Editing Tip Tuesday

5905866509_f4e9323fbd_oWRITE!

That’s my tip: write. You might be thinking, Stacey, (crazy lady) how is WRITE! an editing tip? 

Here’s the thing. If you don’t write, you won’t have anything to edit. I can’t help you if you don’t have a finished piece. I’m a little over half way through my current WIP and you know what I want to do? Fix it. But I keep telling myself I can’t fix what isn’t there. Keep moving forward. When I get to the end, I can go back.

I love to edit. It’s my favorite part of the process. I’m already planning how I’m going to handle the second draft. Here’s what I have planned: I’m going to pull out my 4×5 index cards. (I’m hoping I need extra and I can go to Staples to buy more. I love supplies. Buying school supplies for my kids is one of my favorite things to do. Don’t you just love a brand new notebook?) I’m going to put a brief outline of each chapter on the cards then bind them together with a binder ring. I can flip through them and see what’s happening in each chapter, what’s missing, what needs to be taken away.

notebook
Can’t wait to break this baby in!

I also like to color code. I’ll probably color code each plot layer so I can see how I’m pulling it through the book or not. The colors will also let me focus on a specific plot layer then go back for the others. Colors are fun. How can I deprive myself the chance to play with color?

But I can’t do any editing and neither can you, until the first draft is done. So, how do you finish? Show up at your computer every day. Set daily word count goals or time in the seat goals. Turn off the internet. Put words on the page even if the words make you cringe and you think you haven’t learned a thing about writing since kindergarten. WRITE! You can fix it later. Or I can help you fix it if you’re overwhelmed or don’t know what to do.

Do you like to write with music? Turn it on then sit down and write. Maybe you have a candle you like to light first. Do it. Your brain will recognize the routines and know it’s time to get to work. The only way to finish is to show up. Writing a novel is a marathon. You have to train and the only way to do that is to WRITE!

Write every day. There are plenty of times I don’t make my writing goals. I try not to beat myself up about it. There’s always tomorrow and I have two teenagers that need to be places all day long, a dog that needs to be places too, and a house that needs to be cleaned. (Other authors will say they ignore their house, but unfortunately I’m nuts and I can’t do that. Don’t follow me. Be like them. WRITE!)

Before you know it, that first draft will be done and then the fun begins. EDIT!

What are your writing goals for today?

How can I help you make your novel even better?

 

 

To My Stoneware

11695229244_c4f9e93b07_kI often say friendships are like paper plates because they are disposable. Let me be clear right off the bat because I’ve been yelled at before for this. Friendships are disposable. Not people. Not every friendship is meant to last a lifetime. Friendships serve a purpose and when that purpose is over the friendship ends. Like paper plates.

Some friendships are like stoneware. Strong, durable, chip-resistant, reusable, dishwasher safe and decorative. I was hanging with a piece of my stoneware recently and was reminded how grateful I am for her.

My stoneware doesn’t judge me and I don’t judge it. It helps that I picked it out, but some stoneware isn’t made as well and breaks fooling me into thinking it was better quality. (It’s best to read the labels first.) The lifetime stoneware, the unbreakable, lets me vent when I need to, sit quietly if I have to, reminds me to laugh and offers sage advice.

Stoneware is there when you need it for the parties and the lonely dinners for one. Stoneware doesn’t leak through when you’re sick. It’s probably grateful for the cycle in the dishwasher, but it won’t ditch you.

Having stoneware doesn’t mean you won’t argue with it, disagree with it or even misplace it for a while. Believe me, I lost a very important piece to the set and it took me years to locate it, but when I did that dish slid right back into rotation like it never left. That is what stoneware does. A paper plate would’ve been mush by then.

You know, I chose a plate way back when I was ten. I thought for sure it was stoneware. We walked to school together, rode bikes together, laughed, kept secrets, double dated. We understood each other. The connection lasted a long time. But, I misplaced it and it took nearly twenty years to locate it. When I did, I was sad to find out my dish wasn’t stoneware at all. It was a paper plate without any coating. Unsalvageable. How could I have been so wrong about my choice?

I have very few pieces of stoneware. I’m okay with that. If you get two good dishes in your life, you’re lucky. I’m grateful for my stoneware and I probably don’t tell them enough. So, thank you, stoneware for our years together. For the laughter. And the tears. Thank you for letting me be me, chipped, dented, less vibrant than I once was, my design not so much decorative, but loud.

What do you like best about your stoneware?

 

Editing Tip Tuesday

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Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Layer it on.

Plot layers. One of my favorite books on the craft of writing is Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. It’s a wonderful tool to use after you’ve completed your first draft.

One thing Mr. Maass states is there are never too many plot layers.  Plot layers are story lines that happen to the main characters. Subplots are story lines that happen to other characters.

In the book, One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, the main character Jess is a single mom working two jobs and can’t make ends meet. She’s a special single mom because one of her two kids is her ex-husband’s son from another relationship. Her ex took off two years earlier claiming he couldn’t deal with life and needed time to get his act together. Her daughter has a chance to attend a private school for gifted math students except Jess doesn’t have the money to send her, but if she can get Tanzie to the Math Olympiad on time her daughter might win a scholarship. But Jess has another problem. She doesn’t have a proper car or a license. She’s forced to take her ex’s beat up Rolls from the garage where it has sat untouched for two years. When she gets pulled over by the police, the car gets towed and her and her family are stranded on the side of the road when our hero steps in and offers them a ride. It’s going to take four days to get to the Olympiad and along the way Jess develops feelings for our hero. Those feelings prove to be a problem.

How many plot layers does Jess have? By my count. 7.  Moyes does a wonderful job of weaving Jess’ plot layers around the subplots of the other characters and through out the book the reader is turning the page wondering how Jess is going to handle the next crisis thrown at her. Because every character in this story is flawed and real and Jess cares deeply about her children’s happiness she’ll do whatever it takes to make them so.

When you’ve finished with your first draft ask yourself how many layers does your main character have? Can you add more? I bet you can. How do those plot layers work with the subplot of the other characters? Does everything have a purpose?

Any questions?

The Doors Are Open

open door
Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

It’s official. The doors to my editorial business are now open. I’m excited about the opportunity to help writers fulfill their writing goals whether it’s to be published or simply become a better writer.

I have been editing fiction manuscripts for 8 years. I am the author of 3 middle grade fantasy adventure novels and a teacher of creative writing to students of all ages. Clients include award winning authors of all genres.

My expertise lies in developmental editing. I will provide a comprehensive assessment of story concept, story structure and plot points, characterizations, point of view, dialogue, and setting.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech, Theater, Communications and over twenty years writing experience.

My critiques will be constructive. I believe in focusing on the positive approach while offering suggestions to make your manuscript better. I will never use negative comments while handling your work. I respect and admire all my clients’ quest for publication and I’m honored to be able to assist them in pursuing their goals.

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I look forward to working with you.

 

Editing Tip Tuesday

actor
Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Whose scene is it anyway?

In many novels, there is more than one point of view (POV) character. It isn’t unheard of for characters to run around in a writer’s head demanding to tell their story. This goes on in real life too. Do you know how many people I’ve met who tell me I should write about them? But back to the point.

Not every character can be the lead in every scene. You must decide who has the most at stake in that scene and that’s your POV character. You might find while you’re writing that a scene isn’t working. I know this is happening when I’m writing because I physically feel like I’m banging up against something. (I know, weird, but I’ve learned to identify this strange feeling and work with it.) If you ask yourself the hard truth, you’ll know if a scene isn’t working for you too. Sorry, not all our writing is pretty.

Ask yourself who has the most to gain or lose in this scene? It might not be the person you started out with. Rewrite the scene from another character’s POV and see what happens. At the very least you’ll learn something about the people in your scene. If you’re doing your job right, every character will sound differently and when you give someone else the chance to stand center stage they will show you something you didn’t know about before in your story. I promise you.

Any questions? I love hearing from you. Happy Writing!

25 Ways To Relieve Stress

I’m not a drinker. Never was. You can ask the people who’ve known me for years. They’ll tell you. It’s a control thing. Since we all know I’m a control freak, alcohol can get the upper hand and I don’t like that. Plus I hate the way alcohol tastes. Yup, I said it. It’s bitter and gross. Not for me. Not to mention wine gives me a migraine and beer, even one, can make me sick. I must be allergic to an ingredient. It’s never been worth it to me to drink. Why waste the calories?

But I understand why people do drink. If you’re having a bad day, week, month, year and you need a quick way to untie the knots in your shoulders a glass of wine will do it. There have been many times recently I wish I did drink. I’d like something to take the stress away without me breaking a sweat to do it. I’m having one of those moments right now. (And I already worked out today) So instead of drinking I’m going to blow my calories and maybe ease my stress with the one thing I do like.

cookieI’m sure I’ll hate myself later.

As I write this, I don’t know if I should vent out my stress here for all of you to read (honestly, I’m not a good sharer like that) or educate us on ways to relieve stress, but we know them, don’t we?

  1. Pray
  2. Meditate
  3. Exercise
  4. Sit with nature
  5. Listen to calming music
  6. Take a drive
  7. Scream at the top of your lungs
  8. Take a bath
  9. Call a friend who makes you laugh
  10. Read (big one for me)
  11. Play an instrument
  12. Write
  13. Paint
  14. Get a massage, a pedicure
  15. Shop
  16. Cry
  17. Walk on the beach
  18. Help someone else
  19. Jump on a trampoline
  20. Roll down a hill
  21. Watch a baby discover his toes
  22. Smell freshly cut grass (unless you’re allergic)
  23. Roast marshmallows over an open fire
  24. Eat chocolate
  25. Chase rainbows

I have my Healing Music playing. I’m sitting outside watching the trees push the breeze around. The sky is clear, deep blue marked by fluffy, clouds of cotton. The cookie is half-way gone. I barely remember eating it. What’s next?

Another moment. Another chance to catch my breath. A quiet place to read a book. Tomorrow, hopefully.

If I was smart, I wouldn’t get stressed out. In the grand scheme of things, nothing is that bad. Challenging at times, but manageable. I have what’s important. The rest I should surrender. When do you think I’ll learn that lesson?

Not before the cookie is gone, I’ll tell you that.

So, how do you relieve stress? I’d love to hear from you.

Editing Tip Tuesday

Professorhinkle frosty the snowman

How’s the writing going? Slow, words are flowing, staring at a blank screen, characters with minds of their own, too many words, not enough words, need more conflict. All appropriate answers.

I’m a believer that all stories are character driven. Sometimes you’ll hear stories are plot driven. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Characters under pressure drive the story. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t have your characters making choices under pressure it doesn’t matter how good your story idea is because nothing is happening.

It’s important to know who your characters are before you even begin writing. I write character sketches of all of my main characters, not just the protagonist or antagonist or in a romance not just hero/heroine. When you know you’re characters well you’ll know what kind of choices they’ll make.

There’s also a difference between characterization and character. Characterization are all things we know about our character. Character is revealed in the choices they make under pressure.

Here’s an example of questions I ask and tell other writers to ask about their characters:

Gender, Age, Hair/Eye Color, Birthmarks, Height, Body Type, Family Life, Education, Jobs, Where did they grow up, Style of Speech, Attitudes and Opinions, Religion, What do they like to eat, Hobbies, Sports,

First date, First crush, first kiss, did they go to the prom, college, travel

Are they weak or strong emotionally, honest or a liar, cruel or kind, generous or selfish

You can keep going from there. The more you know the easier it will be to drive the story.

Any questions? I’d love to hear from you.

WinerywtableAre you having trouble keeping the distractions from creeping into your writing time? I’m hosting a distraction free writing retreat on September 10, 2016 in Ringoes, NJ at Old York Cellars Vineyard. It’s a day dedicated to keep you moving forward on your manuscript. Designated writing areas with no Wi-Fi, no cell phone zones. We also have optional activities to participate in: writing sprints, group walks, critiques, neck and shoulder massage, discussion groups for brainstorming, plotting, craft, etc. Sample wine in the tasting room.

For more information and to can sign up go to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/writenowwritersretreat