Extra Eyes a Boon to the Writing Process

A flower to dress up the post

Experienced writers armed with a worthy idea and educated in the craft of writing can create the framework for a good story in their first draft, but realize creating a great manuscript needs more than one mind and one pair of eyes.

In the recent flurry of digital publishing, the death knoll to a writer is flawed writing. The Big House Publishers provide many pairs of eyes guiding the writer to a publishable manuscript. The same level of scrutiny and assistance might not be available for digital publishing.  Writers planning to self publish or publish digitally can benefit  from critiques,  beta readers and experienced editors.

As writers, when we read our own work we miss things, nothing looks left out, wrong or unclear because the same brain that created the story fills in the blanks.  Our readers don’t get that kind of help.

Manuscripts need a thorough read by others to assist and advise the writer during the process of revision.  I learned rather late that revision and editing are not the same. Revision (not part of the first draft) includes some of the following:

  • Checking plots and subplots, World-building, Believability
  • Chapter, scene and paragraph structure, Point of view switches okay?
  • Tense, Clarity, Sequences
  • Goals, motivations, conflict, tension, dilemmas
  • Characterization and Emotional content
  • Story arc, character arcs
  • Hooks to keep the reader engaged
  • And so on …

Editing comes last, thus preventing the writer from wasting time editing passages changed or deleted during revision. Once the revisions are completed, the writer edits for style—such as varied sentence structure, stronger verbs, echoes (repeat words), tightening, fresh ways to describe, etc.  And hires an expert to do the line editing for typos, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Who knew in the beginning of a writing career the scope involved in publishing a good book? But what an stimulating and challenging journey.

Tune in Wednesday for a discussion on critiques.

May your writing muses dance—even during the revision process.

Revising the Opener

Fire & Moonlight Ambiance

Today, the writing includes a possible solution to problems in my Work in Progress.

Critiques showed the first draft chapters didn’t create empathy for the protagonist, or contain a strong hook.  My revisions hastily eliminated chapters one and two.

Result? An agent’s later critique showed the opening didn’t give the reader a picture of the the antagonist in her ‘normal’ life. (Oops, cut too much.)

The new opener shows the nine antagonists united to meet their mandate, thwart the protagonist, hopefully thereby  creating empathy for her and hooking the reader while we see bits of her ‘norma’l life before ‘The Labyrinth’  action begins.

Hope it works.  In any case, I’ll enjoy the challenge.





Writer’s Critique

Touch of a Thief

The Red Pencil Thursday is a feature of Mia Marlowe’s blog.  She critiques the first 500 pages of a manuscript every Thursday, the writer comments on the critique, and others comment as well. She critiqued The Labyrinth providing an instructive critique that leaves the writer’s voice intact, and offers encouragement.

Mia Marlowe’s latest novel Touch of a Thief is due out on April 26, 2011.

She recently launched a new website and it is worth a look.


Surrey International Writer’s Conference Master Class


On the Road to Alaska

Autumn is not a quiet time in this writer’s life. Homework.

One of the SIWC Master Classes, Welcome to Your Rewrite presented by Robert J Ray, is based on his book The Weekend Novelists Rewrites the Novel .   He  sent his prospective students homework! How neat is that?   I have a better idea about class content, and suspect it will be three hours of  aha moments.

The bit about weekends?  He means doing nothing else … both Saturday and Sunday, minimum ten hours, dedicated writing labor.   I am excited about this class.  Having completed two manuscripts, I needed a method for revision.  His book walks the writer through the process.  Reading his book (not finished) and doing the homework provided a glimpse at the content of the class and I hope to come home, ready to tackle the big job of a rewrite, learning … always learning.

Historical Fiction

Picture me grasping for air under a pile of papers, new education on writing crafts, legal issues, and contacting new writer associations from the Emerald City Writer’s Conference in Bellevue WA. I have reviewed the notes from the workshops, filed them in a binder, and contacted some of the folks with whom I wanted to continue to connect.


Writer Jody Allen's Rings True Website

Please celebrate with me a new connection with Jody Allen, as yet unpublished, but a Scottish historian.  She Runs a business called Rings True, a valuable resource for those writing historical fiction surrounding Scottish history.  She edits for accuracy of language, custom, clothing, food, dwellings, and so on, to ensure your settings and story line are on target for the period and place in history.  She can be reached via email at jawisrwa@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more conference connections …

Back to the Manuscript Revision

My WIP (work in progress) binder is open, back on the desk, pen in hand, (well, obviously not quite) ready to continue revision.

I posted the first two paragraphs on  Christine Fairchild’s blog & await teaching  on what & how to correct/improve.  When I read it after posting it, the writing presented a great opp for Christine to teach me—and others—how to improve!  Ahem.

I look forward to an on-line class given by Christine Fairchild, August 11 through 17th—instruction on how to make dialogue pop.

Eleven days in July full of family fun—daughter (not telling her age) and granddaughter (age 9) from Juneau Alaska, and Granddaughter (age 19) from Austin, Texas. Today, this old house echoes silence—as the occupant level has shifted—back to two folks (not telling our age either) and one chocolate lab.

Writers in our local (Seattle) GSRWA are gearing up to attend one or both writer’s conferences this month, the first is next week, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference July 22-25, and the other the RWA National Conference July 28-30. Wishing you all safe travels, inspirational & educational workshops, meetings with editors and agents, and a harvest  yielding benefits to your writing careers. And a host of new friends.

Y’all know I would attend with you if I had a fairy godmother! Instead, I’ll send wings. Bon Voyage!

Manuscript revision is my priority this summer

Manuscript Revision rules my life, after family priorities. Home takes on a special twinge of the heart after travels, wonderful as it was to see family and friends, and to traverse across this great continent of North America.  Time, energy and finances limit exploration, and on the spot historical research for the next novel.

Struggles with Microsoft Word 08 for the Mac, (in dealing with long manuscript documents) prompted me to try  Scrivener.  There is a learning curve, but in the long run, I trust it will save me hours of time.  Others in the GSRWA (Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America) writing community have used it and found it helpful.  The web site offers videos and there is a good tutorial, which (grin) made it possible for me to understand the videos on the second pass.

In the interest of sharing, posted below are  some links of interest to writers.
Excellent site for tracking Queries, including a data base of agents/publishers
Education for writers sponsored by RWA, Romance Writers of America
A Manuscript Revision method offered by Holly Isle.  Worth a look.

Until next time, enjoy the summer, and blessings to all.

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