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Posts Tagged ‘editor’

Take a break

Anyone who knows me will tell you how much writing means to me. I am an avid writer and if I could live and breathe it, I would. However, there comes a time when you need a break. Well, that’s what I think anyway. Who knows, maybe there are writers out there who can write for hours / days / weeks on end without a single break. Sadly not everyone can.

There comes a time when you need a break. It’s like a normal job. You have holiday pay for a reason, so you can take a break and not think about work for a while. Writing is a job, so you need to take a break occasionally. Even if it’s a day, it’s enough to recharge your batteries so you can start fresh next time. Although remember, it’s okay to take more than a day. Sometimes taking a week or more off can do wonders.

So be practical and don’t overdo it. You look around and see those dedicated career workers who live and breathe their job. And what good does it do? It does them no good at all. If anything it can cause family trouble, it leaves them exhausted and their social life goes down the gurglur. Who wants to be like that? I know I don’t. If you do, then that’s up to you but just remember, sometimes you do need time out.

I take a break from writing from time to time. When I do, I always go back recharged and rearing to go with new ideas.

Speaking of taking breaks, I am doing just that starting today. I’m not taking a break from writing as such, as I did that only recently. I’m taking a break from something else, which is connected to writing.

I spend a lot of time on wattpad writing stories, reading other people’s stories and offering critiquing and editing services. Sadly over the last few weeks, I’ve become exhausted with how much I’ve had to do and I don’t like that feeling. So I’m not going to have much to do with it for a few weeks.

Pressures with family and work haven’t helped either. So yes, I’m taking my own advice seriously. By the time I return, my batteries will be fully recharged and I’ll be rearing to go again.

What this means is I can focus on other writing. I am in the process of putting some final touches to a manuscript so I can send it to a publisher. I really want it done within the next couple of weeks so I can send it off.

It also means I’ll get November to myself. Why? NaNoWriMo of course! I am in the process of planning out my story for that month and I am very excited about it. I don’t want any interruptions then. I am determined to write my 50,000 words.

My plan is to return to wattpad in December.

So there you have it. Take a break people, it’s important! If you decide to just take a day, do something that doesn’t involve writing. Go down the beach, spend some time with your family, bake… whatever tickles your fancy. But don’t write. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.

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For a long time I had no idea what a critique partner was. Then as I started to take writing seriously and I became a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, I realised how important they are.

A critique partner gives honest and sometimes harsh opinions on your story but you will be forever grateful for their honesty. They will read your story from start to finish and tell you everything that is wrong with it. They will also correct grammar, punctuation, spelling etc. as best as they can. Remember though, they are not qualified editors or proof readers, they just point out the obvious errors.

Please keep this in mind: even though critique partners are important, you have to be ready. One thing I was told was this: if just want someone to tell you your story is good and you can’t accept criticism then a critique partner is not for you. Not yet at least. You must be ready.

To be ready you must be willing to take a step back from your story and get it ripped to pieces. But don’t view it as mean or rude, view it as a way to improve your writing. Believe me, there will be times you want to rip your hair out and scream at the other person but let me say this… don’t do it! If they’re confused and can pick up a zillion errors, so will the reader.

As a writer we don’t see our own mistakes, that’s where critique partners come in. Trust me, as much as it might hurt having your story ripped to shreds, it’s worth it. You will come out a much better writer at the end of it and your story will be 100% better.

Good luck!

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I am a member of the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA). Every year they hold a conference. This year it was in Fremantle, Western Australia. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to attend. However, they have an online conference called The Claytons, which is specifically for those who have been unable to attend  the real thing.

I have been a member of RWA for just over a year and this is the first time I took part in it. Last year I was still new to RWA and didn’t know about it. This year I decided to do it because it sounded like fun. Let me tell you, it was an amazing experience.

We all logged into a chat room and over a day and a bit, we got to ‘listen’ and chat to other authors and editors. They provided some very useful information for published and unpublished writers. It was a truly wonderful experience. The highlight for me was being able to talk to editors from some very well known romance publishers.

Today, the final day of the conference, we ‘listened’ to Charlotte Ledger of Harper Impulse. For me, this was the highlight of the conference. She answered all the questions we had and explained, in detail, the process Harper Impulse has for aspiring authors. Let’s just say after her session, I am determined to submit my manuscript.

I would love to submit it now but I must be patient. Whilst my manuscript is complete, it is still being critiqued. Until it has been fully critiqued, I will not submit it. It will mean I won’t be able to submit for a few months but that’s the way it goes. I need my manuscript as polished as possible to make a good first impression.

My aim is to submit early next year.

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show don't tell

Anton Chekhov once said ‘don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve realised how true this is. The rule of show, don’t tell is one of the most important rules to remember as a writer. And I’m afraid to say, for a long time I didn’t understand it.

When I was about 20 years of age, I wrote a novel which I thought was fabulous. I was so proud of it and wanted everyone to read it and tell me how brilliant I was. In my mind, I viewed myself as a prodigy. The next ‘big thing’ in the writing world.

Naive? Most certainly!! Now, at 31 years of age, I have learnt a lot. What was the result of that so-called ‘fabulous novel’?

Well, I decided to submit the novel to a writers forum and get feedback. I was adamant I would get a flood of followers and publishers begging to publish my work. Did any of that happen? Not a chance!

I received many comments on the forum but no one was complimenting my flawless writing. Instead they all said it was clunky, badly written and had too much telling.

It was the ‘too much telling’ that had me baffled, but I’ll get back to that. For now, I’ll finish the story.

Let’s say I was horrified! I was convinced they were jealous and wanted to be nasty. But they weren’t. In fact, they made completely valid comments. It took me a long time to get over that criticism but I did and I came out of it a much stronger and better writer.

What did I learn from it?

I learnt how to accept criticism. This is vital as a writer. You cannot afford to be offended by harsh words. You’re going to get them!

I learnt to stop thinking I was such a good writer when, quite frankly, I wasn’t. My current skills, which still need a lot of work, have come from many years of practice. I am much, much better than I was back then but I’m not perfect. Every writer has their off days!

And most importantly, I finally understood what it meant to show, not tell. Oh it took me a few years to fully understand it but I did and now I live by it.

For a long time I thought how can you ‘show’ when writing a novel? Isn’t writing all about telling a story? Well, yes but you can tell a story so that it paints a picture for the reader. When I realised that, it became that much clearer to me.

There’s nothing wrong with telling occasionally. After all, it’s impossible to show everything.

Since meeting Katie Fforde (see my previous blog Meeting the author – Katie Fforde) I have gone to her for quite a lot of advice. At one point I asked her: ‘I know how important showing and telling is but does it matter how much show and how much tell there is?’ Her answer to me was: ‘It’s important to have much more show than tell. A bit of tell is ok as it saves time but it should be mostly show.’

I was critiquing someone’s work recently and one of their sentences read ‘My eyes automatically travel to the worn out and faded sign above the heavy steel doors’. The first thing I thought, this could be ‘shown’ in such a better way. Later in the story she had a scene where a little girl left the building and got her dress stuck in the door. I suggested to the author to say something like ‘I look over at Abigail and see her dress caught in the heavy steel doors’. It’s not a big change but it’s a perfect opportunity to show what the door looks like rather than tell us.

Oh and in case you are interested, the story mentioned in my blog has been totally rewritten. It is ten times better than it once was. I stripped it apart and fleshed it out. In fact, this is a piece I hope to get published in the near future.

So now that I’ve chewed your ear off with yet another example of how pathetic I was as a young writer, I will end my blog on this note:

Please remember, showing is so important in a novel. You will be surprised how much more alive your story becomes.

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It has been a long time since I last blogged. Wow that’s really slack of me! And here I am about to write a blog about why my books aren’t published. The question is, if  I’m so slack in writing a blog, am I just as slack in writing novels?

The answer is no. You see, I find writing a novel a little bit easier than writing blogs. I love blogging but I don’t always get the ideas I need for a good blog. Whereas I always have ideas going around my head for a novel and I need to write them down, even if I don’t finish the novel there and then. However, despite the amount of time I spend writing novels, I’m no closer to becoming published. I consider that to be my own fault. I shall explain why.

I’m a procrastinator. I don’t procrastinate in my actual writing  because I’m always writing – ask my husband. I procrastinate in actually submitting my manuscript to a publisher. You see, I wish to be published traditionally but I know it’s not always an easy market to break into. I procrastinate because I’m petrified. Not about rejection, I fully expect to be rejected, it’s getting the information together to submit it.

Once I’ve finished the manuscript I then need to stress over a synopsis and a query letter. For me, those two things are the scariest things to write. I can write a 100,000+ novel easily but to write a two  page synopsis and a one page letter is terrifying. So I procrastinate in the sense that I put them off and put them off and put them off until I get to this point where I’m drowning in my sorrows and am still unpublished.

There’s an element of fear there too. Let me put it this way, I have a lot of finished manuscripts. So many in fact I don’t know what to do with them! Well I do, but fear is standing in my way. One particular manuscript that I recently finished is really important to me, one of my best I feel, and I really want it published. Lately I’ve been trying to push my fears aside and work on a synopsis. Sadly I’m not getting very far.

Then there’s an issue that involves money, or lack thereof. I don’t want my query letter, synopsis or sample chapters to be clumsily edited but the truth is I can’t afford an editor! Seriously, those people are so damn expensive and since I’m the breadwinner of my little family of two, we just can’t part with that money. So I have to rely on myself to do first and second edits then ask my non biased friends and family to do a more thorough edit too. Sadly they have their own lives and I don’t get it back from them quickly enough.

Even when I do, fear pokes its head up again and I fear that if I do get an agent or a publishing house interested in my manuscript, they may tell me to hire an editor. Well that takes me back to reason number three because I can’t afford it! Can you see why I procrastinate so much? I’m not saying it’s acceptable and I hate being like it but there’s all these little things that stand in my way.

So now that we’ve discussed my main reasons for still not being published, I just want to touch on my struggle with writing synopses a little more. I’ve had some good advice from authors and fellow bloggers which has sort of helped but sort of not either. Take for example Katie Fforde, she told me not long ago to write a synopsis as though I’m talking to someone about my novel. A very good piece of advice, I thought. However I tried that and it ended up being way too long. I’m not afraid to admit that I talk a lot, as is noticed by the length of the blogs I write, but it is a downfall when I try and take on that piece of advice.

I also read a piece of advice that said to read each chapter and note down the main event of each chapter then piece them together to form a synopsis. I haven’t tried this yet as I only read it before I wrote this blog, so I think I might give it a go. I’ll see how I go but I just have this feeling in the pit of my stomach I’m going to fall into the same problem of it being too long.

The thing is also, with these fears still haunting me I’m never going to know if my novels will ever be good enough for publishing. So it’s a bit of a catch 22, huh?

So the truth is, I know that to get anywhere I have to overcome these fears but I’m struggling to say the least. The reason for this blog is to explain why I’m not getting anywhere and hope that you, the reader and hopefully fellow writers / authors, can give me some advice. Am I over thinking things? Am I worrying over nothing? Is the editing thing not that big a deal because editors will be provided if I’m taken on by an agent or publishing house?

If you can comment and give me your thoughts it would mean a LOT because one day I want my book to be on sale. And I want you all to see it and know I’ve finally overcome my, quite frankly, stupid fear!

Thanks for now and I shall publish this. I will try and blog a bit more frequently from now on. 🙂 ciao!

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