Archive for the ‘Editing’ Category

Firstly, this is where my mind went after I typed this week’s post title:

This song brings such a strong emotional response to me, that it’s actually a really good representation of my task for the next few weeks.

I am now in preparation for not one but two open mic nights.  I decided not to focus on new work for the next one, but to get some neglected work up to the necessary quality.

It’s all about getting the mood and the language in harmony, really – finding the right word at the right time in the poem.

I’ll give you an example I am trying to fix: I wrote a poem about walking in the countryside; it’s a painting-inspired and natural poem in which I used the word crepuscular. Not a good choice: too technical, a little unwieldy and unattractive, and put in to shorten a line rather than because it’s the right word.

In a long poem a single word might not stand out, but this one is so wrong it needs a precision removal and an artistic, fluid word to go in its place. Not sure what but I have a few weeks to find something!

Editing is the hardest part of writing but when I do find the right word it is immeasurably satisfying!

So here’s to being inspired by Tracy Chapman and to making my poems as good as they can be.

Happy writing, and listening!



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I am studying more slowly than planned but so far it’s been a worthwhile exercise to get back to thinking more analytically about writing.

The biggest benefit, however, comes when I get back to putting a story on paper.  Specifically, how less really is more!

I have some great tips and techniques for revising my work, from thinking through each scene to see if it does what it should – and includes the elements that give it purpose – to identifying how to tighten up the language and what type of words to consider cutting first.

All I need now is to take my ideas book, and see what ideas I want to pursue, if any!

One thing I will try in my next writing outing is revising as I go, a technique that works for many people but has never really appealed to me. ¬†However it seems sensible to try it and see if it helps because my whole ethos on the next story is about planning, organising and controlling – I don’t want to write another 50k words before I realise my story is fundamentally flawed!

Now I have a better, more practical understanding of the revision process, I need to make it part of my writing practice. ¬†That will take some time but we all know writing is at least partially habit so I don’t see why editing should be any different!

Until next time – happy writing,




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This week I have been doing too much, and not enough.

There have been a lot of things going on – appointments, extra meetings at work, extra hours at work, reading a script for the drama group and so on – and writing has taken a little bit of a back seat.

It’s frustrating, but just because the words haven’t quite hit the page it doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning – it’s important for me to remember that!

I have mapped out logistically how to take what I picked up from the crime writing convention and apply it to the whodunnit. I have a new storyline because one of the key things I realised as I sat in that audience was that a police procedural is not my style.

Now, that’s a bit of a worry, because I wrote a story wrapped around a police officer. But with some tweaks, I can make it effective as a more angsty/psychological story which is more about perception and not entirely about reality…

It became really clear as I listened to police officers and ex police officers, and civilians who are authorised to go out in uniform in police cars, that it’s not¬†the route I want to take. They are experts and can bring years of experience to their work, they can use the language, the systems, without fear of getting a major detail wrong.

I can’t do that, and I am not in a position to give up work to go around chasing gangs in a police car any time soon, so my best bet, and the one I think will work better, is to work with what I know: people.

At last, a degree in Sociology might have a tangible benefit!

There are resources, of course – but one thing I know from research (yay Sociology again!) is that there’s nothing better than doing your own: only you will know exactly what it is you are looking for. ¬†This isn’t science, it is about people in potentially dangerous situations responding based on their own experience and belief system. ¬†If I only needed a few details to pin it together, I could ask one of my lovely contacts for help. ¬†However, there’s a lot more than that to do, and I have to make it work for me.

All this sounds like another head-hitting-wall moment but it really isn’t, because a) I realised what I can bring to my writing from my own background and b) the whodunnit was never meant to be anything more than an exercise in twisting a tale – the fact I have now seen its possibilities is completely unexpected and quite marvellous!

I am going to leave it there today, on what I truly think is a positive point. Next week I have to get back into sending out my work but for now I’m focussing on the fact that I am working, even when my pen hasn’t really touched my paper.

Happy writing,

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As I kind of said most of what’s been happening on Thursday, today’s post is a little¬†shorter than normal!

This week has been all about submissions. ¬†One thing I’m working on, and trying to improve each time, is the accompanying paperwork.

I’ve talked about the synopsis before but it’s also the covering letter, any additional short biographies and so on – all these need to be tailored. ¬†Sometimes there are boxes on a screen to fill in, sometimes documents have to be uploaded, or emailed. ¬†Some agents still only accept postal submissions.

For me, the key is to read the requirements at least twice before I start. ¬†I also have to re-read everything I add at least twice at the end but that’s probably a nervous tic rather than a requirement!

Of course that doesn’t mean you won’t get caught out – when I first sent a submission out I got a response saying the agent was now focussing solely on historical fiction. ¬†Once I contacted – the agent of a writer I thought was a great example of my tone and in the right genre – had decided to focus solely on non-fiction work. ¬†Again, that wasn’t noted on the website or in The Writers and Artists Yearbook¬†which had been my first port of call.

But putting those issues aside, we writers have one opportunity to catch the attention of our agent audience. ¬†For me, that means if I don’t get a positive response I have to review how I am selling my work, and myself as a writer. I am not changing my story but I can change how I describe it, how I engage with the reader. ¬†Even the most basic letter – a two paragraph description of myself and my story – has to be lively and capture attention.

I have to be honest and say that I’m still working on this. ¬†But each attempt gets a little better and more natural, and that’s got to be good for the future.

Until I get picked up (or give up on being picked up) by an agent, part of my job as a writer is to keep improving, editing and revising my sales pitch, as I did the novel itself.

It will all be worth it when I get a positive response.

Happy writing,




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This post is unexpectedly late due to my husband getting ill, sorry about that, but he¬†has been in need of a little tlc, and I’m going to keep this short for the same reason.

So a quick recap – last week was a positive one: editing was completed, agents were identified, appropriate synopses have been started.

I feel energised in my writing, and have a plan.

My plan involves agreeing with a friend that in 6 months, if no pick-up from agents, I will self-publish. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but it is a plan, and it gives structure to my aimless amblings earlier in the year about what to do for the best.

It also means I can now get down to work on my next project – either a re-work of an earlier draft book or a follow-up to the one being sent out. ¬†I have a brief timeline for the follow-up so could build on that but I kind of like the idea of revisiting something I’ve done, in my newly-positive editing mindset, and seeing whether it’s got potential to work. That is a decision for the next few days.

Yep, last week was a good week. ¬†This week hasn’t got off to the best of starts but give it a few days and I should be back on track.

Watch this space!

Happy writing,



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I’ve been talking about my writing a lot recently – for a number of reasons and to a pretty mixed audience. ¬†It surprises me how easy people think it is to be published; as though every writer has a raft of offers (if only).

I explain the options of traditional publishing vs self publishing and how literary agents are the first line of resistance when it comes to most traditional publishing, but still I get the ‘of course you’re published’ comments that make me feel a little like I’ve failed them.

Getting an agent isn’t automatic, isn’t that easy for most people, and doesn’t guarantee publication anyway!

It surprises me how many people don’t know what goes on for writers, really – questions and assumptions I’ve heard about my own ‘career’¬†can be really demotivating, and quite honestly I¬†have rejection letters and emails for that, I don’t need it from people in general conversation!

On the more positive¬†side, editing has gone really well this week, despite a few shaky days when I couldn’t fit writing work in because of other things going on. ¬†In some respects I think the busy days¬†helped me because I was so keen to make up some lost time that I’ve managed to do more in an editing session than I would normally expect.

I now have just 34 A4 pages left to go, and that is my task for tomorrow. ¬†I hope it won’t take more than 3 hours but if it does, I’ll just have to hunker down for a long¬†evening. ¬†Luckily, as I am working a lot of extra hours from Tuesday onwards I should get out of work on time tomorrow!

I’m still enjoying revisiting the book; there have been a few changes to improve the flow but really, there’s not a lot of alteration. ¬†I want to build on this little world I have created though, and explore where these characters go – so I am really keen to get going on the sequel.

Perhaps that’s the part I miss when talking about writing. ¬†Publication is an ideal, because I want people to read what I’ve produced – but writing is the goal. ¬†I don’t write because I want a lucrative career, or a twitter following, or the film rights, or to be able to wear designer dresses to fancy awards. ¬†I write because I need to write. ¬†When I don’t sit down and build a story, or poem, or moment on a piece of paper, I am missing out on joy.

The rest is just wrapping paper.  The writing is the gift.

Enjoy your gift,



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Well, the editing didn’t get finished as hoped, but that’s fairly standard – it always takes longer than I expect and there’s been quite a few other life distractions that have cut into my working time. ¬†I just have to keep on tracking down all those little niggles and smoothing them out for a little bit longer.

I need to get it done before 1 March though, because I don’t want it hanging about for too long: I’ll be really busy with my paid job after that for a little while, and I probably won’t get a lot of writing time.

I have one other piece of writing work to get done this week too – an exercise for writing group. ¬†I kind of feel that I have to do it as it’s the ‘homework’ I set people, to try out a particular technique and see if it helps them. ¬†Much as I find with the blog, I never really know what people will want from one month to the next, but I figure it’s good to share exercises and approaches that work for me because worst case scenario, they won’t work for someone else – there’s no risk factor.

Anyway, rather than talk about what I haven’t done, I’m going to share some positives…

  • I got my¬†tickets to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • I got a costume sorted out for a charity 1920’s dinner party next weekend
  • I planned a trip to see family in the North of England
  • I arranged not one but two reunions with school friends ¬†It’s a big anniversary year this year so I have quite a few events with different people to plan!

So not all bad; in fact some pretty cool ticks on the list this week – they’re just not quite where I was intending to tick.

But I take the good where I can.

Happy writing,




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This week has not gone entirely as expected – life is like that – but I have been editing the novel.

Again.  And, also, again.

I’m having conflicting feelings about editing, really. Obviously I wanted to correct the typos, but as I worked, I started to change a word here, a phrase there – and found myself in editing mode very quickly. I don’t mind that, per se, because I want to make it the best I can. However, it’s not what I intended!

Re-reading it, I was happy. ¬†It’s the microscope effect of searching for errors that makes me read as an editor rather than as a reader. ¬†And an editor has to pre-empt potential issues.

For example, I know from my reading group friends that using the same word in two sentences of a paragraph will have no effect on them whatsoever – but three or four might become noticeable.

For me as editor of my own work, any repeated use has to be tested, checked, and alternatives considered.

Thus it ever was, I suppose: it’s not surprising to me that there are only a few instances because I’ve gone though this exercise many times before.

And that’s just one example of where the perception as reader is not the same as an editor. ¬†Any page could have an error, a discrepancy or simply an unnecessary word or phrase. ¬†I may¬†correct word usage, or speech, or tense. ¬†The whole novel has to be addressed, line by line.

I will carry on with my task for the next week, and hope to be finished by Sunday.   After that, the synopsis can be properly finalised and the novel can go out to agents.


Editing is my least favourite part of writing but it’s also the part that makes a rough diamond sparkle. ¬†Going back to it after a prolonged wait may actually be better for my book than sending it out straight away, because I have a different perspective on it now. ¬†I need to finish editing at some point, otherwise it’ll never go anywhere. ¬†But if I know the work needs attention, I should be correcting things – what I send out is a reflection on me and the potential I have.

Besides,¬†it’ll help polish that diamond just a little bit more…

Happy writing,



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I recently saw a post on twitter about a writing competition and decided it would be silly not to enter, so this week most of my writing attention has been on that. It’s good timing though, as it involves looking back at the Family Tree novel which is what I’ve been doing anyway!

It has given me a chance to re-write my synopsis too, focussing on what exactly I want to tell an agent/publisher/reader/competition judge about my characters.

I want to make them feel for them, just as strongly as I do – I need them to care what happens to them, what trials they face and how they get through them. I want them to see the way the characters develop and grow, how each person impacts on the others and changes their perception of what the world is.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. For this competition, the synopsis can be up to 10 pages long which is ten times the agents I tried, so there’s a lot of scope there – but there is a definite balance between giving details and being too detailed, which I need to reach. I have only a few more days to work on it, as I intend to submit on Wednesday.

Wish me luck!

As well as that, I’ve been gradually trying to sort out my writing space. ¬†I have a study at home, but¬†for a multitude of reasons I never write in there. ¬†In fact, my writing desk is actually in my lounge (the one in the header picture above!) and my husband sits there when he’s working from home, so we rarely use the study at all. ¬†The hope is that when it’s¬†reorganised, I will have a quiet space to hide away and get a different perspective – I really do find that changing where I work can break down writing blocks, so the more places I can get pen to paper, the better!

That’s it for this week – I’m off to summarise some more!

Happy writing,



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At the moment I should be working on some of the poetry being used in the wedding, and I am trying to finalise the one poem I want to read on the day, but there are so many things to do that the poems keep getting pushed backwards.

When I think about the amount of time I spent on the poem for my cousin, I really do feel a little disappointed that I’m not doing the same for my own!¬† So this blog is a reminder to me – and to any of you who are struggling to find the time to create¬†– that the writing has to come up the list of priorities.

This is a plan of action post. ¬†A ‘putting it all right’ post.

This week my target is to have written up all my draft poetry, identified poems that are ok to leave as they are and those that need help and TLC/scrapping and starting again.  By the end of the week I want at least 50% of the wedding poetry ready to print.

I think that’s a realistic and reasonable plan, because it’s not all completely unrefined and some things will be very quick to tidy up and agree with my partner. ¬†Let’s just hope I can find time to stick with it…!

Once that’s done, I’ll have time to work on the rest of it and by the day of the wedding I’m sure it’ll all be fine. ¬†And if it isn’t, so be it – I’ll still be married!!

I’m leaving it there for today as I have 1001 things to do, but I’ll write more next week because I’ll be able to tell you about some successes for once!

Happy writing,



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