Thinking out loud

Can it really be that I haven’t posted anything since November?

I had a goal to post things once a week, and then twice a month, and now we’re into a whole new year.

But I’m a couple of days into a Guppy class on revising a novel and I suspect I’ll be diving under again this month. So I wanted to share a few things before I disappear.

First, I want to mention that I’m a little nervous about my first real foray into revision. For several years, I’ve cranked out a rough first draft of a novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. But my workload and other obligations kept me from doing anything to improve those novels.

Oh, I have actually changed a few words, here and there. I’ve certainly let the novels sit in my mind and stew. I’ve made some notes about what I want to change. I even printed one of them out and started going over it. But it is literally sitting on a shelf in a storage cabinet right now.

Until now, though, I’ve never really devoted myself to going through and systematically rewriting what I finished in any given November. That’s what I hope to do with the help of the class this month.

The first homework assignment was to do a complete read-through of the story we want to revise. I stopped writing it last October, knowing I had some problems to fix. But I moved on to a new first draft. I planned to go back to the October draft in December, but I wasn’t sure how to start. Then a friend told me about the Guppy class and I decided to sign-up and wait for it.

Turns out letting this one sit for three-months was about right. I saw it with pretty fresh eyes when I started reading it last weekend. Fresh enough eyes that a scene I added late in the first draft felt so awkward and forced that I have completely changed my mind about who one of the characters in the scene really is.

I’ve also had it in my head that I needed to write an alternate ending. It’s been popping into my head off and on these last few months. Turns out, I actually wrote it last fall. Well, I wrote a new climax for the book, not a full new ending. I managed to add most of the ending yesterday, after I finished the class homework on POV. (And that — another story — led the instructor to suggest I needed to add more interior dialogue. Not a gap I had seen.)

I debated for a bit about whether to write anything new until we got further into the class. Then I figured since the new ending is technically still in the first draft, I owed it to my self to get it down. After all, you can’t rewrite what you haven’t already written.

The only other thing I’ve done so far is eliminate a character by combining her with another. At this point, it was just making a global name change. But if my plans for this bunch of characters work out, she’ll show up in the next book.

Wish me luck.

A bientôt!

Self-editing

Of course you want to edit at home. But this post (which is part self-promotion for it author) does have some great tips for what she calls polishing. (Check my resources page for links to the Purdue OWL, the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style.) And fix that first draft.

Self-Editing? Do Not Try This at Home! | Indie Author News
http://www.indieauthornews.com/2015/04/self-editing-do-not-try-this-at-home.html?m=1

Remove the fat

This post from econsultancy is about writing copy for websites, but the advice is good for most writers. We’ve long since moved beyond the complex, compound sentences of the 19th century. But many of us could still pare words from sentences. These tips show how.

Nine surprisingly lengthy tips for cutting and editing your copy | Econsultancy
https://econsultancy.com/blog/65314-nine-surprisingly-lengthy-tips-for-cutting-and-editing-your-copy/

First consider

With the discovery of a lost Harper Lee manuscript, writers are talking about what to do with a first manuscript. At Writing the Novel, an author panel organized by WNIJ public radio at Northern Illinois University, the topic came up. (Another session is scheduled Feb. 18; check here for details.) While the stories of the three panelists varied, none said his or her first novel fell from their fingertips to publication without some bumps — and some work — in the road. Anne R. Allen offers some advice about what to do with first novels in this blog post.

Anne R. Allen’s Blog: Should You “Send Out” that First Novel? 9 Things to Consider First

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2015/02/should-you-send-out-that-first-novel-9.html?m=1

Learning to edit

This wasn’t exactly my path to editing, but I certainly shared the reading — a lot — step. I didn’t focus on quality reading. But reading badly written material can be educational, too. If you’re looking for an editor, you might want to ask how many of the steps he or she took.

How I Became an Editor (and Advice If You Want to Be One Too) – Next Step Editing
http://www.nextstepediting.com/how-i-became-an-editor-and-advice-if-you-want-to-be-one-too/