Two posts in one week! Editing, and Publishing

I completely forgot to share the link to my post on editing last Sunday, so this week you get two posts!

First: Editing: Enrich your story by showing, not telling

And Second: Publishing in South Africa and Abroad: Do I need an ISBN and where do I get it?

Have fun!

Tuesday Editing Tips on a Wednesday – Because what’s a schedule for if not to be broken?*

*And also because I started writing a post about Deep Point of View for yesterday’s post and realised that it was going way deeper (haha) than I’d anticipated and I needed more time to do it justice, so … that will be next week’s post.

This week you get … wait for it … drumroll please

Accents in Dialogue – Points to Consider.

(Shout out to Nthato for asking this question on our writing group and saving my life giving me the idea.)

The Question:

How do you guys feel about writing accents?
Like the typical “German/Swede” who pronounces “th” as “da”.

The Answer:

When writing accent in dialogue, there are first three criteria to consider:
  1. Does it enhance characterisation? Would the character be diminished if they spoke without an accent, or with the accent indicated in dialogue tags instead of speech?
  2. Will it engross the reader in the story? If the accent can be pulled off in speech without jarring the reader out of the story, then by all means, include it.
  3. Does it develop plot? If the accent is essential to the plot – for example, a German character who speaks with an accent at home, but in a volatile situation loses the accent, giving clues to the reader about secrets they may be hiding, the accent should be included.
Once those criteria are met, you then need to determine the following:
  1. Length of the story. In shorter stories, accents can be easily pulled off because there’s less room for dialogue, and readers are less likely to be annoyed by “Da” written instead of “The”.
  2. Is there a way to indicate accent in speech, without writing words differently? For example, the shift of “th” to “da” is actually a lisp. It’s an accent only because it’s created by the home language pronouncing letters and sounds differently in the mouth. In another language, the muscles of the tongue and jaw instinctively form recognised patterns, changing the airflow around certain letters and creating what we hear as an accent.
  3. Can you indicate the accent by changing only certain words, instead of the entire dialogue? In the case of a German accent, it’s more easily recognised by changing “th” to an “s” and “w” to a “v” as in the case of “with” becoming “vis”. This is less likely to jar a reader out of the story as they struggle to pronounce the misspelled English words.
  4. Does changing the spelling of the English word to show an accent, create a word that means something else? In the case of “the” becoming “da”, you have the problem of “da” meaning other things. “Yes” in Russian, for one, and a colloquial expression for father in English for another.
  5. Does the character’s situation require an accent? I’ve met Germans who have only been speaking English for a year, and the only way to tell they’re not native English speakers, is because occasionally they’ll mix up a tense or use the right word, in a different context. Likewise with other languages. It depends on the person, and their ability to hear sounds and mimic accents.
  6. Are you stereotyping a character based on your perception of their accent? This is a hard one to avoid, because stereotypes are easy to fall into in order to create recognisable characters. One way to avoid this is to search for videos of native speakers talking in a second language, and see how they actually feel about using a different language, and what they may have struggled with.

Regardless of what you choose to do with your character’s speech, the most important thing is to remain consistent!

How do you feel about accents in dialogue? Do you include them? Do you have a question about writing/editing that you’d like me to answer in a Tuesday Editing Tips post? Post it in the comments below!

Editing Tips Tuesday – Things you never thought need editing, but probably do.*

*FRIENDLY WARNING: This post is mostly perfectionist nitpicking. Read at peril of your sensitive souls.

The general consensus by writers is that editing is a pain in the *bleep* and they’d rather not. Just … not.

I get it. Editing is hard. It requires concentration, knowledge, and a certain skill in understanding complicated concepts such as the English language (if you’re writing in English that is).

As humans, we’re prone to making mistakes. It’s normal, common and even endearing. (When I eat all the chocolate without sharing it, that’s a cute mistake right?)

Anyway … moving on.

Not everyone is an editor by default. Spelling and grammar aren’t necessarily important to you, and while I may not always understand it, I can accept it. Mostly. (Every now and then I have to resist the twitches that occur.)

That being said, I feel it’s important that as writers/editors on social media we become aware of some things. Since I’m also a know-it-all, I’ve made it my job to share these things with you. You’re welcome.

Hermione Know it all

Things you never thought need editing, but probably do:

  • Your website. If you have one, and you’re a writer, a poorly edited website doesn’t really give readers a lot of confidence in your ability to write. I’m not talking about the design – I’m talking about the content on your webpages. When you create it, update it, or if you’ve been around for years and learnt a whole bunch of writing tricks you now decide to implement on your site, make sure to run it past an editor. Whether it’s your inner editor, a friend, or a professional you hire, making sure your website content is edited is what will help you stand out to readers.
  • Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. For the most part, these sites are networking platforms where we get to let loose and have fun. It’s also where we get to reveal a little more of who we are to our followers. Again, if you’re posting a meme on one of these platforms as a writer/editor, make sure that words like you’re/your, they’re/their/there, and of/off are used in context, and that those sneaky apostrophes are in the right places. Mistakes slip in (I will admit that I’m slightly OTT about deleting posts if I can’t edit them to correct a typo – judge away; I do), but if you’ve downloaded a meme to share, run a quick check for errors in spelling. As a writer and editor, nothing irritates me more than a brilliant meme that’s ruined by a simple spelling error. I won’t share it. I won’t retweet it. I won’t like it.
  • Blog Posts. I’m a little bit more lenient here. It’s super easy to miss errors as you type up a post in a hurry in order to keep up with that hectic blogging schedule, and I have a ton of respect for people who succeed in regularly posting on their blogs. I barely manage to come up with posts according to the weekly schedule I’ve set myself, and you can just forget about it going out at a certain time. When I post it, you know I’ve generally just finished writing it. I’m not a planner, people! Still, it’s a blog. It has an edit function. If you spot a typo after you’ve hit “publish” please, my inner editor is begging you, please go and fix it! ESPECIALLY if you’re a writer/editor posting something about either of those topics.

Am I too much of a perfectionist? Yes! I’m trying to make this my career, dammit, and if I’m being a judgmental ass, it’s because I care about not twitching and those last two points make me twitchy. Very twitchy.

Twitchy

Disclaimer: I have mentioned before that I hold myself to extremely high standards, probably too much so. The tips above should be read with a pinch of salt, and recognition of the fact that I am aware that not everyone is as picky (or twitchy) as me. Nor do I expect you to be. I need people who aren’t to balance me out and remind me that the world does not revolve around correct spelling and grammar. Like these lovely people:

deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are

 

What do you think? IS it important to edit the sites I mentioned? Did I skip anything that you’ve discovered that you feel could use editing? Are you twitchy, or can you happily ignore mistakes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editing Tips Tuesday – NaNoWriMo is upon us, pack that editor away! TTT Post

Most of the time, editing is an essential aspect of writing. I often reiterate how important it is to develop a habit of editing your own work before expecting others to read it.

However, with NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow (I can cue the panic now, right?), it’s equally important to stop editing so that you can focus on writing.

Today, I’m linking up with The Broke and Bookish for their Top Ten Tuesday Hallowe’en Special with ten tips that will put the fear of the writer into your inner editor!

Ten Tips to Frighten Your Inner Editor Away for NaNoWriMo

  1. Acknowledge that your draft can give ghouls nightmares. It needn’t be perfect, it needn’t be pretty. You just need to write it.
  2. Turn your screen to darkness. What you can’t see, may make your editor run screaming in horror, but it will stop you going back to edit. There are several apps that will allow you to do this. (See below list.)
  3. Make ghosts out of each day’s writing. Start each day with a blank document, or the very last line of the previous day’s words. You’ll stop editing what’s already written, and jump straight into writing.
  4. If your editor is shrieking in terror at a word or sentence, highlight/mark it in some way so you can edit it later.
  5. Turn your sentences to slow, rambling zombies. For this month you’re allowed to ramble pointlessly – while your editor hides in a corner whimpering.
  6. Remind yourself that your editor is a vampire – it sucks the creative life force out of your writer. Garlic won’t help, but hiding the red pens and delete button might.
  7. Join in the sprints. Learning to run away with your words will give you the tools you need to escape your vampiric editor.
  8. Stock up on apocalyptic survival supplies. If you have everything at hand while you write, you won’t need to scavenge for food, giving your editor time to sneak up on you.
  9. Rest often enough that you are confident in your ability to keep up the flow of words. When you’re tired, you can’t stop the editor taking control, and it wants to suck your words, not your blood.
  10. When all of the above fails, lock yourself in a room with nothing but pens and paper and write as if your life depends on it. With vampiric editors, ghoulish first drafts, and shuffling zombie sentences, it just might.

The following apps will help with writing in the dark:

BlindWrite – Set your topic, your timer and start writing. Once your time is up, the writing reappears, and you can copy it to a word document.

Earnest – Like BlindWrite, an online writing app, that basically disables backspace, highlight, delete, and turns your editor into a gibbering idiot.

ilys – A paid app that costs $11 monthly, it shows only the last letter you typed and only for a split second at a time. You get 3000 words for a trial run.

Write or Die – Can be used online, or you can purchase and download the app to use offline. Use typewriter mode to disable editing. Also really useful for those word sprint training sessions.

NaNoWriMo kicks off tomorrow! Are you ready?*

*This is a trick question, because how is anyone ever ready for the insanity that is 50 000 words in a month?!

Share your tips for NaNoWriMo in the comments! Do you edit? Do you escape the vampires? How do you feel about Hallowe’en? It’s a recent development in South Africa, but it seems to be catching on. 

 

 

 

Editing Tips Tuesday – Self-Editing (what is it, and why do I need it?)

What is self-editing you ask?

Well, it could mean one of two things:

  1. Editing your own writing.
  2. Editing yourself.

In this instance, I want to discuss the second meaning.

Here’s the thing. We’re busy hosting a treasure hunt across social media to market the upcoming release of Jozi Flash 2017. It’s a big deal for me, because I’m the publisher and editor of the anthology. I’m also a contributing author. Along with nine other extremely talented authors and one amazing artist, we’ve created a collection of flash fiction stories across eight genres and we’re going to be offering it as a FREE download.

In deciding how to market it, I had to consider the following:

  • What image do I want to give of Chasing Dreams Publishing?
  • What image do I want the contributing authors to give of themselves and their writing?
  • How do I ensure that in giving access to their individual social media sites, they maintain the high standard that I expect of myself (and therefore of others) on their sites?

The last was a major concern for me, because I am a perfectionist. I like everything to be pretty and neat and professional to a degree. But here’s the thing – that’s me. It’s not necessarily any of the other authors. And while I could potentially request that the authors edit themselves for the sake of fitting into the mould, that wouldn’t really be fair.

Which got me to thinking about how many authors, artists and other professionals who use social media intentionally hide aspects of their personalities in order to be more professional. It made me wonder how many people are forced to sign contracts that require editing aspects of themselves out of their social media.

I get it, I really do. There are levels of professionalism that need to be maintained when you’re trying to build a solid business as an author/blogger/artist/etc. The fact remains though, that these professionals are also, in most cases, individuals. Real people with real lives and their social media should be their responsibility to manage.

Which is why, when the Jozi Flash contributors and I had the discussion about branding themselves as authors, I didn’t ask them to censor themselves. I didn’t ask them to pretend to be people they’re not. I just asked that they be sure that the image they portray on their media, is one that they’re comfortable with.

So today, for self-editing, I’m going to give you some tips on what to do, and what not to do when you’re marketing yourself as a professional on social media.

Tips for self-editing on social media:

  • Be yourself. Authentic and genuine. No one else can be who you are, so don’t try to be someone else.
  • Be positive. Negative comments about yourself or others tends to leave others with a negative perception of you. This includes running yourself or your work down for any reason. It’s not a pretty picture. Don’t do it.
  • Be respectful. Not everyone is going to agree with or like you, but the great thing about social media is, they don’t have to follow you, and you don’t have to respond to them. There are unfollow and unsubscribe buttons for a reason!
  • Be proud of yourself. I cannot stress this one enough! As creators, we tend to be cursed with insecurities and doubts about our work. We put it out there on social media, hoping for validation from complete strangers. It may never come. The only one who can truly validate your work, is you. So be proud of what you do.
  • Be open to growth and learning. Criticism, even when it’s constructive, can hurt a lot, but it’s an invaluable tool to improving your craft, and even yourself. If it hurts, it’s because there’s an aspect of truth in it, and that’s an opportunity to improve.
  • Be grateful. For opportunities, for people, for life. Gratitude inspires gratitude in others, and generally leads to all-round happiness.
  • Be opinionated. Opinions matter. They lead to critical thinking, which leads to discernment which is next on the list.
  • Be discerning. Ask yourself whether it’s necessary to post something, and if you’re following the above pointers by doing so. If you are, then hit that share button. If you’re not, perhaps you may want to reconsider why you want to share it.

At the end of the day, when social media is properly utilised, it becomes a super-power for individuals all around the world. It’s your responsibility to decide whether you’re going to be a hero or a villain. If you lean towards the latter, at least make sure that your villainy isn’t just a troll in a cape.

Are you a hero or villain? Do you ever edit out stuff you would like to say because it may not be professional? And finally, have you seen our #FindJoziFlash17 treasure hunt?* The second clue is up on Justin’s Twitter!**

*This is unabashed promotion of the hunt, I know. I would apologise, but I don’t feel guilty at all. I’m excited for this event! Share it across EVERYWHERE!

**Better go grab that clue! There’s a $20 Amazon Gift Card for the winner!

 

 

 

 

Editing Tips Tuesday – Editing plot based on a synopsis + a free printable!

This week, I want to look at editing plot. Making assumptions (again), I’m looking at completed first drafts. This will apply to any form of writing that requires a plot – flash fiction, short stories and novels.

Once you have your completed first draft, you should be able to create a synopsis. This is if you haven’t done that in your planning process, because – hands up – not all of us are planners. If you already have a synopsis, I commend (and secretly envy) your planning skills.

Flash fiction may not necessarily require a synopsis – let’s face it, it’s redundant in stories that short. However, it’s still vitally important that the story have a plot.

What is a synopsis?

  • It is a summary of all the events in your story.
  • It introduces all the important characters in the order they appear in the story.
  • It describes the main actions they take or events that happen to them.
  • It’s a giant spoiler of the entire plot.

What isn’t a synopsis?

  • It is not the story itself.
  • It is not the interactions between characters.
  • It doesn’t provide POV details about the actions or events.
  • It doesn’t spoil the experience of reading the final story.

Now that you know what it is and isn’t, it’s time to take your completed story and create the synopsis. For each chapter, or scene if you’re working with a shorter story, write a couple of sentences about what happens.

Once you’ve got the whole story in your written synopsis, it’s time to summarise it into bullet points. (I like bullet points because they’re quick and easy to refer to.)

Once that’s done, you’ll want to go back to your first draft and as you read, check off the bullet points of your synopsis. If important plot points don’t appear in your novel, you’ll need to decide whether you want to include them or if the story works better without them. Likewise, if plot points appear in your story, but not in the synopsis, you’ll need to decide whether to keep them or take them out.

As you’re checking your list, make a note about whether the plot point gets tied up at the end of the story, or if it remains a loose end. Unless you’re writing a series, you’ll generally want to ensure all loose ends are tied up once the story is finished.

Remember that this doesn’t have to happen all at once. Take time to rest between tasks or chapters. If you’re not a planner, this can feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to lose interest if you don’t give yourself permission to take a break when you start feeling your attention wandering.

Below is a printable that you can complete as you work through your draft:

Plot Edits Sheet

Have you got a tried and true method of editing plot? Do you write your story synopsis before or after the first draft?