Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Very a bit (and other things I deleted from my WIP)

You know that last edit, right before you declare yourself done? The one where you polish all the words to a high shine and make sure everything is as pretty as can be?

Well, I'm talking about the one after that.

This is the one where you do a search through your document and delete the pesky words and phrases you know you overuse--even when you edit.
For example, I saw this tip on The Passive Voice a few weeks back:

“Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be” --Mark Twain

Do you use "very" too often? Have you checked?

Recurrences of "very" before: 77
Recurrences of "very" after: 37

Wahoo! I got rid of 40! That's over half! Let's try another:

Recurrences of "a bit" before: 60
Recurrences of "a bit" after: 10

50!! See? It can be done!

After much thought, I've figured that "very" and "a bit" are my wishy-washy words. For when I don't want to just come out and say something. When I want to soften the blow, I use "a bit" to indicate that it wasn't that bad. "Very," of course, for when I can't be bothered to show how bad it was by the context of the scene.

What's strange (well, probably not very strange) is that Mr. Clements was correct: most of the time, you really can just delete those sorts of words from the sentence. No additional alteration required.

Then, when you really want to use one, your reader isn't jaded by them. They understand that, this time, he really is a bit more angry than last time. 

Works with swear words, too--but my numbers there aren't as impressive.

Which words and phrases do you use too much?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Declaration of Diligence

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Writers are created equal, that they are endowed by their Muses with certain unalienable Duties, that among these are Writing, Editing, and the pursuit of Publication—That to encourage these Duties, Writing Habits are instituted among Writers, deriving their just Powers from the Industry of the Would-Be-Novelists, That whenever any Form of Entertainment becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Duty of the Writers to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Incentives, laying their Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Diligence and Publication. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Writing Habits long established should not be abandoned for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Writers are more disposed to sloth, while Manuscripts are queryable, than to right themselves by reasserting the Habits to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Laziness and Procrastination, pursuing invariably the same Manuscript, evinces a Design to consign them to absolute Obscurity, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Entertainments, and to provide new Encouragements for their future WIPs. Such has been the foolish Stupor of this Writer; and such is now the Necessity which constrains her to alter her former Scheme of Waiting. 

Two weeks off is plenty, yes? Onward!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Is anyone else getting a warning when they try to visit my blog? It seems to be functioning fine from my end, but someone got a warning that there might be malware. I haven't added anything in the last day or so. Thoughts? Advice?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Writing is Like a Political Campaign

If you want to be a politician, you need a platform (so people can predict how you'll vote on stuff).

If you want to be a bestselling author, you need a platform (so people can predict whether they'll like your books and stuff).

If you want to be a politician, you need to network (also known as campaigning).

If you want to be a bestselling author, you need to network (also, now, known as campaigning).

This is essentially a long-running blogfest, but so many cool people are already signed up, I simply had to play along. Join us?

Go here for complete details.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Feelin' Popular

Like many of those who retreat to our writer's caves and churn out YA novels about the nerdy kids who overcome schoolyard bullying, I was not so popular as a school girl. I had a core of very nice and loyal friends and a handful of BFF's along the way, but I was never going to win anything decided by popular vote. (I was in the drama club presidency because the elected president invented a new office and appointed me to it).

So imagine my shock when I was asked to give my third personal interview in three months!

He inherited this face from me.
Chantele Sedgwick asked me first and posted in July, Sara Eden asked me second but posted in June, and now the blog-fest-tastic Deana Barnhart has asked me to be a part of her First Fridays series. I mean, wow. How'd I get to be this cool? (Maybe you shouldn't answer that.)

Go read my interview on Deana's blog (which you should be following if you're not already) and find out how long it took me to finish my first book, where I want to be in 5 years, and what I started doing this week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WriteOn Con!!

If you're not "attending" WriteOn Con this week, REPENT! There is a wealth of information, lots of cool industry professionals doling out advice, and forums where you can post your work, get feedback, and... quite possibly... draw the attention of a Ninja Agent.

What is a Ninja Agent? Glad you asked. Ninja Agents are trolling the forums, reading queries and first pages, and PMing the authors of those projects they'd like to see more of.

How do I know they're not just a rumor? Well, I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. :D

Just trust me on this, k?

And it's FREE! Go there now! Register for the forums. Bask in the amazingness that is WriteOn Con!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Need Another Time-Waster?

I'm supposed to be finishing my edit today. I have two lovely stacks of paper in front of me. My line edit and my mom's line edit. They're all set to be transferred to the computer. I even opened the document.

Other things I've accomplished today:

  1. Cleaned the dust off the computer desk (so it wouldn't soil my lovely paper piles)

  2. Unloaded, loaded, and ran the dishwasher

  3. Set up my kids with games on the laptop ('cause I'm using the big computer to finish my edit)

  4. Fed my kids breakfast and lunch

  5. Ate lunch myself (need energy for all the editing I'm about to do)

  6. Researched alternate royal titles and Irish names

  7. Watched Bugs & Daffy escape from jail (while sitting in my computer chair--I really need a separate office if I'm going to get editing done)

  8. Laughed at Phineas and Ferb (who can resist that show?)

  9. Wiped off a counter in the kitchen

  10. Read a bunch of blogs (mostly about editing--'cause I need to, like, edit)

  11. Pondered favorite time-wasters

  12. This blog post

I'm sure YOU never have a problem with this, but should you ever need to let your mind rest from your WIP, I'd like to tell you about one of my favorite online games: Wizzball.

To play, you start out with a board shadowed to helpfully show you where the pieces will go. The list at the bottom shows you which pieces you have to play with.

Placing all the pieces correctly will help you take the little black ball from the chute to the goal! Fun, hey? But wait! There's MORE!

You can also create and submit your OWN puzzles, so others can solve them! Doesn't that sound fun? Almost as fun as writing a whole book that others can enjoy. And it takes a lot less time, too.

This here is my very own creation. Can you see my subliminal message about what I SHOULD be working on instead?

Then, um, I tried to submit it. And realized that there are some really stupid rules about unused blocks. And that the unused blocks can flash RED!! What better way to help my blog readers see my subliminal message, thought I.


And now I feel strangely compelled to work on my WIP. Don't you?

Okay, I'm gonna get back to work. Really. Right now. Watch me go....

(What are your favorite time-wasters online? Yanno, in case I need more ideas. Like, after I'm done with this edit. 'Cause I'm so totally getting back to work. Right. Now.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My New-Fangled Editing Technique

So, a few weeks back, I was all set to be DONE already. I'd edited my WIP until I was thoroughly sick of it. I'd  tortured many brave betas (who, fortunately, almost universally loved it). I'd started researching agents and figuring out who to query first.

Then I read a blog (sorry--can't find it now) that said I really ought to, like, print it out and read it on paper before declaring myself done. Bother.

So I did. I'm cheap, so I expanded all my pages to legal-size and printed 2-per-sheet. The text is tiny, but hey, my eyes are still good. I started reading. And marking. Lots. In red.

Then the two wonderful readers (my mother and Susan Jensen) who had already read my book countless times each and generously agreed to give it a quick, final once-over for me... had some major issues. Double bother. I'd only gotten through about 50 pages myself (does it say something when you have a beta reader who has read the book more than you have?), but I stopped, shelved the sheaf, and dug into another substantive edit.

A week or so passed. I fixed the issues (I hope), and printed it out AGAIN.

Got out my red pen.

Started reading, sure that, at least in the first 50 pages, it'd be pretty dang good. Yeah, well, not as much as I hoped.

Turns out one of the best ways to spot the line-edity issues in your WIP is the old-fashioned way. Paper. Ink. Scribbles and arrows.

Who knew?

Now if I can just get past the fact that my book is starting to REALLY bore me, we'll be in business. I'm only comforted by the fact that this is the only book I've read that can hold my attention THIS LONG. :)

So what about you? Any tips on editing? Tricks to find those hidden errors? Fancy ritual dances that will make the same-old text I've read a thousand times now suddenly seem fresh and new?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Poetry Summer Week 11: You'll Love Me Yet by Robert Browning

Sonnet 130 is lots of fun--I saw it performed (rather amateurishly) while I was in high school, and I've liked it ever since.

I've quite run out of poems I know that I want to memorize, so I appealed to my friend JD for timely IM help. He had lots of great suggestions, but I finally settled on You'll Love Me Yet by Robert Browning. It's written by a man, but I like to read it with an eye toward a writer wanting to get published. I've read a lot of posts lately on the power of perseverance in this business. If we keep writing (so everyone says), we'll eventually see success.

Hopefully it will come before death.

You'll Love Me Yet
by Robert Browning

YOU'LL love me yet!—and I can tarry 
Your love's protracted growing: 
June rear'd that bunch of flowers you carry, 
From seeds of April's sowing. 

I plant a heartful now: some seed 
At least is sure to strike, 
And yield—what you'll not pluck indeed, 
Not love, but, may be, like. 

You'll look at least on love's remains, 
A grave 's one violet:
Your look?—that pays a thousand pains. 
What 's death? You'll love me yet!

What do you think? Is everyone right about persistence?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Squee! An actual TEEN likes my pitch!

I'm crushing on Drama Girl right now. Not that I've met her, or even know her real name, but I gotta say: having a real-live teenager read 11 YA pitches and first pages and pick MINE to "buy" is a thrill. A THRILL!  Especially since I'm poised on the brink of the scary query plunge.

As soon as I knew there was a Drama Girl, I hoped she'd pick mine--my book has a play in it! Thank you Drama Girl! You give me hope!

If you're writing YA--even if you didn't enter the "teen judges" contest-- you're gonna want to head over to Brenda Drake's blog and read the finals posts. (Drama Girl was the second finalists post. Choir Girl was the first. We're still waiting for Book Girl and Sports Girl tonight or tomorrow. UPDATE: Book Girl's post is now up! UPDATE2: And so is Sports Girl's post!) Brenda has been running a super-cool teen book club for a while now and got the four teens to agree to judge a pitch-and-first-page contest. After the entries were in, the girls read the pitches and divvied them up by who liked which pitch best. Then they read the first pages of the pitches they chose and commented on each one, picking only two to "buy." Their comments are a priceless insight into our target audience.

And, obviously, Drama Girl has very, very good taste. :)

Now, if everyone will just send happy thoughts my way for the announcement of the overall winners tomorrow night, that'd be great. :)

UPDATE: I didn't win, but I still loved reading all the comments. Such a fun contest. Thanks Brenda!