Editing Tricks

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Editing Tricks aka Learning from my mistakes!

I like to think that editing Vanity in Dust has left me with a few new tricks and, if the universe is kind, taught me some things so that I might not make the same mistakes on the next manuscript.

I won’t go through my whole editing process here, just a few tricks I learned from substantive/line edits with my editor.

Among other issues, it turns out I have two major problems with my writing. I’m too wordy and passive. I feel like this is an eerily accurate breakdown of my personality problems, as well…

One of the ways I combed through my MS for passive issues was by using the find and replace function. This function is your friend! I searched for the word “seemed” and weeded out a bunch of those. A bunch. On the first search I found 146 in my MS. I easily brought that down to 34.

I also ran searches for the words: seem, as though, and imagined. Pretty much if I didn’t need it to make the sentence work, it was out. They end up being wishy-washy, noncommittal words that I use on reflex.

Another thing I needed to keep an eye on was how often characters woke up. This sounds dumb if you don’t think about it but if enough scenes start with someone waking up, it becomes noticeable and kinda lame. I started keeping a tally during one of my read throughs and if I could change it, I did.

Speech tags! I love to explain what everyone is doing all the time. It took a great editor to break me of that and really point out how it can slow up dialogue. Again, rule of thumb for everything, if I don’t need it or love it–I delete it.

Formatting!

I had a habit of clicking tab rather than setting indents before this process. Luckily, this was an easy fix. Again, the find and replace function was my best friend.

During one of the rounds of edits I realized I’d gone through at least 1/3 of the book without tracking my changes. My first thought when I realize I’ve done something like this is to buckle down and start fixing it by hand. In this case, that would have meant starting over. I had a mild meltdown before doing some desperate googling. Turns out you can merge docs and track the changes! Google is also your friend. 

Before going crazy and doing anything the hard way, check to see if there’s an easy way.

I’m sure I’ll learn new things with each book that goes through the rounds of edits and if anyone can learn from my mistakes, it’s worth writing about!

I’m currently knee-deep in revisions for the third book of the Crowns & Ash series and putting some of these tips to the test. Wish me luck!

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Pantser VS Plotter

Okay, so there’s generally two camps in writing (there’s a lot of middle ground here, but these are the general groups). A panster is a writer that writes “by the seat of their pants”. Kind of unfair term because many have a plan, but they don’t have an outline. They write what comes to them in the story, finding their way to the end.

A plotter is, exactly what it sounds like, a writer who plots. Yes, all writers plot, but these are the ones that have an outline before they start writing their book.

I used to be a pantser and then accidentally became a plotter. No joke, it just happened. While writing Vanity in Dust, I had all these ideas for the next books in the series. I wouldn’t let myself start another one until the first was done, so I just kept notes for the other books. When I was ready to write book 2, I took a look at my notes and started moving things around into the right order and adding scenes where I needed more and, in the end, had a complete outline.

I decided to try the nanowrimo method and give myself a daily word count goal and just write it–from one scene to the next, down the outline until I was done. 95k in a month.

I’ve done this four more times since and it works for me. I obsess about an idea for a while, thinking it over and making notes that are anywhere from paragraphs of detail and dialogue to “something here”. Some scenes do develop organically while I’m writing, adding to the outline here and there after the daily writing, and others come out exactly as I planned. But, because I have an outline, I never get stuck thinking about what I should do next and inevitably on twitter or watching Killjoys.

Plotting works for me, but that’s not to say the pantser method doesn’t work for others.

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Writing Update – Editing

20150520_132048I am ecstatic to share that my book is going to be published with World Weaver Press.

There is a lot of editing ahead but I am so looking forward to it! I can’t wait to get Vanity in Dust in perfect shape for publishing and out into the world.

This will be my first published work. It is honestly a dream come true. I had some communication with the publisher during the query process and knew that things were going pretty well since I was still being considered but when I got the email that they were interested in publishing me, I cried. It was a bit embarrassing because I was at the gym.

I am so excited to be working with my editor at World Weaver to get Vanity in Dust ready for publication. It’s already been a fantastic experience and I’ve only just started.

I’m in the first round of substantive edits. Wish me luck because it sounds like there will be more!

-cheryl

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Revising/Editing

I’ve been editing the second book of my series and, because I decided beforehand to make some changes and add a few things to it, I get to these exciting pockets where I get to write a new scene.

Let me explain how exciting that is by explaining that I’ve been editing books for a while now. After I finished the zombie book (The Immortal Dead) over the summer, I gave that one a couple read throughs and then after that I gave Vanity in Dust a read through on the computer and then a printed out read through followed by another round on the computer. So, to get to write a handful of scenes again, makes me pretty giddy.

The book I’m editing now is the second of the Vain series I’m working on. I absolutely love working on these books! I love the characters and the world and knowing where everything is going. I can’t wait to get the second book in order so that I can start work on editing the third one (also written already) and finally get it in shape to have Phong and Linn read it.

I sent Vanity in Dust to a publisher for consideration at the start of this month and am just about dying to hear back from them. I’ve also built a list of agents to send queries to as well as a few more small publishers. I really want to see Vanity in Dust given life. I think if will alone could get me published I would be by now but we all know that’s not enough! So query letters and agent lists will become my life!

Honestly, getting to write those few extra scenes was such a pick-me-up. I will make this happen!

Posts with pictures from our Piteå trip to come!

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Hopes High

The publisher I’m planning to send my book to only takes submissions three months out of the year. This has created an interesting issue in that I have been ready to send it off to them for the past two months. I gave Vain (said book) another read through on the computer, printed it and read it through once more in an attempt to catch any mistakes I missed and anything I no longer liked.

I wrote this book in 2011, I think. I have since written the two following books, an urban fantasy that needs some serious polishing and then, this last summer, a post-apocalyptic zombie story (in an attempt to try something different). So, to go back and reread Vain after all of those was actually really fun and there were definitely some things I caught that I don’t think I would have seen at all a few years ago.

Printing it out and reading it on paper was also incredibly useful. I realized that when I was editing the zombie book. I feel like I catch a lot more mistakes, or just words used to closely to one another, on paper that I somehow missed when reading on my computer.

Back to the pending query though, I am getting really anxious. I’ve sent Vanity in Dust (affectionately called Vain) to a handful of agents over the years and, obviously, had no luck. I came across World Weaver Press a while back when I was entertaining the idea of writing short stories (turns out that short is not my skill). They are absolutely everything I ever wanted. Personal, professional, socially available and competent. Plus, their covers are lovely. It’s petty but come on, who doesn’t care?

The problem? The time I have had to build up the hope of being a part of this publishing group. Hope is as dangerous as it is powerful. I want it. I would usually avoid even talking about it for fear of how I’ll feel when it passes me by, but that’s not very honest. The truth is that I want to be published. I want to be heard. And I want this publisher to be the publisher and this year to be the year.

So, there’s a bit of honesty and a glimpse at the inner wants of a writer not yet author.

Someday.

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