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Friday, April 22, 2011

Follow Friday--your best search resources

Welcome to our Friday visit!  We're going to take care of this business, then I have some things of my own to talk about.

For Elizabeth Sharp one of the most useful tool in my writing arsenal is Urban dictionary. What is your most referred to website for your writing?
Okay, I've not visited the Urban Dictionary, but I will now.  For writing site links, I visit Jane Friedman/There Are No Rules/Writer's Digest websites and Kristine Katherine Rusch's blog  I write about such diverse characters, I search everywhere.  BTW, I use bing more than Google as a search engine.  Don't know why, I just do. 
Now, if you're interested in following the Follow Friday Blog Hop
The rules:
  • 1)      Follow this blog.
  • 2)      Follow Elizabeth Sharp, the host of this hop
  • 3)      Follow the featured author of the week. Michelle Ferguson
  • 4)      Go to Sharp words and copy the image code found there and paste it in your blog. Add your name to the link at the bottom of the post while you are there.
  • 5)      Copy and paste the rules in your blog, as well as this week’s question.
  • 6)      Answer the question
  • 7)      Follow, follow, follow. This is about networking, people, making connections with people in your community. So talk to us. We don't bite! This post serves as a perfect place for you to say hello!
  • 8)      If someone stops by, says hi and follows you, the polite thing to do is follow back.
  • 9)      Comment here and introduce yourself and you just might find a new follower or two.
Now, having mentioned Jane Friedman:
I'm a follower of Jane Friedman, , after hearing her speak last year through a local writers' group.  One of her links this week was for Laurie Rosin, , who had a couple of articles/blogs that were also published in Writer's Digest, which Jane works for.

The first was labeled, "Tighten Up," where she asks "Why do novices produce paper Everests?"  Rosin explains that it is very rare for an acquisitions editor to chance accepting a manuscript over 100,000 words for economic reasons.  Also, no matter what that author says, there is always room to revise a manuscript and the task is daunting for a new writer when they have to go through something so huge. 

*sigh*  Here is where I admit my manuscript for Seven Days was originally almost 700 pages.  Now, I admit I had a lot of unnecessary and duplicate scenes in there.  My original thought was how cool it would be to have an overlap as it were of a bit of dialog here and there from two different points of view.  Also, I still had tons of notes about back stories and characters that I hadn't even touched.   I got it down to 584 pages simply by changing the point of view to first person and some not too painful revisions.  But, Rosin isn't the only one saying that we shouldn't give an editor/agent/reader an excuse to turn us down. 

So, I put on my big girl panties and started cutting.  Now, I was careful to put what I cut from both edits in folders on my computer, Just In Case there was something to sprinkle back in later or if I wanted to publish an "alternative version" as an ebook when I'm rich and famous (yeah, it could happen, rabbit).  But I was slashing.  And you know what?  There was a lot of stuff that could go. 

It killed me to cut a favorite scene from a sister's point of view, but this book wasn't her story.  She gets her voice in the next book, Seven Months.  Rosin also suggested  in another very helpful article, "Stellar Revisions," you really don't need a scene showing someone making a plane reservation when you have a scene later with her either on the plane or in another city.  There's also, "Replace Discussion with Action," which will help as I have quite a bit of dialog and that takes up more space.  Finally, she says, "View the revision process as a fascinating mind game, a Puzzle for the Intelligent."  It is kind of fun, but I definitely have to be in a mood for it.  If I'm tired or distracted, I won't be able to cut or rewrite anything.

My story starts on a Monday night.  Last month, the last Tuesday scene was on page 183 and the whole thing was 584 pages.  One version at a whopping 568 pages had a word count of 125,156.  Last night, Tuesday ended on page 143 and I had the whole thing down to 529 pages.   I'm going to be cutting most of Thursday, quite a bit of Saturday and I'm well on my way to my goal of getting it below 400 pages. 

So, this creates another problem.  I see from previous passes little errors, like extra spaces or fragments that got missed in the cut.  The mouse pad on my laptop is well worn and when I'm highlighting something to cut, it goes too quickly taking up pages instead of paragraphs, even though I set the speed slower on the Control board.  When I get done with this hard edit, I'll put it aside for a few days at least, then go back to look at it with fresh eyes.  Lord knows, I don't want to reference something earlier or later that was cut. 

Anyone else out there with a monster to edit?  Someday, when everything is E, maybe length won't matter.  But, as for now, I'm a cutting fool. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of passings and new beginnings

First, let me say that our trip to Oklahoma City and the memorial there several years ago was very moving.  It was peaceful and beautiful and fitting to remember the lives lost.  Then, all of a sudden, the hush was broken by, "Jonathan!  Get back here!"  My nephew was several feet out into the shallow reflecting pool, splashing in the water.  Then, I took these pictures and sat for a bit on the steps, looking at the chairs, lit at night, one for everyone killed during the bombing.  The smaller ones for the children sent shivers down my back.  The quiet was interrupted by, "Jonathan, NO!" and my brother in law moving faster than any human I've ever seen, because his little boy was on the very high brick wall, getting ready to climb the Survivors' Tree. 

He's not bad, just a little high strung and a teenager now.  Since my husband and I were not blessed with children, I closely observe at family events and public places, listening and watching.  I hear the words my mother warned me with coming out of my mouth to my cats.  They sigh and roll their eyes as I'm sure I did. 
Another passing happened recently. 
This was a picture of the shuttle they had at Space Camp, in Huntsville, Alabama, which we got to tour quite a few years ago when we were in the city for a science fiction convention.  I grew up reading SF and as a little kid, couldn't decide if I wanted to be a ballerina or an astronaut.  Mom often told the story of how distraught I was I didn't get to hear my name read for my birthday on the local kids' show, because it was interrupted to report John Glenn orbited the Earth.  She stayed up with me to watch the Apollo 11 landing and said it was a thrill when we watched the Apollo-Soyuz launch.  Ah, good memories and the latter was the source of one of my greatest sunburns. 

So, I guess what I'm saying here is that in our fiction, as in our lives, our characters have to change and grow.  Events are often catalysts to the change, but sometimes, it's just maturing.  We know we truly have a winner when we can also change the reader with our work, while we're creating those word images in their minds.  Just a little something to aspire to, as we try to decide those pivotal events that made our characters what they are.