Saturday, February 27, 2010

A note on editing

I've come up with a new slogan:

If writing is a passion then editing is an obsession and its only through our obsessions can we achieve great writing.

I say that because of my 80K word cut has become and obsession with me. I made the first nearly sixty thousand word cut fairly simply by cutting the Wonderland scenes. I hated to do it, but it was necessary to get the word count down. Besides the story is reall about Emily and Alice. The sub plot happening in Wonderland, though intriguing was NOT what the story is about. I'm not trashing the cuts, but putting them aside for a future time.

So that leaves me with another twenty that I have to hack and slash. I know that in latter chapter I'll have to do complete re-writes to change the POV to either Emily or Alice. Which means I have to redo the critical scene with the Queen of Hearts.

I have also decided to chop my first two chapters. The feedback I was getting from critques was that the reader did not get to "know" Emily or got the wrong impression of her. The first five pages - the most critical - sort of dragged to most people. I therefore, have decided to start the book on Chapter 3 (Alice). The new start puts the reader right into the Emily character as she wakes with a massive headache. The first five pages then expands from there to introduce Alice. So now I have the two main characters introduced in the first 1500 words. And I think it will hook the reader into wanting to read on to find out what is going on.

The whole rave scene is not completely cut though. In the second chapter Emily must tell Alice what happened at the rave, so I decided to combine the first two chapters (cutting most of the first and the beginning of the second). I just need to make sure that the reader knows for sure that it is a flash back scene. I also needt to keep the word count down. That is the hardest part.

But on a more positive note I have what I think is a complete first chapter. It has been polished and "wife approved". I'm still concerned with the first paragraph, but I'll see what others think of it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Emotional Roller Coaster

Earlier this week I was at an all time high! My book was completed and life was good. Today I am in a pit of dispair. Welll, not that bad really. Deciding to cut 40% or more of something you worked so hard on is devistating, but it is the craft. I must remember to keep telling myself that.

So this past week I had started quering agents. At the same time I was learning something new. Most firt time authors only present manuscripts that are 100,000 words or less. Which is industry talk for just over 300 pages. Ouch is to say the least. My book is 180,000 words which equates to about 560 pages. So I'm thinking "Harry Potter" or "Twilight" right? Well, yeah - if I want to wait 6 years to find the right agent or spend countless number of dollars to go to conference and try to shove it down a publisher's throat. (And I am not saying that is what happened in the other cases.)

No, my goal was to get it published traditionally. Agent, publisher, the whole bit. To do so I need to conform to the guidlines most agents use. I have a much better chance getting it published if I do it that way. So here is my plan.

I keep out the queries that I have - who knows an agent might want to try representing a monster. In the mean time I'm going to rewrite the whole book - not like I did before, but narrow the focus to Emily. It is her story that I wanted to tell. The rest of the story are additional scenes for the entertainment of the reader and of the writer. But still 40% cuts a lot out of a story - as story unto itself, right? That's what I'm thinking. With the material I do cut I can use it to create an anthology or try to sell the "chapters" as short stories to magazines or online publications. I am thinking that I can do this to start a fan base even before the book is released. If not, I use them as a quick second book to the Chronicles. After all that I why I wanted to create a series - I can tell a story from any character's POV.

So off I go to write the next 100K words for the first novel I ever wrote - It's almost funny typing it.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I am so bored at the moment. After spending two years working on the book I am at a loss to know what to do with my time. The book has been my security blanket for two years. A comforting environment I can escape to and pass the time. It has been fun to create the world of my imagination in words and prose. I have learned so much about writing and the artistry of writing. Now, sitting here and staring at the completed manuscript of the first book is surreal to me. I had never expected to get to this point. Even more to the point I had not expected to get a bite on the work as early as I have.

That's right. I got my first bite. I try like hell not to get too excited when I think about it. It's like a fisherman yanking on the rod before the fish has the bait. Pull to soon and the fish swishes away leaving the fisherman dispondent (see all the new words I have learned). I don't want to be like the fisherman to talk about the one that got away. If I don't read too much into the bite - I won't get too excited.

So here is what has happened. Last week I looked at some of the features that the WeBook website has to offer. One such feature is what they call AgentInABox. The idea is that you create a sample Query letter, fill out bio, synopsis, and work submissions. You then select agents you wish to submit your work to. Well, for the hell of it, I submitted Rabbit Slayer to 10 agents. The very next day I recieved an email from one of the agents. The agent said that though my genere was not her speciality she 'urged' me to submit my manuscript to a fellow agent. Okay - here is why I get excited.

First it was not a 'no' as I had also gotten that day from another agent. Secondly, agents do not request full manuscripts if they aren't going to read it - or if the sysnopsis is not intriguing. The website shows who has opened the mail and what areas of the submission that they have read. The site is showing that the agent has looked at the query and my sample (first chapter). So I got toes and fingers crossed hoping that it is because they want to really look more into me and my story.

Keep praying for me...

Monday, February 1, 2010


More days have passed, but I have not been idle. In my quest to find other writers to converse with I have found an online community of writers. How cool is that? I have had a few people read the first two or three chapters, but it is VERY slow going. The comments I get in the first few chapters that talk about writing style and voice will transpire through the whole story, so they are valuable. I have also compiled the whole book into one file and forwarded that file to about 25 people or so. As of yet I have gotten NO feedback from them. I have some of my daughters friends reading it, but I get nothing back. So I continue with my own self editing. So here is what I have learned thus far.

First, reading your work outloud, though embarassing is exteremly helpful in finding flaws with your sentence structure and flow. If you stumble on the sentence, then it won't flow in the readers mind. Fix it. Of course it would help if you have an audience to listen to, but I don't think that my dogs really care one way or another. It'd be nice to read it to a live person. I would record it, but I can't stand to listen to my voice - that's why I write.

Next, critique other people's work. Now this one has caught me by surprise. On the online community feedback is given for feedback received. Guess it's as good a monetary system as any. But the benefit is that you start to see errors in the other writings that you may have not noticed in yours. For example I have been told I have a tendency to repeat myself when I write. I didn't really see what that meant until I seen it in another piece. Now I know what to look for. After you critique some on other people you start to get into a mode that'll help you critique your work in the same fashion. Just be nice to others, so that you will be nice to yourself.

Next thing learned is that the book shrinks in editing. It's amazing as you read something you see that this part or that part you can do without. It really hurts to press that delete button, but the text reads so much better after you do it. I am on about Chapter 15 with my editing and have thus far removed nearly 2K words.

I've learned something else, but I'm not sure if it is a lesson exactly. In editing the first chapter I found that entire paragraphs can be moved around and reordered with minimal rewording. This was was amazing for me to see when I did this. The section included description as well as dialogue. I managed to rearrange the order and it still read well. In fact it now reads smoother than the way I originally had it. I still hate the fact that  I had to delete 1K words from that first chapter, but its done. I think it works better.

Lastly, accept criticism honorably. Don't get defensive, but at the same time don't bash another's writing because you didn't like their feedback. That is childish and not going to help you in the long run. Take a serious look at the feedback, another set of eyes may point out things in your work that you haven't seen before. Several points have been brought to my attention in those first three chapters that I had never thought about. It's good to have those new - trained - eyes.