Monday, June 16, 2014

Editing... the endless uphill climb

7 Falls, in Colorado, looking down the first flight

The uphill editing climb seems to go forever and ever.  When you get to the top of the stairs, you look down, and are amazed at how far you've come, but you don't want to turn the other way, because you know there is still a lot more to do.  It can be maddening, frustrating, and feel like it's taking absolutely forever.
7 Falls, same platform, looking up flight #2.  It never ends.

So, my work schedule has given me time every other week to work during the day, before I have to go to my day job.  My opposite weeks are crazy, I'm at work all morning, often stay late, and am just worn out and don't want to bother with the book edit when I get home, even if it's early.  

But!  I think this is actually a good thing.  I'm getting lots of work done on my closing weeks, I get a whole week away from the work, and I come back every other week, fully refreshed and ready to press on.  It gives me just enough space from my current project to look at it as a reader again, and I can do a quick review of the work from the previous week before starting again.

I don't feel like I'm beating my head against a wall this way.  I feel like I'm actually making progress, and getting somewhere with it.  It keeps me excited about it.

So!  If you are able to work in chunks and take breaks, then come back, I'd highly recommend trying it.  It may or may not work for you, but it's worth a try!  Maybe alternate writing one project and editing another every other week?  Or just take one week off every other week.  Find a way to give yourself natural breaks from it, and see if that helps you keep working on it.

I know how easy it is to just get frustrated and want to give up, because it's never going to be ready at this rate.  I know how tempting it is to walk away and put this book on a shelf next to the other unfinished projects.

My suggestion, really, is to try and find a way to STAY excited about your project.  If you're excited about it, you won't want to put it down and walk away.  It's hard, and it's taken me a while to see it in that light, but it is a writing/editing epiphany for me.  Stay excited, and you will keep on going.  See if you can achieve that, and see how you feel about it!  :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Micro Edits Don't Have to Take Forever

my view as I edit, today

When you are editing, and you're making little changes here and there, pushing your timeline back some, moving these details over here...  how do you make sure you get everything?

I'm changing a lot of tiny details about my current work in progress, from correcting disease and parasite names to their proper spelling and capitalization to changing when and where certain things start cropping up/being noticed by the characters.  Moving this over here, and that over there, adding in the cat who seemed to be forgotten after the first few chapters, etc.

And as I go back, I realize a lot of little comments were made that now need to be changed or removed, or moved somewhere else.  But how to find them all?

I've started making changes (like moving detail X back a few chapters, because it makes more sense to introduce it here, rather than there), and going back to the earlier chapters to double check the details and be sure it's all in the right order.  The Control + F finder option has been a huge help.  I look for keywords and find the areas I forgot to change, and fix them.  Depending on how pervasive the issue was, it can take a while...  but I know for sure I got each and every one of them.

It's faster than re-reading the entire document, which I will do later, just in case, and helps me get the micro edits done.  Control F, or look in the program's "find" feature.  It's usually located under the Edit subheader.

Take your time, get it done right.  It takes forever.  But it's worth it.  Do your research, and be sure your changes are done properly.  You will be glad of it later, and so will your readers.

Now, back to the editing table!  Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Research! Research! Research!!

Unless you are making your whole world from scratch, you must research.  If you don't, your readers will hate you for it.  They will read over a section, and those in the field you're pretending to understand will sit there and cringe.

I don't know how many times I've read over something and just sat there shaking my head.  It wouldn't take that much work to find out the details and make it correct.  One little web search.  One little trip to the library.

If you are writing about imaginary things, you get to make it up, to a point.  A fictional disease can have whatever rules you want.  It can take 2 weeks to incubate, then kill in 2 days.  Whatever, no big deal.  But if you're writing a REAL disease, please, for the love of Pete, learn it inside and out.  Make sure your timeline fits the real disease.  Make sure your symptoms match.  Confuse the doctors by having something extra going on if you must, but make it fit!!

Even if you are making your world from scratch, you must know the details that rule that universe.  Write them down.  Keep them on hand for reference.

I say this as I edit my current book, and am tediously going over the details of a certain issue that happens.  It needs to happen, and I need the timeline to be right.  If I mess it up, I won't be able to forgive myself.  Because as a reader, that kind of thing would drive me crazy!  And I'm hardly alone in this.

It's ok to put place holders in as you write and research later.  (x number of days) or (symptoms) etc in the place where the real info goes.  Trust me, it makes those things easier to find and fix, later, upon editing.  Having a general knowledge before you write is helpful, but use the parentheses to help with the tiny details you might forget.  It's a good thing to double check later, at the very least.

Anyway!  Carry on.  But please, please, research.  The more knowledgeable you are about something, the better you will be able to get it across to people.  And that, my friends, makes for a good read.

pic:  my kiddos, hanging out with books before school.  "Put your books down, it's time for school!" is a phrase I never thought I'd say.  But there it is.  ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Kill your darlings!

I say "kill your darlings," but what does that mean, exactly?  I'm in editing on a fun project, and I had a moment where I wasn't sure if something WAS a darling, and therefore wasn't sure if it needed to die, after all.  So here I am, fleshing it out, like I always do.

The phrase came from William Faulkner, as writing advice, as I understand it.  The official quote, the way I've seen it is, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”  If it's something you threw in just because it's cute and clever and you just love it?  It probably doesn't belong.

That cute little blip you threw in about not cleaning counters and chairs with the same rag?  Probably not relevant.  If it doesn't move the plot forward or give you insight into the character's mindset?  Probably doesn't belong.

I'm keeping my cute little thing for right now, because I think it DOES still fit, but I marked it for later review.  I'm not sure, which means it might just be something that needs to go away.  It's so hard to see these things yourself, as the writer, because you love them.  But when editing, we need to put on our reader hats, and see if it reads well.  As the reader, not the writer
.  And if not?  It needs to die.  

For now, I'm working on re-arranging some information that's important to the plot, so it reads smoother and is less info-dump-y...  and editing some decisions I made for some characters, because it's really not "in character" for them, etc.  My hard copy is rather marked up at the moment, and it's mostly in need to rearranging and rewriting, with a few added scenes.  But it's coming together nicely!  And I can look at that paragraph later, to decide what needs to happen to it.

Happy editing, or writing, or researching, wherever you are right now!  :)  Be strong, my friends.  The darlings are lovely.  But they all need to die.  I promise, the story will be better for it.  Even if it hurts.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Using Your Dreams for Inspiration

We all dream.  I'm not talking about wanting to be a published author with a great following, or anything like that.  I'm talking about when you are asleep and your subconscious is working for you.  Most of our dreams, we don't remember, and that's just the nature of them, but the ones we do remember?  They can be our inspiration for great things.

If you don't already do so, consider journaling them.  Or write them down in a note file on your phone or in your computer.  Jot down what you can remember, and file it away for later.  You might not think anything of it right now, but it might turn into something big later.  If it evoked feelings, write that down too.

The same thing goes with daydreams or random ideas that come to you during the day.  If you don't write them down, you are likely to forget them, which is sad.

The novel I'm working on editing today was inspired by a dream, which is why I bring it up.  It was the kind of dream that would terrify most people, and yes, I was scared.  But when I woke up, the first thought in my mind was, "I can USE this!!" and I wrote it down.  It was the beginning of my zombie creatures, different than any other zombie creatures I've read/seen before (not to say it hasn't been done, but I haven't seen it myself!).

I got a feel for how they moved, ate, operated in a group, and lived.  I understood why they were nocturnal, and got a feeling for how the unchanged humans might feel if their loved ones had changed and disappeared.  And I have used all of that.  The details in my book and in my dream are different, but the feeling is what I'm running with, and it inspired me to use that world as a setting for another story I'd wanted to do for a long time.

It's working out beautifully, and I just wanted to share that little tip!  Dreams.  Write them down.  You never know when they might be useful!

Happy writing!  And if you missed it, a few days ago, I posted the Prologue for this work in progress!  It's rather a fun read, and is a unique way to show the zombies for the first time.  It was a lot of fun to write!