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Posts Tagged ‘edit’

Friends,

When I draft a novel, I DRAFT a novel. Free-writing is my mantra. I don’t let sensible thoughts weigh me down. Why bother? They are chains on my creativity. This process works, it really works, for me. Writing tip: if you are trying to edit while you are writing, you are a hundred times less likely to enjoy the process or finish the story.

And then the muses sweep me in a different direction… (Thanks, muses. I love you anyway.)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote two scenes that were to take place in the medieval fortress of Saphree. Saphree is of great significance to one of my characters so there were lots of specially crafted phrases describing its architecture and its emotional impact. All of this was powerful writing, until the muses decided my characters should be at some legendary waterfalls in the middle of the open woods instead.

Usually, relocating is not too much work. A wall is a wall so change bricks to wood or wood to stone and, poof!, you’re done. But relocating from indoors to outdoors is a major project. And relocating from one significant place to a place that is significant for entirely different reasons… Oy vey (which, by the way, is a “Yiddish exclamation of chagrin, dismay, exasperation or pain”). My brain hurts just thinking about it.

And yet… I admit. I find these kind of time-consuming changes fun. It offers a challenge that my typically sloppy free-writing does not. So here’s to finding a little fun in the journey and the work and the muses. May your challenges melt to joy today and the stories you craft–in pen or deed–receive a breath of fresh air,

Jessie Mae

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Last night, after work at the law firm, Starbucks became my home. I claimed a table in the corner, determined not to rise until the novel was finished. My coffee grew cold. Consciousness of time slipped away as I was transported to another world. I pushed away distractions: like the truly awful music coming over the speakers and the groups of students ‘studying’ around me. I rose long after darkness had set in, unaware that it was nearing nine pm.

The draft is complete.

There is something special about this phase, when the story is finally tangible, but my own special secret for a little while longer. And, of course, it helps that my fans are getting restless. Impatient comments are already filling up my Facebook wall, encouraging me to press deeper and deeper into the tale I am weaving.

I’m still terrified that this novel won’t shape up. It will require plenty of work to take my sweet, little ugly duckling and turn it into the jewel-clad swan it ought to be. With my epic, international trip merely fifty-seven days away, I have just that much time to finish solo-editing. Upon my return I’ll need to jump right into editing with my mother. (And if you are wondering why I edit with my mom, check out this post to catch up on all the fun we have.) Sure. It will require some hard labor to polish, but the good books usually do…

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I suppose it is high time I return to the ‘Writing Central’ folder of this blog and give some practical tips for my fellow writers out there. The lesson for today (one that you and I could both stand to learn/re-learn): the way you phrase and punctuate your writing can drastically effect how your characters are viewed.

Example #1:

A: “We found nothing,” she figured.

B: “We found nothing?” she asked.

Not only is the intonation different, we find ourselves looking at two different emotions and circumstances. 1A  is more confident and assured. Probably, she does not rely upon the person to whom she is speaking. 1B is likely more willing to admit lack of knowledge, more likely to ask for help, and less likely to be the alpha of the group. I should note that the same character might use 1A with one character (someone she considers herself superior to, for example, or to whom she is trying to prove herself) and 1B with another character (someone she trusts, respects, and/or looks up to).

Example #2:

A: “We never should have split up,” he thought.

B: “We should have stuck together,” he thought.

Grammatically, they boil down to the same meaning. But, in the minds of your readers, 2A and 2B subtly display whole different personas. 2A shows more nervousness and regret than 2B. Furthermore, 2B displays a sudden certainty, while 2A focuses on a sudden dread.

All in all, you might find these little changes almost unnoticeable as you write. You may they think are not worth the time to consider. But your reader will pick up on the clues you give them. So every comma, exclamation point, period, and question mark counts. The way you put your sentences together really does matter. So join me in carving out the time to think things through–be it as you free-write or as you edit.

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Late night editOver a few cups of Diet Pepsi, some water, and a box of cheese sticks from Pizza Hut, we sat down at the dining room table to edit. It was a long night, but a good one. Here’s a photo of the aftermath…

Now I am back in Starbucks, passing the time between my two social engagements of the day. I seriously could not get out of my own way this morning. So when my mother and littler nephew asked me to join them for a Dunkin Donuts run I broke my vow (okay, it was not quite that serious) that I would limit my coffee intake. A large French Vanilla hot coffee and a postage run later, I was sitting at Starbucks with a rising friend and a second cup of coffee. (Hint: all this coffee is a tell-tale sign we are approaching a book release.)

E. Regina is her pen-name–the master of the collaborative blog that has been stealing my time from WordPress (you can find those posts here–in case you forgot: http://writeovertheedge.blogspot.com/). It was so good to chat with a fellow lover of my craft. Readers can expect great things from her! Her blog can be found here: http://justateenwriting.blogspot.com/.

Little do I realize just how much I need dialogue with other writers–just about the closest group I can come to for coworkers. Between the editing and the chat with E. my writing brain has been fully stimulated. Now to get some editing done.

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As I edit Xsardis I often have to stop and write or rewrite whole pages. Several characters get skipped in the initial writing process. It is bound to happen. In Asandra, Sasha,–my villain–got left out for over a hundred pages and I had to weave her back in. This type of thing happens because I know generally the outcome and lesson I want to teach from the characters, but the characters themselves are either distasteful or confusing.

In Xsardis there is a set of three characters that I have been working with. I know the outcome I want them to have and I know the backgrounnds of the characters, but the day-to-day seems impossible to think up. When I wrote Issym it was pure inspiration. I hopped from one train of thought to another and left the synchronizing for the editing process. This was probably not the best approach. Asandra was so thought out it was stifling. That was probably not the best approach either. For Xsardis I realized it had to be a little of both. I had to know the exact layout for some things and I had to just start writing for others.

Today I attempted my free-thoughts writing style for the set of three characters as I sipped my Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee between classes. And you know what? It worked! I not only wrote, but I learned about the characters. I discovered the naturally interplay and communication. I saw them instead of directed them. It was nice to get back to the basics.

The advice I have from this for my fellow authors follows: think things out as much as you can. Process the scene, act it out if you have to, and then write it. But if you are stuck, if you have not written in a long time, just start typing away. You might have delete your first couple of tries, but it is a wonderful way to get back to the true nature of your characters.

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