Tuesday, January 24, 2017

5 Tips for Revising

No matter how much you love writing creatively sooner or later you are going to have to put in some time revising or editing your work.  Sitting down at the keyboard or with pad and pen can be so freeing if you just let go and write.  But you can't get something published if you don't go back and do some editing.


That can get downright boring!


I don't know how many times I've heard people say how much they love the writing part but how much they hate to edit.  Writing sets them free. Editing makes them work.  So how can we make it work better for us?  Here are some suggestions:


1. Start at the end.  That may sound self defeating. After all we probably wrote that last. Why should we want to go back and work on what we just finished? Well, how did you feel when you finished? Relieved? Happy? Ready to go celebrate?  Are you sure you did the best possible job or were you just on a roll and wanted to get it done. By going back and editing it (and you can re-edit again later) you will do two things. You will remind yourself of any little thing that you might need to fix during the book so that the ending makes sense and you can see it this time from a non-judgmental viewpoint. Look to make certain the ending is just what you want it to be.


2. Go back over notes on things you might have made during your writing. Make certain that you have those big things written down that you knew you will have to watch for and fix. Were there any things that you kept saying during the writing that you needed to fix later? Write those down now before you begin to edit.


3. Write down the things that you know are your crutches.  You know those words that you find yourself using over and over again? Write them down now before you tackle your revisions so that you can watch for them. Sometimes I use "just" too much so I always make certain I am ready to look for that as I revise.  Write down any of your pet phrases so you can watch for them. You might even put in a search and go through the manuscript looking for them first, before you start to edit.


4. Give yourself a reasonable working goal. Don't think you are going to do it all at once. Maybe go back and edit a chapter or two that you knew was a problem chapter and try re-writing that before you tackle the entire manuscript. Sometimes working on little bits and pieces can be a lot easier than having the whole thing to deal with later.


5. Now start at the beginning! Go through a chapter at a time and then go through it again before you move on. Look over your notes from before and make any new notes that you might want to look for in later chapters.


Before you begin that final edit, one final thing -- let the manuscript sit for at least a couple of weeks. Sometimes waiting for a while can give you a whole new perspective when you make that final edit.

Monday, January 9, 2017

5 Tips for Starting out Fresh


Every year I promise myself that I will write more this year. I am not certain if I do write more, but I know that one way or another I will be starting new projects and finishing old ones before the year is out. I will not stop and that is half the battle.

So how do we get started with fresh material and fresh ideas to start out the new year?   Well, here are some easy ideas that can help with your writing. Take a class, try a new hobby, take a trip. Look for something new to start on. Let’s examine some of those tips for getting that fresh start for 2017:

  1. Look for something new to do. One thing that has caught my interest as the year closed on 2016 was writing science fiction. Oh, I’ve had the idea in the past, but this year I am going to try it. Why not? Look around at the genre you are working in. Is it growing a little stale? Have you been considering another one? Why not try it now in the new year? Play with a short story if you can’t commit to something long. Or if you haven’t written a short story in a while, do that instead of a longer tale.
  2. Take a class.  I always recommend classes when people are stuck with their writing. A different perspective on your work and a different way to look at an old topic can get the creative juices flowing again. I am always on the look out for new classes to take or something new to learn. Keeping my mind active is a good way to keep young. I am not taking a class this month, but I am teaching one on plotting and I’ve already come up with some new ideas from the students who will be in my class.  
  3. Take a trip.  I spent more time travelling last year than I had in the past. I never go far (well, I did go to Canada) but even short trips can be fun and exciting. In several weeks I’ll be boarding the train for a trip through the mountains in winter. I haven’t done that before and I’m really looking forward to it. The trip will not only give me beautiful views of the Colorado’s snow covered peaks in winter, but I bet I’ll meet some fun people to talk to. I always seem to find some great story ideas on the train.
  4. Try a new method of researching.  One story I began working on last year required historical research and I found myself so involved in it that this past weekend I started off the new year at the library with an in depth look at the research department. I already came away with some new leads (and some new research books) that will help me get that story finished.
  5. Try a new approach.  I usually write down my accomplishments from last year and set goals for the new year. This time around I am going to look at different methods of getting my writing output increased.
     
    So look around you. What do you need to do to get more done in the new year? A new schedule, a new way of editing--what didn’t you do last year? Are there things you wanted to do that you put off?  I’ve declared 2017 as the year of finishing things. And that’ just what I hope I’ll be applauding at the end of the year.

5 Tips to Plotting

Is there anything more intimidating to a fiction writer than a blank piece of paper or a blank screen? What do you do with it? This past w...