Thursday, April 28, 2011

Craft Note: Editing

So, I'm back in the swing of editing "Surrender." Lots of work to do still. I tend to follow the "write with your heart, edit with your head" motto. My first drafts are wordy, clunky, and and a bit rushed, from time to time. I love, love, love writing, but I'm also a huge fan of revision. For some people it's the most tedious (and time consuming part), and it is for me too. However, I still love it. I love being able to step back and look at things with a fresh eye. About 1.5 months passed between my first edit (for storyline gaps and plot as a whole) to this edit (tearing apart and rebuilding sentences/scenes). I'm sure having more time in between would be good, but I feel like I'm at a place where I can look at things objectively: some of the glory and excitement for having finished a first draft is gone. Now, it's about getting down to business.

At this point I'm still hand editing and then taking those edits to the computer. In later drafts, I'll stick with digital editing (because the idea is that the story won't need huge edits anymore and it's easy to scan through and make tiny changes). I feel a bit bad about hand-editing sometimes because I'm using tons of paper (about 580 pages, which I'll recycle in the end). But I feel like I see the words differently when they're on a piece of paper versus the computer monitor. I also like that you can still see what you cross out and then maybe change your mind later. When you edit on a computer the words vanish (unless you're using track changes, but I never do with my own work). Hand editing gives me a chance to reconsider changes once I bring them to the computer.

Sometimes editing is really hard. As a writer, it can be difficult to identify places where the story lags or if characters are completely uninteresting. I think you can get into the mode of "I love all of this!" (at least in the beginning) and that can be detrimental. I think readers come in at this point and give you a new set of eyes. It's then up to you to decide whether to take their advice or leave it on the curb. This can be a difficult thing to do to. When I get feedback, I try my hardest not to jump on immediate changes that are suggested to me. Oftentimes, especially if they are negative comments or things that someone really didn't like, it takes me a few days to process everything. I have this moment where I feel like I've been shot in the heart (initially), then I die a slow death on the sofa, and then my brain is like "get over it, heart, we've got work to do."

The following link is from The Adams Zone and are basically in-line with what I look for when I edit: Editing Tips for Fiction. I definitely have favorite phrases (and sometimes I'm not sure what they are until people point out that I've used "little" ten thousand times), and my first drafts are full of "she walked, she saw, she looked," which I try to remove whenever I can. One thing that I'd like to do, but it's not really working at this point, is trimming 20% of the story out (to make things tighter). At this point, I'm still adding to my novel (grrrr). This is probably because I'm still in love with it all and am not ready to part with scenes or characters.

So, what's your process? Do you write it all out first and then tear it apart or do you write-edit-write-edit-write-edit (a slower process, in my opinion, but a cleaner draft at the end)?

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Chapter of Surrender

I've posted Chapter Four of "Surrender" to FictionPress. This is the final chapter that I'll be posted (it comes out to the first 62 pages of the novel). Please leave comments if you feel like it. I'm going to post here on the blog as well.

I'll be taking the chapters down from FictionPress in a few weeks, since I probably shouldn't have any of it up when I start submitting.

My schedule's been pushed back a little, but that's probably for the best--there's still a lot of work to be done, I've realized. Lots of sentences to tighten up and a few little organization things. So, my hope is to send out query letters in June (maybe before if I can get back into a rhythm of writing/editing). Bleh, query letters... it's almost like writing a poem, which I find incredibly hard to do (if not impossible). How can you really get 500+ pages down to three paragraphs? Well, by the end of editing I hope to shave off at least 50 pages, but we'll see if I can manage that. It's a hard thing to do when everything feels important to the story and the growth of the characters, and of course some things will be left open-ended for other stories. Anyway... lots more work to do.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Chapter Posted

I've posted Chapter Three of "Surrender" on FictionPress. I look forward to any comments.

Query, Query, Query

Wowzer... I decided to start a draft of a query letter for "Surrender" today. This is going to be REALLY hard. It's difficult making something sound interesting and fun, you know? I'm using a few sample query letters in the October 2010 issue of "Writer's Digest" as guidelines, but I still don't know if I have something solid. I wish I had an agent friend to read it over for me. At any rate, I just have to hope that it's the best and keep looking for other examples.

So, I'm seeking help (yet again) with my summary. I feel like I need to get it down to 1-3 sentences (as a hook). I know it's hard to help when you haven't read the entire novel, but hopefully you smart readers/writers out there could offer a little bit of help?

First question, if you read the following HOOK, would you be at all interested in the story?:
"Sixteen-year-old Evelyn is a biracial girl who learns that she was created by angels to be a vessel, a weapon for an approaching angelic war."

Or how about this:

"Evelyn has just learned that she was created by angels to be a vessel, a weapon to use in the approaching angelic war. However, she has to first decide which side--angels or demons--she wants to fight for."

Ahhh, please help! I can't believe how difficult this is.

Okay, and here's what I have for the summary for an agent. (I'm worried that it might give away too much of the story, thoughts?)

For the last six years, Evelyn and her father have hopped from state to state, hiding in big cities while running from something or someone from the past. As the last place she felt happy and secure, Evelyn returns to Falls, New Hampshire with her tiny and dysfunctional family. However, if she'd known that she was safer outside town, she wouldn't have moved back. Falls is not what it once was.

As a new student at Stonegrove High School, Evelyn discovers that she may never be a normal, happy girl. Her former best friend has vanished, she's followed by a young man who she is strangely drawn to, and a cute boy's attention is both confusing and exciting. And jsut when she has a handle on her new surroundings, her best friend Lucas Starr and Lillian, his mother, return and Evelyn's world tailspins. Lucas has changed and his mother has taken a peculiar interest in Evelyn.

On her seventeenth birthday, Evelyn dies and is reborn as an angel, a vessel full of life. She barely has time to readjust to her new self when she learns that she was created using the essence of the first Eve, matriarch of all humans, and that Lillian Starr is actually Lilith, Adam's first wife, an outcast of Eden, and mother to all demons. Focused on Lilith's need for revenge, the war above is just barely stirring, and Evelyn is uncertain of where her focus should be. She tries to lean on her friends only to realize that they can't, and shouldn't, interfere. Evelyn is forced to realize that she may always be alone.

I know ya'll are probably sick of these posts, but I'd love to hear a few opinions. This is hard. :(

Side note: I will be publishing the next chapter of "Surrender" (new material that none of my blog followers will have read yet) on FictionPress hopefully by the end of the night.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: "Darkness Becomes Her"

Finished a new book last night. "Darkness Becomes Her" is by Kelly Keaton (she writes adult novels under then name Kelly Gay). This was another random library grab as I'd never heard of this book or the author. I read it through in a few hours and enjoyed it overall. It's definitely interesting and unique: a little vampire-witchiness thrown together with Greek mythology. The story is about a young girl in search of her birth mother. Her search takes her into New 2 (New Orleans after a few horrible hurricanes) and into a band of interesting little friends. At first I thought this was a post Hurricane Katrina setting, but then the main character is 17 (if I remember correctly) and was born in 2009, so this is definitely a futuristic setting.

Anyway, this novel is something new out there right now in paranormal/supernatural YA. I think it'll be an interesting series to follow.

Updated Chapters of "Surrender" on FP

Hi everyone!

I've decided to post the first 60 pages of "Surrender" on Fiction Press (the prologue and chapter 1 are now up). I really hope to get some good feedback on these first few chapters. We all know how important the beginning of a story is to keep the readers interest piqued. Please stop by and let me know your thoughts (if you feel up to it).

I've also re-posted the prologue and chapter one here on the blog (under my fish). I decided to break up chapter one so that it was a little shorter (so you actually have chapter 1 and 2). I just finished editing chapter 3 so I'll post that soon.

As always, I hope everyone enjoys.

PS. What's up with Fiction Press? It was really hard to get in and edit the documents once I uploaded them. :(

Friday, April 15, 2011

Exciting Day!

So, I just purchased my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I)! I had a bit of a freak out moment, but not a "jump around the store with my copy" freak out. They've been running commercials on TV about the DVD/Blueray release (which is the one with all the special features). Remember when we talked about needing book in the same series to all look the same? Well, I have the same requirement when it comes to my Harry Potter DVDs: they all need to be double-disk, special edition copies. Blueray boxes are all short and throw everything off, so I was worried that I was going to be disappointed this year. Luckily, Walmart is carrying the special edition DVD that I needed for my collection. I hope that they do the same thing with Part 2. This might be all silly, but it was very exciting for me today. Can't wait to watch it.

I managed to edit the first chapter of "Surrender" (second round). I hope to make those corrections and re-post it. I'd love to get more feedback, even if you've read the first go-round. I'll probably post chapter two as well, after I've edited it again. My goal is to get the first three chapters as solid as possible. Then I'll be looking for agents (still have not started this process).

And the last bit of exciting news: A new episode of "Supernatural" is on tonight!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: "Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage"

I think I've found another favorite writer (when it comes to Victorian-era, Jane Austen-y) romance novels. Jennifer Ashley is right up there with Julia Quinn, who I have mentioned frequently on this blog. Last night I finished "Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage," the book after "The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie" (which I bought on a whim at Walmart). It was such a good read. I'm sure that I would probably be a fan of anything that J. Ashley writes and I kinda want to find out! Honestly, good stuff. Good story-line, lots of naughty parts, and great characters. I'm looking forward to her next book, out in August 2011 "The Many Sins of Lord Cameron." I know that not everyone is into this stuff, but it's a great escape.

I'm halfway through "Last Sacrifice" which is the final book (I think/hope) in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. So far it's good, but I thought she should have ended things with book 4. That's just me though... things seemed to be winding down in book 4 and then things tailspun into something different. And since I'm such a huge fan of the TV show "Vampire Diaries" I decided to check out the book from the library. I'm curious how alike/different they are.

Things are going slowly with both writing my novella and editing my novel. I blame my at-home part-time job, which will be over by the end of this weekend. I'll have more time after that and hopefully will make some good progress.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy April!

I can't believe it's spring already. It was like 75 degrees out today, which normally would be a great day, but it feels super hot when you've had 45-50 degree days for the last two months. Still, hello spring. This month I'll start the second round of edits on my novel and begin researching agents. I have a feeling that these next few steps are going to be incredibly time consuming. But I'm determined to start submitting "Surrender" to agents by the end of May. Here's hoping.