Monthly Archives: June 2011
So this week I managed to finish my last essay for school and on top of that, I managed to edit three chapters of Moonshadow’s Guardian-though it seems most of the editing in recent chapters has actually been writing new scenes. I’m pretty pleased with my progress as I’m currently sitting at 51 pages of the new draft and 17, 000 or so words. I’m confident that I can have this draft finished in another three or four weeks.
The only frustrating thing about it is that I know I’m going to have to spend a lot of time editing all the new scenes that I’m writing. They’re well written, but there are always ways to make the work better, and stuff that’s already been looked over and edited once will read better than stuff that hasn’t.
Today I had to do some research on swamps in order to properly write one of my scenes. I discovered that although I have an idea what a swamp looks like, I didn’t really know anything else about them. So I took an hour out of my day and looked through various websites about various swamps. I ended up deciding on something close to the ecosystem of Florida Swamps. I haven’t used a lot of what I learned yet, but it did help a little with the scene I was working on and it will probably help more with the upcoming swamp scenes.
One interesting thing I learned today is that there’s a swamp creature called a Coypu or Nutria and that it’s a little rodent type deal. I’m not spending a lot of time in the swamp, but I’ll probably spend more time there in the next book, so this information will definitely come in useful.
It’s important that you take the time to research things you need to know-to learn about animals you’re not very familiar with, ecosystems, philosophies, ideas. Things you want to include in your book but that you don’t know much about. This is particularly true if you’re trying to mimic a culture or time period other than your own-never assume that you know enough. Always keep studying the world around you the same way you keep studying your craft.
Next week I plan to continue editing my book and to start a new short story. It’ll probably be a lot easier to hit my writing goals now that it’s summer; last summer and the summer before that I partied too much and didn’t write enough, but this summer I’m going to work my behind off-after all, I’m almost 18, a proper adult, and I need to act like it and take my dreams seriously.
How is your editing going? Have you stopped at any point to do research or background work?
Currently I’m sitting at two chapters edited and planning to finish the third one today. These chapters both needed pretty major editing. I’ve changed and cut some backstory in the first chapter I edited, and I added new scenes-part of a new subplot that won’t really be important until the second half-to the second chapter I edited.
There are two main things I’m trying to do with this edit: to create a new subplot so that the main plot of the second book makes more sense, and to make Riana a bit less rude, a bit more compassionate. One of these involves adding a few scenes, and the other involves removing some-and cutting others short.
Creating a new subplot is harder-or at least it feels harder-than making Riana nicer throughout the book. It involves adding new scenes and giving characters that were briefly mentioned in the last draft a slightly bigger role. It also involves editing several scenes to make sure that the facts match. I’m also trying to make it so that the subplot has an effect on the overall tone of the book-to make it feel like there’s still something going on in Moonshadow when this story ends, that there might be another story. That will probably be the hardest part-once they leave Moonshadow, I have to show Riana worrying about the state of politics there, and I have to give her a reason to stay worried.
In most of my previous edits, I’ve spent a lot of time adding things. Adding little details that I forgot, adding scenes which make the story make more sense, sometimes adding tens of thousands of words to my projects. As I’m trying to make Riana nicer, I find that most of the editing I’m doing to make that happen is actually cutting things out. I still want Riana to be a bit mean, a bit ruthless, and definitely at least a little sarcastic. But as I read my last draft, I realized she was so sarcastic a lot of people probably wouldn’t like her. So I’ve been cutting back on her snarkiness-taking out witty one liners and even deleting whole arguments. I’m not trying to make her a saint-I’m just trying to make her a little bit nicer.
And of course the best possible scenario is that I’ll manage to make the new scenes for the subplot show Riana’s compassion. That will be a neat trick because it’s a political subplot and Riana’s not very friendly with politicians that aren’t her king, but if I can find a way to do it, I will.
How is your editing going? Do you find yourself adding more or cutting more when you edit?
The future is full of hopes and dreams and fears for all of us. We write and we write, never sure if we will get real recognition for it. We edit and edit and create submission packages. We submit and then we try to live life like it is entirely normal while we wait for a response. We collect rejection letters and all the while we’re working on a new project whose fate is just as undecided as the one we’re sending out.
As a teenager about to reach adulthood there are a thousand other pressures on my mind. It’s a crucial time in my life where I will make my future-by finishing high school, by staying committed to my goals and going to college, by looking for my first real job and new life experiences. Right now I’m not just figuring out my writing career-I’m figuring out the rest of my life, and it’s kind of daunting. One passion threatens to overtake another, and school threatens to overtake them all.
Until now I’ve coasted. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my writing, a lot of time on different stories, many of which have failed. I’ve spent a lot of time blogging. But I haven’t spent a lot of time submitting.
I’ve worked just enough to get by with decent grades at school, but I haven’t really been focused on my school work, and I’ve never really looked for a job.
It’s time to stop coasting in life and to take things seriously. School is almost over and I’m waiting to hear back on a summer job. I’m starting to write essays about issues I care about for competitions. I’m editing new chapters of Moonshadow’s Guardian all the time and I can’t wait to see the finished product, even if I know it won’t really be finished yet. And in a few days, when my final projects and tests are over and done with, I’m going to start writing some short stories I want to have edited by the end of the summer.
I think about the future a lot. Almost every day. But more importantly, I think about how to get there, to the future I want. And I spend my days working towards that future.
What are some things you can do to create the future you want?
Editing is probably the most dreaded part of writing for the majority of writers out there-submission being a whole different thing altogether. It’s all about taking apart your creation, this thing you love and have put your blood, sweat, and tears into, and tearing it apart. Once you’ve torn it apart you need to sew it back together, minus some of the prettier pieces and adding some less pretty but more functional parts. It’s hard work-harder than spitting out a first draft and even harder than spitting out an entirely new second draft.
Right now I’m editing my novella, Moonshadow’s Guardian, and I’ve reached a disheartening point. I’ve written new first chapters and now I’m actually editing things I’ve already written, which is always harder.
For this edit, my main goals are to spend more time on the subplot which will become the main plot of the second book-essentially throwing in political intrigue-to make Riana more compassionate, and to add more sounds and smells to the story. I’m hoping that along with a couple minor story changes, this will make the novella almost ready for submission.
With every edit you should have major goals. It’s hard to fix every problem with your story in one edit, and for most of us, it’s easier to do two or three edits, each one focusing on a couple of specific story issues. You should also have goals for each day of editing. Use these goals to help keep you motivated and to evaluate your progress.
Be careful not to overwhelm yourself. A lot of the time editing is much harder than writing, so you’ll need to allow more time for the edit than you did for the first draft. Only focus on editing a couple of scenes a day. Personally I like to do shorter chapters in one day and longer chapters in two. And don’t be afraid to take a day or two off once in a while-in fact I’d almost suggest taking the occasional day off to work on short fiction prompts or something similar-but don’t let yourself abandon it altogether for weeks on end.
I’ll admit, in spite of all this advice, I’m not the greatest at staying on track with my editing goals. There’s always too much to do, especially when you’ve got a big pile of homework. And you know you’ve hit writer’s block when you’re doing homework instead.
So, for all of you out there editing your projects, I’d like you to join a challenge with me. For myself, I plan to edit three chapters every week until Moonshadow’s Guardian has been edited completely. You get to pick your own amount-make sure that it’s enough to challenge you but not enough for you to get discouraged. The weeks are Friday to Friday, and each Friday I will make a post to let you know how my editing is going and to give some editing tips or links. I’m asking you to comment with your own progress and-if you’re comfortable with it-a sentence of your story.
How quickly do you think you can edit?
After a very exhausting weekend, I don’t have much to say here, so I’ll leave you with a few quotes from woman writers:
Bring all your intelligence to bear on your beginning.
– Elizabeth Bowen
Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.
– Gloria Steinem
If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space.
– Joyce Carol Oates
Never throw up on an editor.
– Ellen Datlow
Which quote did you like the most?