Wednesday, 27 February 2013

EDITING: LOVE IT, LEAVE IT.


How do you know when to stop editing? When you’ve got double vision from poring over the thesaurus? Some writers, myself included, can edit endlessly always seeing another, better, way something can be written.

If you’re doing a course, or entering a competition these external deadlines focus your efforts and you’ll burn the midnight oil to achieve them. But if you’re working to your own schedule, it can be easy to move any deadline you give yourself back, and back a bit more if needed. And what’s wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with that at all. Every writer has their own rhythm and the only criteria should be that you are making progress and that you are satisfied with the progress you’re making.

 It took me a full week to edit the first chapter of my second strand which was, for the most part, taken up with turning exposition into dialogue but there was an almost incessant tweaking going on at the same time. I’m not completely finished with it yet, although I won’t return to it for a while but I’m pleased that it’s metamorphosed into a more convincing narrative. 

Being able to view your own work with analytical dispassionate eyes isn't easy but the more critical you can be, the better the result. I'm finding this aspect of writing is quite positive, because through the editing process I'm able to to demonstrate my development as a writer.

            So how do you know when to stop editing? Well, you do have to make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes but aside from that there are some straightforward check lists you can tick. Has your character realized the goals/journey you wanted them to achieve? Have you checked that every sentence and piece of dialogue contributes to moving the story forward as well as bringing your characters to life. All of which will involve cutting  - which is an integral aspect of editing.  Then put it aside and move on.


Today’s Haiku:


SITTING ON THE MORNING BUS
Dappled sun flickers 
Dances off shimmering leaves. 
Eyes squint in pleasure.






Here are a couple of websites about writing whose advice helps me in my writing;



And if you haven’t read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’, I would suggest you do.

For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.


 

Friday, 22 February 2013

EXPOSITION, EXASPERATION AND ORGANIZATION




‘Too much exposition’ or put more simply, too much telling and not enough showing is something you are bound to hear at some point when you’re getting feedback on your work.
‘His eyes widened and his eyebrows lifted a fraction,' rather than ‘He was surprised.’
Why? Because you engage, and satisfy, your reader on a deeper level if you don’t spell everything out – and if they make the connections themselves.

            So on Monday I started Strand B with high expectations. My characters were stronger, the story line more clear but this has been a very slow week work wise. My first chapter started out fine, small points - sharpening sentences, enjoying the thesaurus but nothing major. Unfortunately, about half way through I realized I had moved from being in the story to telling the reader about the story. I’m going to have to rewrite this and replace all this telling with a lot more showing, I thought. And there at the end of the chapter was a note I’d made to myself at some earlier point when rereading - ‘The second half of this needs dialogue – it’s all exposition!’

I also needed do some more research and add more drama. It was slow going. Then, when I was about three quarters of the way through, I came across a later draft of the chapter, which although not complete, had addressed a fair amount of the issues. If only I’d found this earlier...

So, today, I’ve had two versions of the chapter up on the screen and am still working my way through amalgamating the best of these drafts into a final version. Last week I felt as if I’d reached the top of a mountain; this week I’m slogging my way, thigh deep, through swampy marshlands.

There’s no question of giving up, but it’s that ol' 99% perspiration stage. Thank God for that 1% inspiration – think how powerful that tiny percentage is because that is what motivates us through the other 99%! And I know that somewhere up ahead, there's a mountain up with a great view.

Today’s Haiku

ON THE BUS HOME

Dark Prussian blue sky,
Deepest umber earth below.
I sit unthinking.



Here are a couple of websites about writing whose advice helps me in my writing;


And if you haven’t read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’, I would suggest you do.

For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.


 



Sunday, 17 February 2013

HOW TO PERFORM TRIAGE ON YOUR NOVEL

When a patient is first brought to the emergency department, they are assessed. Now, if they have a sprained wrist and a broken leg, it’s the broken leg which gets sorted first. A doctor wouldn’t attend to the headache while the patient bleeds to death.
So when editing, which area of a novel needs attending to first? Yes, it’s your main character. Readers are discerning and if they can’t identify with your main character, they lose interest and it doesn’t matter how exciting the plot, it’ll be a two dimensional story. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to put a book down.
Once you’ve sorted your character, inner and outer conflicts (leave out either of these and you’ve lost an opportunity to involve the reader more deeply), then you can move on to plot, setting and language etc. etc. because it’s how your character deals with the life situations you place them in which grips the reader.

So... I’ve finished the first edit of strand A where I hope I’ve done the bulk of the work needed to stop my protagonist haemorrhaging all over my story. Yeah! I am chuffed to bits at getting this far.
Holly Isle (see link below) has an article on a one sweep edit which got me moving through my work quicker than I’d anticipated. But I know I still have a second edit to do – with possibly a third and hopefully final one because there are aspects which still need sorting, but certainly the major problem – my protagonist  – has undergone quite a bit of surgery. But I’m going to give strand A a break, get some of that vital distance, before returning for the next round of editing. 

And tomorrow, start of the week – always a good day to start something new – I’ll start my attempt at the one sweep edit on Strand B. I know my characters here are stronger but as it takes place in the past, it’s research and getting those important details correct which can be time consuming. I haven’t looked at this strand since before Christmas so today I’m going to enjoy the feeling of having climbed one mountain before setting off to tackle the next.

Today’s Haiku:

ON THE BUS COMING HOME
Tired travellers
sitting, watching street lights pass,
reflecting gold.


I find reading a good article on any aspect of the writing craft can give that extra bit of drive which keeps me going. On that note, here’s a link to an interesting article on blogging.

http://www.urbanwritersretreat.co.uk/why-every-writer-should-blog/

Here are a couple of websites about writing whose advice helps me in my writing;


And if you haven’t read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’, I would suggest you do.

For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

WHY YOU HAVE TO CUT.


 
People write for many different reasons. To make sense of the world, to tell stories, to organize their thoughts more clearly, to communicate, to give information. And don’t we all know situations where we’ve blurted things out and later regretted it. And no matter how much wishing we do, we can never unsay those words.
But a writer is lucky because when we write we do have that chance to control what others see.

Yesterday I was editing the penultimate chapter of strand A and yes, the sentences, word choice, figures of speech, flow of plot and action seemed okay but this was the section bridging the climax and the conclusion and I knew it was dull, lacking that snap and sizzle needed to keep a reader engaged. It was also too long and everyone was simply being too nice. So I started mulling over what I could do.

This morning I woke up with the idea quite clear in my mind – I was going to cut the whole chapter as the story really didn’t need it. It was as if I’d passed a threshold, a Rubicon, in making such a drastic decision.
However when I gave the chapter a final read I realized that I certainly needed the first half as it concluded the drama at the end of the previous chapter. It was the second half which was dragging its feet with its ‘Yes, you’re lovely and I’m lovely too’ conversation.

So I went to work with my finger firmly fixed on the delete button. Now my characters’ conversation indicates at least cross purposes, if not actual conflict, and I managed to introduce a minor crisis which is shared only with the reader. I feel more satisfied as it’s livelier even if it’s now the shortest chapter in the book!

I’ve read that a writer has to cut anything that doesn’t drive the story forward but from inside your head where the story is living, it’s not always easy to get the distance which makes it clear where those cuts need to be made. 

Today's Haiku

New Delhi  
Horns toot and saws whine,
Bleeps, buzzings, blares deafen ears.
I sit by the pool.


I’m finding this blogging is getting into my brain though I’m not prolific enough to manage my own writing and a blog every day, but I am going to persevere.
Thank you to those of you who’ve emailed with encouraging comments, and thanks for those new websites to check out. Very useful.

Here are some recommendations which I hope are useful.

Here are a couple of websites about writing  - I think good advice is always worth listening to;
And if you haven’t read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’, I would suggest you do.
For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.






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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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