The winners of the VW#1 giveaway are:
BookWish: Robin Connelly
Goodie Bag: Nicole
Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to LynnViehl@aol.com (Robin, please also let me know the title and author of your BookWish), and I'll get these prizes out to you.
Before I start today's workshop, two of our LB&LI workshop writers, Karen Duvall and Alison Kent, have very kindly made up some very cool graphics for use by other writers who are participating in LB&LI on their blogs. As they've given me permission to use them, I've posted them on Photobucket at the following links:
Karen Duvall: http://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh289/LynnViehl/LBLIGraphic.jpg
Alison Kent: http://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh289/LynnViehl/lbli.gif
I think Karen's graphic would be good for blogs with dark or black backgrounds, and Alison's graphic would be the same for blogs with light or white backgrounds. To post either graphic on your blog, use the HTML code < img src = " " > with the spaces removed and the URL of the graphic pasted in between the quotation marks.
And now -- let's workshop!
I. The Editing Dance of Doom
Aspiring novelist Jane Duoh has an amazing story idea. Maybe she's thought it through, or perhaps it just hit her like a thunderbolt. Doesn't matter. She's ready to make writing! She sits down to write what will surely this time be the One She Sells to NY.
Jane has great fun writing her first page, but backreads and notices it doesn't exactly start off with a bang, which she knows she needs to get an editor's attention, so she fixes that. Have to jump on these things right away so they don't kill the momentum, she thinks. Happily she finishes the first scene, but backreads again just to be sure it's topnotch writing. And it isn't, so she changes some things here and there, and backreads again to check her revisions, and makes a few more adjustments. But no problem, Jane is still having fun, and is now ready to write the next scene.
About halfway through scene two Jane gets the sense that the new stuff is not meshing with scene one, but she really needs it to lead into the car chase scene she has planned for Chapter Four, so she backreads and finds the trouble spots and makes those changes. Then, of course, she has to do a little retuning of the first scene to make it fit properly with the new material, and alters the beginning because that doesn't exactly fit now. Jane's not really having much fun anymore, not with all the work she has to do to fix her screw-ups, but after a few more backread-and-change, backread-and-change sessions, she's finally ready to continue work on scene two and get to that car chase scene, where she's sure everything will pick up nicely.
Only it doesn't. As Jane writes, she will repeat these steps a couple of dozen times, until around the middle of chapter three, she's no longer having any fun at all. She's exhausted. This, she thinks, was a stupid idea. Jane is so sick of rewriting that she doesn't even care about the car chase scene anymore. And if she looks at that opening line one more time she's going to hurl. All this work! Obviously her amazing idea wasn't all that great, and she's wasting her time trying to make it work.
At this point Jane is now primed for a distraction, and sure enough, another brighter, shinier idea will pop into her head, and she'll dump these hopeless, useless chapters and begin a new project with the new idea. And the cycle will start all over again.
I don't mean to kick Jane in the teeth. She's probably a good writer, works hard, and is at the keyboard every day of the week. She's likely got some great ideas, too. But if Jane doesn't make some serious changes, in a few years all she'll have to show for her pains is a nice, big collection of partial manuscripts she's never finished. Why? Because Jane is doing what I call the Editing Macarena. She can't finish anything because she's too busy standing in place and dancing the same three steps, over and over: backread, change, repeat.
II. Breaking the Cycle
I was at a New Year's Eve party the first time I saw a writer dance the Macarena (literally.) The demonstrator told me she had learned it on a vacation cruise. It was, quite possibly, the dumbest dance I've ever watched (and I've seen dumb; I grew up in the time when everyone was obsessed with mastering The Hustle.) It certainly popped right into my head the minute I searched for an analogy to the endless loop of editing doom that so many writers get stuck in.
Editing your work is a basic part of the writing process; one of the less pleasant tasks involved with creating a story that sells. I know a few writers who do very little editing of their work, and I've heard of those gifted wordsmiths who never need to edit and refuse to let anyone change so much as a punctuation mark. In the real world of Publishing, however, learning how to effectively and efficiently edit your work is just part of the job.
To be a professional writer, you have to present a product that is written at a professional level, and you will almost always have to re-edit that work when an editor requests revisions or a copy editor rips through the ms. It is in your best interests to learn how to avoid dancing the Editing Macarena and find a method of effective, efficient self-editing so that you can finish your stories. A finished ms. is one you can sell. You'll never sell just three chapters that have been edited to death.
III. The Five Effs of Effective/Efficient Editing
For this workshop, I came up with a five-step editing plan that I think can put an end to all the editing macarenas being danced out there. And in honor of how much we all love to edit, each step is represented by an eff word:
Find - Fix - Fine-tune - Follow up -- Finalize.
Here's how it works:
1. Find: With your favorite highlighter and editing pen, read through a workable section of the WIP that you've printed out on paper. Using your editing pen, circle any typos, grammar problems, punctuation mistakes or other technical blips. With your highlighter, highlight any word, sentence or paragraph that needs work. Do this through the entire section you're editing.
2. Fix: Pull up your WIP on your computer and go through the section you've edited, correcting all the technical errors you circled with your editing pen.
3. Fine-tune: Go back and read the highlighted sections of the WIP. One by one, decide what's wrong with them and handwrite in a revision or correction (if a large amount of text needs fine-tuning, you can do this on the computer ms. to save time.) Once you have all your rewrites written in on the paper copy, transfer them to your computer copy.
4. Follow-up: After you take a break from the ms., review the edited piece to make sure you've made the changes you want, spell check the piece, and then save.*
5. Finalize: When you've finished editing the entire story using the first four steps of this process, and have taken a break from it (I recommend at least 48 hours if possible), repeat the first four Fs, but this time do it for the entire manuscript.
Each of the first four steps is performed one time and one time only for the section of the story you are editing. Once this edit is done, you do not backread or change anything. You move on and write new material.
When you have edited the entire story, you then perform the fifth, Finalize step, but do this only once. Once you have completed all five steps, you are finished self-editing.
*If you've made changes that affect earlier portions of the WIP, you have two options.
1. If it's a simple fix, such as changing the name of a character from John to James, make the change by performing a search-and-replace on the entire WIP.
2. Larger changes that require reworking or rewriting should carried on as changed through the new material of the ms. but be noted on the page where you first change them, i.e. [from here Jessica has red hair and is an orphan from Albany instead of a brunette from Miami.] When you go to do your Finalize step and come across these notations in the ms., then go back over previous sections and make the necessary changes.
IV. But We Love to Dance the Macarena!
Some of you are sitting there reading this and thinking, "That's not nearly enough editing. She's nuts." You know that you need to edit your ms. over and over and over or it will turn out to be garbage because you write a crappy first draft, and a second, and a third, and a fortieth or whatever. Or you will have other excuses that explain why you have to take so much time. If there's one thing writers do very well, it's finding very good reasons not to write.
If you're still not convinced, consider the benefits of streamlining your editing process. Not only will it make you a more productive writer, but it will compell you to improve your drafts. If you know in advance you're only going to get two chances to edit whatever you write, you will naturally be more meticulous when you create that first draft. Think of it as anti-sloppiness training. Having that preset limit on the amount of times you can edit is also excellent practice for what happens when you're turn pro, because we only get about three shots at editing (during the revisions, copy-edit, and galley stages) before what we write ends up in print.
If you don't feel comfortable testing out my formula on a book-length project, try it for one scene or chapter and see if it cuts the amount of time you spend editing and still improves the WIP. If it does, try it for a larger portion of the story, and see what happens. I think you'll be surprised by what you can accomplish.
A couple of you still don't agree with me, I know. You need those extra two or three hundred editing passes, and you're going to keep dancing the editing macarena no matter what I tell you. That's not to say all hope is lost if you do. True story: I once sat next to a very respected literary author at a Publishing luncheon. Very Respected was a nice man and had a lot of inspirational things to say about our craft. I'd never heard of him or any of his books, but I liked his easy-going personality and his hair. For a guy writer, he had great hair.
When Very Respected got up to speak (he was also the GoH) he mentioned taking ten years to write his last book. As my jaw fell into my mystery chicken entree, Very Respected explained how carefully he wrote and edited and rewrote everything, and how much every single word meant to him. He was, without a doubt, the unacknowledged Master of the Editing Macarena.
I would have asked Very Respected more about what it's like to spend ten years writing a single novel, but he had to leave the luncheon immediately after his speech to go back to his non-publishing day job.
However you decide to edit your work, keep in mind the most important eff word in regard to any working writer's WIP: Finished.
Today's LB&LI giveaways are:
1) A stack of my favorite how-to writing books -- unsigned copies of:
Adair Lara's You Know You're a Writer When . . .
Joseph Campbell's Oriental Mythology ~ The Masks of God
Rich Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman's Author 101 ~ Bestselling Secrets from Top Agents
Lee Lofland's Police Procedure & Investigation
Dr. Eric Maisel's A Writer's Space
Richard R. Powell's Wabi Sabi for Writers
Todd A. Stone's Novelist's Boot Camp
Ralph L. Wahlstrom's The Tao of Writing
A signed-by-me copy of Philip Martin's The New Writers Handbook 2007 (I have an essay in this one) and a signed/ printed copy* of my own how-to e-book, Way of the Cheetah.
2) a goodie bag which will include unsigned copies of:
Death Angel by Linda Howard (hardcover)
Steal the Dragon by Patricia Briggs
Wild Hunt by Lori Devoti
Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
In Danger by Alison Kent
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Satisfaction Guaranteed by Charlene Teglia
Through the Veil by Shiloh Walker
plus signed copies of Evermore and Twilight Fall by Lynn Viehl as well as some other surprises.
If you'd like to win one of these two giveaways, comment on this workshop before midnight EST today, July 29, 2008. I will draw two names from everyone who participates and send one winner the goodie bag and the other the stack of my favorite writing books. Everyone who participates in the giveaways this week will also be automatically entered in my grand prize drawing on August 5, 2008 for a brand new AlphaSmart Neo. All LB&LI giveaways are open to anyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.
*As this is an e-book, this copy will be printed out on standard bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.
Other LB&LI Workshop Links (due to different time zones, some of these will go live later in the day)
Worldbuilding with a Wiki by Sandra Barret -- Architecting your world using a free wiki.
The Anatomy Of Sex Scenes by Jaci Burton -- Writing sex can sometimes be the most uncomfortable part of writing the book. But it doesn't have to be. A few key pointers that may help charge up your sex scenes and drag the writer out of their 'discomfort' zone.
Creating Great Beginnings - the Why and How by Sherryl Clark -- If your beginning works, the rest will follow. We're going to look at why it's crucial, what is the contract with the reader, Dos and Don'ts (and why/why not), story questions vs hooks, situating the reader, and writing backwards. I'll also invite readers to send in their first 200 words for feedback.
The Comparison--metaphor and simile by LJ Cohen -- a week of workshops using poetry and poetic techniques useful for novelists (tune in each day this week as LJ presents different poetic tools with examples of how to use them in your own writing.)
Gender Differences for Writers by Cheryl Corbin -- Male and female body language, speech and thinking differences.
Marketing on a Budget by Moondancer Drake -- How to make the most of marketing your book on a limited budget.
Writing Effective Description by Karen Duvall -- a week of workshops on how to write vivid description using all the senses, covering one for each day of the week.
WRITING PROCESS: Conceive, Develop, Write by Jamal W. Hankins -- An overview of my writing progress from story concept to actually writing a story.
The Voices in Your Head by Alison Kent -- When discussing "voice," where and how do character voices fit in?
Everyone has to Edit by Belinda Kroll -- Five steps to edit: putting the first draft away, being brutally honest, showing not telling, telling not showing, and focusing on those nitty gritty details.
Balancing Motherhood and Writing by Dawn Montgomery, Kim Knox, and Michelle Hasker -- How to write a 1000 words in the zen of toddler meltdowns. Motherhood is a full time job and holding a family together is only half the battle. How do you find *your* time to write without losing your mind?
Self-Editing by Emma Wayne Porter -- The things your editor secretly wishes you'd do before submitting, and how to survive Track Changes afterward. Checklists and Stupid Word Tricks included.
Not Going to Frisco Workshop by Joan Reeves aka Sling Words -- Writing Biz Reality
Cover Art: From Form to Finish by Mandy M. Roth -- Tips and tricks for filling out your cover art forms, the steps and stages a cover goes through, the finished product and a walkthrough on using your cover to make your own static banner ad.
Hey Fatty (Or Does Your Character Need That Flaw) by Amie Stuart -- I’ll be blogging about Characterization, flaws and motivation all week, using TV, movies, books and my own writing for examples.
Astronomy for Writers: Look to the Sky
by Suelder -- 1,000 Suns (and then some), The Birth of a Star: Star Fields, Binary Stars and Star Systems, Size Matters - How Stars are Classified, Size Matters, pt.2 - The Life and Death of a Star (the second in a five-part workshop series on basic astronomy and how to think about it from a writer's perspective.)
Begin with a business plan by Charlene Teglia -- the first in Charlene's workshops this week on the business of the business.
Short Stories & Novellas- Workshop Day I - Plotting by Shiloh Walker -- the first in a series on writing short stories & novellas.
VOICE: The Magic Behind The Words by Sasha White -- Advice to help you discover and strengthen your personal voice and style, and show you the way to the magic behind the words.
Workshop is in 5 sections. A new section each day this week.