Wednesday Edits – On Stalling

Posted on March 24, 2010. Filed under: Editing | Tags: , |

I’m running out of steam. It’s been a difficult month, and for everyone whose blogs I’m falling behind on reading and commenting on, I have to apologize. It’s been a bit frustrating to post on a regular basis, but I really love doing it.

With that said, let’s jump right into today’s topic.

Today’s topic is all about stalling.

By stalling, you should gather that I mean I’m slowing down on editing, to the degree that I haven’t done anything since last week. The reason for that? Busyness.

So I have to ask myself: do I really want to edit this novel I’ve written? And is it worth all the effort when I’m busy with my housework and submitting resumes and whatnot?

The answer to both those questions is a loud and clear yes. And why is that? Well, I think it’s mostly due to my dad.

Yesterday we went to a cheap bookstore that moved into an old Linens-n-Things shop. I don’t even know how long this Book Gallery is going to be there, but all the books are between 50 and 70 percent off their regular prices. That’s a pretty sweet deal considering.

My dad and I went off on our own, looking at different books. But the one amazing thing about my father is his capacity for supporting my dreams. Where other members of my family have told me I can’t do things that I want to, my father has always encouraged me to go after what I want.

He got my attention and drew me to the back wall of the massive bookstore. On a few tables back there, he found a section of writing handbooks. Now Dad doesn’t necessarily know what I’m looking for in terms of writing books, but he did recognize at least one book on my list. What was it? The 2010 Writer’s Market.

Originally $30 at Borders, he found the book hiding in the back corner of the Book Gallery for $11.

Why do I tell you all this and what does it have to do with editing? I’ve been tired, frustrated, and haven’t wanted to edit in a few weeks. But I learned something about myself last night. Having someone who supports me looking out for my interests is enough to make me want to find time to edit.

The fantastic thing about NaNoWriMo is the sense of community you get while writing madly towards that 50,000 word goal. When November’s over and your manuscript is sitting on the hard drive gathering electronic dust, it’s difficult to muster the enthusiasm to edit. It’s not to say I don’t enjoy the editing; I actually do, but it’s hard to motivate myself to edit something that I waver on believing in sometimes.

But my dad believes in me. And right now, that’s enough for me. My stalling is over, and I have a manuscript to edit. In fact, I should be editing now. So I’m going to get back on that and keep going till I’ve finished my first edit. I think that’ll be motivation enough to complete the second edit.

What about you? Have you found yourself stalling in edits? How do you break through the edit blocks? Let me know!


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Wednesday Edits – On Read-Throughs

Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: Editing, My Writing, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , |

It’s time for your favorite and mine: Wednesday edits.

Wednesday Edits is a series of posts for those aspiring authors who wish to share their tips and tricks of the self-editing trade. I invite anyone who wants to pick up the series on their own blogs to snag the button and link back to this page. In addition, please let me know by commenting on this blog if you pick up the button for use, and provide a link to the specific post.

I’ll put a list of rules up later. For now, the gist is simple: on Wednesdays, you will be writing about editing. Post stories, tips, and other editing-themed items, and let the rest of the world read your thoughts on self-editing–anything from novels to school essays.

Moving right along, then – here is my bit to contribute for today.

Editing a novel is slow, tedious work. I’m finding that out now, and it’s one of the more interesting things I’ve discovered. I’m not even halfway through the first read-through and basic edit, and I don’t know when I’ll get there. But I am trying.

So far I’ve learned that my editing technique is pretty simple.

1. Read the chapter.

2. Use Scrivener’s annotation function to annotate red-pen notes to myself about continuity or excessive scenes/paragraphs that need rewriting and fixing in later drafts.

3. Catch grammatical errors, misspellings, and unclear sentences during the read-through. Fix those as I go.

Pretty simple, eh? It sounds easy enough, and it’s been a delight to reread my writing since it’s been such a long time since I wrote those first chapters. I’d forgotten a lot of what I wrote, and rereading is always good for me.

So I have a question for you: do you tend to hate what you wrote when you reread it? Or are you on the opposite end of the spectrum – do you love your writing? I’m curious because most of what I’ve read in the NaNoWriMo forums talks about hating the editing process mainly because the authors dislike their writing.

Personally I’m enjoying every minute of my reread. Even the parts that need editing are a delight because I get to pick and choose what would work better, how to rework the sentences, and what should be rewritten in its place. At the same time, though, I honestly hate to edit my writing this way.

I may be the most biased self-editor ever. I love my writing to death and hate changing any of it, unless of course it’s a misplaced word or grammatical error. But shortening, tightening, losing some of the verbiage? That’s akin to blasphemy.

So to conclude this little ditty, I have one piece of advice.

Editing Tip # 707: If you’re editing something a bit smaller than a novel-sized work, consider using this tip from my old high school English teacher: Instead of reading over your work from beginning to end, start at the end and read up to the beginning. This keeps you from reading what you meant to write instead of what you did write by forcing you to read it differently. It works well in two ways.

First, it allows you to catch grammatical errors from sentence to sentence. Second, it helps you make everything cohesive. If the last sentence and the sentence above it don’t allow for clarity and understanding, you might want to work on rewriting.

I’ve used this technique especially well on college essays. It helps me catch problem areas every time. I haven’t tried it on my novel. If I do, I’ll wait till after I do the rewrites and do a scene at a time. It might drive me batty, but I’ll see if it works.

That’s my tip for the day. You can take it or leave it, but it’s a fun one to do in practice. Have you ever tried reading one of your college essays from end to beginning?


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On Buttons, Badges, Or Whatever You Call Them

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: Blogs, Musings | Tags: , , |

So I’ve been looking at all the beautiful buttons, badges, and other fun, linkable things on people’s blogs as I browse. Of course, there are a ton of various blogging groups you can join that will encourage you to put up a custom button from their website to link back to their page.

I’ll admit to a bit of jealousy. I want a badge for my own blog. And I don’t want one that’s necessarily to just plug my blog but to plug some sort of effort I’m doing that others could join in on. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of button-making experience, and my creativity to that end is nil.

I asked a friend how to make buttons, and his response was that I should open a picture or other JPEG in Photoshop, add in whatever modifications (i.e. text) I want, resize to appropriate sizes, link and upload. Well, I have a few problems with that:

1. I have no idea how all the websites I’ve seen format their own buttons and badges. I have no HTML skills whatsoever and know next to nothing about link-backs and whatnot.

2. I can’t for the life of me understand how many pixels it takes to fill up a certain small amount of space (for example: my sidebars).

3. I’m just plain uncreative.

So I did the next best thing. I took a photo I did for a photography class in college, made a duplicate, and opened it up to be edited. I don’t have Photoshop, but I do have a Mac with a few programs that are somewhat useful for the Photoshop-deprived.

With one program, I changed the photo to a funky black and white version that I really find fun and interesting. I also resized it and re-saved it. Then I opened it in another Mac program, Preview, and resized it yet again and put in text. A little tinkering, a little saving, a little renaming, and PRESTO! Instant badge!

I still have no idea how to actually get it working, but for the record: I worked hard on this little guy. So, now, for your viewing pleasure: my Wednesday Edits badge.

He’s a little too big and unwieldy as he is now, so I may go back and resize him again to get him down to a manageable level, but I think he’s cute.

So once I have it more manageable, I’ll put up another post with my pretty badge. For the record, this one is strictly for my Wednesday Edits sessions, and if I get ambitious enough, I’ll actually write out a description of the post and offer up the badge for use by other ambitious self-editing authors.

What do you think? Good or bad or indifferent? It was fun to play around with my limited resources and see what I could come up with.

Oh, and by the way, this isn’t my Thursday post. It’s just an aside from the normal! So enjoy the extra post or ignore it as you will! I’ll return later with more fun and randomness for your reading pleasure.


P.S. My badge is currently linked back to the original place I’ve hosted it: my deviantART page. Feel free to click on the link and take a look at my page if you’re interested, and if not, that’s fine, too!

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