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One Thing That Works for Me with guest Kristi Ann Hunter: Rewrite the Book

 

One Thing That Works for Me with guest Kristi Ann Hunter: Rewrite the Book
 

Good Monday morning, Seekerville, and Happy Valentine's Day! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author, podcaster, and all-around super-cool person Kristi Ann Hunter to share about an editing trick that works for her. By the way, if you haven't yet checked out her books, I can't think of a better day than one dedicated to romance! 

Edit. Technically speaking, it’s a four-letter word, but for some writers it’s an agonizing chamber of never-ending torture as you comb through the sentences looking for the right place to add a word here or change a phrase there or enhance this sensory detail or remove that unnecessary description.

Allow me to make it worse. At least it’s going to sound that way at first. For some of you, though, it will be the best editing advice you’ve ever heard. How do I know? Because it’s the best editing advice I’ve ever heard and the person I learned it from claimed the same thing.

We’re talking about a very particular stage of edits today. Some people call them substantive edits, others call them high-level, and still others refer to them as rewrites. For this article we’re going to use the term rewrites. One, because it’s shorter, and two, because, well, you’ll see in a minute.

One Thing That Works for Me with guest Kristi Ann Hunter: Rewrite the Book
Rewrites come after you’ve written and worked through the first draft. The story is completely written and you’ve passed it through a critique group or a couple of beta readers, maybe an editor. You’ve read through it yourself and now you have a stack full of notes and now it’s time to take your book to the next level.

What works for me at this stage of editing is to rewrite the book.

Literally.

I open the existing manuscript on one side of the screen and a blank document on the other. Then I start typing.

I retype every single word of that book. Does it take a while? Yes. Do I occasionally copy and paste a couple of sentences or even a paragraph? Yes. Do I think it’s worth it? Thirteen books later, I’m gonna have to say yes.

What is the benefit of rewriting you may ask? Well, when you are already retyping every word of the book, you lose any hesitation to change something. It can be easy to let something okay stay in the book instead of replacing it with something great, just because it’s already there and it works. When you are going to retype it anyway, there’s no reason not to tweak a sentence’s phrasing or switch out one word for a slightly better one.

I find when I rewrite, I make small changes, add tiny details, and find a better rhythm for the story in general because all I’m having to think about is the phrasing on the page. The plot, characters, twists, and turns have already been set. I can bring all my creative energy into the words themselves.

Interested in trying the rewrite everything method for yourself? Here’s a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Large or double screens make this easier. I have a double wide screen on my desk but you can also hook a monitor to a laptop and get the same effect.
  • You will add words. Lots of them. Make sure you leave room in your word count to add the little details and enhancements. I typically add 20,000 words to a full size novel during this pass, so I try to size my first draft accordingly.
  • While you will type this faster than you wrote the first time since most of the creative direction decisions have already been made, it will take time. Build that into your schedule.
  • This is a lot of typing. A lot. I used to have to break out the wrist braces until I got an ergonomic keyboard. Take care of yourself.

If you try this and find it to be the best editing advice you’ve ever heard, I’d love to hear about it. Unfortunately I can’t pass it along to the original advice giver because it was a screen cap of a tumblr post that I came across on Pinterest.

Inspiration is everywhere, people. Don’t be afraid to use it.

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One Thing That Works for Me with guest Kristi Ann Hunter: Rewrite the Book
A lover of stories from before she could read, Kristi Ann Hunter is the award winning author of sweet regencies written from a Christian worldview including A Noble Masquerade and her upcoming novel, Enchanting the Heiress. She functions on a steady diet of chocolate, Chick-fil-a diet lemonade, and swoony visits with her book boyfriends. When she isn't writing or hosting her podcast, A Rough Draft Life, she spends time with her family in Georgia playing board games, being a dance mom, and living her own happily ever after.

Connect with Kristi at her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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What questions do you have for Kristi Ann Hunter about her rewriting everything method?

BACK TO BASICS: Editing to Match the Story

BACK TO BASICS: Editing to Match the Story

This is the kind of post we can all use at times.

Few authors pen a masterpiece.

Fewer yet pen a masterpiece with no need of edits.

But when you're a new writer, the questions of what to edit, how to edit and when to edit are totally legitimate. Because you don't know what you don't know.

So let's start with my way (which I stole from Margaret Daley because it made sense to me and she's a prolific author of great stories... and she worked full time for decades while writing, and I like that kind of tenacity.)

1. Start your story. Write a few chapters. Describe your characters, get to know them, figure them out. Get to a grabs-your-attention spot now that you know your hero/heroine/protagonists and/or antagonists...

And begin there. 

Yes, you heard me. Set aside those initial getting-to-know you chapters and drop your reader into the action. I know, it's not how you learned it in grammar school with Miss Brown, but trust me, guys and gals: Miss Brown won't be seeing this and you want that editor hooked, hooked, hooked. (That's if you're aiming for traditional publishing. If you're going indie, it is just as important to hook the reader the same way. If you don't, they can click out of your book in a heartbeat and be reading someone else's story... edits matter. Do not sell readers short... they don't like that and they will let you know it.)

So now you know where your story starts. You've gotten to know your characters. I'm a "Pantser", I do minimal prep for my story because I'd rather see it come alive daily, so I'm going to talk from that perspective, but friends, EDITS ARE EDITS.

They are needed.

Necessary.

And like chocolate ice cream, they are good for you because you need to learn/see/spot your own weaknesses.

2. Do you mess up timelines? 

Do a chart that tells when important things take place for backstory or historical segment for easy reference. Keep it open as you work.

3. Do you overuse body parts? I saw a reader complaining about so many "He sucked a breath through grated teeth" or something like that. 

Oft-used phrases become annoying in genre reading, mostly because they fit and they're easy.

But there is a problem with expression vs. simple expression and it's kind of like a really good dance... change the tempo, change the moves, change the angles, change the rhythm... and end on a good note! 

FINAL DANCE SCENE FROM DIRTY DANCING!!!!!!!!! SWOON! 

Those closing scenes, from black moment on, carried your emotions on a roller coaster ride of why nots and what ifs, and that's what great edits can do: They take your reader on that ride because that's what a great story does... (having just returned from an amusement park and roller coasters, I can attest to this!)

Expression vs. simple expression is often about timing. If you overuse either maneuver it sounds unnatural so I pick and choose where I'm going over-the-top with descriptors. And I often do that in dialogue because old ladies and young children often talk that way. Here's an example:

The sun set.

She didn't move. Didn't sigh. Didn't let one tear fall onto the over-washed farm shirt she'd been wearing all day.

It was over.

She knew it. Understood it. Had expected it, even, but now--

Reality had taken it's shot and struck out like Casey at the bat and she was left to pick up the pieces. Again.

BACK TO BASICS: Editing to Match the Story

Ruthy explanation: The setting of that scene makes the scant description come alive in the reader's mind. The starkness offers the picture without me using too many words. 

Here's a different sunset scene:

Layered brilliance lit the western sky with shocking tones of gold, peach, orange, pink and red bordered by a thin splash of green. So thin she almost didn't see it.

The green hugged the horizon like a summer stole before the brighter tones overtook its subtle grace, shrouding it from view. Or maybe they didn't blanket the green. Maybe the power of their glorious salute to day's end sucked it up like a sponge seeking water. Stone-gray wisps filtered eastward, like sashes on a little girl's dress. 

She didn't live for sunsets, but the woods surrounding her tiny home were thick enough to make them a rarity, so today's fiery show drew her in. She could live here if she made that choice. Here with the beauty, the opulence, the gorgeous home, the stately cliffs reaching down, down, down to the sandy beaches below. Here where her heart resided with his. With him. How she wished it were an option.

It wasn't. She knew that.

He didn't.

But as the warm glows of the sinking sun faded to obscure shadows of what had just been, her hopes sank with them. Not her resolve.

She knew her duty. Knew where she had to be.

Now she had to tell him. Tell Carrick. Make him understand. 

He wouldn't. Couldn't. He believed that love conquered all and what he couldn't conquer with love, he'd conquer with might and he'd proven that, time and again but this time...

She stood and brushed grains of sand from the folds of chiffon.

This time she had to face the demons of the past alone and she'd do it because she'd either succeed--

Or die, trying.

And she was okay with either scenario.

Edits aren't just about changing words, slicing and dicing, and strengthening your story's arc. Sometimes they're about making the scene fit the story, the moment, the emotion. If you mess with the emotion of the moment, the scene or the story by giving the readers too much or not enough, it feels wrong, and that's what your edits need to avoid: You don't want your story to feel "wrong"... 

I liken great storytelling to beats of music. When the music works for me it's because the tune and the lyrics and the harmony all feed the moment, making it come alive.

Zach Williams and Dolly Parton's duet on "There Was Jesus" is a perfect example of that... The fact that you can see their breath in the cold barn only adds to the pathos of the song.

There Was Jesus official video here...

As is her partnership with For King and Country on "God Only Knows" that added a layer of absolute pathos to a song that was already wonderful, lifting it to beyond wonderful status.

God Only Knows video with For King and Country and Dolly Parton here...

The two compilations have inspired a new series in my head, a beautiful series of second chances, rough times, bad choices and absolute deliverance, the kind only God can give because humans are so very narrow. 

When you edit, bleed emotion. Choose words with care, not abandon. And don't be afraid to do it again and again because getting it right isn't just your responsibility... it's your duty to the beauty of story.

BACK TO BASICS: Editing to Match the Story

Somewhat bossy and always opinionated, award-winning and bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne has over 60 novels and novellas in print with over 2,000,000 in sales so she's pretty sure she's smart but equally sure that she doesn't know everything about publishing and/or writing so that's why she loves chatting it up with aspiring authors and industry pros over here in Seekerville. Friend Ruthy on Facebook, visit her website ruthloganherne.com and email her at loganherne@gmail.com (where yes, she actually reads and answers her own email.... happily!) 

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Janyre Tromp: Super Hero Editing Trick

 

 
Good Monday morning, Seeker villagers! Carrie here to introduce today's guest for our new monthly 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author & developmental editor Janyre Tromp as she shares her super hero editing trick!

I was once asked how many hours a day I read. My answer—“If my eyes are open, I’m reading.”—might sound strange, but I’m an editor for a traditional publishing house by day and a writer by night. I do a little bit of everything. I’m a bit like a publishing super hero. Well maybe.
 
While I don’t have super powers to leap over the NYT bestseller list, my blend of editor and writer does give me a powerful perspective when it comes to editing and access to some pretty super editing tricks. So when Erica asked me to share the “one thing that works well for me in editing,” I had approximately 2.1 billion things run through my head.
 
But when I got my own manuscript back for its substantive (or developmental) edit, I found myself employing one super trick over and over in my communication with my own editor—the hashtag or “#”.
 
While the little pound sign is super powerful in social media, it can perform Herculian feats in your edits too.
 
Let me explain using examples that may or may not be from my actual fantastic editorial letter.
 
Prevents Editing Rabbit Trails
 
Let’s say your editor tells you that she’s concerned about how your character thinks inconsistently about her mother throughout the book. But you have more than twenty pages of other edits to tackle. If you side-track yourself every single time the mother is mentioned, you’ll be constantly doing things like, “Look at me checking this scene to straighten out where everyone is sleeping. And oh look, my character is talking about her mom again. I better fix that hmmm . . .” [Insert ten minutes of messing around with things] “Wait, ummm . . . what was I doing?”
 
Instead of trying to fix the mama issues AND tackle scene specific issues at the same time, insert a comment bubble (in Word, go to Insert/New Comment) and type #mamaissue. Then when you’re done dealing with the specific issues in the whole manuscript, you can search #mamaissue. Magically your word processor will show you every single incident of your character referencing her mother. Now you can fix them without sidetracking yourself.
 
Point to Edits
 
If that’s not enough for you to shout, “It’s bird, it’s a plane. No! It’s a super editing trick.” There’s more.   
 
What if your editor asks you to foreshadow a specific problem earlier? You realize she’s made a very good point, but how do you communicate where you’ve made edits (or let’s be honest, remind yourself where you made the edits)? Enter the super hashtag. You drop “#early” in comment bubbles at your edit points, and voila, your editor can find them all.
 
Tracking Themes, Characters, and Stuff
 
Now maybe you’re thinking, “This is all fine and good if you have an editor to communicate with, but this hashtag isn’t all that for self-edits.”
 
Hold up. 
 
Super hashtag is an editing tool for everyone.
 
Have a theme you’re not sure is clear? Hashtag it. #theme
 
Have a character you think you might need to tweak their arc? Hashtag it. #arc
 
Not sure if your backstory lines up throughout the book? Document the information elsewhere, then go back to your document and, everybody say it with me, “hashtag it.” #backstory
 
Editing is never for the weak at heart and will play mind games better than the world’s most clever villain. But never fear, hashtag is here.
 
Have questions about how it works or ideas of other applications? Or have you used the super hashtag before? I’d love to hear about it. 
 
In the meantime, if you’d like a free copy of my novella, Wide Open, pop over to my website and sign up for my newsletter (which always includes free tips for writers): www.janyretromp.com 

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One Thing That Works For Me with guest Janyre Tromp: Super Hero Editing Trick
Janyre Tromp is a developmental editor with Kregel Publications by day and writer of historical novels with a dose of suspense at night. And that all happens from her kitchen table when she’s not hanging out with her husband, two kids, two troublesome cats, and slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.

Her childrens’ series, All About God’s Animals, is available wherever books are sold, and her novel, Shadows in the Minds Eye, will release winter of 2022.

Connect with Janyre: website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Thank you, Janyre, for such a fabulous & helpful post!
Do you have questions for Janyre on how it works?
Any ideas of other ways this trick can be used?
Have you used the super hashtag before? 

Leave us a comment below!

Revisions, Edits and Other Necessary Evils

Revisions, Edits and Other Necessary Evils

You’ve spent years learning how to craft a story worthy of publication. You have enough rejection letters to paper a feature wall. And then, one day, you get THE CALL. Finally, all of your hard work has paid off. You’ve made it to the big leagues. And then your editor says she’d like a few revisions. “Sure,” you say. You’ve got this. No problem.

Your editor sends the manuscript and you open it to discover phrases like “This scene isn’t working for me. Can you rewrite it?” Or “There’s not enough conflict in this chapter.”  And my favorite, “The stakes need to be higher.”

Your euphoria evaporates and you wonder why he/she even bought the book. You whine and complain for 24 hours (per Seekerville rules 😉), then you get to work on those changes. You send the manuscript back by the designated time and promptly receive an email from your editor telling you they loved the changes and will send line edits soon.

Yes! You made it over another hurdle.

You breeze through the line edits, feeling confident. A couple of weeks later, copy edits arrive. Yet as you open them, tears fill your eyes. They’ve butchered your opening line. The one you love and worked so hard to come up with.

Yes, all this happened to me. I was horrified when I opened that file and saw that “Blakely Daniels’ world had turned upside down” had been changed to “Blakely Daniels’s world had turned upside down.” A subtle change, I know, but that apostrophe S changed the entire flow of the sentence.

Revisions, Edits and Other Necessary Evils

So, I did what any rational newbie would do. I sent a panicked email to my editor with a big, bold subject line that said HELP. Of course, it was after hours so there was no way I was going to hear from her until the next day. Which I did. It was then that my editor gave me some very helpful advice. She explained that editors are an author’s partner in the publishing process. They point out things we might have overlooked, raise questions that make us realize something wasn’t appropriately explained and anything else that gives them pause. She said it’s important that we look at all suggested changes, however, they are not cast in stone. My name will be on the cover of that book, so if some of those suggestions don’t resonate with me, it’s okay to say no.

Boy, was that a relief. My opening line remained the way I originally wrote it. However, the most important part of her advice was that I thoughtfully look at and consider all of the editor’s changes/comments. Ten books later, I still adhere to that advice. Though it’s not always easy when you open a file and see red text and comment bubbles everywhere. So here are some suggestions to help you through the dreaded editing process.

Pray first – Remember, the words on the page should be what God wants, not what we want. And when we’re hard of hearing, He sometimes uses others to point out what should/should not be on the page. Take a moment to ask Him to guide you before delving in.

Thoughtfully consider each suggestion– Have you ever had someone point out your child’s or another loved one’s inadequacies? Even if we agree, it still has us wanting to dig in our heels and fight. That’s how it can be with edits sometimes. But we can’t let that hurt blind us to what is really constructive criticism. Ponder each comment or change to see if makes sense. If they tell you they don’t understand something, then chances are some of your readers might not get it either.

Sleep on it – In my most recent edits, there were a couple of minor suggestions I ignored because I wasn’t sure how to address them. Yet they lingered in my brain. Enough that when I woke up the next morning, I had ideas to improve both.

Revisions, Edits and Other Necessary Evils

Don’t take it personally – As that first editor explained to me, editors are our partners. They’re not sitting there with their proverbial red pen just looking for ways to sabotage us. On the contrary, they’re goal is to help us succeed. Something that’s easy to forget until we get to end of the edits and see those parting notes from the editor telling you how much they enjoyed the story. YOUR story.

Sometimes, despite all the levels of editing, mistakes still happen. I once had the word “thousand” show up as “hundred” in the book. And when you’re talking about elevation, that’s a big deal. The funny thing was, when I went back and looked at the edits, they all said “thousand,” so we have no idea what happened. Fortunately, no one called me out on it.

Editing and revisions are as much a part of the writing process as writing itself. It’s how we approach those necessary evils that’s important. If we ignore them, we’ll quickly get a reputation of being difficult to work with. But if we choose to partner with our editors, thinking of ourselves as part of a team, then everyone’s a winner.

Writers, how do you feel about the editing process, whether it’s from an editor, mentor or critique partner? Do you relish the process or look at it as a necessary evil?

Readers, without mentioning any names/titles, have you ever read a book that you felt was poorly edited?


Revisions, Edits and Other Necessary Evils
Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com  

 

It's all about Perspective

Last summer I did two posts on writing-related words starting with the letter P.


Another "P" Word = Persistence posted back in August and A 15 letter word Not Equal to Lazy (Procrastination) in June.

One of my favorite quotes from the persistence post was this (referring to an article about why people don't meet their full potential) :

The trouble is that most people don’t seriously want what they say they want.
’I want’ means, ‘if I want it enough I will get it.’ Getting what you want means making the decisions you need to make to get what you want.”In other words, few of us are willing to do what it takes to achieve what we desire. 

So why do I bring these old posts up today????


Well, because THIS happened last week.

It's all about Perspective


Despite my tendency to procrastinate, I persisted. I did the work and sold another book to Love Inspired Suspense. You can expect to see it on the shelf in January 2021.  

I'm celebrating and I couldn't think of anyplace I'd rather announce it than here!

It's all about Perspective



But as anyone who has ever sold a book knows, contracts come with lovely revision notes from your acquiring editor. I've been lucky so far, because neither of my books have required extensive revisions. However, the note that came this time made me think of a new P word, one that has been on my mind recently.


I had an experience that made me focus on PERSPECTIVE and how it relates to writing.


I have lived in the same neighborhood for the past 33 years. Nearly every day of those 33 years, I have walked down the block that is half a block over from mine. Most days I walk it multiple times - to and from work, walking the dog, going food shopping. 

I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood that is known for it's Brownstones. Many of those houses have front stoops that end in pillars/pedestals. They look like some version of this.



It's all about Perspective

That is what I have seen every day for 33 years!

But a few weeks ago as I was walking down that very same street, I noticed something. If I looked at the stoop from a different angle, it looked like this.

It's all about Perspective

It's all about Perspective



Do you see the face?  I had never noticed it before? I sent a photo to my daughters and neither of them had ever noticed it either.

So I got to really looking, and then I noticed that this was true on many blocks.

It's all about Perspective



It's all about Perspective

It's all about Perspective

It's all about Perspective

It's all about Perspective


And most shocking of all - it was true of the pedestal at the bottom of the flight of stairs in my own house!

I had just never looked at it from that angle before.

So you may be asking, what is the connection to writing?

It goes back to that revision letter, and how sometimes, in order to see what our editor is seeing, we have to change our perspective. But that's not always an easy thing to do when you've been stuck in a rut thinking about something the same way for a long time.