Friday, 29 April 2011

Weddings, Friends, and Editing Your Voice

So much to talk about today, and I want to do a very quick blog about editing your voice. Because, yes, that was the blog idea that I was talking about last post. It's come back to me.

However, so much has happened! Today, Wills and Kate got married. Hurrah! And she looked gorgeous, he looked handsome, and I almost cried when I saw him say to her "you look beautiful". Ahhhhh! Sniff, sniff. Romance is not dead.

And yesterday I met Becky Black for the very first time. We've been friends over the internet now for nearly six years - we met on a forum around December 2005. We spent the day in Bristol strolling from one pub or coffee shop to another, chatting about everything and writing. It was great to actually be able to discuss writing and not feel weird about it. I did learn that I am really crap at giving a guided tour of Bristol. When I've been there (in my younger, no kids stage), I've usually been drunk, so the memory is wonky.

Right, so now back to this editing query I have. I've almost finished my second draft of The Wedding Favour (very apt title for today). I'm going to go back through the beginning chapters, because I do feel I've got better with my editing as the chapters have gone on, even though I've added some words - well, it did need some additing.

Then, I'm going to let it rest for a bit - again -  and crack on with my next novel as I've said I'll join in the May - You Write Your Novel. Basically, writing 80,000 words in 80 days! And maybe get my 2nd fiction assignment done, too.

So, while I've been editing my first novel, I've been having this terrible fear. What if I'm editing out my voice?

There are some things that I like because it's my style. But will the editor/publishers/readers like it?

Is it possible to over edit your work and therefore lose your "voice"? Voice is discussed so much in writing - write more and your voice will come etc.

I told you about my tip to highlight the was's and the that's and I do find it useful, but some are necessary, for emphasis! If we improve our text so well, would we all start sounding the same? Editing maybe a fun part, but I do find it hard. Maybe it will become easier as I get more confident ...

Oh and talking about Additing. I got my letter into June edition of Writers' Forum magazine about Additing - my made up writing word. Hurrah! Three letters published this year, so far. Should have my very first Moleskin notebook winging it's way to me! Where's the bubbly? Oh, right, yes, save that for one day when I get paid...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Jean Genie

I've linked Morton before, and I'm going to link her again because I've been giving her post a lot of thought lately.

Morton Gray made a post about Eat, Pray, Love (a book I've added to my to-read list) linking a talk from the author Elizabeth Gilbert.  If you're a writer, I urge you to watch it. All nineteen minutes. It's inspirational, and really good advice.

On a side note: I found Elizabeth Gilbert wonderful to listen to. If we become successful writers, do we need to become great talkers too?

Anyway, I digress. This post may not mean much to you unless you listen to Elizabeth Gilbert... but she goes on about your inspiration/ideas for writing being 'genies'.

Basically, as mentioning on Twitter, I've been finding my genie a lot lately and wanted to share when he comes to me. Or is he a she? Haven't decided yet.

I have a water genie that is for sure, because when I'm in the shower, I do tend to get lots of what I call 'plot bunnies'. And the same can happen while doing the washing up.

I also have a sleepy genie, who will prod me as I try to go to sleep or wake me up in the morning.

Last night, I'd gone to bed realising that I'd told a bit of a scene, that I really should have shown. Adam removing Sophie's clothes before they make love. I mean, seriously, the man would have been seductive, the reader would like to know how he did it, and I'm like, tell, tell, tell, then next scene, ah, we're in Sophie's head and she's naked.


This morning, I awoke to my sleep genie nudging me, telling me to get up and switch on my PC. I crept downstairs, so the boys wouldn't realise, and got to writing.

Not only because it was a bit saucy was it fun, it felt so much better than if I'd just stayed in bed! I'd written something constructive and it wasn't even 8am!

So when do your genies prod you? And like Elizabeth's talk, are they at the opportune moment, or way out there when you really can't do anything about it?

I do have a car genie too, if listening to the right music. Not always a right moment. Can hardly stop and write it down, but I do try to keep it in my head, going over and over like a tape recording. 

Right, back to my editing...  I have another discussion on that, when my Blog Genie returns to me, as I've forgotten exactly what was the topic I wanted to discuss. lol!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

I Have To Share This Editing Tip

I have to share this! Possibly you already know it, but if you don't, you'll love it.

Morton Gray, bless her, gave me this link to Serenity Wood's blog post about Editing. It's great! You must read it. (That's my other tip - my tip is below!)

To be honest, in my editing, I've already been highlighting my 'was' words and then trying to remove some. You can't always remove them all, but sometimes you realise you can make stronger text by thinking about it a bit longer than you probably would have done while bashing out your first draft.

Anyway, I've just realised, looking harder at the 'find and replace' function in Word, that you can find words, and replace them in font.  So I have now changed all my black 'was' and 'that' words, to red ones!

e.g. put 'was' in find, and 'was' in replace, then click on 'more' so you have all of your options showing, and click on at the bottom (find) 'font'. Now change the font colour! And replace all! Genius! 

I kept doing the 'find', 'highlight all' but it would remove the high lights once you'd edited a bit. And frustrated the hell out of me! Now I can see all the words I need to search out and destroy.  Will now do the same for 'just', too.

And later, upon editing my second, third or fourth draft and needing remove some words I like to use a bit too often, I will use this function again!

This means my editing isn't finished until all words are the colour black.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mixed Feelings

We're into the second week of the Easter holidays, and next week won't feel normal either, as my husband is taking off the three days in between Easter and the Royal Wedding weekend to get eleven consecutive days off work.

I've done hardly any writing, well, editing, because that's what I'm supposed to be doing at the moment. I've tried to work solidly of an evening, but that's about it. I finished Run Rabbit Run the other day, but haven't picked another book up as I need to crack on with this editing. Last night I did read some of my Writing Magazine but considering we're over half way through the month I am not half way through the magazine.

I am enjoying my time with the boys, and taking them out - but by golly, does it cost money? And staying at home every day isn't an option. The odd lazy day, however we need to get out now and then - I'd go stir crazy. Even the boys go stir crazy! But I'm missing those three hours of peace, where I get to do my run, writing, blogging, housework, reading, even some shopping.

One good thing, if I haven't had time to write, I haven't had time for housework either. Bare essentials are being done, but I'm not stressing over it. Luckily hubby put the hoover round over the weekend, letting me off the hook for a bit. House looks lived in, that's all I can say. Though I look at my conservatory and think I must clean it - how do windows on the inside get so dirty!? I know it will be a long job though, so it's been pushed to the bottom of my to do pile. If I'm cleaning my conservatory, I won't be writing!

So far this holiday, we've been to Slimbridge to feed the duckies, Minehead on a steam train, visited Nanny Sylvie and Auntie Katie, and while there caught up with an old school friend (that's me doing the catching up, while our kids played lovely together).  We've been to the cinema (today) to see Rio. Tomorrow we are Going On A Bear Hunt at the Playhouse Theatre, and Thursday we're off to Puxton to meet more friends. All fun, but no writing. Must call it research instead. A writer needs a life to be able to write, I suppose. I just need to find the romance in it!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book Review: Run Rabbit Run by Barbara Mitchelhill

Run Rabbit RunRun Rabbit Run by Barbara Mitchelhill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll be honest, the author sent this book to me to read, as she knew I'd leave a review.  I don't usually pick up children's fiction, unless you include Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit.

However, I must say - remembering it's aimed at 9 to 12 year olds - it was a great read. In fact, I enjoyed being taken back to 1942, wartime Britain, and getting an insight to what life was like. I actually think this book would work well in schools - history told through fiction. The author isn't heavy with the description, obviously to suit the genre, but it gives enough to make you take a step back in time.

Will Butterworth is a conscientious objector. His wife was killed by a bomb hitting her shop.  When faced with prison or going to war, both meaning separation from his two children, he chooses to go on the run. They will stay together as a family. 

It's told in first person from Lizzie's point of view who is twelve.  Her brother, Freddie, is six. There are some real highs and lows for these two children. At one point, I really did have a lump in my throat, and tears welling.

In the authors acknowledgements, she states that although the characters are hers, the story is based on true events.  I love things about the war, it fascinates me. This book did just that, too.

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On a side note to this review, I thought I would blog too. This book has made me think. It interested me that  men were being sent off to war like they were. Both of my grandads were in the war, and I didn't even realise it was because they HAD to sign up. Thankfully both survived (although have both passed away now) but I am sure there are a lot of families out there missing a Grandad due to the war.  

My dad's dad (Grandad Frewing) luckily worked as a driver in the UK, but reading this book and that they took all the signposts down, meant he had to know routes like the back of his hand.  I know that Grandad Habicht (my mum's dad) also survived the war (he died when I was ten, but I have vague memories of him), and I am sure he was stationed abroad (my nan commented about how handsome he looked in his uniform coming off the train) but I don't know whereabouts... I think he may have been in Africa, I will have to ask my nan.

As for my husband's grandfathers, Grandad Freddie (Morgan), who will be 93 this year, he told me only last year how he joined the Air Force. Everyone was being told to join the army, but he thought, if he was going to do this, he was going to get something out of it, so insisted on joining the Air Force. He told me a fascinating story, which I wish I'd recorded! Because I can't recall it all now really - and he's great at telling his tales, laughing at the mischief he got up to! Anyway, he worked on the planes, and it set him up for life in engineering, which his son, and grandson (my husband) also followed suit in. Will his great grandson's do the same, could it flow in the Morgan blood?

As for Grandad Dicey - also called Fred (who sadly died in 2005), he survived Dunkirk! If you've ever seen Saving Private Ryan, and all those men being shot from the boats, he was one of them men only real. Shot in the arm, he fell overboard, and I always remember him saying about how heavy his uniform was, and he would have drowned, but someone on a ship (I think) pulled him out of the water (or they pulled him back onto the boat, and got him on a ship) - whatever they saved his life! I think, once he was fit, he was then sent to Africa as a "desert rat" but he was never able to use his left arm properly, pinned into place, he couldn't bend his elbow much.

I know that my nan (Nanny Habicht) lost a couple of brothers in the war.

Terrible really, that men were sent to war, whether they wanted to go or not. Some people just don't have it in them to kill. It doesn't make them cowards. They were sent, like lambs to a slaughter house.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Kids Holidays = No WRA

The last time I blogged was Friday!

Easter holidays are taking their toll, as I haven't had the time to sit here much, especially as in the evenings I've tried to knuckle down with the editing of The Wedding Favour, rather than procrastinate! I'll be getting to some parts that I know need some rework soon, but for the moment, as I work my way through, I'm trying to tighten it up, make notes of things mentioned, so I can remove repetition. I've removed 1000 words so far. But I don't think I'm being brave enough really, and hacking at it as I should be. But I suppose that side of my writing confidence can only come with time. I'm trying to do it off my own back though and not rely too much on my writing friends, as I appreciate I do need to learn. 

So, the reasons for lack of WRA: Yesterday we went to Slimbridge, and as hoped, we did get to see baby chicks! Never managed to get a photograph of the ducklings (too quick and too small), but there were some really young birds there this time of the year. So cute, so small!

And this is the boys feeding the last of their corn to the swans. It is rather wonderful to be able to walk amongst these birds, and generally they are not fazed. You know when a swan is getting moody, and to scarper! Ben had even managed to feed a pigeon from his hand.

So as you can see, I'm busy entertaining the kids, and not doing much writing. Last night, after having a wonderful massage, I decided not to ruin it by slogging away at the PC and read instead. Today I have a lazy day planned, so if while the kids play nicely (ha! arguments always kick off when I decide to disappear) I might get an hour in. We will see. 

*WRA = Writing Related Activities

Friday, 8 April 2011

Slogging Away At Editing And Additing

For the last two nights I've sat at my computer editing and it feels good. No longer do I feel like a little lost lamb in my writery world.

The first draft was some 90,500 words, so I need to get it down to about 81,000. Hmmmm ...

At the moment I am editing, taking words away, but very poorly. Only lost 200 words so far. But to be honest, I'm just whizzing through it, reformatting, taking out obvious words like 'just' and trying to fix the bigger issues. But my brain works chronologically. I know that something needs fixing at say around chapter 20, but I have to read through and fix minor things on the way.

I've been noting down stuff too. Something recommended by Sophie King in Writing Magaznie a few issues back in her 'How To Write A Novel' section. Like if one of the characters mentions or does something, and I need it to appear earlier, or later, I'm making a note of it, so that I keep up the consistency ... making sure the gun that appears in chapter one, does get fired in chapter ten sort of thing.  (Yes, I know I'm writing romance and there is no gun, but you know what I mean!)

I read it through via my Kindle initially and that was good to see pace and realise what I'm repeating. (Throw it all at the wall in first draft!). So I know there is plenty of words than can come out.

Not sure if there is a right or wrong way, but this is how I feel comfortable doing my editing. It took me a while to get into it, wasn't sure where to start, but I'm chugging along nicely now.

It will get another read through, another nit pick to reduce words - I think it will be easier to do one word at a time, too (that's how my brain works). So at the moment I'm editing and additing (where I add stuff in).

Additing is a word I created for NaNoWriMo 2006 - I completed the novel, but knew it would need more stuff, to back up the consistency of the story and I called it additing, and it stuck. And that's my word for Morton Gray's Word Challenge!

At least one person can back me up that I've used this word, and created it from NaNoWriMo 2006 - she knows who she is!

Not sure how the editing and additing will come along this weekend as I have to work, however, I might make time to do some reading or even tackle assignment 12 (2nd fiction).

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Editing Is Creative!

Look what I've created via Wordle! Thanks to Morton Gray for recommending this site!  Guess the names of my hero and heroine. 

I copied and pasted my whole manuscript into the text part and pressed go. Then fiddled with the colours etc and limited it to 50 words (it's default is 150 words) and here they are. My most used 50 words in the novel. Some are obviously going to remain the same (Adam and Sophie), but some like 'just' and 'felt' I will need to go filter out.

I didn't put it on the gallery, yet I did copy and paste (print screen, then paste into paint, then crop) it so I could keep the result and show you guys here. I have also printed it off (plus the 150 word version), which it gives you the option on the website.

I finished reading it through last night, and was chuckling at places (you're supposed to chuckle at). Hubby asked me if I was supposed to be laughing at my own novel. Now means working through some notes a friend has given me and going from there. I don't know whether to work on the big stuff first, or the small stuff. Help!

I've also got to crack the two space after a sentence habit. Something my new 'fiction' tutor has advised. Gah, it's going to be like trying to give up smoking or something, impossible (not that I actually smoke, or know what it's like to give it up) - only they don't give out patches. But I'm trying to do it with my blog even now. I have to pause after every full stop. Crazy. It just feels weird hitting the space bar once.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The Editing Process Begins

I'm up to 56% through my novel, The Wedding Favour, so Kindle tells me. I've just finished reading chapter 16 - it's one of my favourite chapters.  It's still one of my favourite chapters, I fear it could even be a 'darling'.  I hope I don't have to kill that darling!

I don't think I will have to.  Might need some general editing, but I think it was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.  It was nicely revealing for the characters, and also ups the angst between them.

I hope I'm doing this editing lark right.  It feels a bit different to editing my fan fic.  I mean, if I got the editing wrong with the fan fic, it wasn't too serious.  I might get the odd terrible review (luckily that never really happened - only strict, constructive criticism at the beta/draft stage) - but it wasn't the difference between being published and not being published.

Anyway, the process has begun.  I'm going to read through the whole story, so I have an idea of how it flows - like a true book.  Then, I'll start doing the things I know that need fixing - thanks to those that have given me some feedback - then I work on reducing the word count.  It's around 90,000 words believe it or not, so Stephen King (On Writing) says I need to lose about 10% of it.

I have noticed that I've used 'can't quite put his finger on it' a few times.  Those are going to have to go!  They stand out like sore thumbs.

I've also realised I've got Sophie swearing too much.  Not very lady like.  There are a couple of times where it's allowable, but a few times I think I could tone it down.  She's not me - who swears like a trooper!

Right, well, I can't sit around here chatting, I've got a novel to edit.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Book Review: The Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtenay

The Scarlet KimonoThe Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtenay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Firstly, I don't really read historicals.  It's not that I don't want to read them, I just don't seem to choose them - if that makes sense.  The last historical I read was Anne Rice's 'The Feast Of All Saints', and although interesting to read the about 19th Century New Orleans and the gen de colors, I used to be able to put the book down and forget about it.  Maybe it lacked romance? 

However, I won this book through Choc Lit's Flavour of The Month Award in February (2011) and the minute I started reading I could never forget about it.  I begrudgenly would have to put it down, real life getting in the way.

For the first third of the book the hero (Taro) and heroine (Hannah) don't meet.  But you know they will, it is their fate.  The sensei (Taro's seer) has seen it.

We see two lives unfolding, one in Japan and another in England (then at sea).  We go from one culture to the other in the 17th Century - and for me it was believable. 

I loved the development of Hannah's relationship with Hoji - the ship's 'Chinaman'.  Hannah really was an endearing character.  (I think maybe this was because for a modern day woman we have so many more choices and freedom - equality).  She's intelligent, well mannered with her upbringing, yet not ignorant, which serves in her favour.  But she's tough, stubborn and a fighter for what she wants/believes - otherwise she wouldn't be stowed away on a ship pretending to be a boy!

Through Taro's patience with his wife, and her intolerable sister, Lady Reiko, you learn he's a fair, patient man with very attractive qualities - Oh boy, did I LOVE Taro! He is a good man.  (I have a theory about Lady Hasuko and her behaviour, which wasn't quite answered in the book but can't mention it here, for it would be a spoiler... but happy to discuss with anyone who has read this book to see if you came to the same conclusion).

Towards the end, I felt there could have been some more emotion enforced - especially when Hannah's life is truly in danger - I would have liked to have sensed more fear, but it is a small nit in the grand scheme of things with this book.  I just enjoyed it for easy reading, a conflicted romance, a loveable heroine and a fanciable and very attractive Japanese hero! (Why is fanciable not in the dictionary?)

Right, off to add Trade Winds on my to-read list!

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Wow - 14 books read so far!  Will not pick another up yet until I've finished reading through The Wedding Favour.  Reading might be a bit slower now I've got to concentrate on editing my novel.  But I'm way ahead of my target's schedule, so that should be fine. 

Friday, 1 April 2011

May - You Write Your Novel

April (Oh gosh that's today!) I will be editing The Wedding Favour, however, depending on how well I get on with that, I might take up Christine and Sally's challenge - 80,000 words in 80 days - May - You Write Your Novel.  Starts 1st of May if you're interested!  So keep an eye on the blog!

I've got a second novel in mind, and though it needs some research, I could definitely use this challenge to attempt to write it.   And when you think about it, it's a 1000 words a day.  That's do-able, isn't it?