Category Archives: Editing

Focusing on Editin–SQUIRREL!

So I’ve let my most recently finished draft sit, untouched, for 8 weeks. I know King said to let it sit for 3 months, but I feel it’s been enough time to kind of “forget” the MS and come back to it fresh. However, I’m having a lot of trouble with the next step.

King’s ideal theory is to sit and read the whole MS in one sitting and make no corrections, unless they are minute grammar ones. I am finding this impossible. Once I focus, I feel I do get a lot done. However, I cannot just sit and read this MS. Yesterday I spent a couple hours reading AND editing about 1/3 of the MS. In the moment, it feels good to make these corrections and additions, especially since this MS is on the short side, even for YA. Yet it is frustrating when I cannot let go of old habits and try a new technique.

I understand why King says to just read the darn thing and not touch it. I’ve never read the MS as a whole. I’ve worked at it as we all do, in writing or editing small chapters at a time.  While I am spending time with the whole project, it’s difficult for me to sit back and read it like an actual book and not a work in progress. I may be able to do this once it’s closer to a final draft, yet even then I know I will keep fussing and touching it up.

I know a part of this “issue” is habit. I’m used to having a limit time frame to write, (30-90 minutes during nap time when nannying) and I’m also used to reading and editing other people’s works in my critique group. The majority of my experience is fixing and writing in short spurts, and I my lack of attention span is painfully clear. Even on days, like today, when I am not at work I’m having trouble focusing on the project at hand.

All people are different and have methods of writing and editing that work. I’m not saying this method is horrible and awful and shouldn’t be done, I just think I need practice and help with improving my focus for times like these when I do have a whole day to focus on a MS. Procrastination is real, and the internet is NOT helpful. (I’m even writing this blog when I should be reading my MS.)

For those of you both old and new to writing, what are some techniques you use to battle against procrastination and improve your focus to the craft? I know many of us struggle with this, so advice and techniques that work are always welcome ideas to consider!

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Filed under Editing, ideas, on writing, questions, struggling, Uncategorized, writing

Rough Draft? DONE!

Finished another first draft of a new MS! I’m really excited about this one. I think the overall idea is strong and I like my characters. Of course, there are chapters I wrote thinking “This sucks,” but hey, it’s a first draft.

It’s become a habit of mine to read Stephen King’s On Writing once every couple of years or so. I finished it again a couple weeks ago and there were many things I had forgotten. While I do not agree with EVERYTHING in that book, there are many core ideas that have stuck with me. Regardless of where you are in your writing journey (just started, seven MS in Word, successful and published) I suggest reading this book.

When it comes to first drafts, there are a few things King suggests that I’ve heard other places and that I, through experience, have found to be true. Here’s a basic breakdown of how I handle first-drafts:

  1. Don’t. Edit.
    1. If you’re about to go back and check for spelling from the day before, stop. Just, stop. The most important thing right now is the story and your ideas. Get them out on paper before they fly away! It happens, they will run away if you don’t pay enough attention, like a toddler or an off-leash dog. Get those ideas on paper. You can spell check, edit, rearrange, etc. once the draft is done.
  2. Be Selfish
    1. Don’t share your book with anyone until after you have finished 2 drafts. It doesn’t need to be Publisher-Ready, but when a book is raw and unfinished, so are your ideas. As writers, no matter what we tell ourselves, we do want people to read our stuff and like it. Don’t let someone else’s ideas get in your head before your book is done! There is plenty of time for critique once the drafts are finished and all YOUR ideas are fleshed out.
  3. Murder Your Darlings
    1. (King’s words, can you tell?) Once the rough draft is done, let it sit for several weeks and don’t look at it. I know it hurts, but let it simmer. Come back when you’ve forgotten some of it. It makes it easier to trim the fat.
    2. The delete key is both satisfying and painful, but it’s incredibly important. Less than 1% of any writers’ first drafts are ready to be published. They need to be cut, re-formed, cut, smashed, molded, and written again. It’s a long process, and it’s an important one. Even if you really like that one chapter no one else does, if it really holds no value to the story, that delete key is your new bestie.

In my opinion, no matter how many drafts a book goes through, it is never done. Would I change some things in my published work The Healing Pool. Yes. Yes. YES. I don’t think I will ever feel finished with any of my books. There will always be something you will want to tinker with and change, but when those changes become smaller and smaller, it is time to get that work out into the world.

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Filed under Editing, ideas, on writing, rough draft, Uncategorized, writing

Too Many Ideas

I have a stupid problem: I have too many ideas for books.

Before you cuss me out or throw things, think about it this way: I have ideas, but that doesn’t mean I have a book. Sometimes I start writing all excited, then I get to page 11 and I’m like “well, that was fun, what happens next??? Oh right, I don’t know.”

I’m having a hard time focusing on one project. I have my trilogy, but I’m also inspired to work on another MS. However, I also really want to get published so I should edit that first book in the trilogy. Oh, but what about this cool idea. I should write that first. (And so on.) It’s strangely frustrating. It’s nice having options since I can’t write without being inspired, however I want to work on editing my trilogy versus starting another book.

Again, it’s a stupid problem.

Part of the issue I think is that I’ve spent so much time editing the first book in the trilogy I’m getting sick of it. I’ve queried but I’m taking a break to get some feedback on the opening and work on the synopsis. I think it’s improved, but i don’t want to burn out all of the agents I want to query before it’s where it should be. I have the query, it’s solid, but I don’t want to keep sending it out if the material still needs a little extra something.

I want to be motivated to edit this trilogy since I have a history of abandoning projects. I’m so far down the road I know I won’t abandon it, however it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it. Every time I try to edit I keep skimming and getting nothing done. I’m waiting to hear from one more person on the book, hopefully then I’ll have enough feedback to put in the final touches and start sending it out again.

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Filed under agent search, Editing, ideas, Uncategorized, writing

Morning Jolt

The past few weeks I’ve really hit my writing stride! I don’t know if it’s the spring weather or if my inspiration from the Fox Cities Book Festival has kicked in or both!

I like to write in the morning. I’ve been trying to write after breakfast and then edit after lunch. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but I at least get something done every day. I’m working on the second book in my trilogy and ideas keep coming! I’m enjoying this book so much that writing gives me energy to last for a good part of the day. It’s so satisfying to get my morning jolt from a good writing session. There are days when I have to drag myself to the computer, but this week has been awesome.

May spring bring you good fortune in your writing as well! When do other people like to write? Does anyone else have those awesome days where you’re excited and happy after a good day with your book? I’d love to hear your stories.

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Filed under Editing, writing

One Novella and One Novel

I’ve decided that Charley’s Dragons is going to stay a novella. I think it’s working as a shorter work and I don’t want to try and add more than it needs. As much as I want to have it be a novel it’s not up to me. Like a child, a MS will decide on its own what it wants to be when it grows up. I will return to it soon to continue editing and maybe even paring it down a little more in places I tried to boost the word count. I’ve already started researching novella contests and journals to hopefully get it published in the future.

My last post I went to another MS in process and that was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Despite getting sick (AGAIN!!!) I have gone through the whole MS, edited the parts that were written, filled in the middle, and COMPLETED the first draft this morning! I’m so excited to have another book done! It’s a middle grade fantasy so it’s shorter than an adult novel, but it’s in the upper range for MG which is great since I can see eighth graders especially enjoying my bad@$$ character.

This is going to be the first book in a trilogy following a young girl on her path to becoming a Dragon Rider. (Obviously I’m a little obsessed with dragons in most of my books…) I never considered myself to be a series writer, but when I started working on this book I realized I had too many ideas for one novel. Spreading it out and developing the character over three books I think is going to help the story. Yet another example of how a MS will decide what the writer is going to do.

I’m sure you’ve heard authors say that books write themselves and it’s absolutely true. Since I started writing as a little girl my characters told me what their futures will be. Sometimes I argued with them, but the characters win. Listen to your characters, feel what your MS wants, and enjoy writing. It’s a journey, and much like life, the path to finishing a book is never a straight line.

(Image Source: MotivatigGiraffe.com

 

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Filed under Editing, word count, writing

Getting there!

I finally made it through Charley’s Dragons! I’m at a (not so) whopping 32,000 words but I’m feeling okay. The next step is going through it again and beefing up the story now that the plot skeleton is in place. I’m hoping it will be easier than I think it’s going to be!

I noticed as I was going through CD that my genre changed. It was originally New Adult/Adult Fiction, but now it has a YA feel. It covers some heavy topics such as childhood mental illness, but the voice is a child and the dialog with the psychiatrist is accessible for a younger audience. The genre shift has helped the story and also my sanity. The perspective I removed was heavy-handed, dark, but not always engaging. I wanted to write this for an adult, but honestly why force it? The book works much better now and it’s totally fine that it’s YA. My first book and other MSs in process are MG so it makes sense that my writing gravitates for younger readers. Besides, adults love YA fiction! Writing for children is getting better and better and adults love a good story even it is about teenagers.

I’m still hoping to meet my goal and get another 25,000 words done but it’s not the biggest deal if it’s not finished. I wanted NaNo to be the big push, but my writing style works in bursts of inspiration–the downside being that the bursts come at infrequent times at inconsistent lengths. Today was a good day: 1200 words! Tomorrow is my day off so we’ll see if I get anywhere…

How’s everyone else doing with NaNoWriMo? Any great MSs in progress or at least fun brain-dump stories you want to share?

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Filed under Editing, nanowrimo

A little reflecting on editors

I am working on a project for an entrepreneurship class that I want to use to expand into my existing business as a self-published author. This mock-business has developed into a resource for new authors looking to self-publish for the first time. Ideally, this business will be filled with online resources on how to find the right self-publishing company, editors, cover artist, etc. For the final in this class I will only have bits and pieces of this greater goal. Especially since I have only published one book and the field is constantly changing, I cannot be that resource just yet.

However, I got to thinking and I really wanted to take some time to wrap-up my experience with finding editors. It is easy to think that publishing companies will take care of everything for you and make it simple to publish. Easy is not always the best way. Self-publishing today is getting a better reputation, but there are still enough authors out there who do not put in the time necessary to produce a good product. Looking at my book now I find mistakes that make me *facepalm* but I know without the help of my editors the book would not have the story structure and flow that it has now.

When I started out looking for self-publishing companies I discovered that they all had packages that would make it easy to publish my book. I admit I was tempted. I like having a one-stop-shop to get everything done, but there was something fishy about the editing packages available. Author House was one of the places I looked. At the time I was thinking I did not want a package but it would be nice for them to edit the MS. I called to ask what they would charge. I learned a fun fact–they charge per word on all their edits.

Keep in mind: at this stage my book was 100,000 words. It was long (too long) and getting that thing edited was going to hurt the budget. If I went with AH I would be paying close to $3,000 just to get the grammar checked! If I wanted content editing it would be almost $5,000. It is possible they do a fine job, but I did not know this company. I needed to figure out my other options to see if editing really is that expensive all the time.

By this time I had joined SCBWI, which has been one of the best decisions I have made as an author. I joined some message boards and began asking around to see what people had used and if there were better options. This is where I discovered my editor, Chris Eboch. She, like other freelance editors, is much more affordable than publishing packages. She also specialized in MG/YA fantasy which was perfect for “The Healing Pool!” I read her testimonials and emailed her.

She completely turned my MS around. She knew when to cut, what to ask, and how to get 12 year olds to care! She pointed out how my descriptive chapters read more adult-like and that children would be less interested. She knew her audience and could articulate well how to fix some of the plot holes and where to cut chapters. Although Chris only does content editing she taught me more in her edits than in any english class I have ever taken. I now look at my writing and other writing with her in mind to help make drafts more efficient.

For my line editing I decide to use the company Yellow Bird Editors. They did a fine job and had a quick turn around. Their prices were much more reasonable than publishing packages, but line editing is expensive. It just is. I went with Yellow Bird since they seem to have good standing with their editors. They each have testimonials and bios, and authors have the option to ask for specific people they want to work on their book. I admired that quality in the business and I am glad I chose to work with them.

In short, never take the easy way out. Working a little harder to find the right people and the best decision for your wallet will lead to a book you feel closer to. I enjoyed going through the purple pen markings Chris gave me and the 1,500 Word reviewer comments Kristen (Yellow Bird) gave me! If I decide to self-publish again I will likely keep looking for other options even though the ones I have are already pretty fantastic. It is best to connect with individuals rather than a large corporation.

Have any questions for me? I would love to help if you are just starting out! Or, do you have a great editor? How did you find her?

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Questions for Y’all

I’m so close I can taste it! I have a couple questions for my self-publishing peers (and my other friends of course!) that are bugging me!

1. Copyright? Will I need to apply for one?

2. White or cream paper? 🙂 (It’s a Middle grade fantasy if that changes your view!)

3. How does the About the Author page information look? Anything to add/subtract?

Linnea García developed a love of writing at an early age. She started to write novels at the age of 10 and writing poetry in middle school. She won the first and third prize Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Award in 2007 and had poetry published in the Lawrence University literary magazine Topos in 2011. García was raised in Evanston, IL and is graduating from Lawrence University in 2015.

The Healing Pool is García’s first novel and her first experience with the crazy world of self-publishing. Visit her blog “Let’s See What Happens” (www.garcialinnea.wordpress.com) to read about her struggles and triumphs in the world of self-publishing. Also visit her website (www.garciaoriginals.com) for information on book signings, sales, and more.

4. Should I add a classy black and white picture to my About the Author page?

You all are the best! Thanks for the support!

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Formatting

I am having a lot of fun formatting the book! Createspace has lots of templates to help with the correct margins and such. I even splurged a bit and bought a swoosh! My cover artist used the swoosh on the back cover and I decided it would be fun to add it to the paragraph breaks in the text as well.

The most tedious part to formatting for me was making sure that each new chapter had the right amount of space. It took about an hour to make sure the chapter title was centered between equal amounts of space. There are so many little details to formatting and since I chose to format myself I need to make sure the book looks as professional as possible.

I chose not to hire a formatter because of financial constraints and because Createspace is very user-friendly. I only have Microsoft Word to work with, but I think I did a pretty good job on my own. (Feel free to comment below on how it looks so far!) I have not plugged my MS into Createspace yet and I’m a curious to see how well it all lines up. In an ideal world since I used their templates and all that, I will just plug it in and be good to go! I have no idea if that is actually going to be true. I am 90% done with the MS though, so I will let you know soon whether or not Createspace is honest with their templates!

PS. Below is my first screenshot ever! I learned to do this just for you! 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 10.11.40 AM

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Round 2 Edits-DONE!

I have finally gotten through the second round of edits from my copy editor! It took longer than anticipated because of school starting and all that jazz, but it feels so good to finally have it done.

The edits for this round were much more straight forward than my edits from my content editor. It was a lot of approving commas and sentence structure changes. There were a few comments my second editor suggested, but she did not make changes to the story. Not having to worry about any more plot modifications made this round of edits much smoother and less mentally taxing.

My next step for the book is to read through it twice and work on formatting. I’m actually looking forward to formatting the book now! It was scary when I first began researching it, but since I am publishing through Createspace there are templates I can use and easy instructions all over the internet. I know it will be tedious to make sure all of the chapters line up and make sure that there’s the right amount of pages between the title page and the first chapter of the book. The templates will help with that, but I will keep you posted about how the process goes!

One step closer to publication! Keep your eyes out for “The Healing Pool” this Thanksgiving!

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