Saturday, February 28, 2015

No Screaming - I'm Your Editor

Authors and editors should be partners, possess open discussions with civility and professionalism. Yet so many times we hear about authors who simply don’t want to change anything from their manuscript because ‘it’s good to go’, or editors who try to change an author’s voice because ‘that’s how the editor would have written it.’

Thankfully, these circumstances are few. Most of the authors and editors I know welcome the partnership to make sure the manuscript is as tight as tight can be.

That first round of edits is the hardest because the manuscript may be riddled with highlights, comments, red markings. It’s hard to see this, I know. But remember an editor is suggesting, not forcing changes. You, the author, need to keep an open mind and look at the criticism offered to you by stepping back as the author and now looking at the edits through the eyes of a reader, or better yet, an editor. Truly look at your editor’s comments and edits, trying to understand the reason behind their requests. If you don’t agree, then tell them why so they can understand. Work together. You may be thinking of a book 2 and that’s why you purposely omitted finalizing a few foreshadows. Your editor needs to know this. Editors are…well, editors, not crystal ball fortune tellers.

What does an editor look for?

They make sure there’s consistency in names/places/settings, plot holes, timelines are in check, POV, repetition of words/phrases, characters are fully developed, dialogue patterns, removal of nonessential phrases/words, and more.  With this long list it’s a certainty that they’ll find something to edit and ask for you to revisit and change. 

Some editors are more diplomatic than others, true, but what’s more important is the detailed edits they are suggesting. Look at them carefully, analyze them from a reader’s POV because your editor is your reader. Remember that editors are there to help you present your best work, right the first time.

For a writer, long character descriptive details may seem important, but readers nowadays want to get to the nitty gritty. If you’ve described your character once there’s no need to continue talking about their brown hair, or baby blue eyes constantly. It’s repetitive, nearing to the point of drowning a scene with, yes, I’ll say it, boring details not crucial to move the book forward.

But let me backtrack for a sec…just because your editor requested a scene deletion or partial deletion, you need to explain to them why you put it in there: to set up the next book, a tie-in at the end, etc. Don’t just hit delete then get all fired up that you didn’t want to remove that scene. Talk to your editor. As I began this post, your editor is your partner. It must be a two-way street of back and forth discussion to better understand both sides of the coin, yours and your editor’s.  

One thing to remember is this: the world wide net is vast, posts remain there indefinitely, so the discussions and disagreements between you and your editor should be at the highest professional platform and not badmouthed on social networks. And this goes for editors as well as for authors. If you have a severe enough problem with your editor, not only a disagreement because your editor is requesting changes you don’t agree with but haven’t told them yet, first make sure to try and solve it with your editor. But if the two of you are a wrong match, then contact your publisher or head editor, let them know what the situation is, and they’ll be there to help you out, or at least, they should.

So I’ll end with these 2 notes:

1- editors and authors are partners
3- Editors & authors--keep an open communication, professional standard at all times.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Musings: February 22 2015

Musing with Muse

Hello, Musers, one and all!

Sure hope you're all keeping warm and snuggly...or trying to send warm weather to us who are.

How are writers able to capture true emotions within their writing?

We may write reality...and reality within non-real/fictional worlds...but our characters need to feel/read real which includes emotions. Hence the above question...many non-writers have no clue :)

Writing emotions is probably one of the hardest things to do for a writer. I remember when I was writing my second novel After, I had a critique group say that the scenes I had thought were full of emotion left them flat. I was of course, very distressed that these scenes which came directly from my own life, had not gotten the response I expected. So I went back and saw that I had felt the emotion, but I hadn’t conveyed it to my readers. I had to go back to the original scenes and look at them in an objective way. It was as if I were watching TV only it was myself in the scene. Then I put my character in the scene and I wrote what she felt and really showed what her emotions were causing her to do. When I rewrote these scenes people told me they were very moved and they could feel what was happening.

When you are writing about emotions you need to think like your character and not like yourself for the scenes. How would your character react to this action? Would it cause your character to cry or scream or would your character be so frustrated she did nothing? If you do it right your readers will be able to put themselves into the scene and feel the same emotions your character is feeling. Then they will tell you that it brought tears to their eyes. However, if you do it wrong, you might get the comments I received on my third novel that there was no emotion at all. So it’s back to the drawing board for my third novel. The problem with that one is I am trying to write about emotions to actions that have never happened to me and some that have happened way earlier in my life. Also the character is not female, so that makes it even more difficult. However, that is the exciting part for a writer. We just go in and get ourselves so involved with our characters and their lives. I will have to go back to the scenes where emotions play a part and rethink them. The emotional content is there and all it needs is attention to the details of my character’s life.

LESLEY FIELD, new HOT author

Thought I would have another go at the Sunday Musings.

I believe that to capture true emotions requires writers to take themselves into the character. To become the character to live, feel and breathe what the character is going through.  Sometime it’s easy, if you are so caught up in the plot line the feelings come to you without any difficulty because you are already on the emotional roller coaster.  Also thinking of a particular incident can also bring about the emotion you need but more often a particular song can have the same, if not better results.

Recently I was caught up in a plot line I was writing and knew I had to get the whole scenario down. By the time I had finished my hands were shaking, so were my insides and I was absolutely wiped out.  I had to walk away from the computer for a while to recover. Writing something emotional is draining and sometimes, despite all of our efforts, it never seems right.

That’s the joy and dismay of writing, and there again we have emotions!!

I use my normal method of turning the characters loose and letting them play out the scene naturally (rather than trying to force them) in my mind.  That includes their thoughts and feelings.  Getting it all down while everything is sharp in my mind can be an intense and challenging task, especially when long scenes or series of scenes are involved.  I've had scribbling sessions lasting a number of hours that have left me drained, but drained in a good sense because I know I've captured what I wanted.  Editing and polishing are obviously required after such marathons, but the experiences and the emotions I'd envisioned are there.

I capture the true emotions of my characters by layering my action and dialogue. By that, I mean that I don’t try to get it all in one go. I have to take many trips through my book, sit back and put myself in their position, and allow the emotions to flow. In many ways, my characters are as real as my friends and family, they take on a life of their own, and demand the same treatment from me that I give those close to me.

DAWN KNOX, author

Before I write a story, I try to view the series of events in my imagination, like a movie. I identify with the various characters and try to feel things from their perspective, getting to know them as if they are real people.

If I can draw on personal experience, I remember and mentally reproduce the emotion so I can apply it to my character's situation.

My dreams are often very vivid and when I wake up, I still feel the emotion that I've felt in my dream. Obviously, I can't be sure the way I'm reacting is exactly the same as it would be if I'd really experienced the incident but if it's something I haven't already experienced, it's as close as I can get and I harness that feeling to describe my characters' feelings.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Musings: February 15 2015

Happy Valentine's Weekend Musers.

Hope this finds you warm of heart, but also just plain warm. My area of the world is supposedly being blasted with some artic air and "they" say temps will be close, if not, -40C windchill. Since I'm typing this before that is to hit, I'll check back with you and let you know just how cold we are.

In the meantime, what's better to warm the spirit than a rousing round of musings? And what if I've asked something that could be seen as a tad argumentative or even controversial? Wouldn't that warm you up, too? Nothing like a heated conversation to get the blood musing.

All in good spirits, so... social media killing writing?

Since I've thrown this out, I should offer my own opinion, shouldn't I.

Social media does cover a large area, even blogs could fall under this category. But, I was thinking more along the lines of how quick it is to hit a like button, to draw a smiley/un-smiley face, to throw out a comment without censoring our mind. How much has writing only 140 characters trained us to write short and snappy...has this crossed the line into communications, to the point of rudeness?

With story writing are we rushing to the end...rushing to get the stories out there before they're ready? Being the devil's advocate my dad helped raise, the other side is that perhaps social media has trained us to get the job done and done now.

One thing is for sure, social media has brought the vast world into the smallness of my electronic screen and that I like.

Social media has the potential to be deadly.  It can be addictive and devour the precious hours needed for writing (and other necessary activities).  However, the discipline required by every author should kick in and enable us to limit our participation in social media so that it does not impact our scribbling and keying.

On and off I have had different thoughts about this subject. Because of the need for speed when you are communicating on social media a lot of the words are sometimes abbreviated or misspelled. Many times people don’t realize it and you tend to overlook little mistakes. As you continue to communicate on social media you find that people who are not writers don’t seem to care for grammar or spelling. Yet many times this kind of slap dash writing is accepted without comment. If you are on Twitter the need to consolidate makes it necessary to abbreviate or use one word substitutes or even one letter substitutes like U. I think in this sense social media has diluted writing and allowed poor grammar and spelling to be accepted. In another sense we all tend to accept disjointed writing as well.

Disjointed writing along with lack of concern for editing has created a situation where at any moment in any publication you can find a typo or misspelled word as well as poor grammar. Besides that because we have to write in such small segments writing needs to be attention getting. Now this isn’t a bad thing, but it contributes to the kind of writing where description is too much to read. So now as a writer you are expected to be writing without much description. People have become used to deciding whether to read something all the way or just the summary that is set out on Twitter or Facebook of an article.

However, on the other hand, if you find a group of writers with which you can connect it can be very inspiring. During NaNoWriMo a group of writing friends formed and we were able to do sprints together and root on one another. Also, before NaNo we started a round robin story. This kind of bonding is difficult to find in person and is very helpful to a writer. The main reason I enjoy social media is this interaction with my writing friends.

Then there is the last part of using social media which is marketing your book. Social media gives a chance for your book to be seen by thousands of people. Some people blanket their groups with the same post about their book hoping to gain the attention of group members. It brings your book to people who would not have ordinarily seen it. So it’s good for writers in that way.

DAWN KNOX, author

Social media makes it easier to exhibit one's writing to a world-wide audience. However, now there are more authors than ever displaying their work, so I'm not sure that it helps the average author to make much of an impression on the reading public. From the point of view of authors promoting their writing, therefore, I don't think social media will make much difference. But since Facebook, Twitter and the like are so addictive, it may be that writers spend more time trawling through them than actually writing which will definitely have a detrimental effect on their work! As in most man-made institutions, social media can be used or abused and I think it may change the way we present our writing or even how we write, for example, 140 character flash fiction on Twitter, but I don't think it will ever kill writing.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at