A major shout out: I finished editing my first manuscript!

In April, I signed up for “Beginnings: Your Submissions” an online workshop. Janice, a freelance editor at http://www.documentdriven.com/, helped me put together an excellent query letter and synopsis. She also read the first three chapters of my romantic mystery suspense called Seeing Double. She offered excellent feedback and between her insight and Angela James instruction, I completely threw out the first two chapters (info dumps). The story starts where the action takes place, thus making it more interesting.

My eagerness to start editing was thwarted by a ski accident on Mt. Baker. Other than complete embarrassment falling face first into three feet of powder under the chair lift, I felt fine and knew I’d feel the aftermath later. The next night my muscles stiffened up while curled in my cozy reading chair. No big deal, right? Just take some ibuprofen and go to bed. I felt better in the morning until I made the mistake of standing up. That’s when the dizziness and nausea took over. I came out of the hospital that evening diagnosed with a mild concussion. The absolute worst part for me was losing my long-term memory. I couldn’t even remember the name of a woman who has worked for me for eight years. Talk about scary! I now have great respect for anyone who suffers from Alzheimer’s and knows they are losing their precious memories. It was the most frightening experience I’ve ever been through. Thankfully, the trauma to my head receded after three very long weeks. Hey, what happened to the month of May?

Once I started editing again, I added layers to my characters and setting, deeper POV, and hacked away much unneeded dialog and storyline that doesn’t propel the story forward. This is the “kill your darling” phase of editing. I loved it and hated it at the same time. The word count dropped from 95k to 82k. I’d say that’s a bit of editing.

Now, I’m done enough to take it to the next level. Critique partners, here I come… but first I need to celebrate and prepare myself for the next wave of editing with a Brandy Alexander and dark chocolate!

Body parts gone wild!  Have I got your attention  now?  This was one of my favorite sessions in the online editing workshop Before You Hit Send.

Angela James is the Executive Editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first press, and offers her insights into common editing mistakes.  If you’ve never worked with an editor or publisher before, this workshop is extremely insightful. I met Angela at the Emerald City Writers Conference when I won an early bird pitch for my romantic suspense, Seeing Double, a Harper Security novel.

I enjoyed Angela’s humor throughout the course and she is honest when you post examples from your manuscript.  What was once considered good writing style or grammar back when we were in school is not the case today.

The course is self-paced over a three-week period. You can register for the next workshop at  http://nicemommy-evileditor.com/before-you-hit-send/

So, what am I doing now?  Why editing of course.  I’ve already removed the first chapter (info dump) and hacked away another 3000 words.  I’m converting passive to active, getting rid of unneeded adverbs and adjectives, making sure my dialogue tags are correct… there’s so much more.  I’m loving every minute of it!

Save the Cat!

At the Emerald City RWA Conference in Seattle, I attended a first time author’s panel. Two newly published authors said they were unable to get their books published until they read Save the Cat!® by Blake Snyder.

As funny as the name of the book sounds, it’s an equally funny read. In his humorous way, Blake explains the fundamentals of screenwriting that keeps you turning the page. These principles directly relate to fiction such as structure, plot, scenes, show versus tell, arch’s, etc.

Although I’m a pantser (see my earlier post), I plan to adopt his model outlining the beats that must take place to launch a successful movie/book. While he uses a cork board to map out the scenes within the acts, I’ve setup a spreadsheet to do this for me. As a pantser, I won’t plot this all out before I start writing, but I’ll use it to fill in my scenes to see what’s missing.

I am highly impressed with this book and refer back to it often. Save the Cat!® is a recommended read on Nicholas Sparks’ website as he converted his own books to screenplays for the big screen. Can I strive to by Nicholas Sparks some day? Sure, why not!

For you author’s out there, what method do you find works best for plotting out your story idea? Do you do it electronically, on a whiteboard, or plaster sticky notes all over the wall?

I recently found out I’m a pantser!  What in the world is that, you may ask?

No, I don’t like to pull down strangers pants for fun and I’m definitely not a German tank.  In the context of writing, a pantser is an author who writes what comes to mind (“by the seat of your pants”) versus plotting ahead of time (outlining).  Apparently, this term was coined by NaNoWriMo.org (National Novel Writing Month).

In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he  indicates he writes what’s in his head, not always knowing where his characters will take him.  An outcome he originally visualizes usually ends up unexpected.  This is similar to the way I write.  I see a scene in my head that may start in the middle, end, or beginning of the novel.   I write several key scenes, never in order, and the characters develop their personalities as each situation unfolds.

Once the story unravels, I’ll write a basic outline and add bullets points of what scene/character/point of view I should add between the ones I’ve already written.  I love writing this way and was happy to find out I don’t have to plot the entire story before I start writing.  If I had to do this, I would never start.

When asked who was a pantser in our last local RWA chapter meeting, only three in the entire room raised our hands.  So, I’m in the minority.  As long as I keep writing, I proudly accept my title as a pantser.

For you authors out there, are you a pantser or a planner or somewhere in-between?

Me and BumbleBee

Happy New Year!

Just before Christmas, I joined a local chapter of Romance Writers of America.  What a great group of authors.  They are very supportive and offer informative monthly speakers.  The topic this month is motivation by Elizabeth Boyle.  After the busy holidays, I definitely need inspiration to start writing again.

On a fun side note, if you read my About the Author page, you know I’m an action movie junkie and love fast cars.  Well, I decided to do something about it.  Some are calling it a mid-life crisis, although, I don’t particularly feel I’m in crisis.  But hey, if that’s what it takes to buy a sports car, then I’m ok with it because I now own a 2012 Camaro SS Transformer Edition.  Yes, that’s me next to my Autobot, Bumblebee!  Tell me what you think of my new car.