While I Edit !

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As I agonize of my re-edit of How to Steal a Romance, I came across not just tired words, overused words, and unnecessary words, but a treasure trove of repeated phrases, actions that were like Biblical plagues of flies and frogs. Since it’s my first fiction, it could be the death of my firstborn.
With gratitude that rivals (almost) the recounting of the Exodus story, I give thanks the agent is also an editor and loves new authors.
With that in mind, I have another chapter to Edit Zombie. Ain’t that grand? Only hope it won’t be a repeat of the Chicago Manual of Style in content and heft…
Trying hard to decide. What to do, write Edit Zombie next, or Glass Slipper? Should I pick Forget Me Not up before?
The conundrums we face. Thankfully (??????) I am still editing HTSR. I suppose now, I ought to tackle said manuscript instead of lingering around social media.
Well then. Off I go, but muuuaaah be aware that Your Inner Edit Zombie lurks … patiently …

In the Meantime …

Well, before I get too far into this post… I yes, am going to edit HTSR again. Taking a break. Gadzooks! Am I sick of that book or what?

BUT. Don’t kill your manuscript (at least, entirely) while those wonderful rejections come in (or nothing at all).

KEEP the research you’ve done on all things too technical to keep in said MS. Why? It may come in handy for that next novel. The one you should be working on while you wait for an answer from agent or publisher.

Besides. It gives you time off to let the manuscript cool until your eyes are fresh.

 

SHOCK!

I keep a copy of each MS I edit… Okay. I am OCD about this. What if? I mean, really. What happens if an agent/PH wants more of *insert whatever you edited out.* It also shows me how bad my writing was to how it has improved. Rejections are not failures, by the way. They are good reminders that our work needs work.

Ask me, I know all about character changes. Well, not all, but a lot more than when I began. Don’t give your MC a flaw then never deal with it, or overcome it. That’s an obstacle he/she must overcome to get the goal. A cop out to let him/her continue in her fear yet conquering the villain(s). In a series, by the end of it, he/she had better deal with this in a HEA sorta way otherwise you disappoint your readers. Leaving readers hanging at the end of book one is also a bit of a cheat. Sometimes.

What if your MC knows everything from Arabic to piloting a helicopter? Is it realistic? Well, look at some of our military. Yes. It is. Or can be. Think: JASON BOURNE. Able to speak a zillion languages, memorize every car license he sees, kill with a pencil, keep weapons secret, as well as big money. Have ten passports . Did we suspend believability?

IT DEPENDS. If said character has never done this, well then, YES. If your character is part of a SEAL team or CIA, maybe not. Even if in a fake shadowy government ‘wet work’ research arm. Jason Bourne had amnesia except how to do previously said ‘everything.’ That now, is a freaky flaw.

Does this mean Jason was perfect? NO. He is emotionally damaged, walking around wondering just who the heck he is, falling in love perhaps for the first time since becoming an assassin… since losing his memory.

(image courtesy Fandom and Wiki)

Can you tell I loved Robert Ludlam?

What about Matthew Knight in Knight and Day? HI-larious, despite less than great reviews. Poor fMC keeps passing out, usually with the help of a knock out drug or Vulcan grip. Her handling of an automatic? TOO FUNNY. Most of us would be more or less in her position. We can relate to her angst. Her flaws. We don’t really see his flaws unless he is 1. presented with real romance and 2. physically in danger. AND fMC changes to overcome scary obstacles to save the man she loves, even if her methods suspend our belief a wee bit.

When you let your manuscript cool a few weeks, look at your characters. They make the script. Then obstacles make it sing for the MC who has to overcome said obstacle(s).

Villains – total cop out if they are too stupid to outwit your MC. Really.

In the Bourne Identity, the end was a HEA. The obstacles overcome (so he thought), he joined the love of his life. The second and third novels brought a new obstacle. Revenge. Repentance. The novels are better than the movies, but since I love Matt Damon’s acting and the rush of the action in film, it’s okay that the Ludlam novels had significant changes.

Let me know if any of this has encouraged you. OR discouraged you. I figure, if your passion is writing, just keep on, no matter how many times you’re rejected.

And, if anyone wants me to read and evaluate the first 50 pages of your manuscript, it’s a ten buck deal. Link to my WordPress here…

and FB page at:

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireOSullivanChristianRomanceAuthor/

 

The Big Edit

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Last night, I finished the BIG EDIT on How to Steal a Romance. I was too tired to get onto FB, WordPress, etc. to sing that hallelujah until today.

The intense past two weeks did me in. Whew. I took a day/evening off and hope to gather my wits about me, and in another day or so, will go back…and…listen…again. Via an eReader. It speaks each word



so if you have have an extra word here or there awkward sentence here… or accidentally insert a horizontal line that you thought was a strikeout line that sometimes our eyes don’t see–it picks up on it, and boom, you can hit pause and fix the MS. Even better, ’cause it’s free.

I spent about 20 minutes writing my most used phrases and words this morning (yes, again). Actions and emotions. Dialogue-y type stuff. Things that should individually belong to individual character. While the agent didn’t call specifically for these things, as a reader (and my Inner Edit Zombie), my eyes cast a shadow over them, scarier than Dark Shadows (that … might age me … if you know what that is without having to look it up, you’re in the same group!).

What is a writer’s life without the agony of editing? The rejections? The tunic rent asunder, ashes thrown into the air, with weeping and gnashing of teeth?

Okay, so that last part is 1. too Biblical and out of context … and 2. way over the top. For most of us.

Despite my ‘thank you, Lord’, for the small mercies of getting things done, I am still beat. Don’t think I could pick up a book or write a limerick today. Feel like a Borg. Plug me into the wall and let me stand there until I can fit into that waist-crushing outfit Seven of Nine had to wear (like that would ever happen).

<looks around, fanning self>

Anyone have a nice place in Nova Scotia I could stay at? It’s too hot here, so my tropical island dream right now has a latitude of Vermont or higher.

And surely there is a holiday or birthday somewhere in the world tomorrow, so Happy August Ninth *insert name of holiday* and have a great rest of the week.

 

Characters. Bigger than Story. Bigger than Perfect Grammar

I read a book that reports story is greater than structure. Oh, how I agree with that!

YET…

Have a great story? Pitch-perfect structure?  Awesome.

Cough. Blink. Cough. 

Those rejections hurt, don’t they? Each agent is the Benihana of agents who shuts… you… down. No answer. Publishing houses write you – but not what you wanted to hear. But WHY? you cry. Angry, you stomp off to self-publish. You are a genius! They miss your point, and boy, won’t they be sorry! I’ll hold my breath! I’ll stare at the sun! Wont they be sorry! 

A lot depends in what genre you write. But, publishing houses and agents who troll the internet for good work, they look for 1. good writing 2. good characters 3. Likelihood of sales.

Think Fifty Shades of Grey (I keep harping on this book probably because the author walked off with $95 million… Am I jealous? NOOOOOO, not at all). Bad writing. But great kidnapping and BDSM (oh wait, since he’s stinking rich, it’s not kidnapping).  Author laughs all the way to the bank.

But, not even story is greater than structure.  Characters rule. Write about perfect people. Why did it get rejected? Because no one overcomes a flaw or several within chapter one. Who can relate? And on the opposite side, make that main character so whiny and pathetic  throughout, and agents will toss that novel.  Why? They aren’t trying to change. They aren’t falling into old habits and climbing out of a rut.  Hey, it’s ok to remind agents time to time of the obstacle. Agents  and publishers (not to mention readers) need reminding.

Then, fill those plot holes. Make sure you have a really good editor. Share the final draft with a group of readers. Find out if they can relate to your MC. If you get thumbs up, get ready for more rejections.

WHAT?? What is hot today is already past. The publishing world changes faster than a bullet train, and your novel is shredded under it. What can you do? GIVE THE STORY A MESSAGE. Shock ’em with twists not expected. How does your new and improved MC deal with a more horrific obstacle? OVERCOME. Don’t forget that antagonist, are they too vague? Too stupid? Make sure you hate/relate with them.

Take a serious look at your flaws. Those around you. Have you written about those? Well … that, too can hurt. What if someone criticizes you? Develop thick skin.  THEN, send that new and improved MS out. After more rejections,, keep working. If your first MS is not accepted, put it aside, work on your craft -and your second novel. Don’t quit. If it’s in you (bitten by that itchy writing bug), make sure you never stop what makes you happy. But don’t be lazy, don’t quit working on those characters. Make ’em loveable.

Don’t hire a vanity press. No one should pay to read your work. When you just HAVE to be published, then self publish. Average sales? $2000 for the work. Forever. A bunch of great writers make the coveted New York Times award. But not necessarily YOU.  

So make your characters real. Then, stick them into that cool plot. Make the agents weep. As the Firefly saying goes: ‘Sigh, baby, sigh. Make your mama cry.’

You’ll get there. In the meantime … you get to cry… Keep on writing.

yeeeesh … kill me now ….

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I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to editing.

<Laughs in near hysteria>

Okay, whatever, you inner thought fool.

I ditched (for the most part) editing for the past two days, since I had to fill a gap into Forget Me Not: Non Compos Mentis. It wasn’t the ‘necessary or the world will fall apart if you don’t’ rewrite’, but since it’s a romance, it ya, kinda did.

Without the rewrite, there would be no decent clash between guy and gal. The male love interest would have no reason to act less decisively, since he’s a decisive kind of guy. Main character would have no ‘who IS this person and why did he…?’ Sure, she has her own issues to battle, but no looming worries over the love interest.

The tension of attraction wouldn’t be strong, because readers liked tension. And I just wasn’t feelin’ the tension.

Hey, we may not like to fight with our spouses in real life, but let the sparks fly in fiction, and –for me, the read is more satisfying.

If you fight with your spouse in anger, I highly recommend praying for each other and seeking counsel. Now. But, not in fiction–they misunderstand each other, argue, feelings get hurt, you know–guy gets girl, guy looses girl, guy gets girl back. Or in this case, girl hires guy (for real work, git your mind outta the gutter!), guy accepts job, girl… okay, that’s enough of that.

I’m a gimme-a-message kinda gal, too. Show me the worst side of the characters, how they overcome the obstacle: a fear, misunderstanding–or a real physical obstacle, and I might just realize how to face my own personal writing-demons-from-the-abyss. Or just the regular Hades abiding creepazoids, trying to fill me with fear and self-doubt.

Please, writer, don’t make your main characters perfect. *Yawn.* What are they physically, emotionally, spiritually struggling with? Is it a struggle I can relate to or empathize with? Think *Wounded Warriors,* men and women who see the worst in death, the heroic in saving the innocent, lose limbs … and the mind-torture of things you can’t un-see.

Well. Dang it. Just thought, I need to fiddle more with my antagonist.

FINE. ‘Time for some thrilling heroics.’ (Image: Firefly)

<slouches, reaching for another cup of Joe>

Going to the manuscript. Again.

<laughter emits from inner thoughts>

Shut up. Twit.

A Laughing Matter … No Really

What qualifies me to write ‘Edit Zombie,’ anyway?

NOTHING. Absolutely nothing.

*Other than the million websites, books I pile next to me as I edit. Makes … me … crazy*

Of course, my hope is to condense every possible rule(s) down to one simple book, smaller than the Chicago Manual of Style. Easier to deal with, updated from Strunk & White. Maybe a table or two.

Too much stuff comes my way, like a bullet train without notice. Much of the material seems overwhelming, and heavens above, I need those books/sites to quote from.

*Weeps*

I am finishing Forget Me Not: Non Compos Mentis. The synopsis and proposal complete. One more pass through and in the mail it goes. Yes. This time, not email, but whosoever -oh wait- too Biblical. Whomever accepts snail mail because I am computer-illiterate. Yes.

Sure I can get onto a few sites. There are a lot I haven’t heard of ’til recently. Reddit. Instagram’s been around, but … er, I am on social media, so much so that my writing, editing and reading time gulps blinky like a Pac Man. I am that old.

When it’s done, it may look like the image above, that which will haunt your dreams…

your edit zombie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep Point of View

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Not long ago, I learned about deep point of view. The three types that writers use to get into the characters heads. Love it. Creates a depth to characters whom readers can relate to and love. Too much can be … too much. It’s all about balance.

Deep POV is a great way to build an audience. I tire and forget novelists who write characters without this. Deep POV grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let go.

I rewrote an entire manuscript to take me out of the work. Put each sight/sound/emotion into characters internal thought, action, or dialogue. Some telling is important, yes. But author intrusion or shallow writing is forgettable reading.

One critiquer demanded I rewrite the end or she’d go all ‘Misery’ on me. I didn’t give her my address. She realized it was a HEA for now, and forgave me. My editor told me I had to rewrite. She cried. Three times, in the same chapter. Her last statement was, ‘I don’t know if I edited anything, I cried so much. I will be thinking of Calhoun and Cade for a long time.’ YES!

The terror, the anger, the angst, and loss. I want my writing to sing and my readers to be there … to laugh, feel anger, cry. When my critiquers argue inline with my characters, I know I’ve done my job. Grab those readers. This is what makes an author memorable because there is a takeaway message.

If you don’t know about deep point of view (aka deep POV), find it. Steve Laube Agency today wrote on this. Scribophile has a great section and group dedicated to deep point of view.

Deep point of view takes us into the thoughts, actions, and emotion of the character. He/she has to overcome a personal obstacle to address the inciting factor pulling said character into resolving the obstacle. It is always about the character. If characters have no physical, emotional flaws, then they are shallow, forgettable, and off I go to the next book, hoping to relate to the character. You find deep POV in their actions, thoughts, expressions, dialogue, environments. Don’t narrate, please.

I might add … Scribophile has resources on filtering, show/tell, different point of view, style and honest critiques.