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.

New this month

So, AIR simmered on the back burner for a month and I worked on Glass Slipper. That actually worked well. I am in the copyediting process of AIR, will send it to my beta editor (grammar freak friend) and then off to my real editor, and publisher. Whew. After that task is complete, I plan to put AIR’s characters out of my brain, go back, finish Collision and then Glass Slipper. Make sense? Ya, me neither.

AIR is a novel that I ripped from the headlines, researched the heck out of, and I feel an urgency (not the healthcare kind) to get it published NOW, since my other novels are not based on reality.

AIR is a geopolitical thriller crossing the globe, chasing terrorists, plagues and those who would play God.