New Year’s Editing Resolution

The holidays are over and it’s time to get back into the groove of things! I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll just say I’m resolved to edit my novels and move on to publication. Those are lofty enough resolutions for me.

I have collected some websites that provide editing advice. I wanted to share them with my blog followers.

Enjoy!

Seven Editing Questions to Ask Yourself 

How to Edit While You Write: 3 Tips on Balancing Progress with Perfectionism

An Editing Checklist

The Editing Recipe

Author S.J. Rozan’s Method of Iterative Revision

Revising a Novel

Tighten Up Your Manuscript

How I Edit

How to Revise Your Novel Through a Read-Aloud-and-Critique Workshop

How to Rewrite

The Role of a Book Editor — and What to Look for When Hiring One

Your Book Needs Editing, and Here’s Why…

How to Edit Your Own Book: Tips from Authors on the Revision Process

How to Revise Your Novel through a Read Aloud and Critique Workshop

Comma Splice

I hope these have helped you!

I love discussions, so leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

Thanks for reading A.G. Zalens blog!

Advertisements

These 4 Popular Writing Techniques Baffle Me

Paris,_France

A new popular book, praise of the highest quality, amazing cover, compelling synopsis, and a short time to read. I start and realize the style doesn’t appeal to me. Disappointed, I try to read it, but usually abandon it before I finish.

Others love, love, love these stories and the authors have reached the perfect audience. I just don’t qualify and I wondered what aspects lost my attention.

I’ve narrowed it down to four styles that I tend to stay away from.

One Drama Packed POV with Little Action

I enjoy teenage angst in stories; it validates those awkward and emotional years. However, at some point the validation becomes excessive, and turns from “I know that feeling!” to “Make it stop!” A small portion of rich angst flavors the whole story, any more chips away at its beauty.

For me, a story coated with drama feels like my best-friend has taken over my mind for several days. Even though I anticipate the time with her, I’d rather not hear her every thought summed up in 100k words or less.

Another POV introduced into the book breaks up the internal voice and adds a new viewpoint. Especially when it’s from the perspective females worry over the most. The guy.

For example the girl might think this: He’s mad at me. I know it. He walked in, saw me, nodded, and kept talking on his phone. He only does that when he’s mad.

And then the next scene we get the guy’s perspective: Oh, there she is, I wish I could talk to her. At least I get to look at her cute dimpled smile while I finish convincing this difficult jerk to take back his crappy product.

Multi-POV, it’s the way to go.

Stylized and Figurative Language

You know, the books overwhelmed with metaphors, similes, accents, or stutters. In sporadic intervals this language brings a new angle and intrigue. The overuse becomes so predictable I can foresee the next metaphor before it pops into the text.

I understand the desire to include them, that transition to creative mode, clichés rejected, perfect comparisons found, and satisfaction of a show well done. However, every scene should include more dialog, internal voice, and action than metaphors, similes, and accents.

It’s perfect for back-story or short chapters of an alternate POV, but an entire book without a change is less like Shakespeare and more like a stuffy neighbor showing off.

Romance For No Reason

It’s possible for intended romance to lack romance; if the book is a romance than that’s a problem. All other books can do without the romance, especially if it doesn’t work out. The reader knows when it’s forced. I would rather its exclusion than its confusion.

Several issues with romance includes: the characters don’t know each other, no dialog has taken place between them, their dialog is always negative or disrespectful, it happens too fast, no redeeming qualities are present in one or both characters, or there is no evidence given that the characters actually like each other.

Romance requires a lot of care, preparation, and development. Anyone who writes romance should read at least ten romance novels before they include it. Knowing love doesn’t always transition to writing amazing romance.

History For The Sake of History

I know people enjoy their historical fiction. If the story takes place in Paris, readers expect abundant details. If the year is 1969, then Woodstock, hippies, long straight hair, and peace should appear somewhere in the story.

However, when the book’s theme doesn’t relate to the age, events, or structure of a building, it probably shouldn’t be included. Any past war that is irrelevant to the modern-day story should be brief in description, if described at all.

Just because the main character is reading a historical book about birds, it isn’t necessary to include a five-page quote from the book, unless your book is about birds. No matter how beautiful the text, the history of birds doesn’t belong in a science fiction fantasy romance.

Short descriptive and quick transitions move me through the story. The irrelevant history stalls it and I skim those parts. Any book that isn’t a historical fiction should exclude multi-chapter history lessons, unless it’s of a new world and the history provides substance.

What styles have turned you from a book? Are they popular or a rarity?

I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens

5 Worthy Tips for Effective Editing

photo (2)

My definition of editing: read through a paragraph, re-write, read out loud, approve, move on, find self-editing source, reread paragraph, see a problem, re-write, approve, move on, and repeat.

I misjudge the time frame for editing my book, by quite a lot. Yet, I’ve learned that strong writing is required for progression, so it will turn out best for me later on.

Since my brain has run on words and their appropriate order for a while, I thought I would share some things I’ve learned.

1. Clean sentences move the story forward.

Most often people advise to shorten sentences. However, I find it more helpful to say clean your sentences. A clean straightforward sentence gives all the information while using strong independent stand-alone words. This can be achieved with both short and long sentences.

For example:

Jenny is so happy to be running down the street with the crisp warm sun beating down on her heard and all of the other runners keeping pace beside her.

The sentence gives pertinent information, but several words muddy the point. Trimming words moves the reader along faster and makes the point sooner.

I might change it to:

Jenny ran beside her competitors, a smile stretched her lips, her eyes squinted, head down, shielded from the warm determined sun.

It isn’t much shorter, but it gives the same information in a more concise manner that shows the action.

2. Reduce metaphors and similes

I read a book once that had so many metaphors and similes I wanted to trash it instead of finish it. After multiple metaphor riddled paragraphs, I figured the purpose could only be to up the word count, because they didn’t enhance the story.

Metaphors should be used to clarify unusual experiences most people can’t relate to, or to make something more specific.

3. Overused words

Here are a few such words: literally, pretty, interesting, beautiful, ridiculous, awesome, great, good, seriously, nice, like, and feel.

I’ve included every single one in my writing, which has tacked on time and effort in this editing phase. These words are useful placeholders, but they are vague words most readers pass over. Words that can mean something different to every person won’t express the character’s experience. However, they do make for more authentic dialog when used sparingly.

4. Telling words and phrases

Some include: start/began, knew, could see, the sound of, heard, felt, and realize.

It’s better to state the action instead of telling about the action.

For example:

Brook started to walk when she heard the sound of a car, and she realized it might hit her.

It’s more dramatic to cut the telling words.

A car’s engine roared. Brook sprinted toward the building. Her feet hit the curb, as a forceful wind passed behind her. The car tire’s squealed to a stop.

5. Redundancies

Most redundancies are common words and phrases, so they’re difficult to spot.

A short list includes: stand up, sit down, lay flat, jump up, turn over, end result, enter in, and repeat again.

Once we cut the redundancies, our sentences are cleaner and more efficient.

I hope my list has helped. I would love to read your comments and thoughts about your editing experiences.

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens

Winning Strategy to Beat Editing Blues

Once I chiseled the last paragraph of my novel into my document, I knew the time had come for editing. In my mind the route would be short; I’d already written the beast so the rest would be simple. Anyone who has passed through this processes just chuckled at my naiveté. My assumptions lead me astray.

With editing we lose the novel’s fat, in the same way we lose the fat of our bodies. It takes us years to add-on weight, so it’s not possible to lose it all in mere weeks.

I spent a year writing my novel, tacking on fat, loading it with junk, greasing the pages, gnawing at the bones, and slipping in the sugar. I shouldn’t have thought I could cut the excess in a short time. The re-write requires overcoming sacrifices, pangs, and unmet cravings.

Another mistake happened when I thought writing translated into a good story. I should have become proficient in editing before I began the novel. If the food we put in our mouths is healthy then the body won’t need to store excess fat. If I had written my novel with a healthy editing method I would’ve saved myself time.

One could argue such an approach would smother creativity, as only eating healthy foods would stifle the pleasure in food. However, eating healthy means including cheat days to load up on carbs, calories, and yummy bites; it’s the best way to increase metabolism to spur fat loss. Creative writing has to happen, of course, but instead of allowing excess to fester until the end, I think it best to clean up the work before moving on to the next scene.

When the writing is clean, the cellulite pops during the editing process. If I could spend my time searching for story holes instead of rewording unattractive sentences, the stress of editing would be diminished, the frustration reduced, and the headache relieved.

I’m still learning and trying to improve for projects I start in the future. I appreciate the lesson and I hope my analogy encourages other in their creative writing process.

What do you think about this strategy?

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens