Friday, January 18, 2019

Editing by Number

Remember painting by number? You follow the steps and end up with a beautiful picture. I think about editing as a similar systematic process.


Editing is as much a science as an art. In order to attain the desired result—a beautifully crafted piece of writing—you must follow the steps.


The Writing Process

I could write an entire series of blog posts on the writing process alone...so for the purposes of this post... The writing process occurs with a rough first draft as the end result.

My current project is A Wizard's Choice, the book I completed for NaNoWriMo. I created an outline using Excel and used Evernote to keep my notes organized. I ended up with a word count of 50K and a very rough first draft. Before the ink had 'dried', I had already identified several deficiencies to address. But the goal of the writing process was to write the first draft so mission accomplished.



The Period of In-between

Before I commence self-editing, I let my story sit. It's more effective to read your work with a fresh pair of eyes. After a week or a month, you can objectively critique your own work.

I started self-editing A Wizard's Choice this Monday, about six weeks after I completed the first draft.


The Editing Process

I'm no stranger to editing. I've edited work, my own and that of writer-friends, on many occasions. Last year, I completed an Editing Certificate from Simon Fraser University. To get the ball rolling, I read some articles on approaches to editing and reviewed some of my class notes. Then I exchanged my 'writing' hat for an 'editing' one.

1. Structural Editing - assessment of the big picture - deciding if any reorganization is required
Using an outline helps a great deal when it comes to structural editing. If you didn't use an outline or an outline isn't provided, then creating one as you do your first read-through can be beneficial.

2. Stylistic Editing - improving the work to make it easier to read and understand
This is the point where specific replaces abstract, and active voice replaces passive voice. Look at word choice (employ appropriate and necessary) and construction of sentences and paragraphs. You can use a quick search in Word to identify the telling and overused words.

3. Copy editing - fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation - adhering to a style guide (house style or a recognized guide like The Chicago Manual of Style)
Use a style sheet to note unusual spellings or personal choices regarding numbers and capitalization. If you aren't provided a style sheet, then creating one during the first read-through will save time later.

4. Proofreading - one last chance to polish your piece and catch any errors - at the publishing stage, proofreading also ensures final design and typeset is consistent and error-free


This is a very simplified overview of the editing process. Refer to a resource like editors.ca for a detailed listing of the professional editing standards or a professional editor for more specifics.

In doing a self-edit, in addition to the general areas to review, you may see a pattern of your common errors. My first drafts are usually riddled with passive voice and more telling than showing. Writing your story is only the first step in a lengthy process. Your first draft doesn't have to be perfect. That's what editing is for.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Few Fast Facts about Maya Tyler

Last week, I found this author's challenge list and thought answering the questions—basically an interview with myself—would make a great blog post. Here goes...

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1. 2019 writing goals - polish and publish A Wizard's Choice (my nanowrimo book); complete some of my work-in-progresses; and write my fictionalized life story

2. Who are you? - I am kind

3. Your title page


4. Fav cover art


5. Nature setting - sunny, cloudless day on a sandy beach with the waves gently rolling toward the shore

6. Great opening line - Once upon a time - because that's how all fairy tales begin...

7. Writer food - coffee... it's a food, right?

8. Dialog - In a novel, I write it as I hear my character's say it, but writing it well—using it sparingly to move the story forward and identifying the speaker without overkill tags—is a challenge. In a chat story, dialog drives the whole story which has made me think differently about dialog.

9. Book quote


10. Your protagonist - from A Wizard's Choice, Kurtis Warde—an angry and conflicted wizard's apprentice

11. Writing advice


12. Fav classic


13. Fav book and why


A favourite for many reasons... including... "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles." What else does a great story need?

14. Your writing life - inspiration and sacrifice

15. Where you write - anywhere and everywhere - especially my beautiful purple office and my outdoor family room

16. Why write?


17. Pet friends - my precious nine-pound wonder Buddy who is living with (as opposed to dying from) congestive heart failure


18. Great closing line - The End - where you expecting something a little more auspicious?


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Just a Dream?

My entire life I've had very vivid dreams. The main theme consisted of being chased with people trying to kill me. Last year, I had two sleep studies to see if my vivid dreaming was a medical condition impairing the quality of my sleep. I even took pills to suppress my dreams. The pills didn't work, and I found out I have mild sleep apnea.

My dreams—disturbing as they may sometimes be—have been a source of inspiration for me. My first novella Dream Hunter was literally a dream come true.

I've been fascinated with dreams for a long time. What do they mean? What do they say about the dreamer? What is the greater significance?

Last night, I dreamt an elementary school-aged boy kicked me in the back of my head. I felt my whole body shake like the rumble mode of a game console controller. I turned around, and he attempted to kick me in the face. I jumped back, realizing that the first kick had been intentional. I reported the boy to his teacher, and hand wrote an account of what had happened on an unlined piece of white paper. Fast forward to hiking up a rocky hill with a bunch of people I didn't recognize. One of those people gave me a scrap a paper with the school principal's contact info. The paper had other names on it as well. I understood that the teacher hadn't dealt with the boy, and I emailed the principal. Fast forward to me having a shower in an unfamiliar house.

My husband has also taken an interest in my dreams, offering insight and analysis. I haven't told him this one yet because I'm pretty sure what he'll think. The boy's attack represents the co-worker who assaulted me. The teacher who didn't discipline the boy represents my inept manager. The principal represents the authorities who I turned to for help. Having a shower? I see that as symbolic of absolution and a fresh start. What happened to me affected my life (negatively) and the lives of my family. I sometimes wonder if I would have done things differently. I know I wouldn't have, but I still feel the occasional pangs of guilt about the emotional and financial impact of my decisions. Yet my path is facing this fight head-on because it's the right thing to do. This is a new year full of possibility... and possibly even resolution.

I wonder if my theory will agree with my husband's?