Posts Tagged ‘editing’

There’s a piece of writing advice that stands the test of time. Much like the secret to weight loss is to simply reduce calories and increase exercise. No gimmick. No magic pill or elixir. No cream or special belt. Nothing but good old-fashioned diet changes and moving the body more and sitting less. There.

Now the same goes for writing. No gimmicks, music, scented candles, meditation, prayer, deals with the devil, or anything else that you need in order to write. Doing the above is fine. But not if it’s what you rely on to write.

The closest thing to a gimmick I found that actually worked to get my work in progress progressing is a subliminal message.  As my desk (I actually cleaned it up a bit to take the pic) gets cluttered with sticky notes of books to read, agents to query, and new gimmicks to try, I had the solution the whole time, right in front of my nose, a natural home remedy, trying to be noticed. I’m right here, it says, listen to me.

hint: it's a raised platform for my computer


So if you are wondering where I’ve been, why my blog is quiet, it’s because a certain subliminal message has taken over my brain.

Disclaimer: Sitting less is the very antithesis of writing more. Though I wholly recommend exercise. Writers need it. I need it. Oh, boy, do I need it. Bathing suit season …

Do you have any good writing advice? Or any advice that produces great results?

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A short one today. Go here to the 11-points list for a hilarious catch of some grammatically incorrect movie titles. Makes me wonder if you’d find that on book titles.

Do you have any to add to the list?

Happy Easter, everyone

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Because real emails occasionally end up in my spam box, I have to do a visual scan before I delete. I hate to do it, look that is. Sure it makes me feel better about myself as a writer, seeing all the poorly written ads, but that’s like listening to a dog bark and feeling better about my singing. But rather than complain about their writing, I’m willing to help them write better. For $206.34 per SCAM I AM course. In USD only. (recommend taking all 40 courses for a discounted rate of only $8,000.00[Eight Thousand US Dollars])

Who needs this course? Well, YOU who have tense issues, grammar issues, missing or too many word issues, and YOU Gertrude Cowan who spammed me this: Your mating can be indefatigable‎ … (?)

… and YOU: I have learned the real truth behind my inheritince. I am Mrs Helen Moore, a devoted Christian. I have chosen you for an inheritince. Please contackt me for more details. Bank Draft of  $1,000.000.00 USD (One Million US Dollars), but I did not hear from you since that time (what time?). Then I went and deposited the Draft with FEDEX COURIER SERVICE (you’d better watch your all caps now, miss devoted Christian Helen Moore), West Africa, I  traveled out of the country for a 3Months Course and I will not come back till end of March, 2011.What you have to do now is to contact the FEDEX COURIER SERVICE as soon as possible to know when they will deliver your  package to you because of the expiring date. For your information, I have paid for the security keeping fee, Insurance premium and Clearance  Certificate Fee of the Cheque showing that it is not a Drug Money in your Country. The only money you will need send to the FEDEX COURIER CHARGES to (zzzzzz) deliver your Draft direct to your postal Address in your country is ($200US)Dollars only being PACKAGE DELIVERY CHARGES of the Courier Company so far. I would have paid that but they said no because they don’t know when youwill contact  them and in case of demurrage (some grammar mistakes are forgiven for using a big word) You have to contact the FEDEXCOURIER SERVICE now for the delivery of your  Draft with this informationbelow: Send Them The Require Information Below: Greetings (Okay, You. You are wordy and repetitive. Get straight to the point. e.g., “Send 200 bucks to me, Mrs Helen Moore, a devoted Christian, to cover a bunch of invisible charges, after which I give you, a stranger, a million dollars because I am a devoted Christian.” Additionally you suffer grammar mistakes and all around bad writing, all of which I’ll teach you how to avoid as well as where to put the word “Greetings” in your letter.)

…and YOU: I NEED JUST YOUR CO-OPERATIONS (nothing like all caps to accentuate bad writing).I am Mr MARK GENERAL, Director Allocation department of SKY BANK NIGERIA PLC, LAGOS/NIGERIA. (Nigeria? Didn’t you get the memo? We aren’t using Nigeria anymore. But for $206.34 USD I’ll give you a list of all the believable countries in which the “naïve” will send their money)

… and YOU: I have decided to remit your claim sum following my idea that we can have a deal/agreement and I am going to do this legally.

My conditions:

1. The sum of USD$15.7M only will be transfer into your account after the processing of all relevant legal documents with your name as the sole beneficiary. The transfer will be made by Draft or telegraphic Transfer T/T Conformable in 3working days.

2. This deal must be kept secret (oops) forever and all correspondence will be strictly by email / telephone for security purposes.

3. There should be no third parties as most problems associated with your fund release are caused by your agents or representative. (right, this happens a lot)

…and especially YOU: Bacheolrs, Matsers, , PhD can be yours in 4 weeks if you qualify. I always wanted a “Matsers” of Fine Arts degree. And in 4 weeks!


Yes, it’s true. My 40-course series will teach you how to scam/spam the proper way. No more looking stupid whilst thieving. I’ll teach you how to hook, reel, and take their money in a better written way.


Also included is a free course on subject lines and how to attract without falling flat. This course is for the same YOUs spotlighted in the earlier examples.

Like YOU miss Tennille West E n l a r g e ment (interesting use of font sizes to make your point) is what you need now.‎ what I need is shrinkage. Nobody ever has offers for shrinkage

 Friend – I am compiled to solit for your humble acceptance … I’ve compiled your typos, humbly, of course

British High Commission – SCAM ALERT 50000000 Euro to you if … Wait do I see scam alert right in the subject line?

Mr. Patrick Williams.5.m For Your Past Effort,‎ – Hello my friend, Please accept my apology for not contacting you earlier before now  (pick just one, please)  

Jonathan GrayINVESTMENT OFFER !!‎ (all caps and two exclamation points. What are you trying to say?)– Pardon my invading your privacy (too late). I am Barr. Jonathan Gray (Managing Partner) Barrister, advocate

Pharmafast – Gorgeous selection of Viagra gorgeous you say? Why, let me get my credit card to order one in each color.

YOU, this offer is too good to pass up.


I’ll throw in a course called Bait and Switch yours free if you order now.

Terms and conditions may apply. No money back guarantee. No guarantee you’ll be a gooder writer. No guarantees you’ll learn how to spell garanteey. No guarantees on nothin’. Extra fees and charges may apply.

Hurry while courses last. Operators are standing by.

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This counts as a blog post from me.  Come visit Fear of Writing, you might learn something on What Not to Do.

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Twitter fail. The beginning.

In case anyone’s keeping score of my Tweets, you might be surprised to know I’m up to two actual interaction-type Tweets. That’s right, I learned to talk to you and not at you.

I’ve been on Twitter almost two years now and only recently learned how to A. add a Tweet button on my blog, B. Tweet my own posts, and C. ReTweet others’ posts.

It took me nearly two years to accumulate thirty Tweets, but I was beginning to feel like an infomercial: advertise, advertise, advertise. I’m sure there’s somewhere in the Twitter etiquette rule book that forbids this kind of impersonal behavior, and while I’m likely not the only Twit abuser out there, I’m sure there’s a special Twitter hell waiting just for me.

But I plead ignorance (that’s my excuse for everything and it usually works if the listener is in person and can see my dorky innocent face. 

So my friend Linda—who has seen this clueless face in person and is under the spell that compels her to assist me in my endeavors or who wants to hit me but is the type to act opposite of her feelings—has been giving me pointers on how to Tweet.

But, I whine, it’s too hard. I don’t understand it.        

I haven’t tried is what it is. I haven’t observed the mysterious world of Twitter enough to make a valid claim of it’s too hard. That would be akin to my saying a movie is “too hard to follow” without actually watching it.

But still, I can’t be trusted. I had to make myself accountable. So on Thursday, Jan. 20th I announced to Linda that I would interact on Twitter by Feb. 1st.

I also made a personal goal to dust off my WIP and begin revisions by the first. And I also had some submissions due by the first. And some other writing obligations as well as non-writing obligations and needless to say, I got a stress rash. Last night, on Jan 31, I began to stress over it all and broke out on my face and neck with a horrendously red and itchy rash.

This morning I rushed—itching all the way—to the computer in hopes of redeeming myself by writing a personal Tweet and I did and lo and behold the Twitter world that had been waiting with bated breath for me to come out of my shell said: “Sorry, you’re Tweet was not sent. There may be technical problems. Try again in a few minutes.” itch scratch itch

When I pulled myself together 3 hours later, I tweeted Linda. But my Tweet went only to Linda and to Linda only. So this I say to you: “I said it would be personal, didn’t I? I never claimed I would do it correctly, so there.”

P.S. My twitter name is IQOkie, which I should change to IQNuthun. It’s not meant to offend Okies, though I did once. Read on… The real story behind the name is particularly damning to my upstanding reputation, but I do that every day so I’ll give you the shortened version.

I worked in an office with a girl whose license plate said 1QOkie. One day I said to her. “I just love your license plate. I’m from Oklahoma too, and I think it’s just totally funny. I bet you get a lot of weird stares.” (I was getting one of those stares from her right then.)

Since this is the shortened version, let’s just say she straightened me out. The first digit in the license was a “one” not an “I”. It stood for One Cute Okie. My nickname around the office became “I”QOkie. I deserve it.

Now excuse me while I crawl in my hole again.

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I would like an expanded author page added to inside book jackets. In addition to the usual, I would like the following:

How long did it take, from start to finish, to complete this novel/memoir/true crime/whatever? Plus, a breakdown from first draft to revisions. (me: first draft one year exactly. Revisions going on three years)

How many hours a day did you devote to its completion?  (me: time is becoming extinct for me. I set it aside for now)

Are you a pantser or a plotter? (me: pantser)

If this is your first published novel, how did you break in? (me: [will be] by stalking an agent, breaking into their car and waiting for them to get off work, then pitching my book. If they take a subway, then I’ll hijack the public address system and pitch that way. If they take a cab, I’ll be the driver. If they walk …)

If you queried an agent, please share your winning query with us. Links to your website are okay. (me: perhaps I should ditch stalking and try the dreaded query. Not)

Do you have burning questions you’d want addressed on an author page? Plus, what are your own answers to my questions?

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Today is my book’s third birthday:

Baby's 3rd

born April Fools’ Day 2007—go figure. Each birthday marks a new milestone. Year one I aimed to finish my first draft by April 1st  2008—and I did. Year two I aimed to send my first query—I sent two. But what about year three? If I began the query process on year two then by year three I either should have an agent or be setting some kind of query record. Right?

Wrong. See, I didn’t really begin the query process. I got scared. Then I misinterpreted fear for “not ready”. I told myself fear is my inner voice telling me to revise … again. And again. And that’s how year three progressed. I had moments of intense bravery—that I never interpreted to be anything in my favor the way I interpret things not to be in my favor—where I’d query an agent. But that happened only four more times.  

There was one winning contest entry that got my partial looked at by an agent and a few other high points during the year, but all in all I think I edited too much. I didn’t even submit a single short story. I guess you could say I didn’t write for a year—I revised, every day, every chance I got, and I don’t think it shines any better than year two.

For my book’s birthday, yes, I’m going to query. I’m going to query three agents just for that day (picture three agent heads atop a book, like candles atop a cake). But I’m not going to stop at three the revise again. Because if I polish my ms one more time, I think I’ll have made it dull.

I shall query thereafter, and I shout this so that I can hear it.

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It’s official. As you can guess by my Wednesday post, you now know which day I’ve chosen to be my official post day. Right. You guessed it. Tuesday! So for now on I shall post on Tuesday, unless Wednesday looks better.

So anyway, I was watching SpongeBob this morning, and—as it always does—it provoked deep reflection as to who I am. Sometimes I watch and feel slighted that someone made a cartoon out of me and didn’t give me credit. A royalty check would be nice. 

I know what you’re thinking, and knock it off. Just stay with me, I’ll make sense in a minute; I think.

I came by this cartoon about fifteen years ago, not by my kids, but by my boss, She was wild, eccentric, quirky, and the best boss ever—better than Mr. Crabs.

She scheduled meetings in the conference room as a ploy to gather us all for an episode of SpongeBob that she found particularly meaningful for her integrity analogy. She wanted to instill upon us a SpongeBob work ethic per se. A role model for who we were to aspire to be. ‘I’M READY!” Is SB’s motto. And he is. SB is always ready. He goes above and beyond in his every endeavor. He serves others like there is no greater love. He takes his work and anything else he sets his mind to completely seriously. It was his overall attitude she was selling on us. Not the other stuff, though.

SB has a dark side, the one in which I fit the mold. See, he just gets a little too excited about his endeavors. He wants something so badly, he’ll go just a little too above and beyond to get it. Today’s episode: he finally got to be hall monitor at boating school. He wanted it so much that when he finally got it, he gave an acceptance speech so long that by the time he left to monitor the hall, school was over, and the fish trampled him to go home.

I identify with his over-zealousness—like with writing. I want to be published so badly that I’m willing to rewrite (acceptance speech) and rewrite and rewrite. By the time I’m finished, I fear books will be extinct (that’s not a stretch), and agents will be trampling me to find other work–perhaps with my last boss.

I came into this with an “I’M READY!” attitude. I still have it. But I’m ready now to be done.

Does too much enthusiasm get in the way of your goals?

In other news, Laura Best presented me with an award. Thank you, Laura. I don’t feel I deserve it, but I did have a long acceptance speech prepared. For the sake of brevity and my new anti SB sabatoge attempts at my brain, I’ll just say it starts with a thank you to you, my fellow bloggers, to my grandma, parents, brothers, sister … 

There are a couple of rules for this award:
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

Since Laura gave the award to some of my blog friends as well, and since those friends did likewise, it will be a challenge to pass the award to someone who doesn’t already have it.

I’ll start with Candice. Candice proudly posts on Thursdays. Unless she doesn’t want to.

I’ll give it to John Travolta as well. And Brenden Fraser, who has been occupying many of my dreams lately. And Johny Depp. And …

The others will follow as I figure out who does and doesn’t already have the award. In fact, Candice might already have it. Oh, well. Can’t be too rich or too thin or have too many duplicate blogger awards. Right?

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Go to fullsize image

T’was the fourth day of the new year and all is a flutter

I’ve decided on a new task to edit and de clutter

Type B lurks but I shoo it away

for I need Type A, in a bad way

My old plan required edit through osmosis

Now I must stop smelling the roses

The pace I once took was borderline criminal

For how does one revise just on subliminal?

The question I have on this fine day

Where art thou where art thou my buddy Type A

Oh, how I can’t wait for May when Chip MacGregor holds his next Worst Poetry contest. I didn’t win last year (see my entry here) but I’ve sharpened my skills remarkably, don’t you think?

So my friend and mentor Christian did this wonderful post about writer personality types along with a link to a personality test to see which type you are. He uses Monica and Phoebe from Friends in the writer’s workshop he teaches as perfect examples of Type A and Type B personalities. He declared me a Phoebe well before he knew what my test score would be—it’s that obvious.

The creative Phoebe in me writes the stories, but it when it comes to editing I have some real issues relating to self-discipline. I had jumped to the conclusion that I was experiencing profound wisdom by starring at the tree squirrels outside my window, as if they would somehow subliminally implant an editing hard drive into my brain. Then I would open up my WIP, and three pages in my eyes would glaze over. Squirrels are highly overrated. I would then decide to check my email, read agent blogs, go to other blogs and read and comment, all this I viewed as warming up. By then it was time for bed.

So instead of relying on outside sources to tackle what my right brain repels against, I must unearth what little Monica I do have and put her to use.

I urge you to visit Christian’s blog and take the test and leave him a comment about your results. Then hop on back here and tell me. If you don’t want to reveal to me your results that’s okay; I respect that. I’ll just return to his blog and see what you left there. I’m not that nosey anyway. FYI, I got a 38.

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I have the Telegraph to thank for today’s post. I had an idea for a topic I wanted to address, but this came along, …”Dan Brown’s 20 Worst Sentences,” and I just had to share. http://tinyurl.com/r6tye2 . It seems the two most bashed authors these days are Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer. They are loved or hated as discussed in my last post. Loved by the general reading public and hated by critics in the publishing industry. The more masses to love them, the more the industry will bash them.

I can see both sides of the issue. As a general reader, I read Angels and Demons, and The Da Vinci Code long before the hysteria. No one was complaining as much back then. I read them with the focus on entertainment and never noticed the flaws that are magnified by today’s critics. I aborted my efforts on Twilight only because I saw the movie before I finished the book and that always spoils it for me. You can bet I’ll read it again with a critical eye for what the fuss is about.

I don’t discount the critics, either. As a writer hoping to be published, I know how hard it is—all of it: writing, re-writing, the query, finding an agent—so it won’t go unnoticed when someone puts forth less effort with an undeserved bestselling result. However, when I read the Telegraph’s article on Dan Brown’s 20 worst sentences, I realized that those are simple mistakes that a critique group and an editor could’ve easily solved. I pictured making some of those mistakes and I’m pretty confident my critique group would have called me on them. That’s all he needed. It’s all Ms. Meyer needed, too. They are great storytellers in need of beta readers and editors. And in some cases just left alone. Take for example number 20, of the 20 worst sentences. I’m currently reading a novel right now by a famous and respected author who does many such “offenses” as the one below.

20. Angels and Demons, chapter 1: Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘erudite’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete.

They say the first rule of fiction is “show, don’t tell”. This fails that rule.

And then there’s this one.

15. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: As a boy, Langdon had fallen down an abandoned well shaft and almost died treading water in the narrow space for hours before being rescued. Since then, he’d suffered a haunting phobia of enclosed spaces – elevators, subways, squash courts.

Other enclosed spaces include toilet cubicles, phone boxes and dog kennels.

 What did they want him to do, name every single enclosed place there is?

I see some of the other points critics noted and I cringe at most of them, especially number one. But by the looks of it, he’s clearly, and unfairly, picked on. These aren’t mistakes made on one book, but four. Approximately 2000 pages and those are the worst they came up with? He should be commended, not condemned. Surely if we look hard enough we can find mistakes in all the novels we read. If not mistakes, then poor word choices or a misplaced thought

I didn’t read all 691 comments on the article. In fact, I only read the first five. My favorite was the comment that pointed out all the grammar errors in the article itself—errors, I believe, that are worse than those that were criticized. Way to go stephen-comment from Oct. 26,  10:04am. Check it out.

I appreciate flawless writing as much as the next guy/gal, but tell me, would you rather read a gripping story with some clumsy sentences, or a masterpiece of prose that’s a cure for insomnia? (That masterpiece, btw, may have a poor word choice or two, but nobody talks about those.)



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