edited too many times to mention. But with the success of The Twesome Loop – romance with a reincarnation twist – should I follow up with another romance?
What are your thoughts? Which one would you tackle?
Believable and well formed characters, a great plot with lots of tension even after the criminal is revealed and beyond. A real page turner with a climax that keeps you reading in trepidation. If you like detective stories this is one for you.
Currently reading and enjoying this:
Get your characters talking
Writers are observers and listeners. This trait is essential for creating fictional characters. The use of accents, verbal habits and choice of words will enhance the exchange of dialogue within the narrative thus bringing the characters to life. The reader should be able to identify the particular character through their ‘voice’.
Only have one book out and actually thought the ending might need to be embellished more. However, all 4 Betas found it satisfying…so it stayed. Saved me a ton of revision.
I only changed one ending because it was thought a cliff hanger to a standalone would not be favored by readers. I added another chapter due to the feedback I received for Life in Slake Patch.
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