Quick-Tip Tuesday: Fixing a Broken Manuscript

Confession time: There are times when I will find myself ignoring advice that I have given here on Magical Words, or in other teaching situations. For whatever reason — convenience, time, laziness, the sense, right or wrong, that I’ve “outgrown” some of the things I believe writers with less experience ought to do — I will cut a corner here or there. I’m not proud of this, but it’s true. For instance, despite what I’ve said here recently about self-editing being most effective when I separate myself from the writing experience in all ways, including reading from a paper copy of my manuscript, I don’t always do this. Paper and ink are expensive. Printing out a book-length manuscript is time consuming. Sometimes — most time, if I’m being honest — I will simply edit on the screen.

But this past week I took my own advice in a couple of […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Self-Editing Redux

As I’ve mentioned here plenty of times in the past couple of months, I’m in the process of editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. The Author’s Edit of Children of Amarid, the first volume, has recently been released by Lore Seekers Press; I’ve just finished my revisions of book II, The Outlanders, which should be out in early October; and I’ve begun work on the third book, Eagle Sage. We’re hoping to release it in December.

When discussing self-editing with less experienced writers, I often start by saying that the secret is creating distance between the writing experience and the editing experience. Without that distance, the manuscript feels stale, and I’m unable to see the mistakes I might have missed while drafting the book. And, for me at least, the best way to facilitate that distancing is to put the manuscript away for a while.

Clearly, not everyone has […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Learning From Inexperience

Not so long ago, I posted here about revising my early work. I’m preparing for the re-release of my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (more on that later) and so have been editing the books: cutting adverbs, strengthening my prose with more forceful verb constructions, and making the writing more concise and direct. You can find the post I wrote about this here. And you can also read Joshua Palmatier’s post from June 28, because he’s been doing much the same thing with his work.

I want to return to the process in this post, because I’m now almost finished editing The Outlanders, the second LonTobyn book. The Outlanders has long been among my favorites of all my books, not because I think it’s the best I’ve written, or even one of the top two or three. It’s not. Rather, I’ve always loved this book because it exceeded my expectations […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Cutting Out the Filler

We’ve recently learned that our younger daughter is gluten-intolerant. (Yes, this is relevant. I promise. Bear with me.) And in discovering this, we have learned we can’t always assume we know what’s in the food we’ve been eating. It’s not that apples suddenly have gluten in them, but rather that lots of processed foods have hidden fillers, and these fillers often include gluten-rich ingredients.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m in the process of editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (Children of Amarid, The Outlanders, Eagle-Sage) for reissue later this year. Children of Amarid is already in production and on schedule for a July release, and I’m most of the way through The Outlanders right now.

I’ve noticed an incredible amount of extra verbiage in my early books — filler, if you will: superfluous words that add little to the storytelling, but clutter up my prose. For the wordiness-intolerant, […]

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Plot Stitching and Seam Rippers

I made it through Home Ec without doing myself bodily harm.

Considering that the girl at the table next to me ran the needle of her electric Singer sewing machine right through her finger (and broke the damn needle off IN her finger), I figured that I dodged a bullet.

One of the tools we used in that class was a seam ripper. It was a pointy little sharp hooked thing that slid under stitches and cut through thread so you could take out a crooked seam. Part of sewing is ripping out your mistakes and putting the pieces back together again. And while I haven’t sewed anything since that long-ago class, years later, I’m thinking about seam rippers, and how sometimes you have to tear things apart to re-stitch them. It happens when you’re sewing a shirt, and it happens when you’re stitching a plot together.

I’m working […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Revisiting the Past, and Finding Out We Sucked

I owe an apology to all of you.

Seriously.

To every person I have critiqued at a Live Action Slush, to every student whose manuscript I’ve marked up, to every aspiring writer I’ve advised with arrogant confidence, I am truly sorry.

For what, you ask.

For failing to realize just how fortunate I am, and have been, to have the career I’ve had.

What has brought this on?

Well, I am editing Children of Amarid, my very first novel. I have the rights back to the book — to the entire series, actually — and I’m planning to come out with what I call the Author’s Edit (kind of like the Director’s Cut of a movie). So I’m reading through the book, editing as I go, rediscovering the tale that kicked off my career.

And it’s awful. I mean TERRIBLE. I am mortified to realize this book has been in […]

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Beth Bernobich: The Revision Monster

The moment you finish your first draft, you are filled with delight. (And often, exhaustion.)

But let’s focus on the delight. You did it! You finished this most amazing and wonderful novel and you hope everyone loves it as much as you do, which is lots and lots and lots and…

Eventually you stop squeeing and climb down from the clouds. Maybe you spend a week or so retrieving your house from chaos. You catch up on life and family and everything else you neglected, including sleep.

Finally, a week or a month later, you open up the document for your amazing, sparkling draft and…

And here, the reactions vary. Some writers revise as they go along. They end up with a first draft that’s really a final draft. But others (like me) stare at the screen with dismay.

How am I ever going to fix this? I wonder.

Same […]

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