[WriYe Blogging Circle] This is How We Do It

It’s that time again! The monthly blogging circle topic. It’s a bit of #editnfriends and a lot of WriYe. Here are the questions:

Describe your editing process. What is your biggest challenge in editing?

I think I’ve mentioned this a few times on here in the past week, but in case I didn’t make it clear: I am overly critical and hate my words. I have low self-esteem when it comes to my own abilities as a writer. And I rely on friends to tell me that I’m being dumb.

Does that mean everything I write is horrendous and need to be burned? No. Wait… No. Right. No.

Have I found things that I like on rereading? If you asked me last year? It’d be no. But I actually reread a novella I wrote back in 2013 and loved it. Again with that long gap.

So what’s my process to avoid this sort of self-loathing? Here’s a bullet point list:

  • Wait a long time. Try to cut that down to a year. Or two years. Stretch goal: just months.
  • Reread as a reader. Not an editor. Not a writer. Just as if I was there to enjoy.
  • Absorb what I read. Drink a few J&Gs. Write anything else.
  • Go back and start to map out scenes and plot. Figure out what the hell my characters were thinking. Tell them to behave and act like real people. No, you cannot just run off and say “forget this.”
  • Take out The Book and The Pen and write down an editing plan
    • How does the plot need to change
    • How do the characters need to change
    • Basic plot arc with subplots noted on the bottom
    • Short description of how each subplot adds to the main plot and how they get all tied up
    • List of words to avoid during rewrite
    • Reassurance that I can survive
  • Get on the computer. And start again. Whether this is full rewrite, partial rewrite, or line edis.

With luck, The Final Rose will be the same way, even with the crazy word count.

Bonus:
Tell us about your ideal critique partner. What do you look for in a critique partner?

Well, I have a few good ones right now. We have a group that we’ve kept going for a number of years. We write different genres, different age levels, and for different audiences.

I think that helps when it comes to critiquing. We have a system where if it is genre-related or we think it might be, we mark it as [GR]. Other than that, writing is writing is writing. And sometimes it’s nice to have my romance-writing friend tell me that she likes scenes of my high fantasy story.

If I had to get a new one, though? I’d probably want someone else who is currently writing in high fantasy. And someone who is currently reading what’s coming out in the genre. I’m a bit far behind thanks to having a Little Monster, but I try to keep up on the trends.

I’d want someone who knew how to couch their harsher critique in the sandwich method (something good – a problem – something else good), as long as I had the bread to make sandwich, so to speak. And someone who would look at what I am asking for and give me that. Usually, I ask a few questions with my critique requests.

I’d want someone who wrote at a similar level to me, who sent me things that have already been self-edited to the best of their ability. I don’t expect perfection; I expect readability. And someone who has a goal with their novel post-me.

I’m always open for more partners, but I warn you: I am slow as a snail in a swimming pool of molasses.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 06/24

Pen refills: 0

Scenes sliced: 2

Planned Scenes to Add: 5

Darlings killed: 0

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Why did I make Ziove’s hand in marriage part of the prize? No.

[#editnfriends] Danger Zone

That’s the nickname I’ve given my editing space at home. It’s really my everything space, since I have a one year old who destroys everything she touches. But for this month (and maybe-but-hopefully-not next month), the main use is editing.

I have most of my document in my Google Drive, which is where my crit group edits and chapter by chapter split is. I reread from there, and then printed chapters one by one. They are in this binder (This is fantasy so it better be thick!):

I’m using tab dividers for chapters because I have a few things I know I’m going to have to go back and forth to for reference. Did I foreshadow the even in chapter thirteen enough in chapter four? Did this character’s last name suddenly appear in chapter six but not chapter one? Things like that.

Most of my plot issues will be figured out in the binder with flags and Post-its and huge red letters asking what I was thinking.

As I block my scenes, I’m using these index cards:

They’re color coded by character POV or character arc, if the character is a non-POV character. This is my main party (note the RPG lingo) so I need to make sure their arcs are complete and sensible.

What I’m ignoring this go-round is any sort of line editing. Why fix words that might change? Or scenes that might get sliced?

The last piece of my editing go-to kit is The Book and The Pen:

(Classic moleskine)

Every critique I do goes in here, written with my no-name fountain pen. I leave my expensive ones to things that don’t make me angry enough to throw them.

Every editing thought. Every comment on a beta read. I have flags which color code based on the community the crit is for (RFIC, WriYe, etc) that I remove once the crit is typed up and delivered.

My own stuff is sprinkled throughout with much harsher words than I write for anyone else. Because who can I abuse best but me?

When I work, I either spread out on the ground (when kid is asleep) or spread out around me on the couch (when kid is occupied with something else). I work best in chaos. When the next post about my work editing space comes up, you’ll see.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 03/24

Pen refills: 0

Scenes sliced: 0.5

Darlings killed: 0

Tears: 0

Current Concern: To make Sayine family or keep her as friend

[#editnfriends] We’ve Only Just Begun…

Image courtesy of erin foster as posted on Words n’ Friends

And so it begins, the quest for a nicely polished manuscript. Truthfully, it began a few weeks ago when I decided to re-read The Final Rose with the hope that it made some logical sense. Sense is there, but so is a sped through middle. Alas, poor words, I meant to write thee.

The re-read is almost over with, thank the many gods. It’s hard for me to go back and look at what I had written because I am overcritical of myself. Common writer problem, I find, and one that we should all work on together. There’s good and bad in all of our writing and becoming self-aware of our strengths would do us good. It’ll make us better writers in the end.

Stepping off that soapbox, I will admit to doing something that goes completely against bettering myself as a writer. I had sent part of this tome of words (About seven chapters or so) to my loyal critique group. I read the critiques years ago and put them aside, never looking at them again.

Well, Saturday, I opened up what I thought was my clean version of chapter one. And it was not. It was covered in critique from erin foster. Critique that I did not want to see at that moment. What could I have done? Closed the damn tab. What did I do? I read it.

And, ladies and gentleman, I have finally seen the light. Nothing in that critique hurt. Everything made sense. (Granted, this was on the second draft so it better have been good.) I think I have discovered the right distance from this novel to start working on it. To mentally acknowledge that these are just words and words can be rewritten.

So, if you are like me and pretend to be tough but have the weak skin of paper, give yourself a few days before reading that critique. Or read it, thank the critiquer (always! Even if you disagree with every letter on that page), and step back. Maybe not three years, like I have, but for a few days. A week. Maybe even a month.

When you look at it again with fresh eyes, remind yourself that the critique isn’t on you, your story (most of the time) or your personal family members (though they may feel that way). This is just letting you know that your words aren’t conveying what you want them to convey. The story isn’t shining through because it has the wrong clothing on.

Change the words, change the outfit.