Recently, I was approached by an emerging writer who opened her correspondence with something to the effect of: I don’t have money but I need a comprehensive editing package. My last editor was more interested in taking my money than fixing my book.
I can empathize with this writer: she’s hungry to get her product into the marketplace and believes her work experience qualifies her to be a NYT Bestseller. But, as most of us who have tried our hat at creative writing after careers in journalism, academia, technology, etc. have learned, writing fiction requires a different skillset.
Writers are fortunate to have resources available to help save costs while honing their craft. Through the Internet, we can take master-level courses in creative writing and storytelling, grammar, and all points in between at little to no cost. I have personally completed the Creative Writing Specialization through Coursera.org and found it to be one of the best learning experiences I’ve had to date. There are also local workshops hosted by writing groups and universities such as this one in my corner of the world: The Apprentices: Free Creative Writing Workshops at Northwestern University. On social media and apps like Meetup or Scribophile you can join face-to-face or virtual writing groups.
Also, there are literally oodles of books about writing available for free through your favorite eReader bookshop, and don’t get me started on the tens of thousands of titles on Kindle Unlimited alone! And, don’t forget about your library where you can rent ebooks and audiobooks as well.
All of these resources can help writers — newbies and veterans — gain a better command of their craft. This legwork is done so you can save time and money when you reach the editing stage of the publishing process.
As an editor, I hope you’ve used your time wisely and sought advice from early readers and writing partners. I don’t like to have been the only other voice at this stage of the process.
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” Stephen King On Writing
What King means is, tell yourself the story in the first draft. Let it rest. Then collaborate to make your story more real through the help of trusted crit partners. Give your manuscript another thorough self-edit or two before handing it over to editors.
Also, check out this post about how to determine what kind of editor you need and how to combine services to save money without negatively affecting your manuscript. In the linked article are alternatives to costly editing tasks. Picking Editors: Can We Combine Steps…? Jami Gold has a terrific site chock-full of detailed guides and worksheets to help you tell your best story.
After you’ve done all that, give me a holler to discuss your publishing goals. firstname.lastname@example.org
A clever and clear explanation of the importance of an oft-overlooked aspect of storytelling.
Since I’m now a freelance editor, I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog: Jen’s Editing Tips. This will give me a chance to share some of the common mistakes and missteps I come across in the work I edit, and hopefully help you avoid them.
To kick things off, I’m going to discuss one of my biggest editing pet peeves: White space.
Or rather, the lack of it.
As you probably assumed, white space refers to the empty areas on a page. You know, the lovely gaps between paragraphs. The simple, yet powerful tool writers use to present their stories to audiences.
Before I get into the exact reasons why white space is so important, let me show you an example. Below is my 150-word flash fiction piece, Crumb Layer.
Without white space:
When I was little, my mom would let me help her frost cakes. “Remember, Annie,” she’d say, “the first layer…
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So, you’ve finished your first draft?
Go out and celebrate because not many people get to this point.
However, don’t think for a minute that you are done. Oh no. You are far from done.
Writing the 1st draft is actually the easiest part of the whole process.
But it’s OK. We’ll walk through the next steps together. 😉
Before we begin, if you haven’t read “How To Treat Your Writing Like a Business” yet, take a few minutes and check it out.
Now, let’s get down to it.
10 Steps To Get You Published
Step 1: Walk Away From Your Manuscript
Don’t go back through and read it just yet. You brain needs a break. Take a few days and do anything but work on your manuscript (MS). If the idea of doing nothing at all in regards to your book makes you cringe then start rounding…
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I recently stumbled across a post on Tumblr claiming that it is possible to write up a complex plot in a single day.
So can you?
Short answer. No.
A truly complex and layered plot is not something you can whip up in a day of brainstorming. What you can come up with is a premise and basic plot arc. Notice I said basic.
So what makes a plot complex? Adding more characters? Adding more events? More conflict? More themes?
Yes. All of the above. You cannot just throw one element at a plot in multitudes and expect the plot to suddenly seem complex. More than likely it will just be confusing. A truly complex plot is a careful balance of theme, character, subplot, subtext, narrative arc and premise. A truly complex plot has layers and those layers can’t just lay on top of each other, they have to…
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Write your first first chapter as a short story–I love that idea.
I can’t count the amount of indie books I’ve started but haven’t finished. I read everything on Kindle now save a few of my favorites like those in my Tolkien collection (I have all hard-bound editions of those). If I want to figure out whether I want to read a new book, I download a sample from Amazon and then if I can get interested in the first few pages, I’ll stick with it through the sample, and then if I can read the entire sample and want more, I buy the book.
The thing is, most readers today are reading on phones or Kindles or iPads. It’s not just the young. My mother is in her 70’s and reads all of her books on her iPad…and she’s an avid reader.
So how can a modern writer write their novel so that it has that un-put-downable quality that forces the…
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Do you learn your storytelling from movies as much as from prose? Many of us do. While certain principles can be learned well from both media, others can’t.
I’ve already discussed a few points in previous posts – scenes with a lot of characters, short, choppy scenes and point of view and dialogue. Today I’m going to look at description.
Description in prose aims to give the reader an experience. It fills in the specifics. Description in scripts or screenplays – and novels by writers who don’t read a lot of prose – is often labels or generics. Let me show you what I mean.
The writer who is more tuned to movies might describe ‘1970s furniture’, or ‘a battered car’. But a great description in prose will talk about the chair shaped like a giant egg, the Toyota with a mismatched door and an unlevel fender.
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We all want to write scenes that grip our readers and keep them glued to the page! Easier said than done, right? Well, here are four tips that I try to keep in mind every time I sit down to craft a scene. They aren’t 100% fool-proof, but they often help me find that extra oomph to make my scene’s sing.
The number one reason a scene falls flat is because it doesn’t have any dramatic action. Dramatic action is the action the protagonist takes to resolve the problem he has suddenly been faced with.
In STORY, Robert Mckee talks about dramatic action as “story events” and defines them as an “event that creates a meaningful change in the life situation of a character and is expressed and experienced in terms of a value and achieved through conflict.”
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