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!

Fiction Writing: Create Flow through Outline and Initiate Helpful Editing

I finished my daily NaNoWriMo word count today and wanted to veer off that topic for my next blog post. I’m sure after the first few weeks those who chose not to participate are ready to hear about something other than reaching a word count.

This is the third installment of my Fiction Writing Series here and here.

The first one spoke to plot and how to gain enough content for a full novel. The second one provided content on character development and good ways to know and understand them before you start.

For this one I have given two final preparations before you start the novel. These will help your story fly and soar to the finish.

Step Three:

flamingos Outline and Edit

Yeah, these two are a strange grouping. Outline comes at the beginning and editing at the end. So why place them together? Well, I consider them both a necessary preparation of a novel.

The Outline

Unless you are a discovery writer (writing until you “discover” an idea and then build your story from there,) you will write an outline.

Answer this question:

How much information do I need to write a complete story?

The beginning, middle, and end are easy place cards to initiate an outline, or main plot, arc, and climax are another option. The outlines most important section is the ending. If you can identify the end then the body and the beginning lead there. Successful books wrap up the plot and sub-plots, especially successful first novels. Established authors can change that up.

After the ending is decided, then look to the conflict. Each scene needs conflict, which is why an antagonist is important to a story. Without conflict readers begin to drift from the book. Something needs to happen and not the same thing over and over. I once read a book where the protagonist went for a run every single day as the important scene and the small amount of conflict came off as repetitive instead of intriguing.

The amount of information in your outline depends on the type of novel you write. A story with many characters, sub-plots, and dramatic conclusions need more detail, yet books with wiggle room for creative development during the writing can have a lot less in the outline.

For me, I write about 12 bullet points and fill in the basic pieces I want to include in the story. As I write I pull from it and expand it as I go. It has worked for me so far.

Editing

Arm yourself with the editing knowledge. My list mostly gives things to avoid.

Editing list:

  • Avoid “to be verbs”: they are linking verbs that can be replaced with action verbs
    • Be, am, is, are, was, were, been, has, have, had, do, did, does, can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might, must
  • Avoid adverbs: they are usually telling words instead of showing words
  • Avoid too many adjectives: one before every word it becomes too much
  • Avoid common words:
    • Beautiful, pretty, really, seriously, literally
  • Avoid too many metaphors and similes
  • Avoid redundancies: especially common phrases like sit down, stand up, turn around, etc.
  • Replace wordy sentences with action or stronger words
  • Avoid too many propositions
  • Avoid present participles
  • Avoid dangling present participles
  • Make sure your paragraphs and sentences have first word variance
  • Switch up paragraph and sentence lengths
  • Have every scene contain a beginning, middle and end
  • Avoid too much back-story and flashbacks
  • Avoid large amounts of description of your characters: you should show it instead of telling it
  • Avoid clichés

First drafts are much cleaner when you apply editing techniques as you write. Some writers like to type their thoughts down without any restrictions for their first draft, and if you don’t mind re-writing almost every sentence of an 80K – 120K word novel, then go for it.

For me, I want to focus on consistency of plot, characters, and structure instead of a ton of re-writing. For my NaNo novel, I’ve attempted to write cleaner. It takes a little longer, but I know the editing will take less time. I’m happy with the trade-off.

With all the prep in place it’s easier to get started and keep on your way to the end.

How do you like to prepare for a novel? A lot of outlines? No outline? Something in-between?

I would love to discuss with you about this and I love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading my blog.
A.G. Zalens

NaNoWriMo: On Track to Meet the Word Count

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This month is like the bunny hop, pour coffee, write a few hundred words, complete chores, write some more, run some errands, finish the writing goal, and rest until the next day.

For NaNoWriMo my goal is to write and integrate editing techniques.

Such as these 5 Worthy Tips for Effective Editing. For my recent novel I poured words into my document without any real consistency. Once finished I moved on to edit. Luckily, I took the time to read books and articles before beginning. The only thing that saved me was that I thought to incorporate these two preparations: Fiction Writing: Prepare Before You Start and Fiction Writing: Top Character Creation.

After I edited my novel a third of the way through, I decided to change from present tense to past tense. The reason came from many examples, which showed how past tense moved the sentence along faster than present tense. Even though it’s a young adult/new adult novel I decided I liked the past tense style better.

This set me way back in my editing. I started the edit over and re-wrote just about every sentence. My biggest disappointment was that I waited until I finished to research editing for fiction.

I hope I learned my lesson. So far the prequel I’m writing incorporates what I’ve learned. It takes me a little longer to write. I think of a sentence, and then rewrite it in my head before I type it out. However, I expect this will save me a lot of time and effort when I start my edits.

I’m excited that I’ve kept pace with the suggested 1,667 words a day. Day five and I have 8,579 words written. Several of those days have been hard. I only wrote a little all day and barely finished before I went to bed. However, I think of this Winning Strategy to Beat Editing Blues and now I’m getting into a groove of finishing before noon.

The choice to write the prequel has helped a lot. I’m filling in scenes mentioned in my novel. It’s working out beautifully. I have subplots and fun characters. The twitter account @NaNoWordSprints has also been a huge support in this endeavor. Their prompts and time frames give me that pressure I need to speed up my writing.

I expect to keep up my productivity until month’s end.

Have you found any techniques that help you write? Let me know about your thoughts! I’d love to hear any NaNoWriMo stories, or any writing challenges you have experienced.Thanks for visiting A.G. Zalen’s blog.

5 Worthy Tips for Effective Editing

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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