Side Notes

Side Notes

Side Notes

I’ve been gone for a bit, sorry about that. There was a reason and I do have some news I think is fantastic. I have finished my newest book and have begun the primary revision. I’m very excited about this story and can’t wait to share some information.  I’ll be composing a tentative query letter for it soon and I’ll post about that process as I’ve done a whole bunch more research on the subject.

For me, the writing process for this story became very involved. My writing time is limited (Full-time job + a family + summer = busy me) so when it came to writing I was deeply engrossed in the new story.

While I write, I often have thoughts or ideas. Whether they are yet to come or they are things to add or even things to change. I try not to go back while I’m in ‘writing’ mode and change things. For one, it throws off my groove and for two; I might change my mind before the story is done.

So, what do I do about the little or big ideas that pop into my brain? I make notes. I keep a pad of paper at my desk at all times. The more detail the better, I write down the idea and my reasoning. There is nothing worse than going back to see “Make the tablet a pen and pad of paper.”  If I forget why or the significance I could make mistakes in the change or lose the great idea because of lack of explanation or supportive information.

Here are some things I might jot down

  • A clever line or two of dialogue

  • A foreshadow for something ie. “Go back and foreshadow Belfast knowing about Lex”

  • Change in character name, behavior, quirk or appearance

  • A reminder to go back and add a quirk to a character

  • Location change idea

  • Add a character in

  • Notes to remind me to check whether or time of year ie. when is sunset in July or when do daisies bloom.

  • Add an interaction or moment in

(I just looked at my actual notes for examples)

Anything that is added after the fact, a quirk, character or moment are things that come to mind because of a new idea. I’ll be writing along and a clever scenario pops into mind. However, to make it work I’d have to change a conversation. I write a detailed note and either go back when I’m done writing or at least done writing the new scene.

Nothing in my story is set in stone until I’m certain I’m done with it. I add stuff all the time, just as long as it’s relevant to the story or scenario.

A word of caution, anything added needs to fit. Magically appearing or disappearing objects or people are frustrating, confusing and a clear indication of a novice or careless writer. If I change something, I go through with a fine-tooth comb to make sure all references or moments surrounding the change make sense.

My notes can get messy; sometimes I’ll make a spreadsheet or word document to keep track of the more important ones. Alternatively, I’ll transfer the handwritten notes to a word file so I can actually read them. (Yes, I have chicken scratch handwriting)

This pad of paper I use for side notes is often written on just after a shower or just before I fall asleep. It’s not the best time to have inspiration strike, but I’ve written many notes to the light of my wireless mouse so I don’t wake anybody by turning a light on.

My advice about Side Notes

Whether it’s a novel, poem, blog post or song, keep a pad of paper handy for when inspiration strikes. I recommend making notes or explanations on the notes so they don’t get forgotten or misunderstood later.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Tentative

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“How could you?”

Me and my first.
“Are you cheating on me?” That question was a long time coming.
I cast my eyes away. “Yes, yes I am.”
“How long has this been going on?”
I swallowed hard. “Half way through revision I took a break.”
“A break!”
I need to be honest, to come clean. “Yeah, I started another book.”
“How could you? I thought I was your one and only!”
“You are my first, and I love you, but I need to move on. I need more.”
“So it’s over?”
I smiled and tilted my head. “Oh no, it’s far from over. You and I have a big future ahead of us. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but I’m not a one book kinda gal.”

Moving on from working on one book to another is strangely emotional experience. I’ve spent so much time with my first book, reading, revising, and editing that it feels as if I’m being unfaithful. Which is funny because it’s a continuation of the story and characters. Even so, as I sit and read through my very, very rough draft of my second book, I feel as if I should be working on the first one.

I shake my head in amusement at all the typo’s, taglines, grammar errors, filter words and so on. I have a lot of work to do and it’s not at all daunting for me. I love editing my own work, because its mine. The satisfaction of seeing it go from simple raw ingredients to a beautifully decorated cake, is unbelievably rewarding. Unless it turns out to be a nut filled fruitcake, then something went horribly wrong.

With first book is finished and in sort of limbo. I have an appointment in a week and a half with a consultant to work on my first 50 pages, synopsis and query letter. Once they are perfected, I will begin the hunt for a Literary Agent. I’m so excited.

My advice (that has nothing to do with this post).
Go ahead and let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Then prove them wrong in a spectacular way.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts related to editing.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Show and tell

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Cheat

Oops! What did I just say?

The other day I was reading a book written by a very well known author. I was enjoying the chapter and my eyes tripped on a words and the story ground to a halt. There was a typo. A word spelled correctly, but not the correct word.  I thought “Huh, even the best make Mistakes .” That is because they are human, just like me. I smiled and kept reading.

My proofreaders and I have found typos in my book. There are probably still a bunch in there. I’ve talked about this before in revision posts, but I thought I’d show an example this time. 

Sasha turned and looked over her shoulder at the reflection in the mirror. The tight red dress made her ass look phenomenal. Billy is going to love it for sure. Their second date. Running her hands over the soft supple fabric, he imagined Billy doing the same.

Fastest sex change in history 😉 also IMO the easiest typo to make.

Billy cleared his throat as the waiter approached.
“Are you ready to order?” The waiter looked at Sasha.
Sasha smiled up at the waiter. “Yes I’ll have the Chicken Primavera.”
“Very good and for you sir?”
Billy nodded at the menu. “I’ll have the Anus steak medium rare, the spring vegetables instead of the potatoes please.”
“Excellent choice sir.”

Oops! I’m not sure what kind of restaurant Billy took Sasha to, but I hope they at least serve local beef.
In revision, I might be horrified and fix that mistake or take the opportunity to work it in.

“Excellent choice sir.” The polite waiter took their menus and shuffled off quickly.
Sasha snickered behind her hand.
“What?” Billy furrowed his brow.
“I know you want a piece of ass Billy, but I figured you could at least wait until after dinner.”
Billy’s puzzled frown lasted only a moment before his face went red and he laughed.

My advice about mistakes.
You will make them. They can be fixed. Before you do, think about it, can it become part of the story? Defiantly have someone else review your work, they might catch a typo you passed by several times because you wrote it in the first place.

-Sheryl

 

Other Posts relating to mistakes.

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

 

 
Mistake

The first 50 pages.

“Drop and give me fifty!”
“Yes sir!”
“The first 50 Pages of your manuscript that is.”

Guess what? They are the most important. Who knew? I didn’t. Well I did but not in the context that they will make or break the deal. That’s why my first sentence ever written isn’t the first sentence you will read, it’s not even the second.

When they say put your best foot forward they mean it. To apply to literary agents I need to submit a Synopsis, Query letter and the first 50 pages of the manuscript. There are of course books written about how to make your first 50 stand out or to rise above the slush pile.

As odd as this is, it’s nerve wracking. To know I’m so close to putting it out there to be judged and hopefully loved. The trick is not to freak out about it despite the mini drill sergeant that lives in my brain yelling for me to check it again, and again. I like it so someone else is bound to.

I have revised the first 50 pages more than any other part of my book. Not only for the Literary Agents but also for the readers. If it’s not interesting, exciting or fun nobody is going to read further. For the past couple weeks my mind has strayed to chapter 2 and 3. They were originally chapter 1 and 2 until I added a much needed more exciting chapter 1. My problem was this. They were written first my first ever two chapters and quickly after that, my style changed. Sure they fit in fine but there was something about 2 and 3 that seemed slow. They were almost the same scenario from two perspectives.

Two days ago, I had the brilliant idea to meld them together. Pull out the repetitive crap and make one solid chapter. It came out longer than I liked, but still within a reasonable length for a single chapter. Once I put the two together, it made more sense. I knew something was wrong and now I’m glad I paid attention to my gut nagging to change them.

I will read it over again today and probably once more tomorrow. I have a few people reviewing it for me for constructive opinions. Then I will start the process of working with a consultant.

My advice about the first 50 pages.
Make sure they are clean, edited, well written and interesting. It is a fine line between writing to please someone else and writing to please yourself. I have set down a book because I can’t get past the first few chapters so I don’t want to be that writer, and yet I know others that rave it’s the best book they’ve ever read. You can’t please everyone so make sure it pleases yourself. It’s your book after all.

-Sheryl

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

Blog Spell checkIf the wonk is actually correct, Spell Check doesn’t catch your misty.

When it comes to checking spelling I had to read it myself. I also had someone else read it too. This is where a copyeditor can come in handy if you can, want or are able to go that route.

I’m not saying that spell check is not helpful, it does point out the obvious errors. However, spell checking is more than looking for the red squiggly lines, its making sure that the words are appropriately used.

For example: And and an.
Yes, I typed that right. Even though spell check hates the heck out of it. 😉 Back on track.
Pepperoni an olive.
Pepperoni and olive.

Spell check didn’t have an issue with either option. Neither did grammar check (Blue squiggles). I am cautious when using spell check to correct my work, there can be words that look similar to what I want but are not even close.

One misspell or typo: Wunder gives me a choice of; Wonder, Winder, Wander, Under, and Wonders.  If I choose wrong, it will be “correct”.

My writing was littered with words like this. They are mostly typo’s that got away with existing because they are actually words. Not the right one, but a word none the less.

Spell check wont catch them all, they are not Pokémon. (Although spell check will correct the spelling of Pokémon.) I found reading out loud helps. Yes, I sound like a crazy loon reading to myself, but it totally worked for me. I had to learn to read slow and clearly otherwise I’d just skip over the errors.

One would think admitting to errors, many errors, is cause for embarrassment. I don’t think that way. I’m only human and I make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if I make one mistake or a thousand, because I have the time, patience and will to fix them. I found it easier to write what I need to say and stop worrying about the little things along the way. I did catch many as I worked but I didn’t sweat the every single one.

My advice about spell check.

I think of my self as competent at spelling and catching typos. I still found many mistakes even after the fifth or sixth revision. If you are not a confident speller, don’t rely on the spell check to catch them all, get outside help. That help can be a friend, relative or someone you hire such as a Copyeditor.

-Sheryl

 

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

One letter, one word, and one sentence.

You have to start somewhere. I had no idea where that somewhere was. Who am I to write a book, can I do it? The answer was yes, of course I can and I did. The first sentence popped into my head and I just had to get it out. The moment I sat down to type, it just flowed. It was exciting and scary. I didn’t tell anyone not even my husband. How could I? I’m not an author. What if it was total crap? What if it isn’t? It took four chapters before I told him.

What I didn’t know is how much work it is and how much I would love every second of it. Revising, editing, spell checking, revising again, grammar check, filter word removal and revising yet again. It sounds boring but when it’s your story its part of you and as you make it better and closer to perfection it fills you with joy.

I had no idea what I was doing and now I’m going to share what I learned and what I learn. Yes I’m still learning. There is so much to figure out. Word count, how to edit, what to do when you think your done? What is publishing? How to publish or rather find a literary agent.  It’s complicated and scary. And what the heck is a Query letter? I’ll get to that too.

So here is my first piece of advice. If you want to write a story, any story, but uncertainty or fear trips you up. Tell it to go to hell and just do it anyway. Start with one letter make it a word, add a few more and voila you have a sentence. Before you know it you will have a paragraph then a chapter and a finally a book. Just have fun with it.

-Sheryl

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved