A.C.’s Journal: Entry 19 – Type-isms

In addition to word-isms about which I wrote here, I have type-isms, that is, typos that I make as a matter of habit. Some are caught by Spellcheck in MS Word while others are not. Catchable type-isms are “jsut” which autocorrects to “just,” things like “sawt he” which usually autocorrects to “saw the,” and starting a capitalized word with two capitals, such as “ACtion” which autocorrects to “Action.”

One of my most frequent non-catchable type-isms is typing “and” instead of “had.” I often catch it when rereading, but sometimes I don’t, making things a bit confusing for hubby when he reads the text. A big question is how to train my fingers to type things correctly.

Sadly, Spellcheck just reinforces the bad habit, but if I turn off Spellcheck, the typos will still exist. A bit of a conundrum, but not one that stops me from forging ahead.

If you have such a conundrum, don’t let it stop you either! Forge on in the New Year!

Time for a tea and donut break to fuel up my brain cells.

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A.C.’s Journal: Entry 17 – Thoughts on Cutting Words

Doing a final read-through of Hammil Valley Rising and thinking of what a publisher/editor has on her website:

I often tell writers to cut about a third of the word count without cutting the content – they complain, and I don’t blame them, but they also find it’s one of the best self-teaching tools they will ever find.

As I read text in my manuscript that is somewhat new to me because of the passage of time (hubby took several months to do his read-through and edits, since he works full-time), I think which one of every three words I could cut.

Then I think, “Nuts on this. If Ayn Rand had followed this advice, we wouldn’t have Atlas Shrugged, we’d have Atlas Winked. And Charles Dickens wouldn’t have written his masterpieces Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. I don’t even want to think about how Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Victo Hugo’s Les Misérables would have come out after such treatment.

We writers really have to get away from seeing such advice from publishers and editors as golden. Yes, I have seen areas that are rough, where the ideas weren’t coming across clearly, and have fixed them. But this usually entails adding words, not taking them away.

By the way, if Rhett Butler had said in the movie, “Frankly, I don’t really care” (5 words) instead of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” (8 words), a lot of impact would have been lost.

Best not to worry about word count and instead focus on ideas, plot, character development, and descriptions. On the other hand, it’s not good to add what isn’t needed. Padding out work can be just as bad.

Got the excerpts page for the Freelan Series up sooner than I expected. Hope you’ll check it out.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Beware the “Experts”!

Lots of people are being touted these days as writing “experts.” And you can easily tell what their latest advice is by the posts you see from authors across social media who parrot that advice ad infinitum. The challenge is to determine who the real experts are (and I do not claim to be one) and assess their advice in a rational manner.

The Latest Trend

At present, writers are being advised to do two things:

  1. Put out a newsletter
  2. Offer a bit of free fiction in exchange for a person signing up for this newsletter

Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, to me there are three things wrong:

  1. Newsletters take time and are a distraction from your writing, especially if you are going to do one that will keep your subscribers from unsubscibing. (I currently subscribe to two just as a show of support to fellow authors but barely look at what they send.)
  2. People can sign up, get the freebie, and when your first newsletter arrives in the email inbox, they can unsubscribe (and will if there’s nothing in the newsletter worth their while).
  3. Giving away your writing for free cheapens it but also conditions readers to seek out such freebies instead of wanting to buy. (Yes, I posted a story on here for free, but the circumstances were exceptional. It had been posted by an online lit mag in a very improper way, so I wanted readers to see it properly.)

Other “Expert” Trends

Making matters even worse is the trend toward “simplifying” your writing to fit the extremely short attention span many people have attained thanks to TV, social media, and other influences. That means short sentences, short paragraphs, simplified language (“said” instead of “exclaimed” or other alternatives), and even simpler plot lines. This might be appropriate for some genres, but literary fiction (my genre), fantasy, science fiction, and historical fantasy need something more intriguing to the reader. Fantasy and historical fantasy genres seem to be growing in popularity, and this might be a reason for it, that is, readers want more.

Speaking of simpler plot lines, the “formula novel” is rampant these days. A romance novel contains these elements, a historical novel has those elements, and so on. Imagine authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Ayn Rand getting their work published in today’s environment. Not hardly! In fact, I saw someone post the opening lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and opine that they were poorly written. Now that’s chutzpah! Frankly, while I don’t accept all of Dickens’ ideas, his novels are a study in entrancing writing with a rhythm and flow that is totally lacking in what constituents modern fiction. (I recently read a flash fiction piece online that read like staccato machine gun fire. Ugh! I didn’t make it to the end despite the short length.)

Worst of all is the idea that you have to write only what literary agents say they are interested in. I actually saw a writer post that she was going to write a dystopian novel because some agents were asking for them. Another author said he had seen a lit agent say she didn’t want anymore COVID pandemic stories, so he was wondering when it would be okay to write them again (he might have meant that as sarcasm, but it didn’t seem so). Yikes! Write your story when and how you want.

That’s the biggest problem with these “experts” – a one-size-fits-all approach. But there is hope!

It’s Up to You

I encourage you to resist every little bit of “expert” advice that comes down the pike. And look into the person writing that advice. There are some legitimate experts, but they are few and far between. If you find one, stick with him or her.

As for your own efforts as an author, if your grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage are good enough for a reader to follow what you’re saying, then I encourage you by all means to start writing. As someone famous once said (I forgot who, but I saw it online recently), “you can’t edit a blank page.” Get your ideas down, and worry about the niceties later.

Hope you found this helpful and have been inspired to start and/or continue writing!

Please check out my WIPs. And thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I get no compensation for links in this post or on my site to other sites and/or products.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 11

Easy to lose focus sometimes. An idea for a fantasy story popped into my head, and I wanted to pursue it. A follow-up story then came to me, so I pursued that. And then another …

And then I saw how far afield it was all leading me, so it’s back to The Freelan Novels.

My brief detour took my head out of that narrative, so I had to spend some time reading to get back to it. All good now and making progress.

As a side note, today I read an article by someone claiming to be a book editor. It illustrated how bad a lot of advice out there is. This person is obviously a frustrated author who, instead of helping your work be better, will be trying to interject her ideas and thoughts into your work. Good editors are hard to find, and most editors, good or bad, seem to follow certain formulas. She certainly seemed to be. In one example, she made the dialogue harder to follow. In another, she took a sentence out of context and mangled it so badly that if it had been part of an action scene, bango goes the action in a bog of irrelevant detail

This reminds me of an incident about a year ago. An editor read through the first few pages of my manuscript for Hammil Valley Rising, and then she came back with a litany of changes based on that little bit and without knowing anything that followed, for example, wanting me to show how sad a MC was at the death of her husband, except that she wasn’t. She was feeling a bit lost at being a widow after only six months of marriage and living out in a rural area instead of her hometown of Los Angeles. But the editor based her comments on her own experience and suppositions – not to mention past novels she’s written. This is my book, not theirs. Different characters, plot, and situation. Sigh!

Editors can be great, but they need to stick with editing, not taking over from the author and giving characters motivations they don’t have.

Just a few thoughts here. Time to get back to my writing. And thanks for stopping by!

Please check out my WIPs.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 7

My “deep read,” as I call it, of the several manuscripts I’ve written over the past 3.5 years is like a long road trip. Things go along smoothly, and suddenly there’s a glitch – a flat tire, the radiator overheating, or (as hubby and I experienced one time) the brakes not have been fixed right by a dweeb mechanic before we started the trip and needing to be redone halfway on our return home. In the case of my manuscript for The Ceres Stratagem, it’s a matter of coming across parts that were hastily written (trying to keep up with the ideas flowing through my brain) and as a result seeming to be missing something.

The discovery of these areas is causing me to wonder what reaction an editor would make to the manuscript before this stage of things. I’m guessing something like, “Uh, what is this all about? Seems to be a gap here.” And then I’d look at the area is question, groan, and say something like, “That’s not a gap. It’s a frigging chasm!”

My day’s efforts have just been halted by such a chasm. Now I have to find a way to cross it or fill in that emptiness.

The challenges of writing never end.

Hope you’re meeting yours well. And thanks for stopping by!

See you also on MeWe and Twitter.

A.C.’s Journal: Entry 6

A realization has hit me: when I reread what I’ve written, it’s easier to catch inconsistencies, but when I’m writing new stuff, my mind is focused ahead and forgets what I may have typed as little as a minute earlier.

Cherry Pie and TeaNot sure if this is a common issue for writers, but it does indicate that going back and rereading is essential. I just came across a contradiction. In one spot, I say that the character can barely manage to smile. In another spot, I say he uses a smile to charm women, “a weapon he had honed to perfection.”

Now I have to resolve the contradiction. Should he smile or not? He’s evil, but that doesn’t mean he can’t smile. Many evil people do.

I’ll have another cuppa tea and maybe a light snack while I mull that over.

Best wishes with your writing.

And pay me a visit on MeWe and Twitter.

Types of Editing for Your Work of Fiction

Your hard work as a writer of a work of fiction deserves proper attention before you take it to the next level – publication. In this age of self-publishing, though, you might consider skipping the services of a professional editor because of cost or worry over the process. The good news is that there is an absolute ton of information online about fiction editing. Even better news is that there are various levels, some less expensive than others. And the even better news is that this article sums them up for you.

First, there is a lot of discrepancy between how many levels of editing there are and between the terms used for each. This article presents the key levels and terms. Individual editors out there may vary a little. You will want to clarify with them what they mean and what to expect from each level.

The order here is not cast in cement. Some of these are done simultaneously, depending on the editor.

See the list of articles at the bottom of this post with more information.

1. Editorial Assessment

Also called: Manuscript evaluation — Manuscript critique — Editorial report — Big-picture editing

Features:

  • Optional starting point for an early version of your manuscript that might be a bit messy.
  • Editor gives you broad and hopefully useful feedback on strengths and weaknesses in your plot, characters, or structure in a written report (2-3 pages usually).
  • No rewrites, no corrections for grammar, spelling, etc.
  • Just to give you a basic idea of the readability of your work and anything you might want to fix before sending to a beta reader or literary agent.
  • Generally more affordable than a full developmental edit.

2: Beta Reading

Also called: Advance copy read

Features:

  • For new writers wanting general feedback.
  • A good beta reader (and someone who might charge you) will give you a 2-3 page report.
  • If your budget’s really tight, as most are these days, consider a writing critique group.

Caution: There are people on social media who routinely offer their services as a beta reader. They might charge, or they might not. Check them out thoroughly, though, before sending off your masterpiece or you could find yourself trying to sue for them publishing under their name.

3. Structural

Also called: Developmental editing — Evaluation editing — Manuscript critique

Features:

  • Some combine with Developmental edit.
  • Begins when larger conceptual issues have been addressed and a draft is complete.
  • Editor focused big picture issues like overall story structure, logical flow, style, tone, general quality of writing
  • Editor will usually provide a short memo summarizing key points, areas of concern, and mark up manuscript at a high level, may shift paragraph or chapter order as well as make suggestions for new material or deletion of existing material.

If all goes well, you’re ready for copyediting and proofreading.

Otherwise, you might need a developmental editor for organization and structure issues or a line edit or content edit to address writing issues.

4. Developmental Editing

Also called: Content editing — Substantive editing — Conceptual editing — Manuscript appraisal

Features:

  • Most valuable to new and inexperienced authors.
  • Often the first step of editing a manuscript and the broadest level of editing.
  • Editor includes an editorial report as well as in-text comments.
  • Might be major changes – additions, deletions, items moved or completely rewritten – so this step should be done before any further editing.
  • Focus on: Starting point, First scene, Plot structure, Point of view, Pacing, Setting, Character development, Tension and intrigue, Images and metaphors, Narrative techniques, Themes
  • Goal is a more vibrant, engaging, and believable story.

5. Editing

Features:

  • Sharper focus than copyediting, looking at sentences (does each deal with one idea?) and paragraphs (does each discuss one topic?).
  • Editor checks for consistent and correct usage of terms and ideas; repetitive or redundant words, phrases, or sections; wordy phrases; excessive use of passive voice; shorter words that can be substituted for longer ones; page and word limit fit; and awkward phrases that disrupt the flow of your writing.

If all is well, your document will be ready for copyediting.

6. Substantive

Also called: Developmental editing — Line editing — Content editing — Full editing

Features:

  • Some lump with Developmental Editing, others with Copyediting.
  • Takes place at the beginning of the publishing process.
  • Not as detailed as a line edit. In-between high-level developmental/evaluation edit and ground-level a line editor takes.
  • Editor will look at the big picture and address paragraph and sentence clarity, coherence, and flow, ensuring that your content is compelling and suitable for your intended audience, medium, and purpose.
  • Editor will note directly in your file, using the change tracking and comments features, things for you to consider, recommend changes, delete sections, and/or suggest additions.
  • Sometimes, editor rewrites sections. You could see substantial changes, including new content. Be very clear when requesting this service if you want such rewriting to be done.
  • Editor will not rewrite stories but only change what is necessary while maintaining the author’s personal voice and style.

7. Copyediting

Also called: Line editing — Stylistic editing — Light Copyediting

Features:

  • Happens midway through publishing.
  • Making corrections to spelling and punctuation.
  • Editor generally focuses more on grammar, word choice, enhancing overall writing quality (active vs. passive voice, overly long or awkward phrasing), basic factual correctness, and ensures that the tone and style of a piece are consistent and appropriate for the target audience.
  • Experienced editors ensure your original tone remains intact and use a revision-tracking system so you can see changes and quickly accept or reject them with the click of a button. They may create a style sheet documenting hyphenation style, capitalization style, and other items. Keep it handy for the proofreader and feel free to add to it.
  • Expect noticeable changes to your original document and review them carefully. Never feel obligated to accept those changes, though. It’s your book.
  • A good copy editor collaborates with you and will put your vision first.

8. Fact-checking

Features:

  • Particularly crucial for nonfiction but helpful for works of historical fiction and hard sci-fi, too, or even fiction books that deal with a lot of current events.
  • Can be part of copyediting, substantive editing, or developmental editing.

9. Line editing

Also called: Copyediting — Stylistic editing — Medium copyediting — Comprehensive editing

Features:

  • For manuscripts and scripts that are in final draft.
  • Editor goes through your writing “line by line,” focuses on the words you use to communicate with your reader, things like clarity, examining word choice and impact, making sure your writing is clear and eloquent, pointing out clichéd phrasing and jargon, suggesting fixes for run-on sentences.

Some editors will do both copyediting and line editing together if you specify it up front.

10. Proofreading

Also called: Light copyediting — Mechanical editing — Baseline editing

Features:

  • Final, most technical edit to seek and correct remaining errors, often done just before book is published.
  • Hire someone who did not do the copyedit, so he/she sees your text with fresh eyes.
  • Traditional publishing: a proofreader edits after the book has been designed and formatted, and works on page proofs.
  • Indie publishing: a proofreader often edits after the editor and work on a Word document. He/she serves as a second pair of eyes on the manuscript. The proofreader also does his/her job before the book is designed and formatted for publication to save the cost of inputting changes into the program used for generating the book (InDesign, etc.)
  • Proofreader will check grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, verb-tense consistency, pronouns, spacing, editorial style, and formatting consistency.
  • Don’t expect radical changes to your sentences or words.
  • Furnish that style sheet mentioned earlier.
  • Proofreader will return a marked-up document for your review.
  • After you make changes, you should be ready to send your manuscript into production.

Bottom Line

Again, I stress that this is a general guide. And I also stress the need for some level of editing for your work, even if it’s a check for typos, which are rampant in both traditional and indie publishing.

Personally as the author, I do a “deep read,” combining most of the above, of manuscripts that have sat and cooled awhile. The changes I saw needed in my first three manuscripts were significant – chapters realigned or combined, parts moved to other chapters, heavy copyediting, tons of line editing.

Communication between you and the editor is vital. Be sure you’re both speaking the same language! Go to the editor’s site to see how they divide the different editing levels and what they charge for each.

A few articles presented as a starting point:

Hope you found this helpful and have been inspired to start and/or continue writing!

Please check out my WIPs. And thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I get no compensation for links in this post or on my site to other sites and/or products.