Showing posts with label writing and editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing and editing. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Round Four! by Bonnie Le Hamilton

A few weeks ago, a friend sent my manuscript back to me with a few notes on what needed changed or fixed. I delayed going over her notes while I wasn’t feeling well, but a couple week ago, I dove into getting my manuscript in tip top shape.

Round One

Just fixing all the problems she saw in the manuscript, except as I read through the thing for the first time since before my husband died, I realized it needed a few tweaks, and every once in awhile I’d do a find for a key word and make the changes I thought needed done. The only problem is, I wasn’t sure that those keys words covered all the spots where the changes needed made.

Round Two

I reread the manuscript again, looking for all those places I might have missed. Unfortunately, as I read through the thing, again, I came up with more tweaks the story really did need, and I again used a few key words to find the most important scenes where I could make them, but it wasn’t necessarily all the places.

Round Three

I set to work, going through it one more time with the hope I wouldn’t think of anymore tweaks. No such luck! But this time I was determined not to go over it again. Frankly, I was afraid to read it clear through one more time, because each time I did I found something else.

The only trouble is all those tweaks added to a word count that was barely within the industry standard to begin with.

Round Four

More like round four through twenty-four, but this time I picked a word or phrase from my list of not good words, then searched them out with that dandy little “find” button. Some I deleted, some I changed, and occasionally I completely rewrote the sentence, to eliminate more words.

And I haven’t even gotten it to beta readers yet!

What’s more, I wrote the rough draft the summer before 9/11, so this was just the most recent round of edits on what had once been a manuscript over 130 thousand words and so full of telling it was a disaster. And I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve gone over, rewritten, and changed this story.

My guess is a couple dozen times. How many times do you go over your manuscript before you feel it’s ready? Is it ever ready? Or do you, like me, still find something to tweak every time you read it?

Happy writing everyone. 😊

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beginning at the Right Place, and Time by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Some time ago, I started a story and it seemed to be going really well, but when I reread it, a voice in my head started yelling, “NO! NO! NO!”

I took some time to consider it, and thought I’d figured out the problem and I came up with a solution. I kept the first scene, where the hero and the heroine first meet, but I dramatically changed what happened next, and I was getting somewhere.

Then life, and other stories, got in the way, and it was a while before I opened this version again, so I started by rereading it. And again, the voice was yelling at me. Then it dawned on me, the voice starts yelling when I’m on the first wonderful scene that I slaved so hard over to get it just right. The scene I spent hours writing, rewriting, and tweaking.

So what was the problem?

Simple, I had them meeting on the first day of school. At the time, I thought the hero meeting the heroine before he learns she needs help would be best, but when I thought about it that was kind of dumb. If a person were inclined to help someone out when they need it most, they’d do it whether they actually knew the person or not.

And the other issue was the premise of the story. It just didn’t seem possible for them to accomplish that task starting in the fall and ending before winter. A fact I had considered in my second version; among my dramatic changes, I had it that he started fixing up the place where most of the story takes place over the summer; they would just finish it together. But even then, they didn’t have enough time, because he hadn’t been planning to finish before winter. Until she came along, he didn’t need to.

So I needed to start from scratch. Well, not completely. I did have the character list, the backstory, and a few pieces of the other versions I could reuse with a little tweaking. But with scrapping that first scene, and changing the time of year of they meet, I was starting with a blank page.

And I started writing — twenty-one pages that first day. WOW!
Additionally I had just over 35,000 words seven days later, as in nearly half a novel in just a week. Can you believe it? And while I haven’t achieved that word average this week, I’m still moving along.

Of course, that isn’t to say that this will be the final version. I have over a dozen versions of at least one of my finished manuscripts, most I have between four and six versions. But I rewrite all the time, and then the editing starts making more versions, all saved in the same file.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Decluttering by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Decluttering is something all of us do in our lives at some point or another. Every so often, it’s necessary, not just around our homes, but also in our writing, and I know how hard that is.

The first step of downsizing is decluttering. Clutter is an enormous issue if you ask me because clutter is often the main reason we need to downsize. In my experience, clutter is why we don’t have room for everything in our homes, and clutter is the reason our manuscripts are so long.

For me, I once wrote a manuscript that was over one and thirty thousand words, which, for a romance is way over the top. And trimming the fat wasn’t easy. I had a hard time deciding what wasn’t important, and what was. It took more time to cut that thing down to acceptable size than it did to write it, which should tell you how hard of a job it was.

Though I did learn a lot from that experience and I thought I’d share some of that with you.
The first thing I learned about was not telling my readers things I’ve already shown or are about to show. Seems like a no-brainer since we’re told all the time to show not tell, but well I found that I tended to paraphrase things that I then showed. Most often when I was trying to avoid using a tag, but I now know this isn’t just telling, it’s redundant and condescending, and, when I’m on the receiving end of that kind of writing — extremely irritating.

In other terms, stating the obvious is something we should never do. So we should never say someone interrupted or was the first to mention something when we’ve already shown these things with the dialogue. Yeah, that isn’t easy to remember when we’re writing the piece in the first place since we’re not thinking about style as much was we’re thinking about content. But we have to cut this drivel out of our manuscripts as soon we start editing because it just excess padding.

I can also see, when the piece is long enough, where a writer might think it is necessary to reiterate or paraphrase things that took place earlier in the story, possibly thinking the reader either forgot or didn’t catch the significance of what happened. The problem with this tactic is that it is condescending, as Browne and King say in chapter nine of their book Self-Editing For Fiction Writers titled Once is Usually Enough.

And yeah, they’re right; it’s really off putting when a writer does this to a reader.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Backtracking by BL Hamilton

I'm a frequent backtracker, and I mean backtracking, not backpacking.

I'm talking about my writing. I'm constantly going back and changing things.

It not so bad when it’s something relatively easy, like when its just a minor tweak; I just have to go back, and find the appropriate spot, or spots, where that item should be there, and then get back to where I was.

It really only takes a few minutes with that handy tool call “find” just as long as I know the scene where it should have been, and can come up with a single word, or distinct phrase, that will take me right to it. If I can’t do this, or I’m not sure where I need to add that something, then it’s a big pain, since I’d have to start from the top and skim through the whole manuscript looking for all the right spots to add it.

I’ve done this both ways, on just my current WIP.

But sometimes it dawns on me that my character couldn't, wouldn't, or should say or do what I have them saying or doing. There’s always something, to the point that I get the feeling my writing works on the two steps forward one step back basis. I’m just constantly backtracking.

I’ve been known to have to go back several whole chapters. None of which is all that bad, except when the changes I make, change everything that happened after it. I really hate when I come up with those.

This last week, I had a moment when I realized that a minor character wouldn’t just stand by and watch. She may be minor to the story, but she’s got quite a personality, and inserting her more fully into that scene changed the outcome of that scene, changing everything that I wrote after that, and made a huge difference in the story.

And it needed it. Well, actually, I needed a way to get the main characters out of that scene earlier, but that didn’t seem possible with all that happens in that scene, until I considered this one minor character. And then I realized I she wouldn't have just stood there. And a new scenario played out in my head.

Backtracking that time was kind of fun. I knew what words to use to find the scene, because it the name that minor character’s business and better utilizing her strong personality did get the hero and heroine out of there a lot sooner. J

And aside from all that, what I am currently writing is really backtracking. I realized I needed to add and change several things near the beginning of this one manuscript of mine. Most importantly, I realized I needed to show what happens between Tuesday and Sunday of the first week the Hero and Heroine meet.

What I had before touched lightly on those days, in just one paragraph, as in not anywhere near enough detail, so I thought I should add about a chapter, and forty-three pages, and almost three chapters later, I’m on Thursday. I think now I might be showing too much, but I can edit out what I really don’t need, once this story is finished. It’s not going be a short any way, never was going to be because it covers too many years.

In fact, I was originally trying to cut down scenes to make it shorter, but since I can later turn the tables and have other characters stand in the forefront, I figured I should make each section as long as I can and edit them down later, after it’s finished.
This may well be my next monster manuscript though. I even think it might be bigger than my first one whose rough draft was over 130 thousand words. Yeah, I think this will be much bigger.
Though I doubt it will rival Konnie’s so-called opus, whose rough came out at over sixteen hundred PAGES! Yeah, I don’t envy her the job of editing that monster.

Happy writing everyone! J