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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

This week’s post is a little short because I am away again – more about that on Thursday, I imagine!

After last week’s frustration about what exactly to do with the woods novel, I did what my heart told me. I stopped trying to revise what I had to make it work, and I started writing new chapters.

I think it was inevitable, really. The changes I had planned way back in the summer just didn’t fit what I was trying to do – which was revise each chapter to remove substantial elements and replace them. The further I got into the story the more complex the changes were becoming, and the more untidy the work became.

So I have started working on a new, unblemished, section to replace the messy and half-revised middle.  It feels good, even knowing my timetable is yet again a pointless distraction – I am not going to rush to finish before Christmas.

Other than that, I’ve also been doing a lot of note taking in the last few days, filling up my notebooks for the new year.  It’s great to feel I have plenty of projects, whether they are poems, short stories or plans for novels in the future.  I know some things will never be used but the more options I give myself, the more chance of doing something that is really effective.

I thoroughly recommend building a portfolio of ideas for the future.

In other news – back to the 100 best novels list.  We’re up to number 12, which is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë .  It’s another one I can tick off my list; I studied it, in fact, back in my schooldays.  I wasn’t over-keen at the time but it did encourage me to read both Wuthering Heights (by Emily Brontë) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (by Anne Brontë) so it had a positive impact on my reading choices.

That’s it for this week, as I have to get back to my socialising!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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As the descriptions says, this is not about the writing I’ve done this week. It’s about the second novel (the woods novel) and it’s a little bit of a train of thought post so please bear with me…

I don’t enjoy editing, that’s pretty clear from my many posts on how rubbish editing is – but book two is such a struggle I am losing the will to work on it.

I did well at my retreat only to decide to massively change the storyline, and kept changing my approach.  I swapped it for another novel earlier in the year to give me a new perspective, but then something happened in my real life that was too close to the new subject and I couldn’t continue.

So I went back to book two feeling hopeful I could get something from it with a new plan and new character biogs.  However, I am cutting so much I am losing track of what should and shouldn’t be included. All in all, it’s a mishmash of conflicting approaches and I’m finding it hard to see the wood for the trees, so to speak.

Now I’m thinking about the future of the second tale. I remember reading an interview with Margaret Atwood where she worked on something for months and couldn’t get it right, and eventually put it in a drawer to work on something new. The something new was The Handmaid’s Tale.  It was a great outcome, and makes me think perhaps I should put book two in a drawer for now.

But if I do, will it be for the best in the long run? I have worked on it for so long that my heart really isn’t in it any more. In fact, part of me wants to start at the beginning all over again.  But is that just editor’s block?

It’s hard, when I love the characters, not to do them justice.  But it’s even harder to think about giving up on their story.

What do you do when it feels like you’re hitting your head against a wall?  Do you put the work down, do something else, and return? Or do you keep pushing forward, hope that you get your mojo back?

Would it really be a disaster to dump the story as a whole, re-plan and re-formulate, and start again?

I’d love to hear what you think, because this is driving me to distraction!

In other, actual news – My reading rate for the 100 best novels continues to be poor, with number 11 another one I haven’t read.  I gave up on Emma, by the way, which is a shame as I got through Mansfield Park and I always thought Emma was more readable than that.  I think it’s because I’ve watched Clueless too many times.  Alicia Silverstone’s voice was reading the lines out to me…!

And finally – I found this article on books that are lost, and rediscovered.  A couple of names there I know – hurrah, I finally feel like a proper reader!  I came across Antonia White a few years ago, when I bought Frost in May at a charity book sale; it’s an interesting read and the ending feels as though something more was cut from the novel, which is an effect I quite like!  I also found Mary Renault’s The Friendly Young Ladies at the same sale, which is a book I have read repeatedly; I think it was rather ahead of its time. Some older books are far less stodgy than their more famous counterparts might suggest…

Happy writing, and please do let me know your thoughts.  I’ll do whatever feels right in the end, but it’s good to get some input when everything is so messy, for perspective as much as anything!

EJ

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This week has been another where things haven’t gone quite as expected – or, more honestly, I hadn’t taken into account all the things in my diary when I planned my work!

Not only did I forgo one working day to spend with my mum Christmas shopping (what a hard choice that was…) but I’ve been away since Friday and spent my time completely laptop-free!

So looking back at the targets I set last week, I have to admit to not quite making them:

two chapters edited – I managed one
prep for writing group – done
winter poetry – not done.

In other words – 50% success rate.  I guess after the last few weeks, it’ll take time to build up to full speed!  But I got some information together for Thursday’s inspiration post (there will be a photo!) so I can count that as an extra job…

This week, I’m going to carry on with the editing, and get the next chapter completed, get on top of the poetry review and go to an open mike night.  If I have time, I’ll continue editing beyond that chapter.  We shall see – shopping may trump working again!

In other news – If you were one of the 309,000  who took part in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope you found it positive and useful. Congratulations to everyone who met their target 🙂

Also – I read this article, which reports that 16-24 year olds prefer a hard copy book to an e-book.  I was quite surprised by this, but it does give me faith that the value of physical books is recognised, even among some of the most technology-aware consumers.  It makes me feel less like a dinosaur!

And finally – There’s no new book listed this week for the 100 best novels at the time of writing, but there is this review of progress so far.  I also find many books (and songs, and paintings) transport me back to a more youthful me, looking forward and not backwards as I sometimes do now.  Nostalgia is part of reading, and the experience of revisiting something tied into the complexities of growing up, the strangely delightful moment of understanding something of the world, is one of the reasons I will always want to re-read books I love.

I hope that someone will think of my work in the same way, one day.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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After last week’s target-setting, I have finally got back into some sort of writing groove, even if it is a very shallow and lowly groove.

And although it’s been nothing to do with book 2, it is at least a step in the right direction!

Yes – I’ve mostly been working on other pieces, between a variety of appointments, outings and events.  In fact, today is the only day I haven’t been out at some pre-arranged event or other (I was supposed to go out today but rebelled) so I have a lot of material to use, and if I think about that as work-related, I’ve been incredibly prolific this week…

Certainly a new idea I’ve been working on has grown from a single random thought at an appointment, and ties in nicely to something I saw leaving another event.

You see – every moment is fuel for a writer’s imagination!

I won’t complain about having things to do, especially as most of them were fun, but I definitely need to up my game when it comes to book 2.  My new target is my final target and if I still can’t get motivated by it, I think I have to put it away, which would be awful.

Thinking positively, though, I set some targets for this week: two chapters of the second book edited, completing the prep for writing group, and revisiting my winter poetry set for the possible post-Christmas performance.

Manageable in a week, I am sure – as long as I don’t let myself get too distracted!  I am away for a few days, so need to get going as soon as possible…

In other news – Well, after a late uploading, book 9 and this week’s book 10 of the 100 greatest novels are up – and no, I haven’t read either.  I am beginning to think my education was sorely lacking…  I haven’t even heard of the first writer, and I wonder what exactly is meant by the ‘greatest’ novels – especially after attempting Emma again, and finding it much less engaging and enjoyable than Pride and Prejudice.  I will carry on and hope my faith is eventually rewarded!

And finally – I found this story about a manuscript forgotten in a garage and stored in a soup carton.  Putting aside the financial value, it is wonderful that something with such great history, which survived the Second World War, has come to light.  I can only hope it the person who buys it is willing to show it to the world.

I’ll leave it there for today, but let me know what you think of the 100 best novels list so far, and if you’ve read any of the books!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Sometimes your story takes you off in an unexpected direction – then deserts you at the edge of town.

If this happens to you there are a number of ways to resolve the issue.  Here are a few that work with the very short deadline:

1. Write yourself back to the main storyline, and make a note that you need to cut/revise the section later

2. Leave a gap in your story, and pick it up from a later point – filling the blank when inspiration strikes

3. Draw a quick mind map (or spider diagram as I called them in my youth!) to give you a few ideas about how to make the diversion work and where you can take the story.

4. Cut the section and go back to the point it went wrong.

It happened to me last year and I still ‘won’ NaNo so don’t let any issues sap your confidence, and know you’ll find a way through the knotty sections.

In other words – don’t get phased by the problem, just get focussed on a solution!

Happy writing,

EJ

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You can fix anything but a blank page

This quote by Nora Roberts comes from The Daily Fig

Happy writing – you’re nearly half way there already!

EJ

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Sometimes it’s hard to write properly every day: however much you clear from your diary, unexpected things may happen.

Don’t panic, or give up – even if you can’t reach 50,000 words you can still keep the counter going upwards.

Just write up your ideas as sentences. Don’t worry about flow, or quality – NaNo stories will always need revisions and you can fill in the blanks later.

This way you write your ideas down before you forget them, add some words if you’re counting, and know you’re still working on the story!

Happy writing,

EJ
🙂

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It’s still all a bit unwriterly here so this is just a quick post, to keep me meeting at least one deadline this week!

I’ve been looking at inspirational quotes this week for anyone needing a boost during NaNoWriMo, and found a lot that really appeal to me.

I can define my approach to writing through the ones I like most, in some ways – the principle of writing first and editing later; of making a habit of writing; of working on things until they are right.

My poems are drafted, and revised, and redrafted many times over, and my stories are the same.  This has taught me that some ideas start slowly and grow and bloom like flowers, and that some ideas are formed almost before I pick up a pen to write them down.

The good thing about my experiences of writing is that I now know the most unassuming, quickly-written, basic sentence can become something strong and powerful with time.  I never throw any writing away.

So when you write anything, remember it’s a first draft – it can change, and grow.  Some sentences/lines may be exactly what you want, and some might need smoothing, or tuning, or reorganising – but it’s all valuable, and deserves your time and attention.

Keep earlier drafts, keep notes, keep anything that shows your journey from start to finish.  Keep sections you cut out, or ideas you decided not to include.  It’s great to see how far you’ve come.

Besides, you never know what you might want to use in the future!

Happy writing,

EJ

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One of my difficulties through NaNoWriMo was controlling my internal editor.

A good trick I’ve learnt is to highlight areas I want to work on in more detail, and make one or two notes about why. For example I might write ‘more detail needed’ or ‘check facts’, something that will remind me of the problem.  That way you can keep your editor at bay – but not lose sight of an issue you’ve noticed.

If you reach your 50,000 words early you might want to go back and do some tidying, but if not at least you’ll know where to look first for revisions.

Happy writing
EJ
🙂

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The last few weeks, and the last few days, have been very topsy-turvy.  I know the impact this has on my ability to work, and I’m sure I’m not alone in struggling to motivate myself when other things are taking my attention.

When life gives you lemons, sometimes making lemonade isn’t the first thing on your mind.

This week I haven’t met my aim of getting through 30 pages of editing.  I haven’t looked at poems, or written any notes.  I’ve dropped the historical fiction writing course.  In fact, this week is a non-writing week except for the blog posts.  I suspect next week will be the same.

Self-imposed targets are useful, but I am experienced enough now to know that not meeting them doesn’t make me a failure: I just have to set a revised target.  It happens in project planning often, and contingencies are built in – admittedly before work starts, usually, but it’s my project and I’ll update it if I want to… 🙂

So I’m building my contingency.  If I don’t get the editing done, I’m not going to feel bad – other things have taken priority, and that’s the way life goes.  I still want to get the work done though, so I am giving myself a target of 1 January 2014 to start the first formal edit.  That means I can continue this revision up until Christmas, if I really have to – it’s not ideal as I like a month between to let the story ‘settle’, but if I only have a week, it’ll be a really busy week not thinking about the book at all!

That’s it for this week – I’ll leave ‘in other news’ until next time when I’ll have more time to look for useful and interesting snippets!

Happy writing,

EJ

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