New Day


It’s a brand new day! It’s a new month – yay! This is the point when we get a do-over for good intentions. For instance with the blogging. Even the best-laid plans sometimes fail.

Nothing can be done for the days lost in January, it’s now a fresh month. In the past, I have taken all of my unfinished plans from the previous month and started there before tackling the items I had designated for the current month. That is a fast track to being overwhelmed and giving up before you even begin. Trust me, I’ve done it numerous times.

For instance, with my bullet journal, I had an entry on January 22, then nothing. The next day I felt nearly human again after several days of illness is January 30. Last year, I would have felt guilty. I would have made entries for each day in between, trying to squeeze something from the brain to fill in for those days, but this time I didn’t. NOPE. I simply wrote ‘And then . . . ‘ in large bold letters, with a brief journal entry about what was going on, namely, I felt miserable until my daughter took me to urgent care.

Then I made an entry for Monday with the header Moving Forward. That, my friends, in a nutshell, is my entire philosophy for the year.

Moving Forward

I have five large projects on my plate for this month:

  1. An editing job that has a firm deadline. ( I love editing for others. It gives me a chance to read their work, help with something that I am good at and also stimulates my creative brain at the same time. I am always energized to write on my own work after I do some editing for someone else and I have been anxious to  work on this one!)
  2. Rewrites on Roxy Sings the Blues, now that I have a  workable plot. (This is where my 30 index cards will be put to use!)
  3. Passing the 20-hour course for regaining my MLO license. This one has to be completed by February 28th. This is not an arbitrary deadline that I picked,  my job is contingent upon passing this course and getting licensed. I’ve done it before, I can do it again! (This is a tough class. Dry material, legal schtuff, technical mortgage  blah blah blah,  a whole lot of laws and acts and this will require inordinate amounts of caffeine in order to get through the volumes of materials I must relearn. Yes, I am regretting letting my license lapse this past year. Infuriatingly regretting it, to the point of mentally beating myself up over this decision.)
  4. Make progress in my fitness and weight loss plan. (My goal for January was to lose 8 pounds, I only lost 3. I did, however, get my behind out to the track and started back walking at least.  We’ve had mostly mild winter days. I have used a workout video that a friend referred me to during days that are cold, wet,  or the roads are bad. I’m ready to add another lap this week, and  by the end of the month I plan to double the length of that walk.)
  5. Decluttering and updating our house so we can move closer to my husband’s  work. (He has a very long commute now. )

So, of course, this is the perfect time to add something else to the mix, right? Of course, it is!

An author friend has been encouraging me to join this blog hop thing, 52-week thing. I’m already behind the curve, but I can make those up, no problemo! You’ll see the first installment for this on Friday. What’s one more thing, right?

Following the categories that I have already used for blogging,  I will on occasion – I’m not even going to say I will post every Monday because you know as well as I do that I may or may not manage every Monday. Seriously, take a look at my list above! BUT, I guarantee you that at some point throughout this month, I will give updates.

I had already agreed to share tidbits of the WIP, which will cover item number two. I will share a couple of things throughout the month on editing. This is something that I’ve thought about many times,  making editorial posts to address common mistakes that we all make and are things that you can fix yourself.

BUT, I was wondering does anyone even care about my weight loss and fitness journey? Does anyone really care about my home improvements? Renovations? Updates?

IDK –  I had thought about sharing that month’s projects with pictures of before and after, but does anyone really care?  Honestly, I am not doing major renovations like tearing out walls or adding on to the existing floorplan. We are on a tight budget here and most of these changes are simply going to update and make our house saleable.

I’m still undecided on those two points, but if you have an opinion feel free to comment or message me.

I’m heading to my editor’s desk to dive back into this book.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Advertisements

I Did It!


Remember  my last post?  Not the one I shared from Cathy  Brockman’s romance silly, the one before when I said I was still here??

I DID IT!  I finished  not one but two edit jobs and got them off of my desk.

I finished the  mega file course manual exactly 5 minutes ago. (It’s now 12:10 am!)

Now I can focus on . . . oh wait. I have another book to edit. Well darn it! I don’t care.  I’m getting back to making time for MY writing tomorrow. Can’t even think about it right now as I’m so tired I may just sleep on the sofa because I’d have to walk down a long, long hall to get to my bed.

I’ve been jotting down notes, dictating some  things to my Dragon and building a file for  this next book. I’m so excited to start writing it. Who doesn’t love a murder mystery right?

I will get my copies of Valkyrie’s Curse to beta readers by the end of this week,  and then get that one tidied and polished.

Just had to share the exciting news that I FINISHED THE  EDIT JOBS AND THE  MANUAL!

To whomever it was that sent the chocolate and coffee –  I love you!!

Write on my friends, write on! (I’m going to join you  this time!!)

 

 

What’s Your Perspective?


20150416_113437

The Point of View (POV) in Literature is the perspective the author chooses to tell their story. The story unfolds through narration. Narration is the use of a written or spoken commentary to convey a story to the intended audience.

Narration is how the author presents their story, including:

  • Narrative point of view: the perspective through which a story is communicated
  • Narrative voice: the format through which a story is communicated
  • Narrative time: the  story’s time-frame in the past, present, or the future

narrator is a personal character or a non-personal voice that the creator of the story uses to convey information to the audience, particularly about the plot. The narrator may be a voice devised by the author as an anonymous or stand-alone entity; as the author themselves; or as a character within their own story. Narrative point of view or narrative perspective describes the position of the narrator in relation to the story being told. When you are reading a scene in a book and when you are writing a scene, you follow the character almost like a camera on the character’s shoulder or in the character’s head. You are looking at the character performing a specific set of actions or important actions in vivid detail.

There are 3 major kinds of POV. Within these there are variations.  Examples of point of view belong to one of these three major kinds:

  1. First person – this involves the use of either of the two pronouns “I” and “we” and is told from the protagonist’s view.
  2. Second person point of view employs the pronoun “you”. This is the author addressing the audience from their perspective.
  3. Third person point of view uses pronouns like “he”, “she”, “it”, “they” or a name. This is a narrative perspective.

Authors use POV to express effectively what they want to convey to readers.  It is the vehicle to convey  the character’s feelings, emotions, and actions.

First Person

In the first-person narrative, the narration is told from the character’s perspective. The story unfolds through the eyes of the character. This is often used to convey directly the deep internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the character.  The story unfolds using “I”, and “we”.  Most often, the story is told from the protagonist, expressing their views to the reader but not to the other characters. This is often a skewed view, causing the reader to sympathize with the protagonist or other character and rally their cause.  Using first person may show a story within a story, or allow the reader to observe the pursuit of some hidden agenda.

The first-person narrator is always told from one of the characters in the story, whether it is the main character or some other character. In some cases, the narrator gives or withholds information based on their own experience often as it unfolds.

Examples:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz; Dune by Frank Herbert; The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger; I Am Legend by Richard Matheson; The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Talented writers often choose to skew their narratives to the character’s bent, to an arbitrary degree, in keeping with the narrator’s character from just a smidge to extreme depending on the character’s bent. Unstable or malevolent narrators can lie and deliberately mislead the reader.

Novice writers might make the mistake of allowing elements of omniscience into a first-person narrative unintentionally and forgetting the limitations of inherent humanness of a character’s involvement.

Writing in first person is intimate, but it is also confining. You cannot explore the feelings or motivations of other characters; your viewpoint character can only guess what they are. You cannot show anything from another character’s perspective.  The entirety is experienced through the one character’s view, which makes the novice want to do head hopping which is strongly discouraged.

Second-person

The second-person narrative mode, in which the narrator refers to him- or herself as ‘you’ in a way that suggests alienation from the events described, or emotional/ironic distance, is less common in fiction. This is often the voice that I use when writing my blog posts.  I refer to you the reader and tell things from my perspective. My blog being nonfiction, the second person works well.

Examples:

Bright lights, Big City by Jay McInerney; An Italian Affiar by Laura Fraser; To Be or Not to Be: A Choosable-Path Adventure by Ryan North/William Shakespeare; If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Cavino

Third-person

Third-person narration provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative across multiple genres in literature. In the third-person narrative mode, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as “he”, “she”, “it”, or “they”, but never as “I” or “we” or “you.  In third person narrative, the narrator is observing and relaying the tale, often not involved in the story.

The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axis. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axis, with “subjective” describing one or more character’s feelings and thoughts, and “objective” not describing the feelings or thoughts of any characters.

The second axis is the omniscient/limited axis, a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. An omniscient narrator has knowledge of all times, people, places, and events, including all characters’ thoughts. The trick here is the narrator cannot describe  or reveal things unknown to the focal character until they discover them.

Examples:

Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; The Mark of Athena by Rick Riourdan; The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 How Do You Decide?

Think about your characters in terms of Whose story is this? The answer to this question will lead you to your point-of- view character.

If you’re not sure whose story it is, ask the following questions:

  • Who is facing a difficult challenge?
  • Who has a heartbreaking decision to make or a meaningful goal to reach?
  • Who will struggle against obstacles and complications to meet a challenge, make the best decision, or attain a goal?
  • Who will the reader care about and root for?

When you’ve decided whose story you’re telling, that character will usually be your viewpoint character, the one who lets the reader know what’s going on.  If you are still unsure, read and experiment.  Play around with it.  Write a scene using different POV’s. Share them with your writing group.  Discuss which one works better and why.  Sometimes the logical choice doesn’t flow as well as the less obvious choice. Do what works for you and your story.

Do you have a particular style you enjoy reading? Do you prefer to write in a specific pov? Think about your favorite books or authors, what POV did they use?

Write on my friends, write on!

Memorable Characters


color-paper-doll-marisole-BW

Characterization is the concept of creating characters for story. A literary element that is used in dramatic works of fiction.  Characters may be presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, thoughts and interactions with other characters.

Characterization is the way in which an author chooses to convey information about their characters. It can be direct, as when the author tells the reader what his character is like.

Ronald was a cunning lad. Both desperate and greedy, what he lacked in integrity was made up for in boldness. Determined to rise above the class of his parents he set lofty goals that he would reach by any means necessary.  Thievery was his personal expertise.

It can also be conveyed indirectly by showing what the character is like by portraying his or her actions, speech, or thoughts.

Ronald stood on the platform watching the travelers until he spied a gentleman wearing an expensive wool coat, carrying a leather briefcase.  He tugged on his cap and shoved his hands into his pockets following a safe distance behind. He wasn’t going to spend his life working the mines like his father, being ground into nothingness at an early age. He had gone without dinner for the third night in a row and he wasn’t about to make it a fourth. 

He sniffled, pulling the collar of his jacket closer to lessen the effects of the chilly air. He moved casually next to the man, who had taken up conversation with a curvaceous woman with blonde hair.  While the man engaged in conversation with the woman, Ronald stealthily slipped his hand into the man’s pocket and withdrew his leather wallet without him feeling it.  Head down, he moved towards the next car, tucking the pilfered wallet into his own coat.

Indirect Characterization shows things that reveal the personality of a character. There are five different methods of indirect characterization:

Speech What does the character say? How does the character speak?
Thoughts What is revealed through the character’s private thoughts and feelings?
Effect on others toward the character. What is revealed through the character’s effect on other people? How do other characters feel or behave in regards to the character?
Actions What does the character do? How does the character behave?
Looks What does the character look like? How does the character dress? What is their general appearance?

Descriptions of a character’s appearance, behavior, interests, manner of speaking and other unique quirks are all part of characterization. For stories written in the first-person point of view, the narrator’s voice is essential to his or her characterization.

This is a crucial part of creating a compelling story. The characters need to seem real.  Authors convey this by revealing details about their characters that make them appear as a real person, not a fictional creation. It gives readers a strong sense of the character’s personalities, complexities and motivations.  It makes them come alive and become believable.

How do I create great character and avoid the flat Stanley or Mary Sue?

I think everyone knows what these terms mean, but let me clarify.  A flat Stanley is a two-dimensional character that is no more than a cardboard cutout. Readers do not relate to flat Stanley, they are perceived as contrived puppets that the reader hears the author’s voice from behind the curtain.

A Mary Sue is a ‘too good to be for real’ character. They have no flaws, they are able to overcome ridiculous odds, and can do just about everything imaginable. Lara Croft, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew are all examples of a Mary Sue.  You can test to see if your character is a Mary Sue here.

In creating your characters, choose details that make them life-like.  Show the little quirks, the annoying habits.  Does your self-conscious female character twirl her hair, or try smoothing the fabric over her tummy to not show a bit of a tummy bulge?  Does the male MC clear his throat constantly?  Does he comb his fingers through his hair? Think about memorable characters and what they did that made them memorable.

Tell the reader directly and indirectly about your character.  Let them develop; don’t force your author’s views on them. Describe their appearance in some manner even if you want to leave it vague for the reader to fill in a face on their own, they will at least need a framework.  For instance if your character is a skinny computer geek,   you want to give the basic body shape and personality instead of having your reader imagine some shadowy shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  You still want the m to be able to fill in some things from their imagination.

Portray your character’s thoughts and motivations.  What makes them tick? Their inner thoughts will convey who they really are. If they are behaving out of character then why?  Use their actions to further show their personality and temperament.  Are they a hot head? Are they easygoing?  Are they talkative or shy and quiet?   Show your other character’s reaction to your protagonist’s words or actions.

Use their dialog to reveal something important about his or her nature. Is the antagonist misunderstood or truly evil?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does the character look like?
  • How does the character behave towards others? How do others behave toward the character?
  • What does the character care about?
  • What adjectives does the author use to describe the character’s personality?
  • What does the character think or say?

Weaknesses like vices, imperfections or flaws, make him or her appear more human-like, causing the audience to identify him or her with that specific character. This is a good characterization for a character in most fiction and non-fiction stories.  Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes so of course later on in the story he is going to have to face snakes.

Make the effort to create fully developed characters in your story.  Characters can make or break a story,  and can kill an otherwise great story.  Most readers  would say that characters are the most important aspect of any good story.

 

The Plot Thickens


Plot is a literary term defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, in a sequence, through cause and effect, how the reader views the story, or simply by coincidence.

download

Some resources claim there are SEVEN basic plot structures with numerous variations on each of them.  There are only so many story arcs and all of our stories fit into a certain category.  You can still create something that is uniquely your own and original because the writer can tweak all of the elements in their world.  But the basic ideas lead us to the point  that there is nothing new under the sun.  These recognizable forms work and used over and over again.

1. Overcoming the Monster

The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force which threatens the protagonist and/or protagonist’s homeland. Many of the mythology stories are in this category. James Bond movies follow this theme. Think about it, James Bond is always fighting against a megalomaniac who wants to take over/destroy the world. Our future hinges on James skills in espionage and his mad seduction skills proves that our hero can have fun too!

EXAMPLES: Dracula, Goldfinger, Beowulf, The Magnificent Seven.

2. Rags to Riches

The poor protagonist acquires things such as power, wealth, and a mate, before losing it all and gaining it back upon growing as a person. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and often meet with failure before success.

EXAMPLES: Cinderella, David Copperfield, The Prince and the Pauper,  Aladdin

3.The Quest 

The protagonist and some companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location, facing many obstacles and temptations along the way. This is often the plot used in fantasy and epic fantasy. Often the quest is combined with having to learn a lesson before the protagonist can obtain the object or destination.

EXAMPLES: The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, The Iliad, Watership Down

4. Voyage and Return

The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to him/her, returns with nothing but experience. There are too many books to mention that I’ve read that use this plot.

EXAMPLES: Odyssey, Chronicles of Narnia, Gone With the Wind, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Hobbit

5. Comedy

Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion. Fun reads that make you smile – what’s not to like! 

EXAMPLES: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Mr. Bean, Benny Hill, Much Ado About Nothing, Bridget Jones Diary

6. Tragedy

The protagonist is a villain who falls from grace and whose death is a happy ending. You can watch just about any good Asian film and it’s a tragedy. Notice I said a good one.

EXAMPLES: Macbeth, Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Bonnie and Clyde, Titanic, The Notebook, Schindler’s List, Fearless (with Jet Li), Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen), When the Last Sword is Drawn (I strongly recommend you watch this one – have tissues handy)

7. Rebirth

The protagonist is a villain or otherwise unlikable character who redeems him/herself over the course of the story. Who doesn’t love a redemption story, right?

EXAMPLES: Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Despicable Me, The Secret Garden

This is the most basic list.  However, the most common list breaks them out as 20 Basic Plots. So here is that list as well.

1. QUEST – the protagonist is searching for something (person, place, thing, or idea) and is on a journey to find it.

2. ADVENTURE – the protagonist searches for their fortune, but has to leave home to do it. (a derivative of the quest)

3. PURSUIT – hide-and-seek plot, one group or person chasing another. (Often used in spy thrillers or crime dramas)

4. RESCUE – the protagonist is searching for someone or something that needs to be saved—this usually involves protagonist, victim, and antagonist.

5. ESCAPE – the protagonist wants to escape some sort of situation, on a quest to get away.

6. REVENGE – retaliation against someone else for wrong-doings.

7. THE RIDDLE – the protagonist’s search to find the hidden meaning of something. (Carolyn Keene used this one in her Nancy Drew mysteries often.)

8. RIVALRY – the protagonist is competing for same object or goal as another person.

9. UNDERDOG – the protagonist has a great disadvantage and faces overwhelming odds while trying to reach his or her goals.

10. TEMPTATION – the protagonist is tempted into doing something that is unwise, wrong or immoral.

11. METAMORPHOSIS – the physical characteristics of the protagonist actually changes from one form to another.

12. TRANSFORMATION – the protagonist journeys through a stage of life that moves them from one significant character state to another.

13. MATURATION – the protagonist faces a problem that causes them to learn from it and mature into adulthood.

14. LOVE – the protagonist overcomes the obstacles that prevent him or her from engaging in true love.

15. FORBIDDEN LOVE – the protagonist overcomes obstacles that prevent him or her from true love, but sometimes find the outcome too high a price to live with.

16. SACRIFICE – the protagonist is motivated by a higher purpose such as love, honor, and charity or for the sake of humanity.

17. DISCOVERY – the protagonist, having to overcome a life-changing event, discovers a deeper meaning of life that changes their outlook.

18. WRETCHED EXCESS – the protagonist pushes the limits of acceptable behavior to the extreme and is forced to deal with the consequences.

19. ASCENSION – this rags-to-riches plot deals with the rise of the protagonist due to a dominating character trait that helps them to succeed.

20. DECISION – this riches-to-rags plot deals with the fall of the protagonist due to dominating character trait that eventually destroys their success.

Some stories can fit into a few of these categories and you can build your story up around several of these basic plots combining plot and subplots. Generally, a story will fit into one category more than another. Using the basic plot  of ‘Forbidden Love’,  the writer could pen a murder mystery, a psychological horror,  a western,  a romance, noir fiction, Utopian, science fiction or fantasy.

Which one inspires you to develop a story?

Write on my friends, write on!

Lemon Pie, Anyone?


Quotidiandose does not own rights to this clipart.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this clip art.

Isn’t it amazing  when you get an idea and a plan, you can almost certainly count on a detour up ahead?

*Enter Hurricane force winds to wreck your best laid plans*

I was on a roll, was working hard, head down and focused which in and of itself was close to a miracle. And then . . . life happens.  LIFE ENTERS STAGE RIGHT.

A writer’s ego is a very delicate and fragile thing. Which is ironic because we are also egotistical, thinking that what we have to say is so important that everyone needs to read it!  Conflicted much?  Yeah, I would say so!

Battle hardened veterans become tougher with each new battle.  We may not always win the battles, but we gain experience and training with each new interaction in the arena.  At some point battle hardened can turn into battle weary.

When life gives you lemons. . . . but what do you do if it’s hurling them at you at  the speed of 120 mph breaking ball in rapid secession?

You protect yourself of course! Sometimes that means taking cover, ducking, or running out-of-the-way. Sometimes it means curling up into a tight ball and just crying until it passes.

I was on a roll typing away on the latest WIP when the Seven Things To Know mentioned in Confessions of a Writer post came up.  As I mentioned I did some real soul-searching based on the friend’s comments.  In that searching I made a list of pros and cons about myself as a writer and a person.  So I took the abundance of lemons thrown at me and made lemon pie! 

One of the ingredients in my pie  is my editing skills. I’ve only had two people out of twenty-three that didn’t care for my editing.  One was of the opinion that their rough draft was golden as is. I refer to Stephen King on this one – All first drafts are crap!  The second one was more of a clash of personalities and lack of handholding on my part. Sorry,  but I’m not a coddler. Just ask my kids on that point.

So in that vein,  I am doing a new feature on Thursdays.  Instead of the ‘throwback’ pictures and such which seems to be the phase going on that book of Face, my Thursday feature will be From the Editor’s Desk.  I tried for some alliterative cuteness  but couldn’t come up with anything clever.

In a previous post Reading and Writing, I addressed key elements of writing.

  •  PLOT – what happens, the structure of the story.  There are twenty basic plots, and beyond that are variations on those basic twenty.
  • CHARACTERIZATION – the way that the characters act or are portrayed to convey the plot.
  • POV – the point of view, or perspective that the story is told from.  I have written in first person and in third,  the current one being in third person omniscient.
  • SETTING –  the time, place, or even atmosphere in which the story is set.This is the world building that is crucial to your story.
  • STYLE –   the language used  by the narrator to convey the story. The style of Mark Twain is a more casual laid back manner than that of Jane Austin. You know that Twain’s characters are poor folk, where as many of Austin’s works are about an aristocratic class.
  • THEME –  a universal meaning that your readers will connect to, or most readers will connect to.

My plan is to address each of these  in more depth over the next six weeks.  Then after that, will be common mistakes that newbies made.  (I can speak from the voice of experience here, I think I’ve made them all.) Stay tuned for some tasty tidbits!

Write on my friends, write on!

Clouded Intent


Gold Nugget

Gold Nugget

Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. 

– Virginia Woolf

NEVER write for money.  It will show, your readers are perceptive.

NEVER write for a “market”.  “Market”  means “Formula” – your readers are perceptive and they will see the sneaky little hesitations  that creep in.

NEVER write “down” –  or for an audience that is “less intelligent”  than you think you are.  Your readers will be offended and see that you are talking down to them.  Besides, you are your own audience,  do you want to be talked down to?  Even if you are writing a children’s tale, don’t write “down” to children as if they are stupid.  They aren’t.

NEVER be vindictive in your writing. Truth has a way of coming out and you will be crucified publicly and then shamed by your own words.  Karma people,  you know how she is.

NEVER write  the “trend”.  By the time you get yours out there the tide has changed and it’s outdated material.

ALWAYS write the best book you can.  Success will come, eventually.

ALWAYS write what’s in your mind, your heart.  Use your own voice!

ALWAYS write from passion.   It will show in the quality of your prose and  empower your words.

ALWAYS write with the assumption that your audience is both intelligent and  perceptive.   Give the respect  to others that you would like yourself.

When an author writes out of preconceptions without learning the facts,  there are at least  one hundred people who will be ready to show you the error of your thinking.  Be prepared for a smack-down. Better yet, learn the facts.  Do the research.  Due diligence people!

It takes every word, every single idea,  every metaphor, every analogy to reach the final conclusion.  Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams.

Some ideas are  the  basaltic bedrock, others are the  metamorphic intrusions where the diamonds and gold are mined. (Yes,  I meant metamorphic as in rocks –  basalt is igneous,   limestone is sedimentary –  remember I studied rocks,  they don’t bleed. But if you wish to insert metaphorical you may.)

Give your self the best chance of success!  Learn the  rules of engagement.  Once you know the rules,  then you can use them as guidelines knowing where it is ok to bend and break.

Work hard.  Give it your best effort – not a good effort,  not a half-hearted effort – but your very best. Create something that you would  be proud to have your name associated with!

Celebrate your victories! Then start  the process over again.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

From the Editor’s Desk


redpen

I’ve spent a lot of time editing for other writers over the past several months.  I’ve reached a point where I   have to limit my time editing so I can actually spend time on my own writing. Editing for others has a two prong effect:  It encourages me to write my own material because good writing pulls on me to write as well, and bad writing taps my ego to say – I can do better than this.   Just being honest people, writer’s have a good share of ego or else we wouldn’t think our stuff needs to be read by the masses.

So, having said that I’m going to air a few of my ‘Are you kidding me?’ thoughts as an editor.

* clears throat*

When you submit your manuscript — that baby you’ve coddled for however long, that special creation that you’ve birthed through pain and agony — do yourself a favor and  present the best manuscript you can.

Here are a few tips that you, the author can tackle yourself.    These are common things, so don’t feel like you’re a hack because you find these things in your manuscript.

  1. If it shows up in Word underlined by red, green, or blue – address it.  Misspelled words, unique spellings, proper names are all tagged as well as sentence fragments and extra spaces. If Word catches it  you’ll be damn certain  the editor will.
  2. Make certain that your formatting issues are addressed; appropriate page breaks and spacing. Check the submission guidelines for each publisher s they may vary.
  3. Correct grammatical use of common homophones: to, too, two; they’re their, there; etc.
  4. Sentence structure matters people! Fragments, dependent clauses, infinitive phrases, participle phrases, run ons, the gerund phrase –  it matters.  If you are going to write – WRITE WELL OR FRIGGIN’  GO HOME!
  5. Mechanics – basic grammatical skills.  I’m not saying that everyone needs to be a grammar Nazi, but could we at least keep it to the same  mechanical structure of the English language? ( As I edit in English I can’t speak for other languages, and slang and backwoods redneck speak do not qualify unless it is part of the dialog between characters. )
  6. Do NOT rely solely upon spell check, it will count something correct because it is a word, but the sentence will not make any sense:  “As  they bled out on the slow covered alley, my heart sank in my chest.  They were truly gone.”  Slow is a word but the correct word should be snow.  READ YOUR WORK!  Better yet, read it aloud, you’ll catch more mistakes that way.
  7. Punctuation:  Can I buy a comma for $500 Alex! Punctuation is important.  EXAMPLE:  Let’s eat mother!  Let’s eat, mother!  It makes a difference!
  8. Dangling bits:  Nope I’m not talking about erotica, although it happens there as well.  I’m talking about the dangling verbals, phrases, clauses, the dangling participle.   Would I be way off base here in suggesting that anyone who is serious about writing should take at least the basic English composition class?
  9. VERBS:  plural versus singular, keeping things consistent.
  10. TENSE: * facepalm* In the latest piece I was editing, I got so confused whether i was in the past, present, or future tense that I literally had to get up and walk away.
  11. PRONOUNS:  Oh good Lord what a mess!  Ever read something where he met  this guy and he  handed his bag to her,  her father giving glowering looks  at their hands touching as she leaned in to kiss him?  Which him????  The author listed four different hims – which one is she going to kiss?   I’m assuming not her father, although giving daddy a kiss is the least offensive thing in this little scene.
  12. Incorrect  word usage: Know the definition of the word you are using because what you are saying  isn’t necessarily what you think you are saying.

This is just a quick down and dirty list, trust me, more will follow.  We all need to edit ourselves before we think our baby is ready for the big publishing world. I’m guilty of  some of these myself, it’s why I am a firm believer in self editing.  My first drafts are not fit for public viewing.

However, there also comes the point when  the writer has to let their baby stand on it’s own and cut the umbilical cord. This post is not a vent about any particular writer.  It’s an overall view from seeing many mistakes in various submissions and  manuscripts.

Write on my friends – and do it to the best of your abilities!

PLEASE!