Posts Tagged ‘ edit ’

Autumn of Editing: While I Slept Editing Progress

Autumn leaves through the sun

I’ve found myself loving the last few months. Autumn always cheers me up. The colour shining through the leaves and collecting on black and brown ground is something to enjoy on the drive to work, and it usually puts me in a creative frame of mind.

I’ve spent the past two months or so focusing on editing While I Slept, my paranormal mystery fantasy novel. It will be the first in a series and I plan to write a few spin-off series within the same world but with minor characters. (Though the spin-offs are likely to be a long way off yet!)

If you’re interested, here’s the updated blurb for While I Slept:

A Rift to the Otherworld has opened in rural Britain and the body count is rising. Arthur, an ancient Fae warrior, is broken from a spell-crafted sleep by Annie, who soon becomes his guide to the modern world. Together, they brave a ruthless enemy with no concept of mercy and a penchant for underhanded tactics. The world is teetering on the edge of supernatural war. Can these clashing cultures broker a deal, or will the Rift-towns become a bloodbath?

The very size of this novel gives you an idea how much there is to do (and long nights of Arkham Horror probably don’t help it get done…).

20151101_220333I’ve been working for hours a night on the current stage of edits and found my table just wasn’t high enough. I improvised with a printer, two board games and a slanted ring-folder. 20151107_142554

Definitely helped with neck and back pain, if not easy access to the printer and de-cluttered tables. That minimalism thing has never been my forte.

On the plus side, I’m 18/30 chapters into the current edit and I plan to work on book 2 from December to March, with the aim of releasing the second book within 6 months of the first. I think I’m going to need a lot of luck!

While I Slept – My Novel and Superstition

while i slept novel otherworld fantasy

1383461209nfki7 by archbob on morguefile

I found a book in a local charity shop over the weekend. It was quite a treasure for a writer: “A Pocket Guide to Superstitions” by Steve Roud. It made me think about how I could develop the social culture of the Otherworld in my novel’s final edit.

 

I had been thinking about how to develop and resolve a few issues with the Otherworld because the creatures there can live a very long time and yet have lost all knowledge of where the entrances to our human world are. Perhaps it has been so long they have forgotten the exact location and, as a colleague at work suggested, these portals have become more of a myth, lost to time? After all, most the creatures in this book are not the scholarly, writing type. Most of them tend to die early in power plays, too.

 

Roud’s book, since I started reading it yesterday, has given me a few ideas. He describes superstition being a result of believing luck to be a very real influence on one’s life – both bad and good. I was thinking the creatures in my Otherworld of While I Slept could have superstitions, much more like the old ways of our culture in the UK – refusing to walk under ladders and salting the windows, leaving food out for the fairies…

 
 

Here’s a peek into the Otherworld of While I Slept currently…

 
 

All manner of Fae creatures, from Piskies and Giants to Succubi and cat spirits, live in a world connected to our own (thus, the Otherworld). This world has towns villages and cities just like our own. One of their major trading posts connects to the Cotswolds, UK. The creatures live within a walled city which is full of large, bedouin style tents.

 

They have many strange and magical crafts. They can create fabric which has moving, life-like designs. Fabric which spits like fire when you get close but isn’t hot to touch or fabric which sparkles like a jewel but is soft. They also have a black market after dark where they sell, buy and trade the humans that were left in their world when the rifts to our world closed long ago…

 

These creatures do not have the same morals we do. They have no problems coupling up cross gender or cross species. Their whole culture revolves around power and dominance. Whoever is most violent or scary, generally wins the riches. It is somewhat similar to the courts of Shakespeare, only much more medieval and violence is much closer to the surface, as is sexuality.

 

Half breeds are looked down upon but not by everyone. Only those who feel the need to feel superior and elite. After all, if those half breeds are as strong as their counterparts, they deserve just as much respect. In a weird way the Otherworld is both more and less equal than our own.

 

It is an incredibly fun world to write about. Flinging out the mainstays of our morals and culture has been a blast and I think, after this content edit has been handed over, I’m going to enjoy threading in even more new cultural values and superstitions.

 

It stands to reason, after all, that creatures who live in a world where magical things are real, would have more superstitions and mystical cures (some of which I’m sure would work!) than the rest of us, out here in the bland human world where science is king.

Editing out the Chaff – While I Slept

14108984543z07r by hotblack on morguefile

 

A few days ago I had that magical moment I was looking for.

I found an editor for my fantasy novel While I Slept that’s good at what I’m bad at spotting: plot holes, character inconsistencies, unrealistic reactions…

 

That’s what I always view as a good editor-writer relationship – something complementary rather than complimentary, needlessly critical or hacking.

 

Every writer knows what they want for their manuscript and their style of writing. I didn’t want an editor that would slash away my voice and implant their own style, or someone who would make “improvements” that I viewed as deteriorations. A writer has to be careful whose advice to take with their writing. It is true what is said: not all suggestions are going to improve what you already have.

 

For now, I’m grinning like an idiot and really looking forward to finding out what my editor has got to say about the book as it stands. As someone on the other side of the planet (the USA), she has no reason to say my book is good if it isn’t and has no reason to be scared away from saying something critical.

 

In effect, she will be my first reader who is a complete stranger to myself and that’s exciting. I haven’t experimented in showing my writing to strangers since my early, early attempts at writing on www.fictionpress.com (I was on the site before it split into fan fiction and fiction).

 

I am also getting a brilliant editor at a fraction of the cost a lot of established websites will charge and this way I can ensure I am not getting a package deal but an individual deal, catering to my specific needs. I’m sure there are benefits to the larger companies and they will have a lot of experience but for a book of my length (around 97K words), I’d be looking at £500-£700 which, to me, feels like robbery.

 

I’m happy with my editor and the price we settled for, a fraction of the cost of larger companies but still a decent remuneration for the task at hand. I loved her sample edit and the suggestions she made were very insightful so I only see good things ahead for the edit, and the future of my novel.

 

My next blog post will be focusing a little more on my novel, letting you know a little more about what it’s all about as it has been a long time since I last did a sneak preview. Until then!

 

Holly Ice

1404341641ezt58 by ttronslien on morguefile

The Cliff of “Oh god, I’m not good enough”

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picture by deegolden on morguefile

 

I’d not realised until last night how close I’d been to stepping off the writerly cliff of “but I can’t”.

I have a confession to make: the novel that I finished, While I Slept, the one that I am trying to get an editor to bid on currently, has had a literary outing of sorts. I submitted it to two different agents back in June. Neither of them were mean. One I’d even met beforehand. She quite politely declined the book but it just puts a downer on the whole thing. It makes you think: but if they don’t like it, maybe no one will?

 

I was very quiet about these submissions because I didn’t want people checking back every few weeks and offering me dreaded pity. I wanted to deal with any rejection on my own and without others keeping tabs on response times and helping me get revved up about something which might not work out. Perhaps that was a bad idea, I don’t know.

 

Then last night I read this article. It made me remember what I’ve known all along; writers don’t get lucky overnight. We have to slog and send out dozens if not hundreds of submissions until we find an agent or publisher that wants to take our project on as their own. Professional and even best-selling authors have faced the same problem and had just as many pitfalls as me, if not more. I knew that, but almost forgot it when faced with rejection.

 

I suppose it’s a normal reaction but I realised I need to buck up. I’m going to get this novel edited and get my book sent out to more than two agents. I’ve got a list of eight at the moment that have said they like my genre and I have a similar number of publishers that don’t need an agent to be submitted to.

 

I’m still looking into self-pub options as well – especially into cover artists I really like the look of – but that’s a little ways off for action-ability yet, especially as I’m going to pay out for some objective editing from a stranger who will truly bring fresh, unbiased eyes on my work.

 

 

Here’s hoping it all works out!

Feel free to share your own stories with me on here or on twitter.

 

Holly Ice

Finding an Editor Worth Having

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442 Jppi on morguefile

by jppi from morguefile

I made another big step for me this week. I put the first 10 pages of my novel on a freelancing site – Elance – and asked for bids to edit the work. I’m after quality and reasonable pricing for content suggestions – character flaws, pacing, flow, plot holes etc and an accompanying list of commonly made mistakes would be nice.

It’s hard to find an editor that completely suits a writer and understands what is style and what needs fixing. It is also hard to find someone who doesn’t overprice editing. Writers don’t have that much money and an edit is a needed expense but not one that’s worth 2000$!! Even if you do have lots of experience, that’s internet robbery.

So far, it’s looking good. There have been a couple of good bids and at least one editor I have a really good feeling about. I just hope they’ll be – for me – that magical editor that works well with the author and is the trusted confidante they keep coming back to. Maybe that’s a dream but here’s hoping!

Let me know your editor horror stories and amazing matches. Give me an idea what to look out for – to avoid or go after. I have a few of my own ideas…

One of the editors bidding on my project ADDED IN adverbs and changed my style so the flow did not work anywhere near as well. Not someone I want working on my book.

A number of the bidders failed to read what I wanted and suggested a proofread or grammar and typo check when that is not the sole focus of what I’m looking for. Others endlessly quoted their “recommendations” and didn’t personalise their bid to me.

One prospective editor even suggested they have been a “prolific writer since they could hold a pen” and yet they have no job history on the site and no shown publishing credits.

If the public or your prospective audience (in this case, me) has never heard of you, it’s probably better not to call yourself prolific.

This leaves me with about four promising editors, including the one I have a good feeling about. My plan is to wait a little longer, see if anyone else bids, and make sure I have a firm idea of who to go with. A novel is a writer’s baby, after all.

A Story About a Shoe

Capture1

This is pretty much what it looks like. On holiday in Latvia, on two occasions, I saw a shoe bereft of its partner. In both cases, these shoes were heels and left standing as if someone walked right out of them. Any girl should know this is odd: even really drunk, there is a rather large discrepancy between a heeled foot and an unheeled foot.

My father and I actually stared at this shoe for a good ten minutes, wondering what could have happened to the owner and one of these musings got me an idea for a story to submit to the hgwells festival competition for 2013. I started the story yesterday and intend to finish up the last little bits today.

Goes to show: inspiration is anywhere and within the most unlikely of objects.

If you have a weird event that inspired a story, let me know! Let’s see how weird it gets.

Hope all are well.

Holly Ice

I don’t have an editor…but I don’t need one.

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Have you ever wanted to say that? To be good enough at editing yourself that your work is almost press ready?

To be honest, very few of us are likely to get there but last night I stumbled upon a programme through an obscure list of comments in the back end of the internet.

This programme scans your work – yes, even whole novels – for repetition, clichés, repeated phrases, overused words, dialogue tags – even adverbs. As we’ve been told, adverbs are the bane of existence. For those that don’t know what they are, there’s a big list of  a few below.Image

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Then, if you double click on the offenders, it takes you to each places in the text they appear, just like ctrl+f. I believe you can save the data it finds. 

I think my favourite function is it watches overused words for you – even counts the amount of times they appear. It seems I use “down” “eyes” “nodded” and “smiled” far too often. I shall have to think of some new actions for agreement or for aversion of a subject. It’s kind of like the facebook app that analyses your posts and creates a picture of your most used words only more complex and on a larger scale. 

It’s free, too.

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Yes, Bart Simpson as well as, I’m sure, many big published authors have repeated some words many times in their novels. So what. You want to be better than them, right?

You want your book to be the best one yet, right?

I, for one, feel as if I’ve stumbled across the holy grail with this programme. I will no longer have to trawl through thousands of words and try to remember exactly what phrase I used earlier.

Of course, some phrases or clichés, words even, are stylistic choices that need to remain. Don’t let the machine control you – you are the one with a sentient brain!

With that little caveat out of the way – enjoy, and remember that it doesn’t edit for plot, character pitfalls or clunky phrasing. So you’re not completely get off the hook in terms of editing but it is, I believe, a big help.

Here it is: http://www.smart-edit.com/

*** I should also mention that the programme only works with RTF (rich text files) and .txt (notepad) files. I copied and pasted my novels into notepad and saved it before opening it in smart edit. I believe MS word also has a function to “save as” files as RTF.

Say thank you by following me on twitter, if you wish 🙂 https://twitter.com/Holly_emma_Ice

Or, even better, comment away beneath me with your disbelief/hatred for the programme.

For a bit of fun I’ve found another programme for you to look at too. It analyses sections of your writing and tells you which author you are most like. I’ve found the result changes between my blog writing and fiction so don’t take it as gospel!
http://iwl.me/

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