Trimming the Fat

Written By: Janna - Sep• 22•13

I’m knee deep into the last (hopefully the last!) stages of editing my very first novel.

The editing muscle is a difficult one to build, and you have to grow some thick skin along with it. That way, when those little blue markup boxes appear in the margins of your manuscript and say things like, “This is cheesy,” or “This is confusing,” you can skip right past the indignant visceral reaction and objectively say, “Well, yes it is. Let me fix it.”

I have one editor (yeah Kellie, I’m talking about you) who’s a stickler for “Does it move the plot along?” Which I’ll admit, is good for me, who tends to write these beautiful, plot killing descriptions, or dialogue taking up precious word count just for a laugh.

The first time she suggested cutting a chapter. AN ENTIRE CHAPTER I wanted to cry a little, and it took me a little while, but in the end, I cut it, and missed it a lot less than I thought I would. The little bit of me that pined after it was purely nostalgic, because it did pick up the pace of the story. And really, what had we lost? A little character development that could me moved to different chapters? A repeat of information?

So the second time she suggested taking AN ENTIRE SECTION OUT, the urge to cry was less, and I loved the idea for a rewrite, so I dove in with gusto. Some times it works, sometimes you have to pitch it. I’m still waiting to hear about this one.

So listen to the people who are just as interested in seeing your manuscript succeed as you are, but are not as emotionally involved in the project. Those that can take an objective step back and say, “This isn’t working,” or “Try it this way.” Keep in mind, they’re right 95% of the time.

But the blue markup boxes aren’t always pointing out a thing to fix.  There’s nothing like getting a “lol” where you meant your reader to laugh or a “very cool!” when they reach one of your more brilliant and creative designs in the novel. Really it makes up for the pain of trimming the fat.

The Cover! THE COVER!

Written By: Janna - Jun• 28•13

I kind of wish my husband could have recorded the happy dance I did when Ravven Kitsune sent over the mockups of the cover for A Grimm Legacy.  Because then I could put it on the website and we could all have a good laugh.  Maybe I’ll try to recreate it one day.

That is when it felt like I had done something real.  Seeing my name of the bottom.

So hopefully you’ll all be on tender hooks until October 1s (the release date), because I will be.  I’ll also be joyfully editing like crazy.

In other writing news:  I’m waiting on my final edits to come back, and waiting has never been my strong point.  Although I have to say that the publishing process has taught me patience like nothing else has.  Even growing a baby doesn’t take as long 🙂

So while I wait, I’m finishing the second installment of my Grimm tales, which had to be done anyway.  I wrote two chapters this week and loved them.  I laughed myself silly.  Of course I’ll go back and read it in a month or two and see if I was just really tired as I wrote, or actually funny.  Time will tell.  One more chapter to go, and then off to the editing process.  Beta readers get ready, you’re up next.

grimm_final copy

Slaying the Two-Headed Monster

Written By: Janna - Jun• 07•13

The two headed monster that can be editing.

It can be soothing—in a way—to work within the framework of a story that’s already been written.  When you want to bang your head against the computer screen as you find another—ANOTHER—spelling mistake, and you’ve already found 50,000 spelling mistakes in a 90,000 word manuscript.  How can there possibly be another one?  Did I spell nothing right?  At that point you can comfort yourself.  At least it is written.

Now to tweak it.

I had to get out of a certain mindset before the editing process could really began.  I had written a novel, and while I knew it wasn’t set it stone, in my mind I was thinking:  spelling errors, missed commas, unclear sentences.

Sad, naive Janna.

Instead I was faced with plot holes, (how did I read that scene at least 75 times over the last year and never catch that misplaced piece of information?  How?) weak motivation, character strengthening and having my readers simply wanting more.

I had confined my manuscript to a box.  It was a good box, but sticking my hand out and waving it around a little, I found there was a lot of things it was missing lurking just outside the box.

Adding entire new scenes (*gasp*) had for some reason, never occurred to me.  I had written it, it was done.  It cannot change and grow.  Or can it?

The new scenes were a lot of fun to write.  I just needed a suggestion and they began forming in my mind.  Some worked, some didn’t.  Some caused ripple effects I had to follow throughout the novel (thank goodness for the search button).

The edits that involve scrolling through 280 pages and finding all the superfluous words before deleting them… not so much fun.  But it made my writing better.  I could feel the story tightening, becoming smoother and easier to read.

Becoming a story to get lost in.  Hopefully a story that fills the reader with that mixture of excitement and dread as the unread pages get thinner and thinner, the slight disappointment but delicious satisfaction of, it’s almost over.

The Same Way Twice

Written By: Janna - May• 18•13

“Things never happen the same way twice.” -C.S.Lewis

This can be applied, like so many bits of Lewis’ books, to a endless variety of circumstances.  Not the least of which is writing.

I’m embarking on a slightly scary, but enormously exciting, endeaveor of having my first book published.  While I’m in no way qualified to give advice (I am an infant in this field) I would like to share a few truths I have discovered.

  • No matter how many books you read on the subject, how much advice you get, or how obsessively you outline your synopsis, things never happen in the same way twice.  Someone else’s process will not be your process. So grab your cup of tea (or coffee, or vodka) park your rear in front of a word processor and make your fingers move over the keys.  That’s the only way to find out how you write.
  • When you finally get on a roll, your kids will interrupt you.  For a glass of milk, because one of them flushed an apple core down the toilet, or sibling #1 has hit sibling#2 on the head with a golf club and now needs stitches–it will happen.  It’s similar to Murphey’s Law.
  • What you have written will have to sit–for a week, a month, two months–until you can read it again with fresh eyes and decide if it’s readable, or it’s rubbish.  There’s no getting around it.  I suggest finding a new hobby to persue to help pass the time.
  • Half of writing is observation.  Learn to watch what’s going on around you.
  • Don’t wake your spouse from a dead sleep to read them your latest paragraph.  Their eyes might be open, but they’re not conscious.
  • Forward and foreword are different.  Learn them, don’t get them confused.
  • Don’t try to cook and write at the same time.  The results will leave a bad taste in your mouth.
  • When you’ve got writer’s block, you’ll find yourself hunting for something to clean or fold.  I’m not kidding here.  There’s science to back up the fact that if you engage the left side of your brain with a repetitive, boring task, it frees up up the right side of your brain for creative thought.  If you find yourself with no scrubbing of your own, I’ll send you my address.