I have been watching SO many 2017 favorite videos on YouTube that I am beginning to question my life choices. But, it has given me the idea to do this post.
So, behold my favorite writerly things of 2017.
Hands down, this is the champion of my 2017. And if you know me, you know about my stalker-ish obsession with this program.
Seriously, it's bad.
Things I love about Google Drive:
1. It's on the cloud, so no working about my computer dying and losing everything.
2. You can have downloaded copies of everything on your computer and/or tablet, so if you don't have the internet, no problems. It will update when you connect the device to the internet. (Even comments, as the lovely Dawn discovered)
3. This guy allows me to create, edit, and access all of my files on all of my devices. Yup, Apple to Windows. *dies of shock*
So, I am able to create content where ever I am, on which ever device I have access to. Which is super helpful with how much traveling I do, and the fact that my hubs and I share a laptop.
4. It also allows me to share my documents/folders with people. So my lovely writing tribe has unrestricted access to my writing. They can read, edit and comment on the documents (you can restrict access to just viewing if you want to, you can also revoke permissions).
If I update my MS, their's is updated too. They can also see each other's comments (well, that's the way I set it up).
If you haven't already, check this out as a system to store your writing.
Slick Write is new to my editing rotation, but oh my, it has become a quick favorite.
Honestly, it doesn't look like much. But, whoa does this do a lot. It will give you sentence length summaries. Show you what type of sentences you have written. Show you adverbs, adjectives, hidden verbs... the list is endless.
And the best part.... IT IS FREE!!!
I was toying with purchasing an editing program subscription, but when I stumbled across this I quickly put away my wallet. I have yet to play with it for a long period of time, but I have high hopes.
Other editing sites I use:
My writing music of choice is electronic, repetitive and not everyone's cup of tea.
I listen to a lot of live stream radios on YouTube. I find that they are a great way of finding music that I don't have and that suits my mood without having to create a playlist. Plus no advertising - bonus.
Below are some samples of live streams that I listen to.
My favorite sprint hashtag
My favorite writing games (where you post every day using the hashtag)
So, that's it guys. I hope you enjoyed this - it was a little different to what I normally post.
Enjoy the last of your 2017 (if there is any) and I hope to see you all in 2018.
Until next time...
Ok. So, you've fixed all the big picture problems... right? If not, check out some tips on the big picture edits here.
Now that's sorted, we can look at the smaller details.
(Disclaimer: I am not an editor. These are simply pieces of editing advice I have found to be useful)
5. Scene by Scene
6. Imagery and Metaphor
8. Copy-editing and Proofreading
I hope that you found this helpful, and please remember that this in no way replaces a professional editor.
Until next time: happy editing.
Editing got you down? Don't know where to start?
I hear you.
This post will be broken into two parts - big picture and the finer details. While I am a huge "edit as I go" kind of gal, I don't recommend this approach for everyone. It is a massive time suck. I do it because I like the learning process and enjoy refining my craft. However, the way I edit also opens you up to deleting paragraphs, scenes and chapters of words that you have painstakingly gone over.
So, if deleting all your hard work doesn't sound like something you would like to do (let's be honest it is as enjoyable to a rusty spoon to the eye) then perhaps take the more regularly recommended path of editing AFTER you've finished your draft.
Because, you know, logic.
Below are a few suggestions that I have used and found helpful. I am in no way an expert, and this in no way replaces a professional edit (I've said this a bunch of times before - GET A PROFESSIONAL EDIT).
Ideally, each step would require a read through and edit before going onto the next step. What can I say, editing isn't easy. But the more time you spend fixing your word baby, the less time (and money) your editor will need to spend on polishing your manuscript.
You only get out what you put in folks.
I have listed the common glitches for each section, as well as some questions or actions you can do to try to fix the problems.
1. Plot and Structure
2. Character Development
3. Point of View
Part Two: Editing - Finer Details
Until next time: Cut it like it's hot
Ah, voice. The elusive goal of all newbie writers.
But what the heck is it? And how does one find their voice?
Voice is the ability to convey the unique way that you see the world to your readers. It is the style, the themes, the passion and personal observations that you bring to your writing. Voice is the overarching concept that encompasses the tone that you use and the messages you send.
Clear as mud, right?
Well hopefully the steps you can take it find or improve your voice are clearer. Remember that voice takes time, patience and practice to formulate.
1. Write with purpose
This takes three forms: knowing yourself, your message, and knowing your tone.
Finding something that you are passionate in can be really easy or leave you stroking your chin for hours.
How do you go about discovering what you are passionate about? Below is a few points that you can try to help you find what matters most to you:
Know your message:
When you know what you are passionate about, you can begin to look at what message. What do I want to say about my passion? To make a message it needs to be more than just - oh look, here is something I feel strongly about - the message needs to provoke a question and challenge/reinforce your readers current ideas about that passion. Below are a few ideas about how you can craft a message:
Your message becomes a theme when you embed it, discretely, in your novel. You can be show your theme through a number of different ways, here are a few:
Know your tone:
When you have your message nailed down, you can look at what tone suits the how you express your theme. The tone that you choose can have a huge impact on how well your message is received, as well as how clear your voice appears in your novel. Here are some ways to show tone in your writing.
2. Improve your craft
I know, this one is no one's favorite. But as it is what we are hoping to be paid to do - we should at least try to be good at it. Plus, less editing = less money, I'm always a fan of saving money when I can.
And unfortunately, often a weak or poor voice comes from the inability to structure a sentence or create a clean paragraph (*raises hand* I am so guilty of this).
Now I hate this stuff so I am going to link some websites that I found helpful:
University of Bristol
The Writing Center - UNC
Past vs Present
The Write Practice
Passive vs Active
American Journal Experts
This stuff IS important - often good writing will trump a clever or interesting voice. So practice and learn.
3. Develop your voice through editing
Ergh! What am I doing - another evil step.
Yep. Evil but necessary.
Editing allows you to discover what you do well and what you do poorly. It forces you to examine the way you write and to refine it and polish it until it sparkles. Taking the time (and it will be a lot) to edit your work makes you a better writer. It sounds contradictory but it forces you to apply the things you know about the craft of writing. It takes out the garbage and leaves behind the essence of your writing - your voice. And the more you apply the rules and standards of writing, the better you will get at it. Also, it makes you more likely to avoid the same mistakes in your first draft for any later books.
I like to work from big picture to small picture. The idea is to look over the novel as a big picture, examine it for tension, plot holes and overall pace. Then work on the smaller elements that take up progressively less space in your novel. The last part is checking punctuation and spelling errors.
This is an overview of the editing steps I use:
I will be doing an in depth post about this subject on a later date.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE DO NOT THINK THAT YOU CAN PUBLISH WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL EDITING - THIS STEP IS ABOUT LEARNING AND IMPROVING - YOU STILL NEED A PROFESSIONAL EDIT. SERIOUSLY, JUST HIRE SOMEONE.
4. Experiment with point of view
As writers we tend to get stuck in this idea of what we SHOULD be writing.
"YA/NA is first person" or "Fantasy is third person".
We have this idea, usually because of our reading preferences, of what our writing should look like and sound like. The thing is, if we only write in one POV we might be missing out on discovering the POV that works best for us. You would be hard pressed to find a reader that picks up a book and puts it down with a scowl, saying: "Yuck, first person."
A fun way to experiment with POV is creating pieces of writing from other characters perspectives; I wrote about some activities to try when you have writer's block (see here). In these smaller pieces you can experiment with what works for your style of writing.
Another key to voice is understanding what the pros and cons of each POV offer. This will help you choose one that suits the message you are trying to share.
First Person (Me, I, my)
This style plonks you in the character's head, the reader experiences the life of the character, walking in their shoes.
Explores the question of: Persona vs Identity
Second Person (You, your, yours)
In this style the reader is a character in the novel. It is usually written in present tense. Common uses of this POV is in choose your own adventure novels.
Explores the question of: Identity vs Construction
Third Person (He, she, they)
This POV has the narrator describe the events as they unfold. Usually written in the past tense, this POV can be written in Limited (knowledge is limited to what the character knows/think/feels) or Omniscient (the narrator knows everything, even things the characters don't).
Explores the question of: Internal needs vs External needs
5. Befriend the inner critic
The most consistent way of squashing your voice is to doubt your writing - censor it. And the little voice in your head is most often the culprit. Jerk.
Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest steps. But instead of seeing this inner dialogue as a villain or something that needs to be stopped, we need to befriend it and acknowledge that it is trying to say something that will help us. It just doesn't know how it express itself properly. Resetting the way that your inner critic talks to you and how you respond is difficult and can take some time and work. It will feel like it's not working - don't give up, it is working, just give it time.
Below is some steps that might help calm the nasty critic:
1. Make the conversation more specific:
Change the way your inner critic talks about your writing. Too often it will tell us "Your writing sucks" or "You can't write". It gives us these blanket statements that kill our enthusiasm, that hurt rather than help. Often these comments come at a moment when - let's be honest - your writing might not be that great. And that's why it hurts so much.
But instead of telling it to shut up, ask it "why?". Get it to be specific. Change "This sucks" to "This paragraph doesn't flow" or "The dialogue isn't natural". These changes in phrasing, move the critiques from defeating stabs to the heart into something that you can use, something that is actually helpful.
Next time your critic slams you with a blanket statement, force it to point out what the actual problem is.
2. Make a note of what it is saying and keep going:
Like all good relationships its give and take. Your critic is only going to be helpful if you listen to it. But usually you want to keep writing, you don't want to stop to make changes. So, compromise, make a note (jot it on a sticky note, make a highlighted comment on your document, or just scribble it down in a margin) and keep going. It will keep you writing and your inner critic will be happy.
3. Work on what it is telling you:
Nobody likes to offer help that isn't listened to. Your critic will keep bashing you with horrible corrections until you fix it. And if your critic is anything like mine, it gets meaner the longer you put off fixing the problem. Take note of the commonalities of the critic's message. Then work on it. Research the problem, read books/blogs on how to improve your craft, and make an effort to improve whatever is causing the problem. When it is resolved your inner critic should shut up about it - although it will probably find something new to complain about. Like I said: jerk.
Once you befriend your inner critic you will be able to write how you want to; your voice will become stronger and clearer because its no longer being drowned out with fear and doubt.
I hope you enjoyed the post.
Let me know what you think.
Until next time: don't push fear away, embrace it, it's the part of yourself that has something to say.