I completely forgot to share the link to my post on editing last Sunday, so this week you get two posts!
I completely forgot to share the link to my post on editing last Sunday, so this week you get two posts!
Visit Chasing Dreams Publishing to see what’s in the pipeline for 2019!
*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 …
(Shout out to Nthato for asking this question on our writing group and
saving my life giving me the idea.)
How do you guys feel about writing accents?Like the typical “German/Swede” who pronounces “th” as “da”.
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!
*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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
What is self-editing you ask?
Well, it could mean one of two things:
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:
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.
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!
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.
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:
Have you got a tried and true method of editing plot? Do you write your story synopsis before or after the first draft?
Last week, we looked at dialogue and some common mistakes to look out for and how to correct them.
This week, we explore repetition, how to use it effectively, and when too much is just enough.
The general rule of thumb while writing is to avoid repetition and a lot of the time, an editor will try to replace it. However, there are instances where repetition is necessary and even effective.
Mary came to see me yesterday and she was so mad, she kept going on and on about how mad she was.
Nothing actually happens in this sentence except you find out that Mary is mad and the narrator doesn’t seem to like her much.
When we edit the above example, we give value to the repetition:
Mary came to see me yesterday. She was so mad, and she kept going on and on about how mad she was. I tried to get a word in edgewise, but her madness insinuated itself into my mind and the handle of the butcher’s knife I was using to cleave chops for dinner became my sole link to my own brand of madness.
If you find yourself asking questions about the events that will happen next, based on the repetition, then it’s doing its job effectively.
It can also have comedic value by highlighting irony:
It was tradition, Ma always said. Keep the tradition alive, even though no one in the family really believed in it anymore. Never mind that the tradition was wearing underpants on your head to call the rain. It was tradition, and that was the important thing.
It can be a journey from one “place” to another:
She started her life innocent. She ended her life innocent. But somewhere in the forgotten middle, she lost that innocence, and that loss became the story of her life.
Or it can set the tone:
It could take forever or no time at all really. The important thing was that it was time. Time was all that mattered, and if it took seconds, minutes, or hours, the time would still pass and people would still age and eventually, life would take its toll and they would die. Time enough for all of that, no matter how long it took.
Essentially, repetition is a technique that should ideally be used consciously, rather than from habit. It’s easy for a reader to pick up the difference between the two, and to become annoyed with the latter.
When you’re editing your story, make use of the Find feature available in most writing software to search for words you know you use a lot. EditMinion is also a useful tool to run your draft through a check for repetition by noticing frequently used words. It works best with longer sections of text.
How do you deal with repetition? Does it bug you? Do you reach for your thesaurus regularly? Do you even own a thesaurus?
Flash fiction differs from short stories and novel writing, not just in length but in how you edit.
As writers, learning to self-edit is a huge asset in making the most of your talent, and in flash fiction, it becomes important because you have such a limited space in which to convey your message.
The first thing to look at when editing your flash fiction, is the purpose of the story. A lot of flash fiction stories seem to be snippets of a much bigger tale, and lack a sense of completeness. The reason for this is often because the writer starts with a random prompt, and doesn’t define the purpose of the story.
Purpose in flash fiction is singular – there is no room to tell the reader more than one story, and so it is essential that the purpose is apparent as soon as the story ends. If you find yourself wondering what the point was spending five minutes reading 500 words or less, then you need to edit for purpose.
Today we’re going to look at the difference between character-driven and plot-driven flash fiction, and aligning the story with the purpose.
Plot-driven stories differ from character-driven in that the action and external conflict that the characters are exposed to is what drives the story forward.
An example will illustrate the difference more clearly:
Max is a criminal defence attorney. He defends murderers.
In a character-driven story, Max will possibly start the story as an avid believer in the rights of his clients. As the story progresses, the reader will see Max questioning his reasons and beliefs, or he may even find himself defending someone whose case makes him doubt the validity of his arguments. By the end of the story, he may choose to leave his job, or he may choose to review cases more carefully before agreeing to defend them.
In a plot-driven story, Max will likely have the same beliefs at the start. But external plot – say a murderous client who takes Max’s family hostage in order to convince him to defend him, will determine how Max reacts. The outcome of the story may be the same, but the reader sees more of the external reasons, rather than Max’s internal thoughts.
Now that we know the difference, we can edit the story more effectively based on the type.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Earlier we said that identifying the purpose is essential. So when we’re dealing with a plot-driven FF, these are the questions we need to ask:
When you’re editing your flash fiction, it’s a really good idea to ask for feedback from others so that you can check to see if the story you’re hearing in your head, matches the story readers hear.
Often, there will be elements that differ, but what you’re really trying to do is to make sure that the overall story makes sense in the way you intended it to.
Try to send the story to between five to ten readers, so you have a broader range of feedback to consider.
Here are some questions you should ask your beta readers:
Once you get the feedback, you need to ask yourself the following:
At the end of the day, remember that successful flash fiction won’t necessarily be liked/understood by everyone. What’s important is that the story fits into your intentions for it, and that you have edited it so that the purpose is clear to the majority, whether or not they actually end up liking the story.
Today we’re going to look at editing dialogue. I’m making the assumption that you already know how to write dialogue, have written a fair amount of it, and now need to edit it.
Let’s first look at some common mistakes people make while writing dialogue:
There are plenty of others, but today I want to deal with how to edit for these particular mistakes.
“I’m so mad right now.” She said to him.
“Screw you!” she balled her hands into fists, resisting the urge to punch the smirk off his face.
Bear in mind that the above example needs to reflect the personality of the characters as defined in point 1. It doesn’t help to have a character described as timid and placid if she’s running around getting violent with other characters.
John told Mary that he’d had a really long day at work and didn’t really want to go to dinner with their friends Jenny and Chris. Mary sighed and thought to herself that it was always going to be this way. He would never want to do anything with her friends.
This can be changed to dialogue very easily:
“Work was exhausting.” John put his briefcase down and leaned over to kiss Mary where she sat at the table. “Janice made a complete mess of the accounts and I spent all day trying to fix it.”
“I don’t know why you don’t just fire her. She’s always making mistakes which you have to fix.”
“I feel bad. She’s going through a hard time with her divorce.”
“I guess.” Mary hesitated. “You haven’t forgotten about our dinner with Jenny and Chris?”
“Is that tonight?” he sighed. “I suppose it’s too late to cancel? You can go by yourself, can’t you? They really only want to see you anyway.”
“That’s not true. They want to see both of us.” She looked at his tired face and felt a pang of sympathy. “I guess I can go alone, if you want to get an early night.”
“You’re the best. I’m gonna go shower.” He left the room, and Mary picked up her phone to let Jenny know they’d be a party of three. Again.
Remember when you’re writing dialogue, you’re giving your characters an opportunity to express their feelings about the story you’re telling. Have fun with it – after all, you speak to people every day. Why shouldn’t your characters?
How do you feel about dialogue? Do you enjoy writing it, or is it a nightmare exercise? Do you find editing it easier than the initial writing process?