Friday, September 25, 2015

What do editors do and why you should care?

photo by Leanne Dyck

That editor took my story and she tore it apart. Then she forced me to make all these changes. In the end, it wasn't anything like what I wrote.

There are tons of horror stories out there. I think they exist because we, writers, don't really understand what an editor does.

Recently, authors Phyllis Smallman and Kay Stewart interviewed editors Lenore Hietkamp and Frances Thorsen (bookstore owner:  Chronicles of Crime). Heitkamp and Thorsen answered questions like...

-How can I find the best editor?
-How can I work more effectively with an editor?
-What common errors do editors find and how can I avoid making them?
-What does an editor do?

Here's what I heard...

What does an editor do?
1)an editor reads your manuscript. While she's reading she's asking herself:  What is this author trying to say? Is it working?
2)After reading your manuscript, the editor writes a report -- she points out what is working and what isn't.
3)The editor then has a discussion regarding the manuscript with the writer. The editor is okay with a writer disagreeing with her, but she want to know why the writer disagrees. 
4)Both the editor and the writer have a say as to what needs to be changed. Once this plan is finalized, the writer works on the changes.  
5)The editor reviews the changes. 
6)The editor gives the writer a final draft of the manuscript.

Two types of editing
Micro (line) editing:  Is like looking through a microscope, the editor closely examines each sentence. She looks at sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.
Macro (story) editing: Is like looking through a camera, the editor looks at the big picture. He looks at story structure,  plot, pacing, dialogue, etc.

Author - Editor relationship

-should be built on mutual respect
-authors should receive feedback on what is and isn't working
-editors should respect the author's voice

How can I find an editor?

-by networking
-by type the editor's name into a search engine
-through professional organizations (not all editors belong to professional organizations and this has nothing to do with their professionalism)

How can I evaluate an editor's work?

-read book reviews of books the editor has worked on
-ask for a sample of the editor's work

Authors can help editors by providing them with a story bible
(The Story Bible:  What It Is and Why You Need One by Jane Friedman)

Tip:  a good way to tell if your story is working is to read the first three and last three chapters of your manuscript. 

Common mistakes authors make
-introducing too many characters in the first few chapters
-not doing enough research
-repeating the same sentence throughout the book
-not putting the crime in the right place
-not reading the manuscript out loud or having someone else read it out loud or recording it
-the story isn't properly paced 
Tip:  you should have the reader on the edge of her seat; then let her breathe -- and repeat.
-too many consequences
-the story isn't properly plotted
-boring dialogue -- stick with what is important

Bottom line:  The editor and author have the same goal in mind -- to produce the best book possible. Authors shouldn't be defensive. Look at your work with the editor as conversations about your book.

More:  Why Edit?
This is a guest post written by Amy Haagsma on behalf of EAC-BC, the BC branch of the Editor's Association of Canada

Next post:  Word Vancouver is so cool. There's workshops, panel discussions, author readings and so much more. I'll be attending this Saturday and Sunday. And I'm looking forward to telling you all about it.

Sharing my author journey...

September was an emotions packed month for me. 

In writing...
I sent out more submissions this month than ever before -- 12 submissions. I also received a lot of rejection letters. In fact, one day I opened the mailbox and found seven. Let me write that again:  s-e-v-e-n. It took my breath away and set me reeling, like a boxer receiving an upper cut.

Quote from one of the rejection letters...
'This story is very sweet, but I think it could use some elaboration.'

But I know acceptance is coming. All I have to do is keep writing, submitting and revising.

In my personal life...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

He Makes Me Feel (a poem)

An author friend has encouraged me to write more poetry. Poetry isn't my genre. But I know I can share this with you...


photo by Leanne Dyck

He Makes Me Feel

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He makes me feel happy when I'm blue

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He buys me pretty things and tells me he loves me

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He takes me out to eat and we dance

Oh, the way he makes me feel
I see the way he looks at her
know
he 
wants
to...

Oh, the way he makes me feel
I come back from the bathroom
He's holding her in his eyes
He's touching her

Oh, the way he makes me feel
I can't be here any more
I have to leave

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He finally comes home
drunk
smelling of her

Oh, the way he makes me feel
I tell him that it can't be this way
It's either her or
her or
her or
me

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He hits the wall
the bureau
me
His fist into my belly
My navel up into my chest

Oh, the way he makes me feel
The next day, I can tell he's sorry for what he's done

Oh, the way he makes me feel
It's my fault
I pushed him over the edge
It's all my fault

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He makes me feel happy when I'm blue

Oh, the way he makes me feel
He buys me pretty things and tells me he loves me

photo by Leanne Dyck


Next post...
I attended a Crime Writers of Canada event last Saturday.

click to embolden

This was an information-rich talk give by two editors. I'll process this information and report back in my next post.


Sharing my author journey...

I shared a new picture book manuscript with my writers' group.
One comment:  'I don't think anyone will publish a story about kids jumping off a roof regardless of ending'.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writers, how do you end your story?

Finding the end of a story can be as challenging for a writer as finding the end of this mess is for a knitter...


photo by Leanne Dyck

Sometimes I've cut a story short--ending it before the ending. Other times I've written on and on and on, well past the end. 

How can I learn to recognize the end of my story?

Determined to answer this question, I searched for a solution. I found this strategy...

Who ever it was, when ever it was, this wise writer advised me to find the story question. She said that it would be at the beginning of my story. For example, she continued to explain, in a mystery, your story question is who shot the victim. In a romance, your story question is, will the protagonist find love? After locating the question, search for the answer. The answer will be located at the end of your story. End your story after answering the question.


The end is the resolution of the problem that you introduced in one of the first two chapters...
-Bob Mayer 

For more on this strategy, please clink this link:  What's my story question?

photo by Leanne Dyck

Okay, so, what if your problem isn't finding the end of your story, but rather how to end it? 

Well, in her book First Draft in 30 Days, Karen S. Wiesner offers the following advice...


Endings
1. A pivotal, life-changing event occurs...
2. Characters modify short-term goals one last time...
They know exactly what they have to do now, and absolutely nothing can stop them from doing it...
3. The Showdown Begins...
The main character and opposition come fact to face, there's no hiding...
4. The opposition is vanquished and the conflict ends...
5. The story goal is achieved
6. Characters react to the resolution of the plot and subplot
7. Characters revise their life goals
8. Possible reemergence of the conflict of opposition...in thrillers, horror novels and mysteries.
photo by Leanne Dyck

In his book, The Novel Writer's Toolkit:  A guide to writing great fiction and getting it published, Bob Mayer advises...


'Study endings as much as you study beginnings. The most important thing about the ending is to close out your main story line and all your subplots. Don't have the reader guessing... [T]he climax is not the same as the resolution. The climax ends the crisis. The resolution explains how the crisis is over and also lays out the effect on the characters who now go on.' 
photo by Leanne Dyck



-Don't introduce any new characters or subplots

-Don't describe, muse, explain or philosophize

-Do create that sense oh, wow! 'Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here.'

-Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome

-Do resolve the central conflict

-Do afford redemption to your heroic character

-Do tie up loose ends of significance

-Do mirror your final words to events in your opener

-Don't change voice, tone or attitude

-Don't resort to gimmicks


The End



photo by Leanne Dyck

Next Post:  What happens when I write poetry? Find out next week. 

Sharing my author journey...

Question:  When is a rejection letter not a rejection letter?
Answer:  When it inspires you to write on.
Please allow me to explain...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Book review: When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

I heard about When Everything Feels Like the Movies while listening to Canada Reads. One of the panelists complained about the amount of sex. I wonder if this is why it wasn't chosen as the book all Canada should read.

I'm surprised -- notice I didn't say shocked -- at how explicit  non-erotic fiction is becoming. I wonder when the pendulum will swing back.

I'm not in favour of censorship. I think artists need to be free to explore. Instead of running from ideas, I believe in informing myself. And so I begin to read...

Sure, there's sex, drugs and rock and roll. But it is a story about a teenager, would you wonder if there wasn't? 

The sex, the drugs, the rock and roll, it's all germane to the story. In fact, I'm very impressed by how well the author has developed his teenage character. Jude breathes on on the page. 

The internal dialogue is strongly written. We are deep in Jude's mind, but there's no trail of 'I thoughts'. For example, instead of 'I thought', Mr. Reid writes, 'It was like...'

Rather than be paralyzed by the violence he sees in home and at school, Jude fantasizes that he is a movie star. 



School is just like a film set:  there's The Crew that make things happen. The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their facebook photos. But Jude doesn't fit in. He's not part of The Crew because he isn't about to do anything unless it's court-appointed; he's not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he's not a Movie Star because even though everyone knows his name like an A-lister, he isn't invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.
Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno. Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It's a total train wreck!
But train wreaks always make the front page. 
Jude is determined, independent, heroic and compassionate. He knows who is he and what he wants from the world and he's not afraid to shout it out loud and proud.  Even in the face of undeniable heart break, Jude believes in a 'happy-ever-after' ending to the last page.

This short book (170 pages) is power packed by a skilled author.


I looked down the highway. It was a long black stroke of ink that told a never-ending story (p. 135)

More...

-the true story that inspired the book
-the controversy around the book
-a candid interview with the author
Here's the link

Ellen DeGeneres on 15-year-old boy, Larry King, killed for being Gay

Marcy Kennedy wrote a helpful article on how to write strong  internal dialogue for the Writers of the Storm blog


When they are ready, children need to be able to turn to a trusted adult for sex education. But figuring out what to say can be a challenge. That's why it is helpful to have books like...

Sex is a funny word by Cory Silverberg (for children ages 7 to 10 years of age) 

Sharing my author journey...

Have you heard the rule show, don't tell? As in, show me what's happening, don't tell me what's happening.
For example...