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How I Edit

16 Mar

I edit others work. A lot. A lot, a lot. Did I mention I do edits a lot? No? Well I do. I’ve always loved going over others work, combing through it, making it better.  Helping great writers get even greater. (And in the process it makes me a better writer too) It’s awesome. And so, I thought today I would share how I edit.  I’ll be demonstrating how I crit using an entry from the ‘On Thin Ice’ Flash Fiction Contest’ I hosted back in January.

This piece is by one of my lovely followers. Rae Ann. Who asked me to critique her piece for her, and was lovely enough to volunteer to be featured in this post. You can find her blog  HERE.

The first thing I do when reading a manuscript is do line edits. Oh how I LOVE LINE EDITS! (Some of you call them track changes). The thing is, I don’t like doing just global editing. Sure global editing is important, but if I can’t get all the little nuances out-of-the-way how can I focus? So, I go in and do cross outs, (add a comma or period here and there), but mostly, as I go I make comments about mood, character, and what I’m feeling (or worse, not feeling) while reading here is a photo of Rae Ann’s piece all marked up (you can select the photo for a zoom in):

To get a better look at what my line edits look like i’ll give you some specific examples:

EX 1:

Like pins and needles, it stabbed, pricked and pierced * into my  feet. it seared through my soles and to the nerves,** slowly but mercilessly ***scorching my spine, burning into every fiber of my body.

And this is what I said about my edits in the comments:

*I would use only one of these. Using all of them adds a lot of bulk to the sentence that it doesn’t need.

**If your saying that it’s making her feet prickle/stab/ etc. then they are obviously tender. I would recommend cutting this.

***I would choice either slowly or mercilessly both of them make the sentence sound too clunky in my opinion.

EX 2:

My muscles squealed with a throbbing ache* as I forced myself **to take a few more steps. The cottage swam shakily into view, and I blinked my eyes a few times to make sure that it was still there.

I chose this one because it gives a good example of how I add in writerly tid-bits. I always feel like I should put one of those cheesy “tips” columns in like they do in how-to books when I write something like this. These are the corresponding comments:

*Not sure how I feel about this sentence. I would cut or change it. It reads awkwardly to me.

** Sorry… freaked for a minute there, but you want to stay away from using as if at all possible. As it stutters the ‘time stream’ that I was talking about earlier. As, is… well, how do I explain this?

As says that your character is doing something at the same time as they are doing something else, usually this isn’t good to put in because it causes the reader to have to add something to their mental image, instead of naturally flowing into the next sentence… does that make sense? I hope so… I’m not very good at explaining this am I?\

Anyway, after I do line edits/track changes, I always do an ‘Overview’ letter. If I’m doing a novel edit I sometimes do this for each chapter. Basically this is where I try to lay out the big picture issues and high points of the novel/story. This needs work, but this is awesome, kind of thing.  Here is what Rae Ann’s overview letter looked like. It was rather short since I only had four pages to edit.

I guess that’s about it.

How do you all do edits? Any tips?


NaNo: Reflecting on Collaborating

21 Nov

Yesterday, Carolyn and I had a brainstorm session. For those of you don’t know Carolyn is my fabulous critique partner/friend/co-author of my NaNo novel this year. Any-who, we decided this past week that our NaNo novel (That which we are referring to as ABLAZE) needed some serious back story/plotting help and so we drove over to our local library. Which by the way has awesome coffee seating area on the second floor. With extremely comfy very, java/hipster-esque chairs.

Carolyn & I looking a bit too smiley

And can I just say that writing a novel with one of your best friends is possibly one of the FUNNEST EXPERIENCES I’VE EVER HAD! Seriously, Carolyn and I are very much on the same page. Plotting with another person (one with awesome tastes in books) is a lot like discussing an insanely awesome already written book.

I swear to you there were ideas flying left and right. As soon as I had something to say, she had another thing to add-on or, another way of looking at it that was just as amazing (if not more so). And… yeah I’d like to think it went both ways. Haha!

I was really nervous about doing a collaboration novel, just because I was scared that I would lose control. Or that the novel would turn into something I didn’t like, or I didn’t feel like it was something I would pick myself. And some of the stuff isn’t. It isn’t stuff I would have thought of. But it’s good. It’s damn good! *pardon my french* But, the thing is, is that this novel is my project, it is both of us. Honestly, I think a lot of what has made this work out so far is that Carolyn and I have known each other all our lives, (so we are kind of in sync) and also that we have very similar tastes in books, and music.  I guess you could say that blending our two styles, and ideas was a lot easier because of that.

I really think that collaborating (thus far) has been a really positive experience for me as a writer. I have always liked bouncing my ideas off others, and being able to have constant streams of ideas going in and out, has really allowed me to focus on the structure of my writing, and less on the details.

It seems a lot easier for me to talk through my ideas first, and yesterday at the library we were just ON FIRE. (haha you know what I’m talking about Carolyn 🙂) I’m feeling really good about our novel, even if we are a little behind on word count, I definitely think we’ll finish up this draft and cont’ to work on it in the future.

I just wanted to let you all know what was going on. How is NaNo, or just November treating you all?

Will We Work?- Critique Relationships

16 Nov

Some people are just difficult. There is no way of getting around it.Through out our lives, we all have to work with people we’d rather push into the mall fountain, but fortunately that isn’t so with Critique Relationships. You have complete control over who you work with, how the relationship will go, and for how long.

But, how do you know if you should work with a writer? How do you know if it will be a good match for you?

That is what we’ll be addressing here.

You see, I’ve critiqued quite a few manuscripts thus far in my life (a very hefty volume if you compare it to my age), and I’ve discovered a couple of ways to avoid getting involved with writers who you’d rather see all soggy in some seriously penny tainted water.

My friend Gabby over at her amazing BLOG (that you should go check out if you have not yet!) had some issues with this recently and it got me thinking that I should share what I know, and so here it is.

First off, let me say that critique relationships are a lot like friend relationships in person. You are not going to become friends with someone you know nothing about, so before you consider critiquing someones work, check them out. Follow their blog, send some emails, talk on Skype. develop a base relationship! This will let you know if your personalities are compatible. Even though, critiquing someones work doesn’t require you to be E-harmony soul mates, it does require a certain level of common ground. After all, it’s a lot easier to take criticism from someone you like than from someone you know nothing about, or worse, don’t like at all. This makes the relationship flow a lot smoother both ways. They like you, you like them!

So, you are acquainted , great! The next step is to look at their writing. ask for the synopsis of their novel that you’ll be looking at. Not only will the actual writing tell you a lot about the person’s skill level, and show you if they know their way around a keyboard,(i.e. if they have issues with grammar, or just generally don’t have a grip on craft). but it will tell you a lot about the person themselves.

If the person acts professional, and sends the email promptly with a polite response, you can pretty much assume that the rest of the critique relationship will be a happy professional experience. professionalism is definitely something you want to look for in a person you’ll be critiquing, as these people will be the ones who take criticism well, and try to apply it as best they can instead of making excuses, and generally being un-accepting of any critique you give.

What i’m saying is that if you get an email that looks like this:


Im supr exxcited to do this myy novel is awesome and here is the synopsis it be in the attach file up thr. I hpe you like it lotzz!



Okay, you now have their synopsis, and you are feeling pretty good. You like the premise, and the person seems professional and nice.By this point, if red lights are going to be flashing they would, but I have one more thing I do before fully committing to the relationship. I have them send me their, novel, but tell them that I will send them the first edited chapter within in 2-7 days, and that they can look over it. If there are any issues, and things just aren’t working, I make it clear that we can end the relationship there, no hard feelings. This not only gives you a chance to look over what you will actually be working with, but it also gives the author a chance to give you a pass/fail and helps them to feel comfortable with you working on their piece.

These are just my tips for working with others. Anybody have critique relationship troubles before? Have any tips that have helped you out?

PS: Sister’s Red review should be up by tomorrow night.

NaNo 3 Tips on Day 3

3 Nov

NaNo has begun, and it’s been going great for me 🙂 As you all know I’m doing a collaboration novel with my critique partner Carolyn (something I’ve never even dreamed of attempting) and am loving it!

we’ve set it up so that we each do a chapter/section every other day (meeting the word count) and then send it back to the other via email. It’s working out really well, and having somebody else depending on your pages forces you to write!

Sadly not everybody has that to motivate them to write and so for you single NaNo goers I’ve decided to hand out my top three NaNo tips:

1) Get ahead on your word count. No, seriously, don’t look at me like I have three heads. I realize you already have to write over 1,600 words a day. What I recommend is just writing an extra two or three hundred words. I know that doesn’t seem like much but after a few days those will add up, so if you miss a day you won’t be behind. look at it this way, if you write an extra three hundred words for the first week that gives you an extra 2,100 words! That leaves you getting done a day and hale early, do that every day and you could be done four even five days early!

2) Don’t skip writing. Just because you apply point number one, and happen to have an extra 4,000 words in week two does NOT mean you can skip a day. This is the fastest way to lose NaNo. Believe me, I know. If you decide to take a break one day, you will give yourself a second day. NaNo is all about consistancy. Don’t get yourself out of that mind set, or you will most likely be doomed to fail. (I know what your thinking…. ‘she has to be fun at parties‘)

3)Delete your Internet short cut. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying ‘there’s many a slip twixt the cup and lip’. Well, during NaNo it is more like, ‘there  is many a web page between You and WORD’. It’s easy to just click on your browser when booting up the computer to start writing. A fleeting whim to Google, or check your email will often pass your mind when things get sticky in Microsoft, and that page is looking awful, or when you just don’t want to write. Deleting your browser shortcut makes it harder to answer that impulse. If you delete  the shortcut you have to go through the start menu and programs just to boot up the internet. It will seem much less appealing then. I SWEAR it will not kill you to do this! It’s a small thing, but you will get a lot more done. And, you can always go back after November.

Those were my tips for the day! How is November (NaNo or not going for you all?)

Don’t Deliver Half-Baked Pizza

19 Sep

When your writing a novel its easy to get ahead of yourself. Especially when you have eager betas, and friends. People who want to read said novel. But, you don’t want to give them a half baked pizza to look over.

What am I saying here? I’m saying that your novel needs to be done to your complete satisfaction before you hand it over to betPizzaas. You don’t hand it over to betas because you don’t want to write another draft, or because they’re begging to read draft three instead of waiting for draft four. Just like you don’t deliver a half baked pizza because the customer is hungry or because your too lazy to finish making it.

The Pizza has to be finished. You only want to hand it over to friends/betas when you are completely sure that you have done all you personally can do to make it better. Even if that means breaking a few promises.

I for instance have been promising “The Shadows That Fell” to a few betas by December, but if I’m not happy with the manuscript in December (0r happy enough to not redraft without feedback) then the manuscript simply won’t be sent out.

I know that not sending it our will surely disappoint someone, but its better than them be disappointed by the actual writing. You want your betas to say “hey I had to wait a little while longer, but man that was good!” rather than “Gosh it was on time, but that was about all it had going for it!”

In other words don’t half bake manuscripts for your betas!

The “Surprise Baby”

29 May

Just finished my bit of writing on BTE for today. Got over 1600 words done in the last hour, so not feeling too bad. Though, I’m slowly realizing that it needs so much fine tuning its crazy. Actually, I think it just needs to be totally pitched, which it will be by the way, there is no questioning that.

I think that the rewrite will be 20x better though. Right now the whole thing is nothing like what draft two will look like. So many scenes are being scrapped, characters are being taken out, names are changing, the tech of the world is getting totally rewired (haha pun intended), and the whole draft is getting, like I said, scraped and rewritten.

I just wrote a scene, that I’m thinking I’ll pitch anyway, but my first drafts are more like experiments than actual drafts. I mostly end up with failure, but it leads to success later, and there are a few salvageable bits here and there.

I’m really just trying to ride out this week with some serious elbow grease. I MUST RESIST EDITING! Or, that is what I keep telling myself. I know if I don’t draft one will not get done this week, and that is the goal. One I think is very definitely finishable if only I put my mind to it.

The real thing I’m looking forward to is starting CARVE! eeeeepppp. I have most of it plotted out in my head, a lot more than I did with BTE, which was a NANOWRIMO “brilliant inspiration” type idea.

I figure BTE is like the “surprise baby” you get (AKA the “oopps but I love it anyway”one) and CARVE will be the planned baby (AKA the “i’ve been waiting for you forever one”)

If my metaphor freaks you out I recommend you stop reading my blog now, as I will only get weirder when editing comes around… A LOT weirder.

Anyway, I’ll be putting my heart and soul into finishing that this week. Carrie (my awesome crit partner)is coming over tomorrow so I’m sure I’ll have some craziness to report tomorrow.

How are your projects going? Anybody have a “surprise baby” project? 😀

CoFA Countdown : Top 24 Till Midnight

15 Apr

Hey everyone back from Atlanta with a surprise my entry along with Carolyns, and Tessas, ALL made the top 24 entries for Wovenstrands CoFA costume contest! Out of over 6,020 entry’s we made the top 24! Snap, I’m all excited now.

 ALL THREE too?! Can you belive that?  I sure can’t. If you want to look at Carolyn’s, Tessa’s, and My entry you can see them HERE. At my CoFA Entry Post.

If you want to see the other 24 top picks you can see them HERE on woven strands blog.

The winner will be revealed tonight at Midnight (ominous right?) So be there or be square. Even though I hope I win I think everyone did great, and I think we all deserve a prize!

I’d like to thank WovenStrands for hosting the contest!