Getting the Right Know How

writing tuition

There’s a great post over on Roz Morris’s blog Nail Your Novel all about How to Get Writing Tuition if You Can’t Afford an Editor.

picture c/o hovercraft doggy

Rough First Drafts and Rigorous Revision with Sara Grant

I first met Sara Grant at her workshop on editing (a workshop I highly recommend) when, of course, I asked if she would be willing to provide a post for this blog. Being the lovely lady she is, she said yes. So here in a nutshell is her wisdom on the editing process.

Rough First Drafts and Rigorous Revision

You’ve finished the first draft of your novel. Stop. Celebrate. Take a much needed break. Once you are refreshed…

Roll up your sleeves and get back to work. Continue reading

How To Become A Self-Published Author in 101 Steps

Here’s a fun post I came across on Change It Up Editing’s Facebook page.

How to Become A Self-Published Author in 101 Easy (Hard) Steps

The ARK Booktower by Rintala Eggertsson as part of the '1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces' exhibition back in 2010 at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, UK. The structure consisted of a timber tower with walls of books enclosing a spiral stair case and a central core. The central core was ergonomically scaled to create generous knooks to indulge in one of the many books that made up the walls.

picture c/o hovercraft doggy

Editing Processes Explained

google data server farm centre secret location technology internet google facebook inside look color pipes storage informatoin digital

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could get the plot lines in our stories, the characters, themes, and prose all colour coded and neatly lined up so we can see everything clearly within our narrative structures and know exactly what, how and where to edit.

Unfortunately life isn’t like that, and neither are manuscripts. That’s why the world has editors. Here’s a post I found on Change It Up Editing the other day, which explains the difference between Proofreading and Copy Editing.

picture c/o Hovercraftdoggy

Cutting Your First Draft

Yesterday I reached the end of my second draft of Cradlesnatch. Three weeks ago the first draft stood at 92,000 words. Today the word count is 62,000. I made the decision to cut it by a third for three important reasons:

1. It felt unwieldy and unmanageable. I couldn’t see the story shape clearly enough in my head.

2. The first draft took four years to write, in short 30 to 40 minutes chunks. I wrote in coffee shops, cafés and libraries – anywhere I could get a quite moment before work or during my lunch break. Writing in such a disconnected way meant the story meandered too much.

3. I write YA fiction, and 92,000 words is just too long for that market.

I’m amazed I’ve managed to do such a hard pruning job on the manuscript. But that’s exactly what it’s been like – pruning a rose. For those of you who garden, you’ll know just how close to the root you have to prune sometimes to achieve that beautiful rose bush. You need to cut back everything but the shoots that matter; to thin out the superfluous growth until you can step back and see the shape of the thing.

So what did I cut?

The Oxbow

My first problem was the story was taking too long to get from A to B, so I focused on the big story questions, and their resolution, and cut out the meandering parts of the story between the two, keeping only one or two main conflicts between my As and Bs, rather than a whole jumbled sub-plot.

The Crowded House

Second, I looked at my minor characters. I found some had whole sub-stories of their own, so I trimmed their involvement so their actions supported the focus of the main story rather than detracting from in.

The Repeater

Next I saw I’d repeated several narrative devices within the book. There were too many cramped tunnels, too much peering through spy holes. By cutting whole chapters, I was able to keep the dark, oppressive feel of the story, without boring the reader with excessive repetition of these motifs.

The Slow Starters

Finally I looked at the opening of each scene and cut the slow starts. Invariably there was a paragraph or two which did nothing but delay the reader getting to the interesting bits. So they had to go.

So now it feels like I can see the wood for the trees, or rather the rose bush for the branches. I’m happier about the shape of the story. I’m hopeful future edits will see the right branches bud and grow in the right places resulting in a manuscript I can be proud of.

If you have enjoyed this post – you might like to see how I put my methods into practice in my other work by reading SNAP by Lizzie Hexter, available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com.au, iTunes and Kobo.