Posts Tagged editing

Write, Don’t Edit

WYSIWYG text editors are possibly one of the finest innovations that has hit the world of writing.  Look, I never had to generate a manuscript on a typewriter, I don’t know what it was like, but the ability to go in and shift a sentence around, insert a paragraph, change a character’s name, all without having to completely retype a manuscript?  Brilliant.  Can’t imagine living without it.  The ability to edit is always right there at your fingers.

The problem?  The ability to edit is always right there at your fingers.

There are two directions I could take this.  I could look at the need to push forward, or I could look at the need to edit more deliberately at times.  This is the former.  The latter is on Unleaded.

For me, editing has always been a siren song.  Back in college whenever I was working on a piece of long fiction, I’d start by editing what was already there, and then adding on new material at the end.  The problem with this?  Well, there’s a joke I love.  Guy gets a job painting the stripes down the middle of highways, because that’s the kind of job people get in jokes.  So he goes out the first day and he paints five miles of stripes.  His boss is thrilled, that’s more than anyone has painted in a day before.  Next day?  He just paints two miles.  Well fine, perhaps he exhausted himself over performing the day before, and that’s still well above the average for two days.  Third day?  Not even a quarter of a mile.  Boss calls him into the office, asks what’s wrong, why is his production slipping off so much.

“Well,” he says, “I kept getting farther from the bucket.”

And there was the problem.  I was leaving my bucket at the beginning of the story every time, and going back before I ever went forward.  So the part I was editing got longer and longer, and the amount of energy I had left when I got to the end was less and less.  This killed many an early novel attempt of mine.

What got me out of this funk?  Nanowrimo.  It’s a large part of why I recommend people try the one month novel challenge, because it forces you to move ever forward, not stop and doubt yourself, and certainly not give into the temptation of going back to make just one change.  Now, I’m not going to say this is the best and healthiest way to write any novel.  There’s always going to be some editing that happens as you go, but the trick is to get out of the mindset that everything preceding has to be perfect before forging ahead.  In the days of typewriters, the only direction available was forward.  Stick in the next sheet of paper, write the next scene, because editing wasn’t a simple process of find-and-replace, or highlight-and-delete, it was a more literal process of rewriting.

And this is where my mantra of Writers Write perhaps comes out the strongest.  You’re writing a story, you’re not fiddling with it, pursuing it, editing it, nitpicking it, wandering around it, or any other verb, you are writing it.  So get to it and actually write it.  Then, when you’re done?  That’s the time to go back and really start the editing.

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State of the Writer: June 2011

I got an email last night from Hydra Publications, the house putting out the Steam Works anthology that’ll mark my first actual publication, asking for an Author Bio.  There’s nothing I find more daunting to write, especially early in my career when I can’t easily pad it out with other publications.  That also means that the anthology is still moving forward, and they are still looking for a July publication.  As always, I will keep people in the loop with what I know right here.

So that was a positive note to end a rather positive month.  The month also saw me get rejected from Mammoth Book of Steampunk, but turning the story right around and sending it back out the door.  I got my story done and sent off for Bad-Ass Faeries 4.  Both stories were sent off for June 30th deadline competitions, so there won’t be any news on them until, hopefully, sometime in July.  Also with a June 30th deadline is Future Lovecraft, and I’m up to my elbows in that story.  It’s not turning out to be the smoothest write, but I’m hoping to clean it up a lot, and quickly, in editing.

Had another anthology come across my desk after getting followed by its Twitter account.  It’s called The Memory Eater, and I would pass along more details, but its website looks to be down this morning.  Deadline is July 15th, I remember that much.

Successfully completed two Fortnightcaps, and entered #5MinuteFiction every week this month.  Yay for keeping my brain rotating.

State of the Writer’s Beer: The first bottles of Mustache Cat went into the fridge, and the first has now come out again.  It was a little more bitter than I expected, and the yeast is still in solution, yielding a slight bready flavor, but that’s also Vitamin B.  Strawberry flavor is undeniable, and hopefully everything will mellow out some more with time.  Sat in on a home brew panel at Balticon, and it’s great to see the overlap between brewing and writing.  It’s all about creation, I guess.

Next batch is supposed to arrive at my door step today.  It’s a Lemongrass Ginger Ale that I’ve taken to calling “Space Ale” as whenever I say the name out loud I’ve been saying “Ginger Space Ale” to distinguish it from a non-alcoholic ginger ale (which, yes, also has a space in it, but the point gets across).

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State of the Writer: March

Time again for my monthly look at where I stand, and where I’m going.  Really, this is a bit of recap since I already made a post declaring March as short story editing month.  February saw no news on submitted stories, nor any new stories submitted.  March should see two going out, one that needs and edit, and one that I’m frantically trying to finish for an April 1 deadline but haven’t yet finished the first draft.

Calendars can be scary things.

February was one of my more productive months in far too long.  I’ve always been a momentum writer and I lost a lot of that momentum for most of 2010.  I think this blog is helping me stage the comeback, because even though readership is light according to Google Analytics, it still forces me to look in a mirror occasionally and say “what are you doing if you want to keep calling yourself a writer?”

I was looking for a good anthology to be my next challenge, and can’t seem to find one that really calls to me.  Okay, that’s a lie, I found one that interested me, but I can’t get behind “exposure is your payment” type things.  Sorry, exposure doesn’t get me closer to SFWA membership.  And really, exposure-as-payment deals typically don’t have all that much of the former and thus lack even more in the latter.  So that’ll probably be even more incentive for March to be an editing month.

And who knows, maybe if I get both stories where I like them, even doing some Capsule work.

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Planning March

Without really thinking about what I’ve been doing, I suddenly find myself with either two or three short stories, each written for a specific anthology, and each with a deadline fast approaching.  I always like writing the best when it comes effortlessly, and so getting my head above water and finding out just how far I’ve swum is undeniably exhilarating.  But now comes the inescapable reality, the rip tide ready to pull me out to sea of an overextended metaphor that I shall now stop.

It’s getting damn close to editing time.

And editing time is going to be called “March”.

Right now my top priority is, and has to be, Vampires of Mars.  I can’t overlook the chance for my first pro-rate sale, especially a story that I’ve gotten very excited about now that I finally have a plot.  Of course, my first draft I lost that plot and ended up with 1600 words of ending that I’m going to have to do the old crumple-crumple-toss with, but I’ve got a full week before editing month begins to work out the last bits of the first draft.

Next on the docket is The Luchador, which got some very positive reactions from my favorite group of beta readers over at the Cat Vacuuming Society.  And they all wanted two things: a better title and more.  So in a way I’m glad this has the farthest deadline, since I probably need to increase its lenghth by 50-100%.  Fortunately I have a lot of headroom between myself and the anthology length limit.  It also has a new working title: The Face of the Serpent.  That’s not final.  I should probably get the word fire in there somewhere.  The Face of the Fire Serpent?  The title is a work in progress.

Then there’s a wild card called Back Half.  I stepped away from the story for two reasons, some exasperation with the anthology and some exasperation with the story.  It was hard for me to write, I was never as certain of the plot as I wanted to be, and I didn’t really like the way I brought it all to a close.  However, a rather gracious reply by the editors of the anthology to my less than glowing post about walking away has me potentially considering a revisit.  However, I’m considering it the lowest of the three priorities, even though it has the second nearest deadline.  If I can get the other two stories to a point that I like them and still have time to clean up Back Half before April 7, I’ll give it a go.  Otherwise it’s going to stay where it is, in my own private production hell.

All in all, it’s a great place to be.  Especially given my New Years Resolution of writing six anthology-specific stories.  Three are in rough draft, and it’s only February.  Writing is awesome.

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Unleaded quickie, Nanowrimo

New post up at Unleaded featuring SMBC and me…well, linking right back here again.

Next Monday marks the beginning of Nanowrimo.  This year I’ll be missing a big chunk of the month as I’m heading to New Orleans for a cruise to celebrating the wedding of the proprietors of the Unleaded Blog (yay!).  That means that the standard 50,000 word goal is out the window.  But here’s the thing.  I wouldn’t really want to anyway.  I feel like I’m less than 50,000 words from the end of Capsule, and that trying to put that many more words into it would be contrived.  And I sure as hell don’t want to start anything new, no matter how much I’ve been thinking about a plotline I’m currently calling “The Filibuster” (based on the old definition…shameless 200 Years cross-link).  So here’s my Nanowrimo goal:

Maintain Nano pace on any day that I’m not on vacation until I get to the end of Capsule.  Then work on editing, oh dare I even say it?  End of the Line.

Also, came up with an odd idea for a flash fiction piece that I’m hoping to write and post here in the blog by the end of the month.  Yay, flash fiction!

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Week of Action

Here was the preliminary schedule for my week of action.  I’ll keep this up to date through the week as I do things:

  • Friday: Edit and submit Queen of Belmeth
  • Saturday: Identify market and submit Sleep
  • Sunday: Identify market and submit Div!0 or The Rustler
  • Monday: Edit Capsule, chapter 1
  • Tuesday: Edit Capsule, chapter 2
  • Wednesday: Edit Capsule, chapter 3

Things got to a slow start, as editing Belmeth took more time than I anticipated.  I did the editing Friday night, but as it was getting late, decided I wanted to give the story one last read-over while well rested.  I did one last pass this morning, and sent it off to the contest at around 12:30.  I’m still planning on getting Sleep sent out this evening to catch up to my schedule, probably to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.  It’ll be easier to send out because I’m just going to give it a quick read-over rather than a full edit.

Updates as I have them.

Update: Saturday 9pm.  Sleep submitted to ASIM.

Update: Sunday 5pm.  The Rustler submitted to Hyrda Publications for the Steam Works anthology.

Update: Completed an editing pass on Chapter One of Capsule.  Can’t promise that I don’t want to do another before an editor saw it.  No longer plan to have a copy of the first three chapters on a thumb drive to hand to someone.  That was a somewhat silly idea anyway, no one would be willing to read it but unwilling to wait until the end of the weekend.

Update: Completed an editing pass on Chapter Two.  Even if I’m not entirely thrilled with the results quite yet, it is getting me back into the story.  Yay!

Update: Today’s editing felt the best.  I don’t know if it’s because the original was in better shape or if I’ve just been getting more into an editing groove.  I heard once the idea of writing that you take something through to the end and then start over the first quarter because by the end you’ll have finally found your voice.  Anyway, week of action: epic win.

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