Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – The Dreaded Editing Process

December 2, 2021
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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

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:

  1. Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
  2. Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. 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 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.

What is your editing process like?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Surviving and Thriving in NaNoWriMo

November 25, 2021
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As we enter the last week of NaNoWriMo, I thought I would share my experience of the challenge and share some tips.

National Novel Writing month is a crazy experience, whether it is your first attempt or one of many. We all tend to become rather manic as we write to our daily goal of 1667 words (or more if possible). I remember my first NaNoWriMo was back in 2009. At the time my writing experience was minimal, and my longest piece of writing was maybe three paragraphs long, substantially less than fifty thousand words.

The panic I felt at the mind-blowing word count and the deadline date made me completely obsessed. I would race home from work to write, threw the easiest meals together for my family and ignored household chores, for the most part. This was my focus. Now, after twelve years of the challenge, I have become more relaxed knowing I am capable of writing at least 1667 words in an evening. My average daily word count fluctuates between 1700 and 1900 words this year. That is not to say I do not experience some anxiety; I just know how to handle the challenge better now. As with everything – practice makes perfect, or in this case ‘bum in seat’ makes an achievable word count.

Here are a few tips I found worked for me:

  1. Cultivate your story idea before NaNo starts. It may be a character, a location or even a whole scene that propels you into the story.
  2. Jot down notes for plot, character names & personalities, anything that you see being included in your narrative.
  3. Find a time and a quiet place to write that works for you and your family. Designate a time, if that helps.
  4. Don’t make excuses – write first then watch TV or scroll social media.
  5. Use unexpected spare/free time to write, even if it’s only a paragraph. Every word counts.
  6. Try writing bursts – time yourself to write a certain number of words in an allocated amount of time.
  7. Aim to write over the daily word count of 1667 this helps you stay ahead. So, any unforeseen circumstances are not so drastic to your end goal.
  8. Let the words flow – leave editing and revision for later.
  9. Use the word count tracker on the website, it helps you stay on goal.
  10. Mark or highlight a sentence if fact checking is required. This stops you going down internet rabbit holes.
  11. Believe in yourself, your story and your success.
  12. Celebrate the smaller victories – hitting a sprint goal, writing a smashing paragraph, learning a new word.
  13. Make sure you rest, exercise and eat.
  14. Enjoy the process of immersing yourself into creating a world of your imagination.
  15. Even if you don’t achieve 50,000 words you have managed to write a fair amount – that is success. Remember this challenge is only the beginning of your narrative’s journey. The editing and revisions come later.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – A Podcast Interview, Itching to Edit & A Writing Retreat

October 7, 2021
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I hope you will be able to enjoy my latest podcast interview with Randy Lacy at Between The Lines. Here: I had a fun time talking story inspiration, books, hobbies, reincarnation and writing. As always I am open to questions, just drop me a line.

Once again thanks to Creative Edge Publicity for arranging this opportunity.

I have been avoiding another edit of book one of my detective trilogy, An Elusive Trail, for a month now. This is not because I have lost interest in it, but so I can ‘distance’ myself from the story a little. This will enable me to process the next editing/revision task better, allowing me to ‘see’ the narrative with fresh eyes. I have been through the draft three times already, but as we all know, there are always some things that are missed. This weekend I will use these ‘fresh eyes’ to do a thorough read through, while on a writing retreat. Unfortunately, this may be one the last retreats of the year – BOO! It all depends on the Albertan weather. So, I will take advantage of the time to write, edit, read and explore new places with Sammie.

I have upcoming Interview dates of 18th October and 6th November – so watch this space!

What are you working on? What is the genre?

Do you have a book launch you would like to share?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Fall is Rumble Time – The Kid’s Book That Is.

September 28, 2021
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With the change to autumn/fall, I begin to think about my little monster, Rumble, and thoughts of Halloween. With the current restrictions, I am unable to hold the annual Rumble’s First Scare colouring contest, which is such a shame. The entries are always so good. As you may (or may not) know this little monster, Rumble, is in his element on All Hallow’s Eve. After all he’s spent all spring and summer in his underground home.

I wanted to create a story about a monster that would not scare children, but in fact, make them love him. The illustrations by Matty McClatchie help with that goal. As you can see he is quite adorable and appeals to children as he is also slimy and has little pets in a bag. When I first published the picture book, I made (with the help of a sewing friend) a plush toy of Rumble for display purposes on my event/sales tables. He was very popular and many children asked if they could take him home. I always told them he was like Tigger – the only one! Several years later, I found online, a company that makes plush toys of your children’s drawings and thought Rumble would be perfect. As you can see the result was very good. Mine on the left, professional on the right. If you are interested this is the link:

You can purchase the book or e-book of Rumble’s First Scare here: It is a perfect gift for younger readers for Halloween or anytime of the year. It can probably dispel monster nightmares too.

As you can imagine I read Stephen King’s latest publication, Billy Summers, in record time. It is not horror, but a tale of a man trying to escape his profession as an assassin and encountering a wealth of people – good and bad – along the way. An unexpected relationship is thrown into the mix and adds to the overall tension and twists and turns in the narrative.

I am now reading: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

What are you currently reading? Can you share your thoughts in it?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Character Interview – Evan from Life in Slake Patch

May 25, 2021
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This is a character interview with Evan from my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch.

1. Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like.) My name is Evan and I live in the male compound, Slake Patch, on the prairie plain. I am a Second, as my eldest brother is the First. As such I am bound to compound duties only, rather than tending to the livestock on the plain. I am twenty-two years old, muscular, blonde with blue eyes and my fellow Slake inhabitants look up to me as a champion wrestler within the patch.

2. What do you like to do in your spare time? I love wrestling and spending time with my best friend, Greg. He and I came to the compound together at the age of six, as is the custom to live with our fathers and other men. We attended lessons together and were paired for chores for some time. Is there something more you would like to do? I would love to escape the compound to ride across the plain, but currently it is not allowed. Our only trip outside the patch is to the central food store in a horse drawn cart.

3. Do you have a favorite color and why? We do not have much color in our lives apart from the designated one for our bunkhouses to identify each working group. I am not particular about colours to be honest, although I love Kate’s long auburn hair.

4. What is your favorite food? Why is it your favorite? A thick piece of steak between two large slices of fresh cornbread is perfect. The softness of the bread soaks up the steak juices. The meat helps build my muscles and strength.

5. What would you say is your biggest quirk? I’m unsure what to say about this, if you ask around you might find the other men find it odd I spend a lot of time with an elder named Jacob. He is my mentor, friend, discoverer of information and more of a father figure than my own.

6. What is it about the antagonist in the novel that irks you the most, and why? Aiden and his Tribe use violence as a way of trying to change our way of life, the order and laws of our society. There is always a more diplomatic means to resolve conflicts. He and his follows also berate young women, which I find abhorrent. Women are to be obeyed and cherished.

7. What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep him/her/it in your life? I am deeply in love with my tryst, Kate, and would lay down my life for her. If it was in my power I would change the once a week visiting rule to spend more time with her.

8. What one thing would you like readers to know about you that may not be spelled out in the book in which you inhabit? That I am open to new ideas as long as they do not harm others. I believe the matriarchy is right to rule the way they do.

9. If you could tell your writer (creator) anything about yourself that might turn the direction of the plot, what would it be? In truth, I altered the plot several times during the creating of my narrative. Some twists to the original were by my suggestions.

10. Do you feel you accomplished what you wanted? Yes, I do. I managed to find solutions to changes that improved our way of life.

Do you have a question you would like to ask Evan? Put it in the comments.

You can read Evan’s story here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07JG1GPP4/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

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