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BookEditing

 

 

Earlier this year I hired an editor from My Two Cents Editing to help me with my middle grade manuscript.  There were months of waiting and biting fingernails.  When I did receive my manuscript back with the editorial comments and revision suggestions, I saw that this was the best thing to help my manuscript move into the final stages.  I know some writers feel that critique groups are where we can get help for free.  But in my experience the saying “you get what you paid for” is exactly what I got with critique groups.  Now there are good critiques too.  But an editor will see more than just the writing style and voice.  They see the plot, character development, dialogue, pacing and structure of the manuscript. Other writers are not paid to see all of these things.  They are critiquing your work for free.  Plus other writers are more interested in what their work sounds like to everyone else.

For the last few months I have gone through the critique I received from the editor and I have been revising like crazy.  The final process to any manuscript is to check grammar and punctuation. After this the manuscript is polished into a beautiful piece of work.  Then it is time again to have friends to read this new masterpiece and hope they are as excited about reading it again as you are. Now I am revising my query letters and plan to participate in #Pitchwars.

If anyone is at the stage where they cannot decide if their critique group is working for them then branch out and try something new.  For me it was getting an editor. You can find editors on http://www.the-efa.org .  Also look for editors through Writers Digest publications.  There are great people who want to help writers take their work to the next level. Don’t you think it’s time your work shined?

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Has anyone ever read a book where the POV switches from one character to another or the POV is unclear?  I have, and at first I felt a little disoriented.  The POV should be clear from the beginning of your story and continue the same way throughout the story.  I loved reading Rick Riordan’s Red Pyramid.  This was a great story about Egyptian Gods.  But the story flip-flops POV between a brother and sister.  They tell the story to you in a way though that is cute and very likable. Rick pulled this off in a children’s book that not a lot of people can do.  images (12)

 

 

 

 

I have struggled with one of my stories switching POV, and now I have trimmed the fat.  Yeah, I did the hard thing and took out some parts where the POV switches to another character.  Some people might have liked it, but I didn’t want to confuse any readers.

After recently reading an article about Top Ten Mistakes new writers make I thought I would share some of them with you here:

  •  No clear POV– Children tend to relate to the POV character in a story. This is the person they will root for. Make it clear right from the start whose story is being told. Even if you have two main characters (twins, for example), you need to pick just one of these kids to be your POV character. And, it should go without saying, when writing for children, make sure your POV character IS a kid – even if Grandma has a big part in your story.

 

  •  Multiple POV’s – Unlike stories for adults, stories for children are generally told from only one POV. It isn’t difficult to maintain a single point of view once you get the hang of it. Just remember– if you are “showing” everything from your main character’s point of view, then he or she has to be present for everything that happens. I see stories all the time where the POV character suddenly leaves the room. Yikes! If your POV character wasn’t there to see or hear what went on, then we can’t see or hear it either.

This list goes on with other mistakes that have to do with other writing mishaps.  You can read more mistakes at:http://www.absolutewrite.com/specialty_writing/top_ten.htm

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So long story short,  I had to do what was best for the story.  Editing is the hardest part of writing, but well worth it.

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I present to you, Olan Rogers

I present to you, Olan Rogers (Photo credit: ryan.nagelmann)

How to Know You’re a Writer (In GIF Form) | Nathan Bransford, Author.

You know when someone is pretty darn awesome when they also think that Olan Rogers is hilarious.  I just loved this blog post by Nathan.  He made me laugh and wonder how the heck did he know the websites I visit all the time.  So funny and true!

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The  Missouri region Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators just announced that the winner of the Fall 2013 writing contest is……Jessica Wilson (me)!  The prompt given was “Follow Your Dreams” and the required word count was 500 words.  I entered my fictional work after editing and revising.  Later on I received a call from the regional advisor and she told me that I had won.  The prize is a free registration to the fall conference that SCBWI in Missouri holds every year.  My choice of break-out sessions.  Along with this I will be submitting work to be critiqued by Executive Editor Krista Marino from Delacorte Press.  Very exciting!

Last month I had the privilege to speak with Editor Emma Dryden by phone for a consultation.  She gave sound advice about sticking to one genre and writing about what matters to me.  Ms. Dryden told me that the important thing was too keep writing new material so that if an agent asks what else I have written that I could show my other works.  If not I would be stuck way down the road with old manuscripts and no prospects.  Emma Dryden is on the advising board of SCBWI and is a freelance editor at http://drydenbks.com .  She was at a conference at St. Charles last year and is where I first met her.

It was great to receive recognition for my writing.  Here is the winning piece:

 

THE CHOICE”
by

Jessica Wilson

Today is the day.  No more will I have another chance.  Spring has come at last and with it an open door and window.  The sky and trees looked so inviting through the glass.  As the air wafts through the house I smell the sweet scent of lilacs blossoming.  The trees have tender green shoots on their limbs adding more color to the pale blue sky.   Clouds drift by slowly on the sweetened air.  Mother Nature is putting on an inviting show just for me, tempting me with visions I only dream about, seducing me with smells I hardly ever detected before.  I watch with nervous tension as the people come in and out of the house.  They carry brown paper bags and other containers.  Cleaning and sweeping making their tiny nest ready for the new season.  One proceeds to the flower garden and selects a few tulips to place in a vase on a table.  I watch, breathing in the intoxicating smell of the newly cut flowers.  I take a drink to calm my nerves.  The cool water does nothing but sit at the bottom of my quivering stomach. 

The lady of the house pulls the rug out of the room and moves some of the furniture.  She does not even come near me.  They both know I am here.  They just choose to ignore me at times.  I do not mind and even welcome the solitude.  But I also grow lonely.  I need companionship.  I need someone to talk to.  The people do not allow me to sing when I feel a song bubbling up inside of me.  The song I sing is an old tune I heard over and over again when I first became aware of sounds.  The people like to hear the deadening silence in the middle of the day.  The silence feels as if I am wrapped tightly with thorns.   Days have gone by like this and I become tired of eating and drinking.  The food is just sustenance to keep my torture prolonged.   I have glimpsed the outside world before when I have had a bad day and they put me near the window to let the sunshine brighten me, like an awakening flower my head slowly rose from it’s resting place to peek out at the light.

As the people proceed with their cleaning I know my time will come when they will focus on me.  They will need to care for me and I must be brave.  She approaches me and gathers my dishes leaving the door open.  Here is my opportunity.  My shaking legs spasm as I hop down after she leaves.  They do not suspect what I am doing.  Before they know it I am flying above their heads and out the window.  I have escaped my prison and ventured out into the world.  I have followed the bright temptress and made my dreams a reality.  My wings expand as I soar into the boundless blue full of possibilities.

 

Garden flower

 

Thanks to Emma Dryden and Prof. Henderson in believing in me.

 

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At the last writer’s conference I had received some feedback on a manuscript from an editor from HarperCollins.  She gave me more than a page of great insight to help me write the best picture book out there.  As I sat in the conference reading her notes the lady next to me said, “Did you get any critiques back?”  I answered ‘yes’.  She then wanted to know if the critique I received was nice also.  So I let her read mine and she said, “This is really good.”  We talked about where we were in our careers and where we wanted to be in the future.  I found that I could talk to her like a comrade in arms.  We both loved the conference and felt it was empowering and had a lot of great information.

When I went to my critque group the others in the group read the critique and there were words said like “this is golden” and “oh my gosh” and so on.  I knew that the critique was good but I thought everyone at the conference was just being nice.  But now I know that these words of encouragement from the editor were more than just words.

So I took the advice of the editor and tweaked just a few parts in the picture book manuscript.  Now it is so polished it could be the sword “Sting”.  I just knew that I could send it somewhere and get it published.

Well I sent it to HarperCollins and recieved a very useful rejection letter from an editor there.  It hurt a little more than the form or generic rejections I have received in the past.  But I see now that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Instead of getting upset I have deceided to put all my energy into finding the right avenue to have my picture book published.  Whether that be traditional or independent.

The world is changing and we are not seperated by countries or bodies of water.  Technology has made the world we “live in a planetary civilization”.  (p. 459, Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder)  Becoming published is easier than it has ever been before and the time is right for anyone to get their work out there.  People all over the world can buy e-books a lot easier than print.

So I am taking my writing to the next phase, and like someone told me recently to “just publish it.”  So keep an eye out for a children’s book with my name on it.

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Tell me what you think of the publishing industry?

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Have you ever wished you could edit your manuscript like a pro?  Well who doesn’t?  I have been reading some editing tricks and there are many out there.  Here are a few that some authors have shared:

1.  Try looking at your manuscript from an objective point of view.  (This is not so easy because this is your baby after all!)  But if you look at your novel like a publisher would then you will likely see what they do.  Even if you have had friends or family members read your book and have given you excellent reviews they are all biased.  Only because they know you and like you already.  A stranger reading your novel for the first time is getting to know you through your writing.  Your voice needs to be unique and not annoying. “The writer’s voice sells books. You don’t get there by selling one manuscript. It takes a lot of writing to find your rhythm. Steve sees glimpses of this in beginning manuscripts.” Read more: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/11/14/editing-novel-steve-parolini/

2. Track your changes to the manuscript so if you don’t like the new changes then you can easily revert back to the original.  “With a huge manuscript, it’s so important to see the changes in process, and to be consistent. Using the “Edit” and “Find” tabs, I can quickly find a key phrase I’m looking for, or a character’s name, and edit from there.  If your changes are major, your manuscript’s tracked edits may end up being more confusing than helpful.  What I’m doing with DRAWN, since my revisions revolve around a few very different issues, is I tackle one type of revision at a time.” – author, Maria Lamba – http://marielamba.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/tricks-for-editing-your-novel/    Maria Lamba gives some great advice in her post on editing and she was generous in her sharing her ideas.

3.  Read your novel backwards.  Okay this might sound weird but you get a different feel of the writing.  You might find mistakes with grammar and style.  There could even be inconsistencies with a character or the plot. “This stuff is important because you want your plot to make sense logically to  the reader, your characters need to stand out from one another and the  characters’ dialogue needs to be appropriate and distinct; you don’t want all  your characters to talk exactly the same because it’s boring to the reader.”
Read more:  http://writinghood.com/writing/basic-tips-for-editing-your-novel/#ixzz1iKCfwi9f

4. Take some time away from editing and give your self a break.  Sometimes having time to think on things helps you find any loose ends when you pick it up again to edit. “Can an edit ever be finished? A book can be considered unfinished forever and you can continue making changes over and over again. But at some point the writer/publisher must decide that it is done. There is a process through rewrites, editing, proof reading, beta readers, line edit, copy edit etc but eventually it has to be put out there.” http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/11/14/editing-novel-steve-parolini/

Hopefully this gives you an idea on how important it is to edit before you pitch your idea to an agent/publisher.  I know when I have received a rejection letter from an agent it wasn’t until I read my query letter I understood why.  I had written some things that were a big turn off  to this agent.  Not offensive.  But something she felt would not fit in the category for which I was writing.  It is good to look at everything with a critical eye.  Because you can bet that someone else you sent it to is.

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