Tag Archives: editing

What’s in a Name?

I started my women’s contemporary fiction manuscript when my daughter was three-months-old. We celebrated her third birthday this past summer and I’m still doing final edits. The changes are minor, except for two big ones: the title and a main character’s name.

Reading this character’s name makes me want to punch the monitor and I can’t decide if it’s because the character is kind of a jerk, the name is vile or I’m just sick of reading my manuscript. It’s a weird thing to change the character’s name, because it makes me look at him differently. It also feels like I’ve given him a nose job or similar – he’s the same guy underneath, but on a superficial level, he’s changed.

The title of the book is another thing I’m wary of changing. It feels stale to me now. I’ve grown as a writer these past three years (which is why I scrapped the first third of the novel last year) and I feel the current title doesn’t do it justice. But again…am I just suffering from novel fatigue?

I’ve lived with this thing as long as I’ve lived with my kid so I fear I’ve lost some perspective. Luckily for me, I have my fellow Restless Writers to offer some perspective. Ladies?

Lori

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Filed under Books and stuff, Getting published, Writing ideas

How garage sales are like editing

The weather was good to us today. The rain even held off til the end of our event—a garage sale in the country. Today, we edited our home (and our lives) and it felt GREAT!

It took us about a week to clean out each room in the house in prep to sell our wares. And oh the lovely wares: bikes, beds, games, and gadgets. Accumulation. Everyone does it. And for me and my hubs, two greenies at best, we definitely have our share of objects destined for repurposing and recycling. We are dreadfully guilty of giving treasures new life, which means, parting with trinkets can often feel like selling a kidney.

And people want them organs, let me tell ya. The characters came a-crawlin’ in seek of something for nothing: wedding goers (dressed to the nines) killing time till dinner, dudes ditching family picnics, musicians waiting their gig-time downtown, antique dealers, farmers, cyclists, the boo radleys—the works. We also had the escarpment tourists and the boldest barterers, looking to trade six cobs of corn and a cantaloupe for an old wagon. And what the hell? Guess what we had for dinner? Yep, corn on the cob.

Having a garage sale today felt a lot like editing my manuscript. It went something like this. Clean a room. Remove crap. Change my mind. Put crap back. Take another look. Remove the crap again. Repeat. This is a similar process of revision that I scuffle through with my middle-grade fiction novel. The only difference being: I have sold the damn wagon—and not the manuscript.

Beckie

Progress update: My agent-search continues, with 3 full MS requests & 5 partials. Bring it on. Haggle me. I’m ready.

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Filed under Life and stuff

5 Ways to Provide Gracious Feedback

Take this, bitches! Okay, I just pulled a Lori Dyan there. Such sentiment could be perceived as ungracious, but I assure you (in this case) — it’s ALL LOVE! 

Like Maria says, our little writing group can be a bit loosey-goosey when it comes to rules. However, because critiquing is such an important part of our Restless Writers’ unwritten rules and responsibilities, it seemed worthy of a follow-up blog post to: The Restless Writers’ Guide to Criticism.

 To grow and evolve as writers we must do the inevitable—offer our work to others for critique. Agreeing to provide feedback is one of the best things we can do to improve our writing skills. In fact, just being asked implies a “trust” in each other’s skills and opinions to help take our stories from good to FANTASTIC.

According to Write for Your Life, there are ways to provide feedback  that can be tough, thought-provoking, compassionate and yes, even constructive.

5 Ways to Providing Gracious Feedback:

1. We’re talking one person’s opinion

Always frame your feedback as only your opinion. Others will have different thoughts or suggestions—particularly the author! Add a statement at the end of your feedback emails that reads:  please accept/reject/alter or ignore anything here as it is your work and this is my take on it.

2. Feedback is not a monologue

Feedback involves more than one person. It’s a dialogue. Always offer to discuss your comments or suggestions with the writer. Remember, it’s okay to disagree. It’s the writer’s work after all and they do get the final say.

3. Be Positive & Stick to Specifics

Always begin with something positive! Then use specific examples to illustrate your point. Give suggestions on how the writer may make changes. Be honest. Constructive feedback is more likely to give a writer an ‘a-ha!’ moment, even if it initially feels like a slap in the face. Avoid broad-sweeping statements or generalisation. It gives a writer nothing to work with.

4. Stick to Deadlines

Don’t leave people hanging for weeks waiting. Writers assume that if people don’t get back to them in good time it means they’re struggling to find the right words to tell you that your work stinks. Determine mutually agreeable deadlines for turning in feedback.

5. Set parameters from the get-go

Ask the writer: what kind of feedback they’re looking for, what draft version they are sending, where they are planning to send it (e.g. contests), the word count, due date for submission, and the date feedback is required.

Sure, giving feedback can sometimes be terrifying but if you stick to this format, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Start small. Be truthful. Offer creative alternatives. The more you do it, the less painful it will be.

How do you provide *gracious* feedback? Any suggestions to add to this list?

Beckie

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