Archive for the ‘editing’ Category

Book rec

When I decided to try to level up from writer to author, I went looking for books on how to do that. Do you know how many people are out there writing about writing? And how many people are out there waitiOuliningBookPIcng to take advantage of aspiring authors?

I’ve gotten some really great books in the past few years. And one really great audio lecture. But I think the book I use the most and has given me the most oomph in my writing has been Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. After reading this book, it isn’t a surprise that Weiland also has a very successful website titled Helping Writers Become Authors.

Now, in the past I’ve been a full-blown pantser, the kind of writer who just starts writing by the seat of her pants and has no plan whatsoever. My only series and my biggest writing endeavor was all done with no real outline. Just an idea. But I was younger then with less cares (cue music and fuzzy memories). Now I have a lot more on my brain plate and have found that waiting about for the muse to strike and the story to form organically as I write isn’t happening. So I’ve started outlining.

There are many, many reasons why outlining is particularly awesome and the book goes into that. But the best thing, I think, that  outlining and, in particular, this book does extremely well, is get ideas to flow. Not just simple ideas, but ideas that can turn readers on their heads and they’ll love you for it. Ideas that might not come to you as you are writing because you are in the thick of it and can’t pull away far enough to see all the big picture and to see all the ways your story could go. Maybe you’ll see it in editing, but then you’ll be doing cutting and pasting and tweaking and shoving. You’ll have to do all that anyway, so why make more of the work for yourself, I ask.

Weiland doesn’t just sell a book that tells you how to organize your thoughts, but to really delve into and work out everything your story needs and wants. She teaches ways to jog some great plot points out and how to really flesh out characters and, more importantly, setting. So many authors, particularly in my genre, completely forget setting. Their characters dance about on a blank stage and it’s a truly terrible thing to read. In my big ol’ epic piece , The Concubine Prince, (which I am still writing on) I had my setting all planned out, but this book helped me get more detailed, more into it than just looking at it like a map. And because the setting came to life, more of the story could unfold and breathe, as well.

This book is laid out logically and written in a very engaging way. It’s not at all boring or dry. She uses real-life examples from other authors, as well as examples from the outlines on her own books. There is a workbook that goes along with this one, but I haven’t felt the need for it. Everything you need is right there and ready to be used and applied. A highly recommended book for any writer of fiction.

What about you? Have any excellent writing resources? Please do share!

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I hate when authors think that readers are stupid. One of the things I’ll point out in my book reviews is repetition of facts. As if readers can’t be trusted to remember things.

And I hate when authors think that readers don’t remember and then try to change the story.

An example of this is found in True Blood, the kinda-sorta adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by the amazing Ms. Harris. I’m not complaining about how the the screenwriters forgot her story. I liked some of the changes they made (Lafayette lived and was fabulous!) and other changes I loathed. But I went with what the author said: “They don’t tell me how to write my books. I don’t tell them how to do their tv show.” So they introduce Hep V and everyone is all, “What the hell is that? What? That’s something I am shocked to hear about!”

Now, at the time, I admit that pissed me right off and I paused my streaming viewing to rant for a couple minutes on the fact that Hep V was introduced in the first season! A fangbanger had it and Sookie stopped Bill from drinking from him. Then Bill explained to Sookie and the audience that it was a strain of Hepatitis that effected vampires, making them slow and sick (and therefore easier to kill) for a few months. Sure, ok, I’m binge watching with the wife and we’ve gone through five seasons in as many weeks. However, Netflix had already become a thing when this show was out, so the screenwriters would have known binge-watching was something they’d have to be conscious of. I’m offended they would think this would be forgotten.

So, fine, my bad. The first season referred to Hep D. Not V. Easy mistake to make. It had been a few weeks, after all, since I’d seen that episode. But it had stuck out in my mind as both an interesting story bit as well as being underwhelming by it’s negligible effect on and threat to vamps.

But the fact that every character was horribly shocked by a blood-born disease for vamps was ridiculous. They knew about Hep D. The more realistic reaction would have been to make a comparison to Hep D (thereby reminding the audience that they are not talking about the disease that is nearly homophone to the new disease), to brush it off as being not so scary since Hep D wasn’t that bad, and/or to be shocked that it could be a lot scarier than Hep D. To act as if the idea itself was new and strange was stupid. And insulting to those of us paying attention and invested in the story.

Books do it too, and it’s the quickest way to toss me out of the story. When I’m reading, I’m building a world out of the material you’re giving me. You can’t hand me straw when you’ve been giving me bricks and tell me no it’s been straw all along. You have to stay consistent. But you don’t have to repeat it over and over. If it’s been a while, or a detail that might have been lost in a greater scene, then yes, please do shine a light on it. But if you’ve told me something twice don’t say it again. If you do, I’m going to assume that I am not dumb enough to be your intended audience and DNF your book, pronto and with extreme prejudice.

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Like, scary hard.

I have this series- No, let’s be more specific. It’s an anthology, really. Same set of characters with different short stories and novellas about them. A good friend and great editor has told me to package it into a novel. So, trying to figure out the lay of the book, I put each story on its own index card, then tried getting them into some sort of novel form.



The issue is that each short story grew the characters in some way, which is great, obviously. I’d have been falling down on the job if they hadn’t. But how do I cut and splice these into a coherent whole? I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to make them into two or three novels. Now I have the task of getting each book it’s own solid plot as well as the over-arching plot of the multiple books. The first book will be nearly all new material, never before seen. That’s exciting. And the major climatic point of the whole “series” will also be never-before-seen stuff. I have to admit it is really nice to be able to use all the ideas and partially written bits that had never had the chance to make it into the original. It’s more than nice. It’s exciting and fun and I’ll be happy that my unfinished story will get to be finished for real this time. Back in the before times, I burned out and we closed the site pretty quickly, so I could only give as soft a landing as I could for readers. This is going to be good. Really, really daunting. But, yeah, good.

And I’ve got a name for the island, so double-good!

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Some of you may know that I wrote a series of serial fiction called Island Ink. It’s been hidden away from mass consumption for a few years now and I need to get it out there. So I’ve been editing it. The biggest part about editing this particular work is that I have to change its location from a Caribbean island to… somewhere else. I had been working on putting its new location in Chesapeake Bay. I thought that was perfect. And I’ve been diligently switching weather and seasons and fauna from the Caribbean to Maryland.

I just realized I have no clue what Maryland is like.

Talk about writing what you know! It’s not like there is a plethora of movies or tv shows based in the Chesapeake Bay to even give a writer a clue. Best I could come up with is some nature documentaries. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but, seriously, this is not working. Maryland is a state between the South and the North, oh, and it’s on the East coast. All three things I know nothing about and there is no way I can take a quick jaunt across the country to explore the location. What the hell was I thinking? It took me six chapters to figure this out?

So, here I am, realizing my stories are once again taking place in the air. The great, blank air.

I hate editing my own work. I can’t be trusted with it.

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