My Editing Process

I’m getting ready to launch into edit-land this February, and on a forum I moderate, I asked the following question: Do you have a specific process or system for your edits, or do you just kind of wing it, improving whatever you notice needs work each time through?

Laying out my answer was very interesting – what a lot of work editing is! It was also affirming – what a lot of work I do! I think the list will even be helpful; I can use it as a guide over the next few months. When I hit the dreaded, “I’ll NEVER finish this book” stage, I can come back at myself with, “Of course, you will. Only three edits left!” Heh heh.

Without any further ado, in the hopes that might be of some use to you too, here’s my answer.

I have a very specific editing process. I go through 8-10 full edits (not including that I edit for punctuation/spelling/grammar as I go, and that I usually do a page or two of storyline tweaking before I begin each day’s new writing).

  • 1st edit: Make sure the story line is intact and write notes on holes/time glitches,etc.
  • 2nd edit: Fix said holes in plots, time glitches, etc.
  • 3rd edit: Look closely at each character’s motivations/voice/way of coming across and make notes about anything I find out-of character, contradictory or unconvincing.
  • 4th edit: Character therapy! Try to get those characters to be/show who they really are (good, bad, terrifying – it’s nice to not have to make them healthy per se, heh heh).
  • 5th: Can I amp up the tension/suspense? (Always Yes with a capital Y.)
  • 6th: I usually have noticed more holes in plot by this time and more places where it seems slow or plodding — fix, fix, fix.
  • 7th: This is pickiest edit yet. Using points from Self-editing for Fiction Writers – How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne and Dave King, I do a chapter-by-chapter look at show and tell, characterization and exposition, proportion, dialogue and interior monologue, easy beats, the concept “once is usually enough” (looking for places where I keep dropping redundant hints re: characters personalities, etc… The reader knows the mc’s afraid of the dark already! Wink), and at sophistication and voice.
  • 8th: I read the whole story aloud to hear its cadence, especially trying to hear how the dialogue comes across.
  • 9th: Proofread for typos.
  • 10th (etc): Try to incorporate suggestions from first readers, if I feel the suggestions have merit (and sigh, they’re usually dead on!).
  • Etc 1: Proofread again.
  • Etc 2: Decide so and so is an utter failure–re-write him/her again (sometimes Etc 2 gets stuck on replay and I end up doing a lot of character work at this point).
  • Etc 3: Go a little crazy (crazier?) and realize that for better or for worse, I need to put the story down and step away from the story. It’s finished and I must start something new.

To combine my blog with my website or not to combine…

So I’ve pretty much decided on the template I’m going with in my latest update-my-website obsession. I don’t want to give any clues about its style or design features until it’s all pretty with my personal content, etc. Suffice it to say – it’s a WordPress theme (of course – ha ha), designed by itheme.com. I’ve perused a lot of template providers over the past few days, and I have to say ithemes remains my first recommendation for people who want a WordPress CMS site that _looks_ like a website, not just a blog (not that there’s anything wrong with sites that look like blogs/are blogs – it’s just not what I want, you know?). And that last bit about blogs brings me to my reason for posting today.

I’m trying to decide whether I should keep Write here, write now (this blog) at the address it is right now or if I should amalgamate it with evbishop.com. Are there advantages to having your blog separate from your official webpage? I can’t really think of any disadvantages to putting them together. If anything, perhaps more people would find my blog…. If you’re reading this and have any thoughts on the subject, I’d love to hear them.

🙂 Ev

Entering the world of CMS

Gah! It’s hard to believe that it’s already January 28th – I fully intended to post a few times between my last post and the date I attended the “Managing Your Website Using CMS” seminar put on by Small Biz BC – oops! But c’est la vie. I’m here now, and that’s what counts. And now, the much awaited for Report Back (duh nuh, duh nuh, duh nuh).

So yes, yesterday found me taking part in a Small Biz BC video seminar – Chet Woodside, an ebusiness consultant with eBC presented from Gastown in Vancouver, and there were small clusters of people hooked in via video conference all over the province. I sat alone in 16/37 Community Future’s beautiful boardroom, and wondered why I was the only person there. Don’t small business owners in Terrace know what a terrific resource these conferences are!?

Anyway, I’ve been interested in CMS (Custom Management Systems) for some time now. No techie, I won’t give all the ins and outs of CMS, but if the phrase is unfamiliar to you, it’s basically just a way (a system ;)) to let people do their own website updates and changes (provided, of course, they have a CMS website). The benefits of this style of website are huge, chief ones being: You have the ability to update instantly, from any computer, so long as it has an Internet connection (and you’re using Open Source CMS), so your site is always current and dynamic – things that visitors and google spiders love. You can have a very professional site with lotsa bling 😉 (but not _too_ much bling – key word: professional) that costs next to nothing to get up and running. And after your site’s up, you’ll continue to save terrific amounts of time, money, and mental energy in not having to run to your designer every time you want something added or deleted.

The class was just what I was hoping it would be – a good basic introduction covering what CMS is and what it can do for you, whether a CMS website is the best choice for your personal website or business site (yes, and yes – always yes. CMS is where all websites are – or should be – going), and things to consider when choosing a CMS.

Chet also went over some of the “big name” CMS guys out there, giving their pros and cons, as well as promoting some new, apparently great, up and comers. Last time I video conferenced, I commented that it would be nice if the presenter greeted all the different regions, etc, and this time around, the inclusion was great. I actually felt bad, because I think the presenter would’ve liked even more in-class feedback than he got, but it’s hard to talk to a screen in a near empty room (or in my case, a totally empty room!). We were warming up by the end though, and if he’d had us another hour, I’m sure it would’ve been a question/comment fest.

If there were any “negatives” at all, they were small. Technical difficulties in getting people around the province plugged in (Terrace had no trouble :)) made us ten minutes late starting (and I had a 4:30 meeting, so I was a bit anxious about being done in time). This was Chet’s first time presenting on this particular topic, and although he knew his stuff very well, he was working from a PowerPoint that he hadn’t created, so some of his transitions weren’t as fluid as they could have been (that’s a good blog post for another day actually – if you do any presenting at all, always make sure you create your presentation yourself – even if you’re working from someone else’s material, organize it and lay it out in a way that makes sense to your sense of logic and order!). However, Chet’s easygoing, unflustered approach more than made up for any minor fiddling or backtracking, and he fully disclosed that they weren’t his notes and that’s why it wasn’t always smooth going – a great dealing technique.

So yes, two Small Biz BC video conferences down, two raving endorsements from Ev. Now I’m frantically wracking my brain, because they’re open to suggestions for classes – what else do I want to learn about, what, what?! I really enjoy getting out of my home office and doing a bit of PD, and I will definitely take another seminar with them.

You are probably tired of my going on and on about CMS, but if you’re a junkie and still want more, check out these fantastic sites:

Play around before you commit (a good philosophy ONLY for computer software!) – check out www.opensourceCMS.com to get product descriptions, user reviews, and hands-on demos for practically every CMS provider under the sun.

Browse or buy templates at www.woothemes.com or www.ithemes.com (there are tonnes of other template providers; I just like these ones because they offer lots of WordPress templates, and I’m biased. ;-)).

Want to go a step further and design your own CMS websites? Visit www.artisteer.com Right now you can upload finished sites into WordPress (or HTML), but upload capabilities into Joomla and Blogger are coming soon.

Okay, you’re sick of me. I get it. I’ll go…. All the same, I hope you found even part of what I said helpful. Let me know if you enter the grand world of CMS too.

Cheers,
Ev

Managing Your Website Using CMS

If you’re anything like me (for your sake, I kinda hope you’re not), you love computers and know just enough about them to be dangerous.

I’ve had a website since 2005, and over the years, it’s had many incarnations. I’m usually happy-ish with it, but that’s it. ISH. I always want more bells and whistles than I have the savvy for, yet I derive too much enjoyment from building it myself to hand it over to someone else to design and maintain (or perhaps it’s just that I’m a control freak, and cheap to boot ;)).

Enter CMS (Content Management Systems). From what I’ve been able to glean, I’m going to be able to build a pretty fabulous site that won’t demand re-inventing the wheel every time I want to update it. I’m even taking a course! (You know how much I love to take courses!) It’s another offering from Small Business BC (the seminar goes by the catchy title of this entry), running on January 27th. It’s only two-hours, but I’m optimistic. A good teacher can cover a lot of ground quickly, and with a solid enough introduction, I should be able to give it a go.

I’m excited!

Get the words out.

The hardest thing about writing, for me, is actually getting down to it and doing it. My favourite ways to procrastinate are devious, because they often look so industrious, so productive, so thoroughly worthwhile, that it barely occurs to me to crack the whip. My variety of stalling—working on assignments, paying bills, doing lesson prep, “improving” my craft via Internet forums, etc—is the very worst type, because I feel so justified and righteous while not doing what I know I should (and worse, what I really want) to be doing.

Well, now—at least for while I’m in the first blush of New Year’s resolutions—I may have found a way to foil my do-anything-but ways. Each week, I’m creating a weekly work calendar (time-slotted, guys. Yikes!). And more importantly, I’m adhering to it. I’ve even assigned specific e-mail, blog, and forum time. Wah. So yes, right now, I’m not actually playing hooky…. I’m using scheduled time. (Yes, I am fully aware of how pathetic that is.)

The irony of my renewed commitment? My own writing-avoidance methods are partially to thank for it. As I was putting off getting down to something, I was reading from Eliza Clark’s Writer’s Gym (a book of exercises and training tips for writers) and came upon an interview with Val McDermid. At one point she was asked, “If the writing life is a pie, how would you slice it up and what size would the pieces be?”

She answered, “35% talent, 40% hard work, 25% luck.”

I assumed she was speaking to the having books published aspect of the writing life, and found her words inspiring. She acknowledges luck and talent, but feels work has the most weight. And really, talent-shmalent…. I think you get born with some, yes, but it’s amazing how working hard at something will make it seem like you just have a “gift” for it. And luck? Again I have a sneaking suspicion that those who get lucky in the story-telling business sat their butts down at their desks and wrote a lot of words before luck magically befell them.

And on that note, I have to go. My allotted blogging time is up. 😉

Happy writing!

~Ev

Goals for a new year….

Happy New Year! (Okay, so my wish is a bit late—sorry about that!)

It seems that making New Year’s resolutions has gone out of vogue for some people (maybe for lots of people?), but even if I don’t always accomplish my goals, I feel there’s a real benefit in thinking through the year past and contemplating the year ahead.

2009 is already looking exciting, full of “big” events and changes. My daughter, who’s currently working toward her pilot’s license, will turn sixteen and will definitely be driving a car. My son will enter his teens, and my husband and I will be separated for longer than we ever have been before (almost two months), as he works out of town this summer.

Some things won’t change though. I will still be writing, still striving to better my craft, still trying to express the worlds that live in my head.

I’m hoping to land an agent and/or publishing contract for a novel or two this year, but it’s a hard thing to set as a goal—so many factors in making it happen are out of my control. That said however, some of the most important steps along the path to publication are fully within my control—are fully in the control of any writer.

We are in charge of whether we write regularly. We determine our word counts. We focus (hopefully) on ever improving our craft and storytelling. We decide on how many agents or markets we submit work to. We are responsible for not giving up.

I’ve made goals that I will meet in 2009, knowing that little by little they will help me reach my goal of having a novel “out there” are:

~ Edit current WIP and submit it to 100 agents (unless I get one before that point—hope, hope!).

~ Start a new novel, and strive to have at least the first draft complete by the end of October.

~ Write (or edit/polish) six short stories and submit them about.

~ Attend SiWC 2009

I hope you’ve set goals this year too—if you haven’t, do so now. It’ll get you fired up.

Cheers to us in 2009: Great word counts, much growth!

~ Ev