Chipping Away At the Mountainside

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

Imagine that you have a lump of stone. It may be a very pretty stone. It may have fascinating gradations in texture or color. It may have an interesting suggestion of shape or form. But ultimately it’s still just a lump of stone. You have to sand and grind and chip away at it until it becomes something recognizable without destroying the whole thing in the process.

I’m finding that this is rather what editing a book is like. This is the first time in my life that I’ve gotten this deep into the process of Writing (with a capital W), so this is all new to me. Of course, I’ve got several books on how to edit, but as usual I just plowed ahead and tried figuring out how to do it on my own without reading any of them. I suppose that’s not entirely unexpected; each writer has their own way of doing things after all. So I wanted share how I’ve personally proceeded with the writing process on this book. Obviously my way isn’t the only way and I doubt it’s the best or most efficient way. But at least it’s an example of one possible path that you can take.

So, this is how the last 16 months spent with All’s Fair have gone:

close-up-chisel

(click image for source)

Continue reading

Temporal Frameworks

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

"Creation of Time" by Max Mitenkov

“Creation of Time” by Max Mitenkov

They say that timing is everything. While it may vary in prominence and importance for a story, it’s always a good idea for a writer to know how long it takes for things to happen. Having the ages of characters and timeline of events written down and referenced periodically during the rewriting process will help you maintain both continuity and pacing.

Note that I said, “during the rewriting process.” Timelines and continuity checks are part of the many cycles of editing. Unless you are one of those ultra-detailed planners who lays all of the groundwork before picking up a pen, a timeline isn’t something you should be using until after at least the first draft is complete.

For example, when I write, I usually have a month or so of planning where I pull together a basic plot line, character descriptions, and overall tone of the work. In the character descriptions, I put at least an estimate of how old they are supposed to be. This can fluctuate later, but usually only within a few years of the initial age-setting. As I write my first draft, I have a rough idea of how much time passes between events. It’s a day or two from their initial meeting to their first fight, a week until their marriage, a few hours until that important breakfast, and they spend two or three months in this locale. These aren’t set in stone, nor do they have to be 100% accurate at this stage. In Draft 1, it doesn’t matter so much if I say it only took a week to travel 200 miles on foot or something like that. All I need are estimates, if that, to give a basic temporal framework.
Continue reading

Contrivance and Coincidence

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

 

“But people don’t act like that.” [W. Somerset] Maugham pointed to the grave dangers coiled in that treacherous phrase. Our demand for probability grows more and more stringent. We balk at coincidence and accident. We invariably expect the characters who are presented to act like ourselves. “People don’t act like that?” True enough — MOST people don’t act like that. Your story is not ABOUT most people. The true enemy of your fiction is not improbability but imaginative unbelief.

— Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction,  (page 185)

As I’ve been working through my current draft of All’s Fair, there’s a certain element that keeps coming up that I think needs to be addressed:  contrivance and coincidence.

We’ve all see or read stories where characters end up in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.  Or they find what they need to beat the bad guy minutes before facing off in the final fight.  Or they are about to die and rescue arrives just in the nick of time with no explanation of where they were and how they got there so fast.  It’s more blatant in some stories than in others.  When done badly, it can destroy the suspension of disbelief necessary to maintain a story.  No writer wants that to happen to their story.  Events are supposed to be seamless, flawless, inevitable.  We want to present them in the most effective, realistic, and logical manner possible.  We don’t want anything to seem contrived.

Well, I’ve some bad news for you: all stories are contrived.

Continue reading

Long time, no see

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

 

Um… hi?

*waves*

Wow.  I… haven’t written an entry in a while.  In fact, I haven’t really posted anything online for at least a month.  No blog entries, no Audio Editions, no #ThrowbackThursdays, no new fanfic chapters… I regret that last one, especially since I’d made a point to say I wouldn’t make my readers wait years for the completion of a fanfic.

But, obviously, I haven’t kept up with much of anything online.  Because reasons:

Continue reading

Editing Woes

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

 

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is, I have definitely reached the point with my novel, Ravens and Roses, where I have very little writing left to do.  There are still a few missing scenes, some background information that needs to be hammered out, and a bunch of scene revisions… but for the most part, it’s ready for the next step.  I have a manuscript ready to be edited.  Go me!

The bad news is… I have no idea what I’m doing.

Continue reading

Editing Services Now Available!

It’s hard to believe that this is my 100th post for The Cat’s Cradle.  So, after some consideration, I decided to make a special announcement:

I am now offering editing services!  I’ve always liked editing.  It’s like polishing a gem, smoothing rough edges and cutting the facets.  And I love taking a rough work and helping another writer improve upon it.  Taking an unbiased view of your own work can be difficult, especially if you’ve been immersed in its world for months, even years.  I am posting a list of the services I will offer below.  I will also create an “Editing Services” page for easy future reference.

 

Qualifications:

I have a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and have been an amateur editor for the better part of ten years.  I am also a reader, a fantasy writer, and librarian.  I can guarantee high-quality, detail-oriented results delivered in a timely and courteous fashion.  Any questions or points to be negotiated?  Please contact me at kclements.editor@gmail.com.

 

Services offered:

  • Developmental Editing (big picture review on pacing, flow, strengths and weaknesses of the work as a whole, major structural changes suggested)
  • Line Editing (points out specific places where the manuscript is particularly strong or weak and suggests changes)
  • Proofreading/Copyediting (punctuation, spelling, grammar, word choice, sentence structure, continuity errors)

I edit fiction novels, novellas, and short stories, specializing in science fiction and fantasy.  Movie or stage scripts will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Nonfiction and technical submissions will not be accepted.  I retain the right to decline any project.

** Unless otherwise specified by the client, I focus on Developmental and Line editing when I receive an assignment.  If a manuscript has few large flaws, then proofreading/copyediting may be included.

Continue reading

Sending a submission is like fighting the Empire…

…there’s always another Star Destroyer.  The battle is never-ending.  A victory for the Rebel Alliance, no matter how epic, doesn’t mean the end of the war.  That’s a bit how I feel right now after finishing my 10,000-word submission for the Jim Henson Dark Crystal Author Quest.  I feel like those cheering Rebels on Hoth right after they hear the announcement:  “The first transport is away!  The first transport is away!”

Yes, the first one made it through.  And that feeling of victory when facing impossible odds is euphoric.  But they have to try to get the rest through the blockade as well.  And even if they make it off Hoth, the rest of the Empire is still out there, waiting for them.

This might not seem like a victory.  After all, I’m just one among many.  I have no idea what is going to happen next.  Will my entry be considered?  Accepted?  Ultimately win or be rejected?  I have no way of knowing.  But I started writing my Dark Crystal entry 5 months ago.  July 1, 2013, I used Camp NaNoWriMo to pound out half the novel.  I kept writing all the way through September.  October was sporadic writing followed by editing, then November was dedicated to my wonderful beta readers.  Their feedback helped me chose what portion of the novel to send as my submission.  I hit the “Submit Your Entry” button on November 30, exactly five months after starting this project.

Continue reading

How to Track Your Editing Progress

Last time, I shared David Greenshell’s invention of LeNoWriCha (the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge) as an alternative to or supplement for NaNoWriMo, to give more motivation to write via a more customized reward system and positive feedback loop.  So far, it’s been working really well.  I tend to stay more in the Easy and Normal range with a few more Incomplete days than I would like…but I also get a few Heroic and Legendary days in there, so that makes me happy.  I’m still plugging away on my Dark Crystal Project, and am reaching the end of my first draft.

Which means very soon I’ll begin editing and revising.  Which opens a whole new kettle of fish.

I now have LeNoWriCha to track my daily writing progress and give me rewards.  But what about editing?  How do you track that?

Continue reading

The Importance of Editing

Welcome to the New Year!  I hope everyone had a very fun (and safe) holiday; I know I did.  I’m particularly excited about 2012 because it’s the Year of the Dragon, and, being a Dragon, I’m supposed to have a lot of good luck!  Here’s hoping….

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled writing rant.  (Writer’s Rant.  I like that!)

Today’s topic is editing and editors.  Editors get a bad rap.  I have a book of quotations for writers and all of the quotes that deal with editors are negative.  As an editor myself, that makes me sad and a trifle defensive.  Editors are portrayed as butchers who callously rip the heartfelt masterpiece of the artist to shreds without any regard for the heart and soul of the story or the feelings of its creator.

To an extent, they are right.

Continue reading