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Editing is a rewording activity!

  • Posted on May 18, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Forgive the pun, I like to think of myself as punny, occasionally. However, this particular blogpost is in celebration of editing! Specifically, celebration of a friend of mine who has opened an editing department for his publishing company. Since he helped me so greatly during the long, arduous process of drafts two, three, and four of my unpublished novel, “A Knight of Kuryle”, I thought I’d share that experience with those of you who were interested as well!

Now, the obligatory disclaimer. I was asked to write up this review, however, I have not received any services or payment for these words. Everything I say was true before this company ever started business, and I’m sure will continue to be true after I speak it, as well.

With the unpleasant business out of the way, now we can get on to the experience of having Chris Votey edit my works.

First, I would like to state that working with him opened up whole new worlds to my writing. I will admit, I began writing the same way all fandom-obsessed, fresh-out-of-highschool twit does. I started writing REALLY HORRID FANFICTION. Self-insters, authors notes, awful, AWFUL, chew-the-scenery descriptions, and a lack of forsight when it came to my world building that just generally wasn’t acceptable. I had a long way to go, and honestly, I’m surprised Chris stayed with me for as long as he did.

Chris didn’t just help me with moulding my words into something beautiful and sharp. He helped sharpen my mind, showed me new ways of thinking about what it was I was working with, working for, and gave me entirely new perspectives on how and why I should put the words on the paper. It’s thanks to his encouraging words and constant supervision that I was able to come to the conclusion that the book I was writing was not one book, but rather a series. It was thanks to Chris’ hard work at managing my mind that I realized a major plot-point in my book had been glossed over, when it could add so much more depth and beauty to the story.

I will not say that it was a quick or easy process however. I am a prideful woman, and honestly, I found sometimes that we would butt heads. The way Chris explains things can be… difficult to grasp. I found the trick was, like he said, to follow along with what he said, rather than attempting to jump ahead and make my own conclusions. The way he thinks, the way he writes, is very different from the way I think, and I find it has enriched my writing.

Not to mention he has the type of vocabulary that makes a girl breathless. That is to say, he knows so many ways to say so many things. He’s an avid owner of several thesauruses, including both the Positive and Negative Traits thesauruses. Which are extremely helpful when you come to him for help with characterizing a particularly difficult character, the way I had to several times.

All in all, if I had to pay money to get his help with making my works shine, I would scrounge, scrimp and save every penny, if only to have him touch my manuscripts again. I would go without food to do so, without a second thought.

IWSG – 03/02/16

  • Posted on March 2, 2016 at 3:52 pm

A lot of writers will discuss ‘finding your niche’ as if this is some magical journey. As if that mythical ‘niche’ for which you search will set you on the track for results. As if that long-awaited niche will answer all your questions, and make it easier to understand yourself. A lot of authors attribute their success to finding their niche, and sticking to it, learning the trade entirely and devoting themselves to that long-awaited god named Niche.

I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. It’s a lot like in real life. A lot of the problems that people have is that we’re all pressured to find that one thing we’re good at. That one ‘passion’ we have, that one great joy in our lives, is what we’re expected to cultivate and then unleash upon the world like an unholy tide of pleasantness. The thing is, and a lot of people are beginning to learn that now, that’s all a crock of horseshit.

There is no one end all, be all, of your creativity. You may never find that one job that you love forever. You may never find that one calling that you were ‘put on this earth for’. Your calling might be sitting in your pjs and making diagrams of buildings out of toothpicks. No one is really going to recognise you for your ability to eat an entire bag of potato chips without having to take a sip of something because of how salty they are. And I know for a fact that my odd ability to find and then binge watch anime and manga is not even remotely going to earn me money.

Or is it?

See that’s another thing a lot of people don’t tell you. Often times, niches, callings, and that one great passion, come out of a lot of practice and thought. It comes from writing those BILLION articles that mean almost nothing, and sound like an incoherent child’s scrawlings. It comes with time, and effort and energy. And yeah, you may never realize what your niche is. You may never realize that when you put those words to paper and out comes YET ANOTHER STUPID FAIRY TALE, that that is in fact your niche.

I recently had a sort of revelation. You see, ever since middle school, I had the uncanny ability to pick out interesting things to read out of the school library. And then, in highschool, I managed to find one interesting manga, or anime, or book, after another. I had, for a long while, lapsed in that talent. I focused on work, on trying to maintain school, on trying to focus. I focused on everything but this one talent that makes me happy. This consumption of stories. This absorption of plots and characters.

Recently, however, I have found a way to turn that odd talent, into something that motivates me to write here on this blog. That motivates me to do more with my life. I started my Writing Anime series. I meant it just to explore some of the lessons of writing that Anime have taught ME over the years. I meant it as a way to make use of the hundreds of hours I spend watching cartoons as a grown adult.

So it’s not an instantaneous thing, realizing that you’ve found your one thing. It’s not something that comes immediately. It’s honestly not even something I can see coming with thought or contemplation. I can only see the finding of your niche happening with massive work and effort. With a natural move that you barely even think about, that pushes you to work harder. So keep writing. You’ll find it eventually.

And when you do, it’ll feel like coming home, changing into sweats and putting on fuzzy socks after a long hard day. Difficult to do, but oh, so, worth it.

Weekly Writing Update – 06/11/15

  • Posted on June 11, 2015 at 7:28 am

I’m so close, guys, I can feel it! Unfortunately, i had to add in a whole new element with the Knight of Kuryle book, which is testing my limits aMAZINGLY. Who knew I was so bad at dialogue?! But I’m doing my best to get it in there, because it’s SO important.

Word Counts: 

First Book of the Kurylian Saga: 1.5 sections rewritten –

  1. Knight of Kuryle – 18,604 words – roughly half rewritten.

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted w/new concept

  1. Snippet can be seen in Bruises and Broken Bones

An Asexual’s Guide to Dating – Outlined – one section handwritten

Blog Posts:

IWSG – Security

Books Read

None finished this week, sadly. Would love to see some reccomendations for this one!

Goals 

Finish rewriting Knight of Kuryle

Two more blog posts for this blog this week!

Read all of Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer

Start Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

Weekly Writing Update – 09-15-14

  • Posted on September 15, 2014 at 6:45 am

Since last week, I have had one hell of a bad week. My bike has been stolen. I found a replacement, but spent the last of my money on tires for it, only to find out those tires don’t fit. I have fought with two of my coworkers in a short amount of time, and I have discovered that rewriting The Sorcerer and The Swordsman is far harder than I thought it would be.

Word Counts

Kurylian Saga: The Sorcerer and The Swordsman – Edit one – WC: 150, 329

Kurylian Saga: The Prince and The Corpse – Rough Draft – WC: 1,348

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted – Outline phase

Unnamed Scifi short story – Idea stage – Minor research done

Blog Posts

(I am so ashamed to admit I haven’t posted at all this week.)

Books Read

Room by Emma Donaghue

Goals

Finish The Frugal Duchess by Sharon Harvey Rosenburg

Post two more chapters of Breaking Down Nemesis

Finish writing one of the posts for Mari Wells

9 Ways to Fix your Stereotyped Character – A guestpost by Cindy Grigg

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So You Wrote a Stereotyped Character…9 Ways to Fix Your Story

 

I’ve recently been doing a blog post series on How to Write Well-Rounded Female Characters, which included a list of 19 Female Character Stereotypes to Avoid.

Since Nicohle and I are swapping blog posts today, I would love to take that list one step further and show how I would fix a stereotyped female character (but the same concepts apply to any character).

Why You Don’t Have to Start Over

If your female character falls into a stereotype, it’s not so much that you’ve written her wrong as that you’re just not done writing her.

Writers revert to stereotypes or tropes rather than fully articulating what makes a character unique. It’s tricky because you may not feel lazy as you write a stereotypical character. You’re still sitting in the writer’s chair fulfilling your daily word count or time quota, but essentially you’re being creatively lazy about who you are writing about.

1. Rearrange what you’ve got. A lot of creativity is a matter of how you arrange the disparate parts of something to make a whole. Which aspect of your character is the focal point? By restructuring which personality traits are pivotal, you could create a more fresh character.

2. Add something to the character that scares, stretches, or otherwise challenges you. If writing about a certain characteristic your character possesses makes you think about the world in a new way, it likely will do the same for many readers.

3. Change how long your character stays a stereotype. Maybe your character can start out as a character but be changed by a new event. Maybe reveal they were hiding their true nature for some good reason. Think: Scarlet Pimpernel.

4. Look around you. Think of the most unique people you know and add some part of their personality to your character.

Rarity gives you an example reaction.

5. Add more weaknesses, flaws,  fears, and losses! I like the trick of thinking, What is the worst thing that could happen to my character? Then consider adding that to your plot so your character has to really solve and struggle.

6. Put your character in strange situations. Brainstorm several seemingly unrelated scenes and put your character in them. Consider crossing genres with this exercise. Put your fantasy heroine in a murder mystery and see how she behaves, etc. You may stumble upon an interesting nuance to add to your story.

7. Change your character’s past or future. If the character seems flat or one-dimensional, hook the audience into caring based on something terrible or wonderful they went through or will go through.

8. Give your character a unique motivation. Most of humanity is motivated to some degree by love of family, romance, personal gain, or moral/spiritual paradigms, for example. But what if you made your character also motivated by something kooky like a love of snails, and wanting to save those snails from extinction, for example?

9. Create personality contradictions. I love giving a character two characteristics that seem paradoxical or at odds with one another, then showing why they are this way.

Both fixing characters or scrapping them will require a lot of editing, so I figure you might as well refurbish your stereotyped character rather than starting from square one.

While it takes more effort, it’s more fun and interesting to write well-rounded characters. For me, this comes down to asking, But who else is she/he?! By consciously steering clear of stereotypes, writing becomes more adventure. More fun.

Cindy Grigg

Cindy Grigg writes speculative fiction and instructional non-fiction. She is the author of the HULDUSNOOPS series, a middle grade mystery and fantasy adventure about Icelandic Huldufolk or “hidden people”. As About.com’s Office Software Expert, Cindy also writes about technology and productivity (www.Office.About.com). Find her writing advice, blog, and other projects she’s working on at www.CindyGrigg.com.

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