Saturday, September 11, 2010

Feeling stymied

My novel is in a transitional place. I've come to a big break in one of the main stories and am in the bridge to the second. This wasn't quite how I imagined the novel occurring but it has taken its own direction and I'm going along. I need to sort out some of what happens next but my current struggle with a viral condition called shingles is making that hard.

Usually, when I'm stymied, I'll spend an hour with my notebook creating possible scenarios and twists and turns for the characters. Since they're at X, what's one of 20 logical Ys? Then I'll contemplate those for a while and the right one will make itself known.

But shingles involves a lot of pain, both the nagging, aching kind that sits in the background but is never very far away and the sudden truly miserable kind that shouts PAY ATTENTION TO ME! Last night when I was awake every hour or so, I tried to shift to Ellie's dilemma and what might happen next and I just didn't have the presence of mind to focus. That's frustrating to me for it's been more than a week since I wrote anything and that makes me nearly as restless as the pain.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honor yourself as a writer

1. Name yourself writer.

2. Make a comfortable place for your writing.

3. Get the best equipment and accoutrements you can afford.

4. Make time for study and practice.

5. Schedule time with other writers.

6. Read your writing to others.

7. Print out computer documents.

8. Submit material for publication.

9. Celebrate when you’ve completed a section or work inprogress.

10. Accept compliments gracefully.

Adapted from A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves

Monday, September 6, 2010

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

I submitted a book review for the Oregon Writers Colony newsletter today and thought I'd share it with you.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print

By Renni Browne and Dave King (Second edition/soft cover, 280 pp., 2004, HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-054569-7
Review by Jill Kelly, PhD

As a 15-year veteran of freelance editing and writing coaching, I’m always on the lookout for books that will help my clients both write better and self-edit better. Most of the people I work with aren’t wealthy and the services of a good editor aren’t cheap, so the more they can do themselves, the happier they are.

Browne and King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is a book I consistently recommend. Here’s why:

• The writing is clear and helpful. It’s more like a conversation with knowledgeable friends on a subject you both love: good writing. There’s nothing didactic about it, none of that pompous “I know and you don’t” style that often appears in writing manuals, especially those by academics.

• The topics and examples are helpful for writers at all levels. Whether you’re working on the fourth book in a published series or figuring out how to self-edit for the first time, the ideas here can help you improve your writing. I learn something every time I read it.

• The book is thorough. It covers all the main skills of fiction writing and how to improve them. I especially like their chapters on interior monologue and using physical beats to distinguish speakers. When you combine that thoroughness with the thoughtful and provocative nature of the exercises and the extensive answers in the back, the book becomes a mini-course in good writing.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers does assume a solid knowledge of basic grammar, parts of speech, and standard punctuation, so it will not cure your comma errors or dangling participles. But again the tone is kind and clear, and writing terms like dialog, analogy, point of view, etc. get explained in context. And while this book is aimed at fiction writers, much of the information and the exercises will prove useful to those writing prose poems, memoir, and non-fiction. So while it isn’t a substitute for hands-on work with a good developmental or text editor, it can take you a long way.