Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Editing my saga

I'm working on the final edit of book 1 of the FORTUNE saga.

I had originally conceived a trilogy, had my titles picked out, rough synopses and timelines. I knew how this story that started in book 1 would end.  The drama, the tears, the adventure, the danger, the steamy sex comprise the meat between the beginning and the end.

And then I had second thoughts. Book 2, while it continued the story, consisted of a lot of padding and filler, and unnecessary subplots to bring the word count equal to book 1.

I decided to streamline and combine books 2 and 3. This will, I believe, make for a much stronger story. And the end, that longed for desirable ending will come that much sooner.

The story has undergone many revisions since I first  began working on it. Presently, it bears no resemblance to the first draft written years ago. I've also done numerous edits, and feel that this is my final go round at it.  The next will be done by a professional editor.

I've been able to take out words, sentences, entire paragraphs that do not drive the story forward. And it's easier than I thought to take out my "darlings," those delightful turns of phrase that showed I could be eloquent, yet say nothing at the same time.

And though I knew during previous edits that –ly adverbs were a writer's bane, my search turned up a large number of them. Solution: search, destroy, and find a powerful verb that does not require description.

Adjective overuse is another weakness of mine. I found strings of two, often three adjectives to describe people, places, events. I needed at most one pertinent adjective, maybe none at all. This is where a strong noun comes into play.

I have read scenes out loud, but was still too close to the writing to pick out flaws. Then, I found that hearing my words spoken by someone else helped point out overused and wrongly used words, and structural deficiencies.

I have a program that lets me highlight a section and click "read that." A computer voice does the reading and the words flow. It's a female voice with a British accent, and it works well for me.  After all, the story takes place during the Victorian era.

In one paragraph there were four occurrences of the word "had" and one "had not." And I read this myself many times and didn't notice until "someone else" mentioned them.

Another thing I'm doing is keeping track of the pages per chapter. I can see how each chapter works, almost like a three or five act play, with a beginning scene, heightening of tension, a climax, a brief relaxation, with a final return to tension to lead into the next chapter.

Not every chapter follows this pattern, but it seems to be working so far. And I have noticed in the last two chapters that I've edited that I have several long scenes that are basically explanations to inform the reader.  These explanations, however, are more for my benefit than for the reader's, and can be reduced or written out. Let the reader learn these things when the character learns them. No point in over explaining.

– Cat

Monday, February 02, 2015

The more things change...

The more they stay the same.

This poem is an ageless warning to be prepared (well-edited) before sending our beloved kids, er, sagas into the world.

Written some 350 years ago

The Author to her Book

by Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

Thou ill-form'd offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad expos'd to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I wash'd thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i' th' house I find.
In this array, 'mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.
In Critics' hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus'd her thus to send thee out of door.

--Cat--off to do revisions--wash the kid's grubby hands and change her socks.