Tag Archives: editing

Non Grammar Divas, Unite!

Moonday Mania

today a blog on writing, tomorrow a blog on who knows what

I’m starting this blog with full disclosure. I am a romance writer. I write hot, sexy, paranormal romance with edge. Frequently about New Adults. What I’m not, is a grammar diva. I have trouble even spelling grammar. I have to think about it. Are there two a‘s or is there an e at the end. I did graph sentences in seventh grade, so I’m pretty good with telling whom the subject of a sentence is. And I’ve learned over the years how to use “whom” vs “who”, although I have to tell you I never ever used whom until I became a full fledged writer about six years ago. Who uses whom? Who cares?

flowers lynn kelley author

These flowers have nothing to do with grammar, mistakes, or who/whom. I just wanted to throw in some pictures and I love what Lynn Kelley posts on Flickr!

Writers care. And once you start hanging around with people who care, and who tell you they are looking at all those tiny things when they read, you start to care too.,

I got through school with good grades in English because here is the trick they never tell you. If you can muddle through, if you write correctly for the most part, if you speak well and act as if you understand, they put you into the higher level classes where they don’t do grammar.

That’s right. At the higher levels of schooling it’s all about writing and reading and understanding, but they won’t let you go there until they think you can do the grammar stuff. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be right a higher percentage of the time. So I did my time in seventh grade and learned how to diagram and passed the tests and moved on to classes where no one really worried about it as long as your papers were readable. And mine were readable because I read higher level writers.

From Sci-Fi to classics I read everything, so I naturally learned how to write like the people I read. And I absorbed correct grammar. For the most part.

That’s why I have an editor, a copy editor, and a line editor. They are the magic behind my writing, the people who wave their wands and make sure that what I have to say comes out in a cohesive fashion.

DISCLAIMER: I have no editor for my website or my blog. That’s you, dear reader. I make mistakes. Thankfully, some kind reader will point them out to me and I’m able to fix them. Whew!

Back to the blog:

I appreciate my back up team in endless ways. If they were at my house I would bring them donuts. They aren’t, so they don’t get any, but I THINK about giving them donuts. And considering how unhealthy a donut is I am sure they are thanking me for NOT giving them any crullers, long johns, or honey dipped glazed.

But sometimes, even with all their help. And all their knowledge. I don’t like what they do. What happens when the person who knows grammar does something to your manuscript that you, the author, hates? Do you have the right to speak up? Do you take the risk of offending these people who have done nothing but help you with your writing. After all, they are the smart ones. They passed grammar 101, 202, and 505. Classes I didn’t even have to take to become a writer. All I had to do was sit down and type. They’re the ones that know what’s right. Right?

Not necessarily.

Cana Lillies

Some rules are more flexible than others. Some have more than one right way to do them and it may not be your “voice” to do them the way your copy editor or editor wants you to. That’s why they send you the corrected copy for you to look over. It’s because they are not only imperfect and human too, but there are discretionary powers in being an author.

You have the right and the responsibility to make changes, to ask your editor for a second opinion, to consult grammar books until your fingers get calluses and you actually understand what a dangling participle is. In fact it is not just a right, it’s your job.

I got so excited about this topic that I have written a mini-novel about it, so this blog will be continued. Tune in next time to find out when it is permissible to argue with your editor, the wrong way and the right way to do so, and when you should just roll over and accept the inevitable. 

Meanwhile, leave your comments in the box, sign up for my new release only email blasts, and make sure your writing is clear, concise and donut worthy.

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Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

Discover the Details

Moonday Mania

a blog on the craft of writing

Before I start, don’t forget, the Holiday Gifts of Love Bloghop begins on Friday.

Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop

Win a Kindle Fire or a Nook Tablet!

We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times! 

Now what are those prizes? 

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $200 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

Like many post Nanoites I’m in deep in the throes of editing. If someone had told me that I would be spending twenty percent of my time writing and eighty percent of my time editing, I might have thought twice about this career. Deep editing is one of the things that can be a chore, but it can also be a pleasure. Finding just the right word, twisting that cliche, backloading not just a sentence but a pargargraph, then the next paragraph, how about backloading a chapter? Ah, the joys of editing.

delicious by sherry thomasOf course there are authors who are masters at this sort of thing. One of my favorite authors is Sherry Thomas. I don’t care what your specific genre is, if you are a romance author you should read Sherry Thomas’s Delicious. Not only is it a masterpiece of details (warning, there are a lot of food descriptions and you will want to eat French pastries) but she is also a master of plot. Sherry dribbles in backstory and keeps us turning pages just to find out what happens.

One of the amazing things Sherry Thomas does in Delicious is something I have never seen done before, the hero and heroine do not set eyes on each other for the first third of the book. And it is HOT! How does she do this? You have to read it.

But I’ll give you a hint. She’s a master of words and details. Check out this post from Writers in the Storm that Sherry wrote

http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/writerstrong-strong-details-for-strong-reader-emotions/

and you’ll see how she adds in tiny relevant, and even historical, details to make her writing strong. Not only does she do this to increase her romance between her couples, this is how she adds her backstory, and her story questions. This is what makes her a master of details, because you never feel like she is stating how her characters feel. There is no telling, only showing, in intricate, flavorful, intriguing details.

I loved Delicious as a reader. I couldn’t put it down. But as an author I want to study it, learn how she kept me on the edge of my seat cushions flipping page after page after page until that big fat book was finished. And if you’ve read what I’ve been doing lately you know it takes a month for me to finish a book. Not this one. I had to know. When would they actually see each other, what would happen, and why was all of this going on in the first place.

Yes, the backstory. Not only do we not get to see the hero and heroine together for a large chunk of the book, but you do

n’t really understand the backstory for nearly the entire book. No big explanations, just tiny details left for you

tempting the bride by sherry thomas

to find like yum
And then search out Sherry Thomas’s other books. my chocolate morsels you eat and then want more. So you keep turning pages. Want to see how an author can only reveal a tiny bit of the backstory? Want to read a master at the small intimate detail? Want to learn to write an amazing book? Read Delicious.

How do you learn how to be a better author? What books have helped you learn your craft? Do you make time to read masters outside of your genre?

ravishing the heiress by sherry thomasHow do you learn how to be a better author? What books have helped you learn your craft? Do you make time to read masters outside of your genre?

beguiling the beauty by sherry thomas

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Filed under Moonday mania, writing craft

Editing is the Pits

Sensational Saturday

a blog for whatever…

Stock Images - Four cherries close-up
Whenever I think I have a handle on life my bowl of cherries turns out to have pits. It’s normal and natural and not what I want in my teeth. But there they are. Pits.

Life lessons.

When I was younger I had no clue about life lessons. I didn’t know why things happened to me. I bounced from event to event, not learning what the universe was trying to teach me. Picking seeds out of my life.

But now I know. This is our class room and those pits are there to teach us lessons. And when you learn that one, there is another and another and another. Maybe some of you have achieved perfection, but not me.

Even though I figured out a few years ago that life was like that, I had to extend it to writing. When you edit, you tend to focus on what you’ve just learned, what’s fresh at the time. You are looking for raspberries in your manuscript, so you don’t see the cherries. Till you are happy with it and send it in, then suddenly, those cherries stand out.

<Stock Image - CherrypieLuckily there is usually another chance. And your editor is happy to sit down at the kitchen table with you and get out the hardware and cut out the landmines waiting in the cherries. All the pits will be gone. Or not. Don’t forget, your editor is human too. She has her own issues and might miss a few. So don’t be surprised if you think you have a perfect pie, but when you bite in, there are pits.

It’s just the lessons you have to work on next time and you can take the time to figure them out and apply them to the next manuscript. Or you can be like me and go to the dentist.

Hope you are all having a wonderful beginning to your summer. I’m off to Rom Con in a few weeks, getting excited! Hope to see some of you there!

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Filed under Sensational Saturday's, Writer's Journey

Getting Lost Taking the Scenic Route

I have been caught off of the main highway of writing and slowed down by the tempting editing side roads along the way. As I have learned to write I keep hoping the editing will get shorter, but now I’m not sure. I thought the fix was in plotting. You see I am a natural pantser. In fifth grade when Mr. Brown was trying to teach us how to write a paper, he showed us how to research, write note cards and formulate an outline. Then and only then would he give permission for us to begin the writing process.

I, naturally, was resistant to this controlled way of writing. Already enamored with story writing I didn’t love the idea of non-fiction, but was willing to give it a try. Research, that was fun. Can’t remember the subject, but I’ve always loved finding out facts. Note cards, yes I liked those. Short sweet and able to shuffle in any order I pleased. Note cards could even be color-coded, that was even better. But the outline, ah yes, the outline. There I failed.

I tried writing an outline, but I didn’t know how things would go together. How could you write a map of where you were going when you hadn’t been there. I struggled with it. Then I gave up. I ended up writing the paper in secret and drawing the outline from that rough draft then turning in the outline. Mr. Brown approved, I waited a day or two and handed in my rough draft. Sneaky.

Already a closet pantser I stayed that way through college, whipping up decent papers the night before or sometimes, if they were short, the morning they were due. I could have been a better student. I could have written better papers had I taken more time, or known how to really do an outline that worked for me. But once again, I found ways around it. And muddled through.

So now I am an adult. No one is asking for the outline, no one is grading me on it. My desire for good grades is enormous. I want that A. I want that editor or that agent to hand it to me on a silver platter. And now I know writing a novel on the cusp of the due date isn’t going to get me there. No, to do that, I need to hand in my best work. But how is a life-long pantser supposed to change?

My perfectionism forces me to edit. And edit. And edit. I have heard, and I’m sure its true, that plotting saves time in the editing stage. And I badly want this. So I started my new story (working title Blood Were) by Snowflaking. Randy Ingermanson of Advanced Fiction Writing fame is the author of this method and when I heard him speak last October at the Heart of Denver mini-con a light bulb went on. This was structure without structure. This was like the note-card shuffle. At this, I could be successful.

I started out well, but soon petered out. I could write a small character sheet, get my main plot points down, but when it came to filling things out I was stuck. It turns out that I can come up with inciting incidents, major plot points and even black moments, but when it comes to anything in between I need to write.

I need to write to really understand my characters, and I need to write to know why my plot goes the way it does. I like having some structure. I now have a sort of a road map in the Snowflake method. Lets call it verbal directions. “Turn right at that drugstore, you know the one with the blue roof, take your third left and when you see the Dairy Queen you’re almost there.” (I always navigate by food, DQ and donuts are the best.) I truly don’t understand the nuances of my characters or how they will interact until those words start flowing.

So here I am. I was hoping to become a reformed pantser, but instead I am embracing it, with a little dip into the plotting pool. I still like the idea of plotting out the main points. I like to know the general idea of where my road trip will take me, but I’ve found out that what I really like is the journey. Even when it means my newest 1,000 plus words need to be cut and re-written from the heroine’s point of view and not the hero’s. What can I say? I’m a sucker for roadside attractions.

My Name my Blog Days Contest is still wide open, so come up with more ideas and post in the comment section. Prizes are waiting!

Contest closes July 18th with the premiere of the new re-vamped Jessica Aspen Writes, so be sure and leave your ideas before then and check back on the 18th to see my new look and who won!

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Filed under Optimisim, writing craft