Friday, March 25, 2016

The Finishing Touches

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You’ve finished your manuscript. Excellent! You’ve accomplished a great challenge! But it’s also been said that writing is rewriting that first draft. So...you’re not done yet. But the end is definitely in sight.

I’m at this point right now in my WIP, a novel well over 100,000 words. It’s fun and frightening and frustrating all at once. Looking at it positively, the story is basically finished, I can enjoy what I wrote (most of it, anyway!), and I can delight in adding finishing touches and getting everything “right.” I’ve been at this point twice before in my two previous novels and it takes me a good long time to work through until I finally feel it can be tied off with a bow. How you edit or revise depends on how you wrote in the first round, but here’s what I’ve learned about the process that works for me:

  • Take your time. This is where you can afford to be a perfectionist. Your free-flowing creativity did the task of throwing the story together; now is the time to be analytical. You also want to allow plenty of time because you don’t want to get stressed out.
  • Check for consistency. Do the names of characters and locations stay the same throughout the manuscript? Does each character’s physical appearance always match up? Do they always act according to their personality? You can make a chart to keep track of it all.
  • If you’re like me and “over-write,” therefore finding it necessary to trim your word-count, be sacrificial. If a word, sentence, paragraph, scene, et cetera, seems superfluous to you the writer, it probably will feel even more so to the readers. If you have too many “things” packed into a story that don’t really contribute to the story, you run the risk of distracting from what is most important.
  • On the flipside, if something feels bare or not fully explained, fill it out. Some writers purposely write the bare bones of a manuscript first before filling in details in the second draft.
  • If you’re also like me and sometimes leave holes in the story because you’re not sure you need to include something, editing is the time to put them in if you really do feel they’re necessary.
  • Check for clarity. Does that word truly express what your sentence is trying to convey? Does that bit of dialogue make sense? Is that metaphor too fancy? Does this description help readers see an accurate picture?
  • If you’re writing historical fiction, double-check facts. Research the words and idioms used in dialogue to make sure they’re period-correct (I love etymononline.com for this).
  • Correct typos if you spot them. Even if you’re planning on having it edited and proofread, you’ll save your editor time if you correct what you can. If they charge by the hour, this will save you money!
  • Get others involved. Recruit beta-readers! They’ll help you catch anything you missed and give you the invaluable perspective of readers.
  • Pray for wisdom and trust your instincts. If something just doesn’t feel right or seem to fit, a problem likely exists. Spend time pondering it, talking it over with friends, getting advice from those beta-readers, and doing anything else you can think of that might help you fix it and make your story as excellent as can be!

Do you like the editing/rewriting process? What do you look for when you edit? Do you have any tips to add to this list? 

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog
 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bunyan Fiction-Writing Contest

Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

A friend told me about a fantastic short story contest that was recently announced.

https://generationswithvision.com/bunyan-fiction-writing-contest/

Contests force writers to complete something on a deadline, which is nearly the most important thing you can learn to do if you want to make a career (or even a healthy side job) out of writing.

Check it out!

Bunyan Fiction Writing Contest

Friday, March 4, 2016

Twelve Writing Resources

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Hi everyone! Instead of me sharing much of an article today, a family member gave me the idea to do a post on some writing resources (most of which are free, too!). This is just a handful of things that are out there on the internet or in books. I haven’t used all of them, but if you find yourself in need of advice on any aspect of writing and publising, I hope something from this compilation can help you out!

  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – This book by Renni Browne and Dave King made a huge impact on me as I edited my first novel, Family Reunion. Although you have to watch out for one or two indecent pieces they use as examples, it will help you make your fiction stronger and tighter.
  • Plot – Written by Ansen Dibell, this is my favorite book so far on crafting fictional plots. It starts with basic how-tos and advances to more complex techniques that will make your novel a richer, more satisfying read.
  • Fix My Story – I discovered Jordan Smith’s blog after I read his insightful book, Finding the Core of Your Story. I’ve found his articles, mostly on marketing, to be full of good tips I haven’t seen elsewhere.
  • K.M. Weiland – Although I’ve only looked at her site, helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com, now and then, author and mentor K.M. Wieland offers a whole lot of valuable writing advice.
  • Grammar Girl – Confused about the difference between hyphens and dashes? Whether to use who or whom? This gives quick, easy-to-understand tips on all things grammar.
  • Nick Stephenson: Your First 10,000 Readers – You can sign up for a series of three free, half-hour videos on marketing your books. Although I haven’t been able to put his directions into practice yet, I’m excited to try them as soon as I can.
  • Scribophile.com – This is a free, online writing critique group community that comes highly recommended from someone I met in person recently, Christian author Jamie S. Foley.
  • Writing Excuses – If you love audio, this website offers short, constructive podcasts on writing. Also recommended by Jamie S. Foley.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) – This website offers free resources on all facets of the techinical side of writing, whether you have a grammar question (it has free style guides), need to write citations for an essay or article, or more.
  • Citation Machine – If you’re writing papers or articles that need citations, this website formats the citations for you automatically. This comes recommended by my sister-in-law, a college student and ESL tutor.
  • Spellcheckplus.com – This site gives a bit more help on spelling and grammar than the typical Microsoft Word program. Put your writing in a box and it will mark whatever needs your attention. Also recommended by my sister-in-law.
  • Grammarly – This is another grammar and spell checker that’s free on certain web browsers. I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard great things about it. It even looks for style issues like word repetition and vocabulary. It can help you become a better writer!

Have you ever used any of these books or sites? What did you think? Do you have favorite writing resources you’d like to share?

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog