Novel Update: Editing

“The first draft of anything is shit.”
-Ernest Hemingway

It’s been a while since I last updated you on the progress of my first novel. I spent the last few weeks rewriting and editing my full manuscript on my computer and I’m happy to say that I finally finished that part of the editing process this weekend.

The next step is printing the whole manuscript and reading it over again, this time on paper. It’s amazing to see what we catch from looking at printed copies that we may have missed on the computer.

Here’s a summary of my editing process:
Edit on screen (computer)
Edit off screen (on paper)
Apply necessary changes
Send manuscript to Beta Readers
Apply necessary changes based on feedback
Edit on screen and off screen
Send manuscript to proofreader and editor
Apply necessary changes
Edit on screen and off screen

I am aiming to finish the whole editing process by October.

Although editing can be time consuming, it’s an important part of the process and should not be skipped or taken lightly. As a soon-to-be self-published author, it’s my responsibility to deliver my book in a professional manner. I want my future readers to enjoy the story I have written and not be distracted by typos and other careless mistakes.

What’s your editing process?

30-Minute Flash Fiction Exercise

They say if you want to be a writer, you need to write every day. I do my best to work on my manuscript(s) every day and blog as often as I can, but because I feel like I need to push myself a little more, I have decided to give flash fiction a try.

30-Minute Flash Fiction Exercise
I’d like to start a new writing exercise on my blog, and I would love it if you could join me. As often as I can, I will post a title for a flash fiction we could all use. If you’d like to participate, simply write a 100-word flash fiction and post it on the comments portion of my 30-Minute Flash Fiction post. Although flash fiction can sometimes go up to 1,000 words, for this exercise, I’d like to stick to only 100 words.

How it works:
I will post a title for our exercise at least once a week. When you’re ready to write, challenge yourself and write your story in 30 minutes or less. It will be interesting to read what we end up writing, given the limited amount of time and the limited number of words. I believe this exercise will help us hone our writing skills and allow us to give each other feedback.

For today, the title will be:
3 a.m. 

My version:

The phone rings.
“Hello,” I answer with my eyes closed.
“It’s Matt.”
My eyes peel open. I glance at the clock.
“What are you doing calling me this late?”
“I need to see you.” His voice sounds desperate.
“What do you mean?”
“I need to see you, Sarah.”
“Not a good idea,” I reply.
“It never is.”
My heart starts racing.
“I’m across the street, at the 24-hour diner,” he says.
“Give me five minutes,” I whisper and hang up.
I stare into the dark.
“Who was that?” Ben turns to face me.
I crawl under the sheets.
“No one.”

 

I look forward to reading your flash fiction. 🙂

Writing Tip #12: Synonyms for Walk

While editing my manuscript, I noticed that I used the word “walk” numerous times. I didn’t want to change what my protagonist was doing because there was a reason why she was walking. So, instead of changing the action, I found other ways of saying, “walk”.

If you have the same problem, here is a list of synonyms for “walk”.

1. Amble: to walk leisurely
2. Bounce: to walk energetically
3. Clump: to walk clumsily
4. Hike: to go on an extended walk for pleasure or exercise
5. Hobble: to walk unsteadily
6. Limp: to walk lamely, favoring one leg
7. March: to walk rhythmically alone or in a group
8. Pace: to walk nervously back and forth
9. Roam: to wander around
10. Stroll: to walk in a leisurely pace

For more synonyms for “walk”, check out the link below:
Walk

Writing tip #11: Read a hard copy of your manuscript

I love reading and editing my manuscript on my computer. I can edit as I go along without having to go back to it later. Problem is, even after reading and editing my manuscript a dozen times onscreen, I could still miss typos, bad breaks, and other mistakes.

Just like reading your manuscript out loud, there is something helpful about editing your work by reading a hard copy of your manuscript. Seeing what you wrote on paper helps you see mistakes that you might have missed onscreen.

To save on trees, I only do this exercise after I’ve edited quite a bit onscreen. 😉

If you haven’t tried reading your manuscript on paper, try it.

Writing Tip #9: Use Active Voice

Active voice: The subject performs the action.
Passive voice: The target of the action becomes the subject.

For example:
Active: Lydia grabbed the phone.
Passive: The phone was grabbed by Lydia.

Using the active voice strengthens your sentences and makes them punchier. You get your point across clearly and effectively, allowing your story to flow better

Using the passive voice weakens your sentences and your story.

Of course there are some instances where the passive voice may also work. For example, if you’re writing a mystery novel and you’d like to be mysterious, the passive voice may work to your advantage.

For example:
Active: Someone stole the suitcase.
Passive: The suitcase was stolen.

Other than that, I say, stay active.

Who is Your Editor?

I am currently editing my manuscript (for the 100th time), but would also like to have a professional editor look at it. I was wondering if anyone has an editor or an editing service they love and would like to recommend. And if you don’t mind me asking (this part is optional), can you give me a ballpark figure of how much they charge? Please share some positive experiences you’ve had with them too.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Why We Don’t Give Up

So you’ve sent out dozens of query letters, sent out partials, received rejection letters, attended writers conferences, and still—no representation. Do you stop trying? 

I met a writer at a conference last year that told me he’s been attending the same conference for years, trying to sell his book idea to agents and editors and have not succeeded. It’s not an easy task and yet he still keeps trying.

There are many possible reasons as to why he hasn’t gotten signed. He could have an excellent story, but his query letter is poor. Or have a great story, but not a sellable one. Or have a great plot, but it’s not well written, or not edited, or he’s been pitching to the wrong agents and editors or his book is simply not ready, or we can go on speculating.

The truth is, we don’t know why he hasn’t gotten signed. But this goes for a lot of us who have patiently held on to our manuscripts for weeks, months, or even years, and have sent out queries and prayed for the perfect agent to give us that phone call that will change our lives forever and sign us and make us millionaires or best sellers, or whatever else we dream of being. In the end, we are writers who want to get published. We want our stories to make it, just like the rest of them.

But how long are we willing to wait…

Before we move on and decide that maybe the manuscript we have now is not meant to be our first book?
Before we move on and write our next story?
Before we say that maybe we don’t want to wait for a Literary Agent to dictate when we will be published authors.
Before we say that our story is good and that maybe self-publishing is the way to go.
Before we say that this is our dream, therefore it is up to us to make it real.
Before we give up.

But you see, we don’t give up. Our stories exist because we were called to write them. Something, somewhere gave us the idea and it was our job to write it down. And we did. There is a reason for that, and that’s why we are here still trying.

The thought of landing a Literary Agent can sometimes be frustrating and discouraging. The thought of self-publishing can be daunting and overwhelming, so what do we do? The reality is, we wrote a book. A book we believe in, and we want it published someday, somehow, somewhere.

And now, we must ask ourselves:
Do we want to be traditionally published or do we want to self-publish?
Do we want to control our destiny or wait for a star to fall?

I say we continue to research, network, educate ourselves, and know our options.

And while we wait to see our name in lights…we keep writing.

Writing Tip #4: How to Use Dialogue Tags

Although it may seem that “said” is the most boring and overused dialogue tag, it is actually the most acceptable. Using too many creative dialogue tags like “snarled, groaned, etc.,” can distract the reader from the actual dialogue.

Remember to show, not tell.
Don’t tell the reader how to read your dialogue by using too many creative dialogue tags, instead show them.

The link below has some good examples on this, and on how to avoid the “Creative Dialogue Tag Syndrome”: http://users.wirefire.com/tritt/tip4.html

Here is a helpful post on “Use and Abuse of Dialogue Tags”:
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/said.shtml

I think creative dialogue tags are acceptable in certain cases. The key is to know when and how to use them.

Writing Tip #3: Want a stronger manuscript? Watch out for overused words.

A few days ago, I posted a tip about not overusing the word “suddenly”.

But aside from “suddenly”, we all know that there are plenty of other words we can overuse and not even notice.

So out of curiosity, I googled “overused words”, hoping to get a list I can look at, instead I got links to websites with editing tools that can help you search for overused words and also catch other mistakes. Woohooh!

If you’re in the middle of editing your manuscript, I suggest you check out the links below.

Note: I’ve only tried Pro Writing Aid, and so far, it’s pretty helpful.

http://www.prowritingaid.com/analyse.htm?

http://www.autocrit.com/cs-cart/pricing.php

http://www.christophermpark.com/manalyzer.php

If you want more tips on overused words, here is a link to author, Terry Odell’s blog:

http://terryodell.blogspot.com/2011/02/over-and-over-and-overused-words.html

Yes, I know I’ve overused the words overuse/overused/overusing on this post. But I’m trying to make a point. 😉

Writing Tip #2: Read Your Manuscript Out Loud

If you haven’t already, try reading your manuscript out loud. It’s amazing how words sound different when read out loud.

I usually read my manuscript out loud and edit as I go along, but you can also have someone else read it to you. Hearing your words will help you notice things you normally wouldn’t—good and bad. Take notes and really pay attention to word choice, dialogues, descriptions, plots, subplots, and pacing. It may also be easier to catch overused words.

Here’s another idea: Read it out loud and record your voice.
Staring at the same words over and over can strain your eyes, making it easier to miss things. Try reading a chapter out loud and record it. Now you can listen to it multiple times, while taking notes. Stay away from any distractions and sit quietly with your notepad and your headphones. Maybe even close your eyes. You may be surprised at what you’ll find.

Remember: Reading your manuscript out loud will also help you prepare for future book readings.