Tag Archives: editing

Say it isn’t so :(

I’m a little bit in mourning, yesterday was the last day of my Refine Your Novel course. I am going to miss it so much, I enjoy looking forward to it and I enjoy the work while I’m there and I love the motivation in the days after it.

I’m also going to miss the tutor. I did this course with Toni Jordan 3 years ago so this is my second go around with her and she was just fantastic. This last day is possibly my favourite. In my favourite exercise she gives us an early draft of her debut novel, but a version very close to what she sent to her publishers, and then a photocopy of the printed book and she gets us to mark up the changes, of which there are many. This is incredibly brave of Toni and so helpful to us writers. It’s all well and good hearing about the things you need to do to a manuscript to whip it into shape, it’s another matter entirely to see and create a real life example.

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That’s a lot of green pen!

While we work on this, Toni takes a sample of our manuscript and line edits it for us. Most of us provide our first 1500 words, 3 years ago she marked up the first page for me (of a different manuscript) this time she marked up three pages. It’s such a fantastic opportunity, to see where it is you need to concentrate, where you’re going right and where you’re missing the mark.

20150726_152903And in a bit of a fan girl moment I got my copy of her first novel signed.

There’s much to be done, so much…

Give me back my adverbs!

Apparently one (of the many) signs that a manuscript is the work of a debut novelist in the liberal use of adverbs. Those fabulous words that end in ‘ly’ – angrily, lazily, happily, quickly, easily, wistfully, loudly – you get the picture.

By rights we need to pare their use way way back. Use the action in the scene to replace the adverb, if someone strides across the room to slap someone’s face, you don’t need the word quickly, it’s kinda obvious by what is going on.

And while there are no hard and fast rules, in our Refine Your Novel course we’ve been told that it is not uncommon to be advised to restrict yourself to four adverbs per manuscript – 4 per 80,000 words! Now the point is to get us thinking about our word choices of course, not to play policeman on our manuscripts.

So I am 9000 words into the redraft and periodically find myself coming to a screaming halt as I’ve thrown in yet another adverb. I’m writing a small piece of a larger scene where one character hands another a rare comic. It’s a small gesture in the larger scene but of course I want it to convey the respect and reverence for the precious object. He handed it gingerly, reverently arrrrrrr! I WILL not say He gave! And then I look back at the 21 words in the short para I’ve written leading up to this adverb dilemma and realise I’ve alread used two adverbs in those 21 words! This is obviously something I need to look at more closely!

Angrily, lamentably, brazenly, laughingly signing off 🙂

The secret to your most productive writing year ever…

secretQuick post as I start my first draft reread and initial edit – read a fantastic post over at The Write Practice today – The Secret to Having the Most Productive Writing Year Ever.

This blog is the master of enticing headlines – a fantastic skill in its own write. Today’s post has a number of writing tips about getting your but in the chair and doing the work. There’s nothing earth shatteringly new in there but its so well written it is motivating.

So pop on over and have a read – I have to do some editing!!

 

My darlings are strangling my sweethearts

So in my fabulous writing course I’ve found some of the participants have provided a couple of aha moments. One in particular had me nodding sagely in agreement, how wise I thought, how insightful. Right up until two hours later when I found myself in the same situation and I was far less understanding.

One of the other writers was relaying how she had followed some of the plotting and structure advice we’d received in the previous class and as a result had been forced to get rid of some of the writing she was most proud. We know what that’s called don’t we fellow frustrated writers, yes, she’d had to kill some of her darlings. However, she assured us that it turns out she wasn’t killing her darlings, it was her darlings that were strangling her sweethearts.

Ah, yes, sage nods, wise, knowing acknowledgment.

Later in the class we did a writing exercise. And strike me if it wasn’t a good one, it worked really well for me, unfortunately it probably means I’m about to lose the first 10 pages of my manuscript. Ah crap. There’s some seriously good stuff in those pages. Aww man.

Those darlings, can I really kill them off, are they really strangling my sweethearts?

That’s 10 pages people, 10 pages single spaced, 11 point. Just shy of 5,000 words. Sure some of it I can rework a bit and reposition but I may lose some great lines, like

I steel my shoulders and my nerves, remind myself that I love my mother, and weave my way through the tables, catching the eye of the sommelier as I go.

And

Let’s face it, my participation in this conversation is not really required, or perhaps even desired.

and

When I tumble into bed at night, exhausted at the effort of yet another day not writing, there it is blink, blink, blink.

I’ll live, I’m sure, even if some of, even a lot of, my early pages don’t.

I am in love with…

Toni Jordan.

and my most recent favourite bit of advice, forget about the editing…for now.

I am currently taking part in her First Draft Post Mortem course with Writers Victoria and think it is just brilliant. It’s a four week course where we dissect our manuscripts and reassemble them (taking the postmortem metaphor way too far, we are becoming Mary Shelleys I guess, although hopefully creating something far less monstrous 🙂 )

I missed the first installment of this class when the family and I were jaunting about in New Zealand, I had considered flying back early to attend the class but the cost was just crazy. After attending the second class, I kinda wish I had.

One of the things Toni spoke about that stuck quite firmly in my mind is not to consider the editing process at all when writing your first draft. The first draft should be the draft of your heart, the one that you love/have to write. Don’t think about story arcs, about character development, about internal, interpersonal and physical conflict, about three or five acts, about the creation and resolution of tension. Just write the damn thing. If you spend your time rereading and editing and being concerned about producing the perfect saleable or publishable manuscript while you are creating it, you run the risk of removing all your freshness and creativity.

It was such a nice thing to realise, to release myself from the pressure of editing until the story is written.

the draft of your heart

The frightening thing I next realised ws how vastly different my finished manuscript will ultimately be to my first draft. It’s incredible to think I will practically rewrite this entire thing! Holy moly!

Another little snippet I found reassurring was when I highlighted the fact that as my story evolved the voices of the two narrators have become more and more similar and I suspected I would need to rewrite narrator 2 in close third person. Toni revealed that she writes first in first person and then rewrites into third person, that way she finds she understands the character better. The rewrite will be a big job, but I now feel approaching it from this perspective, that it doesn’t need to be polished just yet, it has freed me up to finish writing the draft, continue in first person but not worry about the distinctiveness of the voices quite so much.

But woah nelly is there some work ahead of me!

On the bright side it is just one week to my self designed mini writers retreat. Ok the writer isn’t mini, the retreat is, but you know what I mean 🙂

Any suggestions on how to structure my weekend? I intend to greatly increase my manuscript’s word count, but think I also need to have a few other writing exercises – maybe some flash fiction (perhaps something from the previous challenges set by the brilliant Chuck Wendig), maybe a little rewrite of the first person 2nd narrator into a third person – open to suggestions.