Saturday, 28 May 2011

A New Story

Nope....not a novel. I am still sticking to decision of finishing edits on this book. They are going, well slow. But that's mostly due to day job. I'm much busier in day job now, longer hours, hardly any break time etc. so that has impact on my evenings too. But edits are going. There is progress, so I am glad about that.

Anyway, this new story....well, it's a short story.

Now the more attention-paying people amongst you might remember that I am not really a short story person. I like some, but not a lot. I have written some, but not a lot. And they are certainly not my focus. But I just wanted to write something, and it's sort of related to my novel, because it's set in the same world - though during much earlier time in the world's history. This is just to flex some writing muscle really. 

The plan is to have a writing frenzy of sorts for the first draft, which I want to be around 10K to 15K. And I want to finish the first draft in a matter of days, or at the most a week - which with the bank holiday weekend is possible. 

So time to get writing. Cheer me on folks....I will put up a word counter on the side. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Yearly Goals - Useful or Unnecessary Stress?

As we are now in the middle of the year, and not having reviewed my yearly goals for over a month, I have come to a conclusion - most of those goals don't matter.

Okay, so there are things on there that I would like to get done / accomplish. And yes, I would still like to do those, but in my current life-style, I simply can't find time for all those goals. So was I giving myself unnecessary stress earlier in the year, trying to fit it all in? Yes, and no.

Goals are good, but what's even more important is that how good your goals are to your future plans. Unfortunately, if you are like me, your future plans include a lot of accomplishments and a feeling that I must do it all now. So I try to fit in as much as I think I can. And when I count number of hours, it seems almost possible. Of course what I fail to consider are the human limitations - like I might be too tired after a busy, stressful day at a day job to be productive every evening. Or that I might actually *HORROR* end up having some social obligation. My goals are good based on a number of hours available in the day, but not so good when I consider other limitations.

There are also too many of them. Okay, so a lot of things need to get done, and it does seem rather easy in January to think that surely I can do all of these in a  year. But then I blink, and oh boy, it's nearly June. How the hell did that happen? But it happens. Every year. While I don't claim to be productive all the time, or indeed make the best use of my time, I do tend to underestimate how ordinary life gets in the way of goals. 

But goals are still at least for the rest of this year, instead of worrying about my big list...I am only going to worry about couple of things on there, and just focus on that. Rest will either take care of itself, or there is always next year.

What about you? How are your 2011 goals going? Do you have a long list that you are now daunted by? Or are you ticking everything off? Do you underestimate the time you have?

Friday, 20 May 2011

All About Editing - Lorraine Mace

Do you love editing, or hate it, or somewhere in the middle?

I hate the thought of it, but love the process. Before I get started it always seems as if I have a mountain to climb and I put it off as long as I can. Once I get going I love it and can never understand why I didn’t just get down to it straight away.

I am a serious underwriter, so the editing process allows me to put in all the settings I tend to miss out in my rush to get the story down. That’s also when I fix the dialogue and characterisation. I look on it as a chance to turn dross into gold – that’s the idea, anyway.

I’ve recently rewritten a crime novel and added 7,000 words to the original draft, most of it to the ending because it was too abrupt.

I suppose, for over writers the editing process would allow them to remove the surplus and make the writing leaner. I’ve never had that problem, so can’t be sure. If I tried to trim my work, I’d end up with chapter headings, a synopsis, and not much else.

Do you edit as you go? Or do you start only after the first draft?

I used to edit as I went along, but found I’d get too hung up on making the opening chapters perfect and never actually finish a book. Now I get the first draft down before even thinking about any serious editing. Having said that, what I do is read through whatever was written the day before and fix any glaring errors. Reading only the previous day’s work also helps me get back into the story without being sucked into trying to perfect the writing from page one.

Do you have a definite method for editing? If so, would you like to share something from it?

I print out my ms – always. I find that editing directly on screen means I miss too many errors that leap out at me on the printed page.

Once I’ve got the ms in hard copy, I hide away from everyone, put on some soft music and disconnect the phone. Then I go through the ms with a red pen (literally). I scratch out, add in, and make notes and diagrams all over the place. Then, when I’ve scribbled over the entire ms, I go to the computer and work through the edits page by page. I add in sections, move others, whatever needs to be done, by referring to the hard copy, which sometimes has so much red ink I can barely see the type underneath.

Any tips you've learned from your experience?

Yes, when you think you’ve nailed it, print out another copy and go through the entire process all over again – and again. The first edit is just putting the flesh on the bones – all subsequent edits are the ones that will turn a manuscript into a novel.

Anything else you would like to add - pet peeves, things that make you want to pull your hair out (editing related), joys and wonders of the process?

Yes, I want to tear my hair out when I’ve realised mid-edit that the plot hole I thought I’d be able to get away with has turned into a massive crater. I’ve learned the hard way to listen to the nagging voice in my head that whispers: this won’t work!

Lorraine Mace, a Writers Bureau tutor, is humour columnist for both Writing Magazine (UK) and Connexions (France). She is also deputy editor of Words with JAM and a competition judge for Writers’ Forum. She has written for magazines and newspapers in the UK, the USA, Australia, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book and co-author of The Writer’s ABC Checklist (Accent Press), Lorraine is leading a residential course in France.

Lorraine Mace:
Flash 500 Fiction and Humour Verse Competitions:

Friday, 13 May 2011

All About Editing - Nancy Haddock

Do you love editing, or hate it, or somewhere in the middle?

I adore editing! I especially love finding cliches I've used and twisting them into phrases that are more vivid and/or fun. To search for and re-weave dropped or dangling story threads can be a bear, but it's also exciting to make a story as tight as I can in the moment. 

Do you edit as you go? Or do you start only after the first draft?

I do some editing as I write, but try not to over-revise early on. I can kill my creativity if I listen to my internal editor because nothing makes her happy! :) Normally I write 5 to 10 or more pages, print them, and then edit on hard copy.

Do you have a definite method for editing? If so, would you like to share something from it?

I've never thought about having a definite method, but working from hard copy is an absolute must for me. I have to find and get into the flow of the characters and story in the first few pages, then be sure the flow carries through the first few chapters. Flow is a feeling beyond than the words themselves. Once I'm riding the wave, I edit mainly for picky stuff - typos, grammar, awkward sentences, etc. If I can quickly rework a cliche or another element, I do, but I don't let myself get bogged in daily editing.    

Any tips you've learned from your experience?

I have a critique partner who is marvelous about pounding me to add emotion, so I've learned to layer in more emotion in first drafts. I've also learned to trust my process, no matter that it may sound haphazard to others. Writers know what we should look for in editing, but it make take multiple passes to sharpen each element - without over-editing! And, yes,  errors do slip by us. We're human. 

Anything else you would like to add - pet peeves, things that make you want to pull your hair out (editing related), joys and wonders of the process?

I'm laughing because I've caught myself reading a sentence and thinking, "What the heck was I trying to say here?" It's not that the passage sounds frou-frou "writerly." It's that the passage doesn't communicate. Ack! On the flip side,  the process of layering elements like emotion and mood-setting can be magical. I love it when that happens!

Thanks for the opportunity to share with you and your readers, Dolly!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Random Birthday Post - On Kindle, E-books etc.

We will take a break from guest post series just for this Friday. It's my birthday today, so I figured, I should post something. Next week, editing series will resume. 

So birthday presents ....

Thanks to Mom and Dad's generous contribution, we now have 2 kindles in the house. Both Hubby and I bought one each. (Yes, we don't really share gadgets. EVER.) 

And this should come across as a surprise to many of you, who have no doubt heard me rant about e-books, and how they would never be the same as paper books for me. 

Having had my kindle for about 2 days now...I can say two things: 
1. e-books will never replace paper books for me. 
2. I love my kindle 

It may seem contradictory, but it really isn't. 

I still love paper books. I have no intention of reducing my purchase of them (opened 5 books this morning as a present - okay, I cheated. I chose them. But still....). There is still something about picking up a book, each with its different feel and shape. Books and their smell. And the satisfaction of owning them. Yes. I don't get that from e-books. I have books on my kindle. But in terms of emotional value of owning those books - there isn't any. If I damage any of my paper books, I get upset. I am careful with them. I wouldn't let anyone else borrow them (unless coached heavily in how to read my books, after which lecture, most people don't want it anyway :P). But books on kindle are simply...documents. It's transferred from one place to another. 

So now the second part - I love my Kindle. Yes, I absolutely do. It even has a name: Caleb. 
And that's important, because so far only one of my gadgets had a name, and that's my netbook, because I completely totally love it. So Kindle getting a name means it's very high in importance. For one thing, it really isn't like reading on a computer. The screen has no glare. There is no eye-strain. It is very easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to maintain. There are few things fusspots like me and my husband wish it could do (like allowing us to organise kindle files on the computer, rather than having to do it on kindle which takes longer, but we know we are obsessive) but on the whole, it's a great device. The storage value is considerable. Even if I take paper books with me everywhere (and I will), taking Kindle as well, immediately gives me access to a much larger library. There are also a lot of free books as well as some very cheap ones. This will become like borrowing from a library, where I might try books I wouldn't necessarily buy. So I am hoping that this will encourage me to read at least some of the books, I would otherwise ignore. 

We've bought the ones with 3G. While you can't expect to be able to use the Internet with the same capacity as an actual device made for it, it is handy for a quick look up of something. It works. And once I got used to it, it's easy to navigate. Even my typing speed on Kindle has already increased after a bit of practice. 

And now...the very useful bit for writer. I can transfer my personal documents to kindle. So I have transferred my WIP on there that I am editing. So I can do a read through, and add some notes etc. Of course I can do this on computer, paper etc. but this just gives me yet another format to look at, and anyone who has edited a book would know that you pick up different things when you change a format. Besides, it's really cool reading my book on there, because it looks so professional :P 

So yes, I am absolutely thrilled I bought Kindle, and I totally love it. But my contribution to paper books sales shall continue as per usual.