Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Battle with Editing





I absolutely love writing and enjoy the vastness of trying to put something on paper that I have been turning back and forth in my head. Editing however is another story entirely.


The problem is that there is a lot more too writing than just that. There are other things that need to be done including planning, research, asking for help, editing, cutting, artwork [when applicable], contracts, personal reading, and many many others.

Many of these things takes practice, experience, and a large amount of effort to accomplish.

It seems that the moment I become comfortable with where I am at....I get knocked down back to size. I have done this to myself. I have witnessed it at writing conferences and most recently....from the Editor I paid to review my writing.

As a beginning writer, I felt it was important and rather essential to have someone with an outside prospective to evaluate my work. This happened several steps after my own editing, beta readers, and some other help. I thought it was going to be a hard decision to do....but it wasn't.

I really didn't want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again and fail to understand that they were mistakes. An editor with no actual ties to myself was ideal.

I am a novice when it comes to the book deal, literary agent and a publishing world. But I am actively trying to learn more and more each day.

For my first manuscript - I received the edit back after several weeks. It is exciting to see where they enjoyed what I wrote and it was overwhelming all the changes they recommended. I understand that not everything needs to be done - but I didn't pay them to endorse me...I paid them to make me better. I will look hard into what was said and what needs to be changed.

So now, I am off to edit some more. Wish me luck.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

What Pushes You to Write?

I have really been struggling. I have one manuscript finished - getting reviewed by an Editor. This is sort of nerve racking.

My second manuscript is currently going through an overhaul. Fun. Fun.

Sometimes I feel like I'm pushing against the impossible.

I haven't written anything in a few months and am drooling to getting back to what I love.

In the last few months, I’ve been asked why I continue writing if I'm not yet published.  I've been asked this question or something similar several times.  Initially it was someone who really wanted to know how I get motivated. It seemed that they were searching for their own brand of motivation.  In my opinion, determination is much more useful than motivation.

Of course initially I was upset.  But after thinking about it...this is a logical yet misguided question. Everyone wants to succeed at a passion. Maybe it is piano (which I am terrible at) or sports or something else. Not everyone will be Beethoven or Picasso.  But does that mean we don't try.  If we spend our lives comparing our work with someone else s...we will be dissatisfied and a failure.

In the end, I write for me.  It is fun and a way to express myself. If my only goal is to be published or make money than I could be in trouble. The good thing, being published is only one of my goals.

So I decided to come up with several reasons why I write:

1.) Because I can.

2.) I want to change the world – some authors have been so blessed to write something that actually changes the world, even stopping it at times.  Who wouldn’t want this?

3.) I want something my kids can be proud of.

4.) It is in my mind, I just need to get it out.

5.) I love to learn, I love to improve.

6.) I have a dream of getting published.

7.) I want to make money.

8.) I want to see my book on the shelves of a bookstore.

9.) It is such a blast to do.  (Most of the time)

10.) It is far better than editing.

Feel free to add your own reasons to write.  It is an amazing thing to do. What motivates you?

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Battle that Starts on the First Page

Who knew that the real estate on the first page was so important. I learned this, dramatically, at the Pikes Peak Writing Conference. I was hammered during one of the critique sessions and I am glad I was.

Imagine standing in front of 30 or so other writers and having an editor give your first page the once over as you read it aloud. I had worked hard on the first page before and thought that I had a good point of view (POV), no spelling mistakes, an identifiable character and I introduced a pending doom. My mistakes ended up being large and plentiful.

I don't think the writing itself was horrible, but maybe it was. My real problem was where to begin the story. A previous conference suggested crescendo during the first chapter and ending with a bang. I think that this still can be done, but my issue was that I didn't have a good hook for the reader. I started with a scene eluding to a disaster - not bad - but then I went into a description of my protagonist - very bad - . It didn't end up going well. Therefore - this begs the question: Would you ever put down a book after reading just the first page, first paragraph, and maybe even the first sentence? If so, then you would agree that the real estate on that first page is so important. As I am constantly editing my manuscript - I've noticed a tendency to come back to that first page or first chapter - in order to ensure that everything is exactly how I want it. It's the make it or break it foot in the door. What pressure!

As I rewrite the first page over and over again - I try to keep my sense of where I think the book should start and the vast information that I learned and the experiences I had. I hope that my first page is becoming stronger and stronger. It certainly needs to be. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Much Needed Vacation - Slopes of Utah

I was so blessed last week to have escaped the day job and to escape to the mountains. We have been planning this little vacation since before Thanksgiving. We planned on one and a half days of ski lessons and a day and a half of time on the real mountain. I was worried about some aches and pains. But I was really worried on how the kids would do. They did so much better than we did. They got along with their instructor and she took the time to really go one-on-one in teaching them. After two days, they were skiing better than we were.  Take a look at some of our pictures.













What a blast we had. Skiing is such a fun thing to do. Unfortunately - we went during some of the coldest weather Utah has seen in many years. The last picture - the inversion was so bad that the clouds looked like a storm in SLC. In fact, it was pollution. My asthma was loving it up in the fresh air.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Perspective in Writing

As writers, we write about mystery, tragedy, love and sometimes forgiveness. We write about dreams, adventure, fiction, or fact. So many of our writing abilities center around dreams, thoughts, or experiences that we've had. Not all experiences make us better and not all stories are written.

But perspective is important to keep or allow ourselves some slack. We all want immediate success and stardom. We often want to see our hard work on the shelves of a book store. But, it is a journey - a long one. We need to remember this perspective or we will get lost.

I've recently started to query again. I've had mixed results. I have tried a critique group before, but I need to find a new one. I also have been in contact with some editing agencies to advance my manuscript in a way I wasn't able to do before.

I've needed my struggles to push me to work harder, try new things, and research like my life depended on it. But, the worse thing that can happen...is for me to give up.  So, here's to another month of writing, editing, researching or planning.  Good luck to us all.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Query Letter - Another Attempt



The Query Letter is one of the more crazy things in publishing. It is also one of the more scary. To tell you the truth...I am pretty scared.

I've heard that most authors hate the query letter. I think the real reason for this is that it could be done a hundred different ways and still not be right. But, there are almost always a few ways that can get the agent or publisher to look at your book.  That is really what it comes down to. A query is an audition for your manuscript.  But when we get rejected - it can be painful. But that is the name of the game and it isn't always a bad thing. Round one of my query letters really taught me a lot. I ended up completely changing my manuscript into a far better one. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that the outcome will be any better this time around.

 I've read a ton of other query letters and some of the ones that succeeded  I didn't like very much. While others that failed had some interesting aspects. But collectively I could see why they failed. It's all a matter of opinion and what gets you on a certain day.

I've written about 20 different query letters and a few of the times I thought that they would work. I cooled off and read something else or worked on a different manuscript and came back to them. Each time, until recently, I wanted to make more and more changes. I am excited about my latest attempt. It feels and reads more solidly. I think it captures more of my story and the way I want it to be seen. But in the end...the agents will be the final judges.  So.....off we go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Adios to my Prologue

After much deliberation and the help of my most recent conference - I am putting to rest my prologue.

As a reader, I love prologues - if done well. They really can grab my attention and throw me into the story. The problem as a writer - it has to be perfect. Mine was far from perfect.

My real problem is that I have two stories wrapped around each other. One in present day and one about 50 years ago. The older story is small but helpful to understand my main story.

I was trying to start my manuscript with my secondary story and my prologue introduce that second story. Therefore, the prologue didn't have anything to do with the main story itself. The prologue often give a back story that helps the story move. I've heard many editors say that if a prologue is done - they will skip it immediately - read the story and then read the prologue. If the prologue teaches them something that they had missed in the story - then they would consider keeping it. My change wasn't hard at all.

If you can imagine - my manuscript has 56 chapters. 45 chapters are devoted to my main story and about10 chapters are devoted to the secondary story. Truth be told though - the secondary story is really just a single long chapter. My former prologue was the first chapter of 10 I just mentioned.

My change consisted of taking the prologue and moving it to chapter 5 of my story. From there - every 5-7 chapters I would add another piece of the puzzle. It was a fun way of doing it. In the end, I kept the chapter - because it is helpful in the overall story.

What are your feelings, as a reader, about prologues.

If you are a writer...does your idea of a prologue change?