I think you should read this. Don’t worry, you won’t get lost in the Internet…. A Few Unfortunate Truths About Being an Author
When it comes to editing, a lot of writer’s cringe like going from a hot tub to an ice bath. For me, it’s like a calculated sweep of a mine field. If I uncover something by mistake, BOOM, I am picking up the pieces of a whole new series of thoughts and outcomes.
Editing always inspires me to become better and generally gives me new ideas either for the story at hand, the tone it reflects or a new direction altogether. So, editing can be the longest process in the world for me. Hence, I have started relying on Beta Readers to help me out for their gracious feedback.
A new trick, which I am now sharing with you, is to read your work out loud while you go. I used to skim and plow through descriptive paragraphs and overlook obvious catches because in my brain-box, I already knew everything the characters were doing. So, for me it was just seeing the same landscape over and over. But talking out loud, I was able to find how some word combinations were troublesome, missing words and just plain off.
Try it out on a chapter of yours you are working on. Heck, even if it’s a report, an email or anything.
I was daydreaming instead of editing the other day and wondered about the wide world of marketing. Mainly, I was thinking to myself, I wish I had a symbol, like Batman or McDonald’s where I could be seen and immediately recognized. Granted, I think that if I last another 60 years or so and stick to a symbol, I can make that happen. Alas, I will have to spell out my name…le sigh.
In my imaginarium, I began thinking of tattoos. Weird, I know. But I am an avid fan of tattoos, the art they portray symbolizing the milestones or feelings in a person’s life at a given point. I thought, if I could become a full-time author, what would be a tattoo speaking to my profession?
I finally came back with an arrow. I’m not bandwagoning the Hunger Games in this notion. As authors, we are essentially preparing to shoot arrows at a target. The arrows are our stories. However we succeed is judged on where it lands ahead of us. We have to take careful preparations and practice to get to the bullseye, but when we do, each one after gets easier to hit.
So, as an author/archer, the first time is always the hardest. You have to adjust to the pull of your bow (the mechanics of writing, editing, flow, content, audience), take aim at your target (the goal you want to see, literary agents, marketing) and eventually you have to let go and see where you land. If you are lucky, you hit close to your intended spot. The more and more you practice and try, whether short stories or novels, the easier it will become.
I consider this a fair analogy. And because of that, with every published book I will get an arrow tattoo with the name of my work down the shaft. Now that it’s out there in the world, it’s bound to happen. 🙂
Go out and shoot your own arrows, no matter your profession. Just have a goal in mind and focus on what you want. Keep in mind that for any arrow to go forward, it must first go backwards. So never think because you are taking a few steps back, getting pushed back or falling back that you can’t launch further and faster because of it.
NaNoWriMo: 8275 (unfortunately, editing is taking up this month so actual writing is limited)
Get your mind out of the gutter…sicko.
Today, we explore the wide world of feedback. Unfortunately, I have no clue how to fashion this. Feedback is as foreign to me as a computer to my grandma, God rest her soul. I believe with the right niche and enough people, feedback will be the last of your worries. Getting to that point, well, you and I will stumble in the dark together.
What do I do? Well, you’re reading it. I’m poking at the animals on the ground to check if you’re all alive. Not a whole lot of movement, but I know you’re out there. Additionally, to a select few, I pull for information to have them tell me what they think. They love the harassment.
Beyond that… incentives? IDK
Anywho, I am hoping if you’ve read this far you have been reading my weekly story as well (link below if you haven’t). So, let’s let you decide what will happen in the coming weeks. Take the poll below and let’s create a little together.
If you’ve seen the movie Lucky Number Slevin, you understand the reference here. If not, the Kansas City Shuffle is when you get someone to look one way while something else is going on in another direction. Generally, this is used by illusionists, but it works just as well with writers too.We lead people with one direction on to have them avoid knowing a twist you want to incorporate because every other wants an “I didn’t see that coming” moment.
In some cases, your mind is doing that bit of trickery with your thoughts. Your ideas take you far and away, off on a tangent until you realize that your story is off in another direction. To avoid having your thoughts play tricks with you, think of creating a direction board. Consider it your compass.
Now, for me, I get an idea or a scene in my head and I build on it. Eventually I get to a place where I am literally daydreaming and my fingers and brain are driving the keys towards a completed chapter. Somewhere along the way, I think I hit those annoying speed bump grooves on the side of the road (the ones that scare the crap out of you) and I realize I’ve veered into the far lane.
The point is to not miss your intended exit. Cause we all have some navigational map or whatnot leading us to where we inevitably want to go even if we’re not entirely sure at the moment. The best way to do that is to find a place to pull over before you whiz on by and have to double back or take another route.
The map is the basic layout of your manuscript. This is not editing! Don’t bother editing anything until you are done. This is formatting. I plan on doing this for every future book I create. Mainly, because I was that idiot looking over my shoulder at the five different exits I flew past.
The best thing you can do for yourself once you spit out any ideas, thoughts, phrases or premises is to figure out a structure. There is always an antagonist and protagonist to any story, so with that in place, you are now god ruling over their lives. You decide their names, their purposes and if you know what’s good for you, you make a dossier for them. List their main facts, birthday, full name, where they grew up, key moments in their lives, are they educated, do they have an accent, scars, tattoos, what is their back story? This is solely for you, consider it the one item you keep from everyone else.
You might be asking, why? Well, I am a scatterbrain. The ideas I get at times run on and on and bounce around like a racquet ball in a small room. The more ideas, the more balls, the more chaos. Since I am like that, I need to have a point of reference. The main character can’t be in his 30’s in chapter 1 and in his 40’s in chapter 2. Plus, if I ever continue a story on in another book, I had better make sure all of my facts line up. Because if I don’t pay attention, you can rest assured that my readers will. I don’t need to start a hate forum on how I am murdering literature.
Then after main characters are born onto paper, figure out a general purpose. What is your book about? What do you want it to do for your readers? The first chapter is your most crucial. Make it attention grabbing and make it like eating one potato chip. Nobody wants just one if it’s good. Set them up to want to polish off the whole bag. For your own sanity though, understand where you want to go. Have a climactic moment and prepare for an ending. The rest of the book can fall into place with those 3 things in place. It’s the basic recipe of literature for a reason, it works.
I, on the other hand, am a novice. I wrote and wrote, running around like Forrest Gump until I got to the ocean. Then I turned around and ran back the other way until I got tired. With lots of help and patience I finally know my way and hopefully it will help you out a smidgen.
Avoid Forrest Gump and the Kansas City Shuffle. Have a plan and don’t get distracted, it’ll save you time and stress and will allow you to work on other ideas sooner…and editing…ugh.