A Nice Self-Editing Checklist

I don’t always read Kristen Lamb’s blog, but when I do, I am rarely disappointed. Kristen, if you don’t know her, is an author and editor who dispenses sage advice on her blog.

Last Monday, she wrote a post that was so timely for me. It’s like she read my mind and knew that I needed this post: Self-Editing: 7 Tips to Tighten the Story & Cut Costs. I am currently editing a novel right now, so this post was right up my alley.

Granted, I’ve read most of her tips in some form or fashion in various sources before, but it was nice to see them all in one place.

I don’t know if I’m going to hire a freelance editor for my manuscript. Ideally, I’d like to. I’m sure I’d learn a ton. But first off, it’s crazy expensive, and second, if all goes according to my Master Plan, I won’t need to.

(The Master Plan, for those not in the know [and that’s probably all of you, because I don’t think I’ve posted this publicly on the blog before!], involves me getting a massive book deal for this trilogy of novels after a bidding war among the biggest publishing houses of the country. In this fantasy, fantastic editing services come with this book deal. Yes, I realize this is unlikely to happen, but a girl can hope, right?!)

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Studying Story Structure (Part The Second)

Two years ago, I wrote about studying story structure. Back then, in February 2016, I was still participating in the Writing Challenge on Twitter (let us pause for a moment to mourn that group’s demise—yes, it’s still around, but it’s not the nice supportive group it was back then) and had been studying story structure for almost a year. I originally wanted to learn about it when a beta reader read a novel of mine that was rather… amorphous. The plot just didn’t have any structure and trust me, that was not a good thing.

I’m happy to say that I’m still reading about story structure and incorporating what I learn into my writing. In the past two days, I had two epiphanies about my current work-in-progress. Just adding one element into the story is going to make it a lot more powerful. Part of the epiphany involves introducing the antagonist a lot earlier and tying that to what my protagonist wants. I think I have a good antagonist for the story but he was too much in the background and only made an appearance at the end of the novel.

I am so excited to share this novel with all of you. Believe me, I’m going to query like crazy to hopefully get a book deal and if I don’t, I think I’ll publish it myself as an ebook. Since I can’t query or publish it until it’s edited, I’m going to cut this post short while I go edit, as it’s getting rather late!

Structural Editing In Progress

You guys, I’m really pleased with the editing I’ve done so far on this manuscript. This is the one I finished drafting back in February. I let it sit for two months, then dove in to a first round of edits last Friday. I spent the past week just reading the manuscript. I put it in iBooks so I wasn’t tempted to change anything along the way and I took notes as I read.

I finished the read-through today. I’m really pleased with what I have so far. I’m going to add a subplot, probably delete some stuff, and add other stuff. Right now, my main concern is making sure the story is structurally sound. I don’t want there to be any plot threads hanging or anything that sticks out as not making sense.

One thing I won’t be changing very much is the ending. There are a few scenes I plan on adding towards the end, but as for the actual ending scene itself, I won’t be changing much. I’m really pleased about how it wraps up the story. I think it sets the stage for book two (yes, this is a series!) as well.

You’re probably wondering if this book will be published or not. Right now, your guess is as good as mine. I certainly plan on submitting it to agents and seeing if I can get a deal. I have heard that a lot of publishing contracts are quite bad nowadays (some have non-compete agreements, I’ve heard, which is absurd), but some people get really good contracts, too. And while I know that going the indie route (as in, putting the book up for sale yourself on Amazon and other assorted e-retailers) gives you more freedom, there really is nothing like having a big publishing juggernaut behind you.

So yes, I do hope this book will be published at some point. I just don’t know when that point will be. If I am fortunate enough to get a contract, I will definitely announce it on here!

A Secret Life

I don’t think I said this publicly, but one of my goals is to write every day this month, both on this blog and my fiction. So far I’ve accomplished both, but it can be hard to come up with blog topics some days. Today is one of those days.

So I figured I’d blog about one of my favorite activities: writing fiction! Specifically, how writing fiction relates to my life as a whole.

I had a work event tonight—a happy hour with food (let’s face it, people, I only went for the free food because free food is awesome)—and when I got home, I was thinking how no one at work knows I write. It’s not that I’ve deliberately kept it a secret. I just kind of haven’t ever brought up my writing in conversation.

Honestly, I like keeping some aspects of my life private from my coworkers. I’ve recently realized that a lot of my coworkers follow each other on social media, especially Facebook. Personally, that would drive me nuts. Longtime readers will know I ditched Facebook and don’t regret it one bit, but even if I had it, I can’t imagine adding people from work. I just don’t want everyone I know knowing all my business all the time.

I suppose that means my writing will remain unspoken of at work unless I decide otherwise. That’s fine with me. It’s not like I don’t have other hobbies to talk about—I’ve worn knitted and crocheted things to demonstrate my crafting prowess (and to be fashionable because everything I make is fashionable, obviously)—and my coworkers know I read a lot. But for now, the fiction writing will remain a secret. I wouldn’t be opposed to finding a local writing group, though. That could definitely be fun…

Books, Books, And More Books

I went to the library today to check out a couple of books.

Four Timothy Zahn books at once. That’s how big of a fan I am.

Instead, I walked out with five science fiction books, four of them by Timothy Zahn. I also have a couple of ebooks checked out (we have Overdrive at our library system).

Obviously, you can never have too many books, but now that I look at that stack, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, considering I’m editing a manuscript and have knitting projects I want to work on as well! 😉

Round One Edits COMPLETE.

Yesterday, I finished the first round of edits for one of my manuscripts. I want to take it through another round on my own before letting anyone read it. I also want to forget about it for a bit so I can look at it with fresh eyes (again) prior to the next round, so I’m setting it aside for a bit. In the meantime, I’m editing the novel that I finished back in February that I referenced in that link above. It’s been almost two months since I last looked at it, so I decided now is as a good time as any to dive into it.

I’m still at the beginning, but one thing I’ve noticed is how much outlining and structuring up front has helped my writing. Yes, it’s a ton of work up front, but this book already reads so much smoother than some of my earlier work. I thought I was going to hate it when I went back to it… but I actually kind of like it.

February and March Writing Reports

Editing is weird.

When I’m working on a rough draft, it’s easy to count how many words I’ve written. The convenient little word count feature in Scrivener shows me how much I’ve written that day. It’s relatively simple to write 500-1,000 words. They may not be the most beautiful words and they may need to be edited later, but still, the actual tracking of words written is easy. Therefore, progress is easier to see, too.

Editing is different. It’s more mentally draining, so I can’t do it as long as I can write. It’s also harder to estimate word count. Parts get deleted and rewritten. I’ll read over a couple thousand words and rewrite some of those, rearrange others, and leave the remainder alone.

That being said, I spent most of February and all of March editing. So while I do have writing reports for both months, they’re a bit different than usual.

In February, I wrote 8,824 words. That’s an average of 315 words per day. Most of those were written on or before February 10, which is when I finished the draft I was working on (yay!) and started editing a different manuscript. I missed 14 days that month.

In March, I wrote 8,396 words. That’s an average of 270 words per day. That was all during my editing process and I missed 16 days.

The good news? I’m approaching the end of my first round of edits on this manuscript. I’ll probably let it sit for a little bit while working on something else. Then it’ll be time for another reread and probably some more edits of what I missed the first time around. I have a feeling I will be very tired of this book by the time I’m finished editing.

‘Thrawn: Alliances’ Excerpt is Posted Online!

So, if you’ve been reading my blog regularly or following me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m really, really, really excited about the impending release for a certain science fiction book that’s coming out this July called Thrawn: Alliances. It’s the sequel to Thrawn, which came out in April of 2017. Thrawn is an excellent book—if you like science fiction and haven’t read it, you definitely should read it.

I’m pretty sure that Thrawn: Alliances will be just as awesome. I’m not crazy about the title, but that certainly isn’t going to stop me from reading the book and enjoying it. And how am I so certain I’ll like it? Simple. On March 23, StarWars.com posted an excerpt from the novel and it is going to be amazing. I can’t wait!

If you’re as excited about the book as I am and haven’t read the excerpt, go read it! I don’t really think there are any big spoilers in it, assuming you know the basic premise of the book.

Now if only a publicist at Del Rey would see this post and decide to send me an advance copy… hint hint. 🙂

Admitting Defeat

There are no defeats—only temporary obstacles.
–Admiral Alexander Kolchak

Almost a year ago now (I’m embarrassed to even type that), I started reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The White Guard in Russian. As I write this right now, I still haven’t finished The White Guard. I haven’t even made it halfway. In fact, I’ve decided to give up on it for now.

I feel bad giving up on it because I like Bulgakov. His magnum opus, The Master and Margarita, is amazing. We read that during second semester of my advanced Russian class. It’s fabulous and fantastic and I can’t say enough in praise of it.

I did not feel this way about The White Guard. I found most of the story plodding and the characters tiresome. I may have been able to power through that, though, if I had a better Russian vocabulary. I felt like I was looking up every other word. Bulgakov writes a lot of complicated sentences, too, so once I’d looked up all the words I didn’t know, I’d have to figure out the sentence structure. By the time I figured out the sentence structure, I would have forgotten some of the words already. Imagine this repeating with every page I read. It was enough to drive one mad!

So that is why I must bid до свидания (goodbye) to this book. I’m not saying I’ll never give it another try. After all, my lack of Russian vocabulary is just a temporary obstacle, right? For now, I’m going to read something else. What that something else is, I don’t know. Suggestions are welcome in the comments—either contemporary literature, nonfiction, or the classics. I’m open to suggestions.

Diving Right In

Ten days ago, I finished the third draft of a novel. I’d been working on it for… far too long, considering the end product. Including my time outlining, I was occupied with the thing for over a year. (I started outlining in December 2016.) And I’m not even close to being done with it. I know it needs a lot of editing, starting with some cuts in the beginning. The first act of the story, which should be approximately the first quarter of the book, is a tad on the long side. Plus I’m considering redoing the entire book in third person rather than first. First person is really, really, really hard to write well, in my opinion. (I will point you to the many mediocre first-person novels out there. There are a ton of them.) I’m not sure if this book really requires first person, the more I think about it, so a rewrite may be in store.

I don’t like to edit immediately after finishing something, though, so I put that manuscript aside. The day after I finished it, I started editing something else. It’s another manuscript I finished back in 2015, meant to edit, but then never got around to it. A writer’s work is never done, you guys. Anthony Trollope the prolific (and financially successful!) Victorian novelist wrote every day—even if he finished something. As in, if he still had time left to write after finishing, he started on his next project that very same day. Brandon Sanderson, a modern novelist who is very, very successful (he writes fantasy and supports his family with his writing, which is basically my dream), wrote thirteen or so novels before he got published. And it wasn’t the thirteenth one that was published first. It was the sixth or seventh that managed to spark an editor’s interest and launch his writing career.

Now, I don’t want to jinx anything or get ahead of myself… but that manuscript I mentioned above, the one I finished in 2015 that I’m editing now? I actually sort of like it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot in it I have to fix. I’m reading through it now and have almost five pages of notes already. But I feel like it has actual potential. I’d love to get it into a state where I actually feel comfortable pitching it. Because I’ve never pitched a novel before and that’s something I want to do this year.