Novel successes and woes

I’ve been glued to my chair working on my novel for months: writing new scenes, converting dialogue into inner monologues, changing tense from present to past, creating new chapters where three asterisks indicated breaks in the text, and generally editing as I went through it over and over again. A little bit about my new scenes* process: I marked up my manuscript to indicate where (with page number) a new scene was needed and what the scene should consist of. I highlighted that marker in yellow. I then copied the marker and pasted it in a new document called New Scenes. I created the new scenes in the New Scenes document – without touching my original manuscript. When I finished creating the scenes I edited them several times to make them as mature as my original manuscript, already in its eighth draft. Then I merged the scenes into the manuscript, starting from the end of the book, so I wouldn’t mess with the page numbers And as I copied and pasted the ne … [Read more...]

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Thoughts about novel beginnings

Chuck Sambuchino is always a wealth of information – about writing, about publishing, about platforms, about finding an agent. In a guest column on the Writer Unboxed website today, he quotes many agents’ thoughts about: What Not To Do When Beginning Your Novel I’ll just share a few quotes that resonated with me. Please go to Writer Unboxed to see the full list. I just signed up to get it regularly. You may want to as well. “Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!” - Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary “The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.” - Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary “I know this may sound obvious, but too much ‘telling’ vs. ‘showing’ in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should pre … [Read more...]

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My memoir revision process

Since I’ve been on the topic of revision, I thought I’d share the revision process I followed while getting my memoir ready for publication. I eagerly took on the task of editing and revising my memoir manuscript. I had spent many years editing and rewriting proposals to the U.S. Government, and I used much of this experience to revise my book. One of the first lessons I learned on that job was to plan before doing, and that was the first thing I did before embarking on my rounds of revisions. Here’s my process. 1. Create a revision plan. I created a revision plan based on my publisher’s and first reader’s notes. Once I buy-in from my publisher to this plan, I was ready to get to work. 2. Don’t edit as you write. Write, wait a while, then edit: Leave your work alone for as long a time as you can before sitting down to edit it. While I spent over two years querying agents and small presses, my manuscript laid dormant. So when I finally got my book contract, I read it front to ba … [Read more...]

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