Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

I have been crazy busy lately. With PitchWars now open to submissions, (Until Wednesday Aug.29th) I have submitted, and that is now off my plate of things to do/worry about. Not that I was up at night worrying or anything, but it was on my long list of stuff to get done.

I haven’t had much time to write lately, not that I’m a fast writer, I’m hoping to find some time to work on a project that has been patiently waiting while I prepped for PitchWars and through the re-write.

I want to talk a bit about re-writing and how it’s different from revisions and editing.

Editing is the process of correcting grammar, sentence structure, tone/voicing, errors and the little mistakes that hide within the words.

Revising is the process of altering sentences, paragraphs and chapters even to correct story errors, plot holes, character flaws or even add to the story by writing in better dialogue, scenes or descriptions. I’ll often be on a roll with writing and not want to stop and describe something like the desk or the room, and I’ll put [describe desk] or [describe room] so that I can go back and add the descriptions when I’m revising. Sometimes if I know something isn’t working and I want to come back to it I’ll mark it with XXX or *** that way I see and remind myself I wanted to look closer at that text.

Are Editing and Revising different? Yes, can they be done at the same time? Of course. I do both together all the time. I’ll often go through a document with a secondary grammar/spell check program such as Grammarly, and then I’ll use the search and replace feature of my word program to highlight issues. I’ll highlight Filter words, LY (for adverbs, there is no way to highlight the whole word, so ly works just fine.) I’ll highlight ING, and words I use far too often such as but, or perhaps. With them highlighted I can address them as I revise.

A Re-Write of a book is different from Editing and Revising but encompasses both. Re-writing can be done however an author wants. They can read a paragraph and wing it. I couldn’t do that myself, I like what I wrote the first time and don’t want to confuse myself. I like to do a line by line re-write. That can be one sentence at a time, one paragraph, block of dialogue, or even a chapter.

What I do.

I will have two documents. (original is saved as a 1st draft.) The first is a copy of the original that needs to be re-written. The second is a blank document formatted correctly. I will copy a segment from the original(taking note of word count if I’m striving for lower numbers and change that segment on the copy to say, purple.) Then I’ll paste it into the new document as plain text, so it’s black.

Then I will read each line carefully, in an attempt to get the most from a sentence. Then once I’ve removed crap sentences, written cleaner sentences and checked for repetition, I will highlight the new segment(take note of new word count.) and I’ll change it to say light grey. Then I’ll repeat by copying the next bit(change it to purple on the copy) then paste as plain text to the new document.

What’s the point of changing the color you ask? Good question. It keeps my place in my original document, and I can clearly see what I’ve done. Same on the new document. If I have to leave halfway through a paragraph, I want to come back and know if it’s done or not. Why in different colors? I personally like the documents to look different even though one is a work in progress and obviously different. It just makes me feel better to see the difference.

What’s the point of noting the word count? Whether I’m looking to beef up my word count or bring it down, keeping track is fun and useful. With this one, I’m striving to bring it down. So with each segment, if I can have it lower than the original, I’m winning. If it’s longer, I can take a closer look. They aren’t always lower, but I strive to bring the count down with each segment. I also have a handy dandy spreadsheet where I track chapter by chapter. Once I’m done re-writing a chapter, I will track the original chapter’s word count against the new re-write. I also have it configured to tell me the total words removed ‘thus far’ and a countdown to my goal word count. This helps me stay on task with a clear goal in mind.

My last post was about some messy sentences that needed to be fixed with some examples. Popping Inflated Sentences, I’ll revisit this idea once I have some more examples to share. For now, it’s back to the re-write.

My advice about re-writing
Sit on the work for at least 3 weeks before attempting a re-write. The longer, the better. 1-3 months or longer even. This will let you reset your brain, so when you go back, you have fresh eyes. I know some will say “Nah, I can do it right away.” You probably can’t. Trust me, this advice exists for a reason. At least write something new or read a book before tackling a re-write. 

-Sheryl

 

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Desperately Procrastinating – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Desperately Procrastinating . Originally posted on Sep 12, 2016 8:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to procrastinate, heck I’m doing it right now. I have a book to re-write and I find myself doing a lot of other things, especially as I acclimatize to all the changes in my life right now.

desperately

Desperately Procrastinating

As I sit revising and proofing my book again, (Now I’m in the midst of a total book re-write which happens to be the same book I was proofing at the time I wrote this) I find myself constantly distracted. Granted there is a lot going on, it’s as if my mind is like rays of sun through a crystal, leaving little rainbows scattered about.

A slight desperation zings through me to work and get the word count down to a more reasonable number. (Too funny, I am still trying to bring the word count down. that reasonable number of 120k was still too high for industry standard.) As I read carefully, I remove wordiness and missed filter words, the thump of a bird hitting the window veers my attention off the road. As my concentration crashes, I catch a glimpse of my sprinkled light.

I get back on track. Wait, I need a drink. So I go to the kitchen to slake my thirst with some freshly brewed tea and stop to pet the cat. I see little rainbows of inspiration.

Every distraction leaps out and demands my attention. Is this a bad thing? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s the mundane everyday things that influence my creativity. Stepping on a piece of Lego hurts like nothing else, it reminds me to put pain and discomfort into my characters. Another aspect I try not to forget. (This is good advice. Random things can happen in life, why not in a book. Stub a toe or bang an elbow to releive scene tension or open dialogue in a funny way. Make sure to show the pain rather than tell it. for example. Moira crept into the unfamiliar kitchen and misjudged the distance to the counter. She held her elbow, pressed her lips together to stifle the noise. The lights flicked on. “You tiptoe like a tap dancer,” York said.)

Some days the distractions come easier and I willingly submit to the wonderfully regretful world of procrastination. Even as I peruse memes and click-bait online(Now it’s twitter I don’t click-bait anymore), the scattered shards of rainbow light glitter and motivate me. Suddenly it’s back, the drive and desire to focus and work. 

My body and mind need sleep to recuperate. I think that some days, my mind needs a mini vacation from concentrating and creating. Against my better judgement, my mind desperately procrastinates, fervently hoping my guilt stays in the shadows so it can have some free time. (I still do this.)

My advice about procrastination.
It’s not always a bad thing, in my opinion, it can be a sign to take a break or change venues for a moment. If I’m distracted or find myself procrastinating too easily I know it’s time to change it up and do something else for a while. Usually something fun.

-Sheryl

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Rejection’s Are Okay

Rejected

Rejections are okay, they are not the end, just a step along the way.

I want to talk about rejection. Specifically about the Query process and query rejections.  I have a finished manuscript also known as a novel or book. I have a cover letter called a query letter that outlines the story and me. I have a synopsis prepared, that is an outline of the entire novel in two pages. 

With all that ready to go, I research Literary Agencies and Literary Agents carefully. I’m searching for one that represents my Genre and subgenre’s, one that I feel would be a good match for my project and me. Then I follow their personal or agency submission guidelines and send them the materials they want to see. (Never send more than what they list)

Then I wait. I check my email like an addict and hit that refresh button as if I can’t function without doing so. Each time I hold my breath, scrunch my eyes and pray to see a Yes, please send more materials.

The dream is to get a yes and then have the agent fall in love with the manuscript and want to represent me.

This is the road to Traditional Publishing. It is a bumpy road full of rejection potholes. 

So what happens when you get a rejection from an agent?

First, the emotional let down is akin to being punched in the gut. They are after all rejecting my heart, soul, and hard work. Oh, and they are rejecting me. It sucks.

Here is a sample of a rejection email I received.

“Thanks so much for sending along the sample pages of Prophecy Ink I’m sorry to say, though, that I just wasn’t as completely drawn in by the material as much as I had hoped.  What with my reservations, I’d better bow out.  Thanks so much for contacting me, though!  I really appreciate it, and wish you the best of luck.”

As it turns out this one was what is called a FORM rejection. A copy-and-paste response. While we hope and pray for some feedback from rejection, the reality is that Agents are busier than we think and this form saves them time. They already spent time reading the queried material they listed to send. I figure the agents are hopeful when they open a query, “Maybe this will be the one,” and when it’s not, I bet they are crushed a little. Now they have to reject someone and their hard work. That has to suck to do. Even if it isn’t personalized the responses are polite and I appreciate that.

If I have an email to respond to, I will thank them again for their time and consideration. I have no idea if Agents want this or not. Despite crushing my hopes and dreams, they are human too, I figure a nice thank you is appropriate.

Side note: some writers get aggressive at this point. They can become belligerent, rude and insulting to agents that say no. Don’t do this. It doesn’t make you right, better or even a good human. That and agents tend to talk and know each other. Just be nice. Patience is required for Traditional Publishing.

Now I have rejection after rejection coming in. Most are form, and some have a little personal note. 

All rejections are hard to take, however, all rejections are a step forward. The advice or message in the rejection can sometimes be helpful. Take this for example:

“After reading your first page, I’m sorry this manuscript is not a good fit for me.” and “I read the first chapter and will pass on this project.”  

These both pointed to a potential problem. I paused queries and took a hard look. Did some digging and research and eventually found some other agents talking about story openings that will get an instant “No” or “Pass.” Huh. No scenes where the Main Character is dreaming, waking up, walking around doing mundane chores… the list went on. I’ll get into that another time. 

Well crap. My story hinged on the premise that Moira wakes up with a tattoo she doesn’t recall getting. Double crap. The chapter was in need of renewal, a renovation of sorts. So I rewrote the first chapter to have her already awake. Is that enough? Time will tell. If I need to rewrite a different angle, I will. Refusing to bend, adjust or change my work will not help me become published. Some would say it’s a “Pushover” or “foolish” thing to change to fit a standard. It’s not. The entire point is to get by a book published and if agents and publishers turn down something for a specific reason and I’ve used that “Something” you better believe I’m going to change it. It would be like walking into the office wearing a bikini. Sure it looks good, and it’s technically clothing, but if they say “You need to change the clothes to work here” You’re likely going to change into more appropriate clothing. Changing the opening isn’t compromising the entire story or me. 

Anyone pursuing traditional publishing will receive rejections. A lot of them. Sure there are the magic few that got signed right away. There are also lottery winners who’ve wone millions. Not many, but it can happen. I’m not holding my breath on luck. I will keep pushing, keep querying and keep trying until I find an agent who wants to work with my manuscript and me. 

My advice about Rejections. 

Rejections are Okay. Get them, get over them, and keep on going. Don’t let rejections deter you or get in the way. Learn from them if you can and know that eventually when you get a YES, all the rejections, hard work, and time will make that yes, sweeter.

-Sheryl

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