Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Words, Statistics and Time — the creative life's little problems

Linzé Brandon, Apple Watch on charging stand
Linzé's iWatch on its charging stand
I recently read an article where the blogger/author mentioned that if you wrote 1000 words in an hour, it shouldn't take you more than 50 hours to write a 50 000 word book.
It also means that a full-length fantasy or other novel, typically in the order of 100k+ words, can be done in 100 hours. Now we are talking first drafts here. Editing and all the other activities to get a book to publishable quality, are not included in those hours.
So that means NaNoWriMo should take me (at two hours per day) only 25 days to do. These two hours are what I have available on a weekday. If I double that to 4 hours per weekend day then my NaNoWriMo target should have been completed today - the 19th of November. Since I have not achieved the 50k yet, it means that I am not as efficient as I would like to believe. Based on current performance, and present word count (41010 words) I would then complete the requisite 50k words in two days, the 21st.
Crunching a few more numbers, it means that I have only been 90% efficient at using my time this November. Using 30 days out of a potential 365 days of writing is not a large enough sample to draw any conclusions.
So I went to my word count spreadsheet for the year to see how efficiently I have used my time this year, so far. To do the math correctly, I can therefor only count the days until today - 19 November. This means my calculations must be done for 323 days if I include today.
So here is what my numbers for the 323 days of 2017 look like:
Writing: 208130 words
Editing: 126.5 hours
Until now there were 45 full weekends (ie, 2 days) plus one weekend day (today). I counted Saturdays, but it makes no difference since 1 January fell this year on a Sunday.
So that gave me 323 days x 2 hours per day + 90 weekend days x 2 additional hours per weekend day + today's 4 hours = 830 available writing hours
At 1000 words per hour, I should have written 830 000 words this year!
Let's work with hours; the numbers are just smaller to use for the calculations. Based on the 1000 words per hour premise, I had been writing for 208.1 hours up to today. Add the editing (because I can only do one of the two at a time) my total hours spend on writing projects so far were 334.6 hours.
Now my efficiency does not look that good anymore, does it? Crunching the numbers one last time gives me 334.6 / 830 = 40%.
I have used only 40% of the time I have allocated for writing this year. If this does not bother you, you can rest assured, it bothers the freaking daylight out of me!
To be honest, I type about 1200 words in an hour, which is not helping my case at all.
So where did things go wrong? Alternatively, did they go wrong at all? Am I deluding myself into thinking that writing for two hours per day is what is happening?

Reassessing my writing time slash writing life:

1. I don't suffer from writer's block, never have. So if I don't write, there must be other reasons for not writing - exhaustion, illness, and other obligations. These things happen, I am only human.
2. I read a lot. Since I work full-time, I have to choose between writing or reading in my spare time. Reading does not make me feel guilty for not writing, so those hours (which I have not kept track of) probably account for a significant portion of my writing hours not used for writing. To date, I have read 45 books - not nearly as many as I have done in recent years.
3. Studying. In September and October, I did a management course (on my own time) which required 60 hours of studying and assignments. It inspired me to change direction in my professional life. That means that I am now studying towards my diploma in Life Coaching. Again, hours taken away from my writing time.
4. Art. I have made it a point to do more art this year, and I have. The exact hours recorded are lost in a file that I cannot recover, but I did not spend them writing when I used pencils or paint brushes.
As I sit reading what I wrote here, I realise that I haven't done that badly at all. I completed Camp NaNoWriMo both times on target, I am about to finish the 50k version in the next two days, and while my fourth novel is late, it will still be published this year.
However, I have to ask: was I only 40% efficient? Judging by the numbers, I would have to say yes. However, this is my life, and while numbers don't lie, they simply cannot tell the whole story with all its plotlines, intricacies, and surprises.
Time is the most precious resource we have, and maybe I shouldn't use the number of words I write as a measure of how I spend my time. At least, not as the only parameter. A qualitative element could be more useful. Was that hour, day or week's time happy, satisfactory or fulfilling instead. Something to consider as the approach of a new year lends itself to a new way of doing things.

Until next time!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

My editing tips (as a non-editor) - Part 3

This week my tips are three unusual things you can to do to help you edit your own writing:
  1. Everyone will tell you to hide your first draft in a drawer for at least 4 weeks before tackling the editing. Yep, you should that. It gives your brain a chance to forget what you have written, so you can start the editing with fresh eyes.
  2. Start from the back. Now this tip made me giggle when I heard about it the first time. If you think about it, it does make sense. Start editing at the last paragraph will keep your mind focused on the words written, not the story line. This is a helpful hint for copy editing – finding grammar, spelling and language errors.
  3. Rewrite your story in pictures. Stick figures or little blocks will do the job, if you cannot draw people. This tip helps your editing effort to spot gaps in your plot and timeline. Add cryptic notes, on the actions/activities your characters are involved in.

    Draw a line underneath the block/figures and make notes on the timeline through the story. If you are using flashbacks in time (although not recommended) make sure that your reader knows where the shift is and who the POV character is for the flashback. The same applies for flash-forward scenes.
Lastly, draw an emotional/action line above your storyline.  Indicate the intensity/highs and lows of the storyline. Are the lows too long? Is the action interspersed with less intense activities? Is the emotional roller coaster of your protagonist balanced with highs, lows and normal activity?
Do it by scene or chapter – it will depend on the type of story you are writing. See the example below for a high action scene.
editing tips. editing for writers
Do you have any unusual tips for editing that works for you? Why not share it in the comments, it might just be the tip someone is looking for.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

My editing tips (as a non-editor) - Part 2

I don’t have any formal typing training, so whatever speed I achieve depends greatly on my mood and the phase of the moon, i.e. there isn’t any to speak of.
Accuracy sucks and I hate those wiggly red lines my word processor uses to show me that a word has been misspelled.

With the spellchecker deactivated while I am writing, the chances of errors are huge to say nothing of all the other mistakes I make. So here are my 3 tips for editing this week:
  1. Run a spellchecker - especially if you are an editorial/typing idiot like me. I write in UK/SA English and thus consistent use of the “s" versus the “z" in many words are paramount. Check that your spellchecker use the same version of English throughout the document.
  2. Be careful when you use regional slang words that might be confusing or not directly clear from the context of the scene. In South Africa we use words such as “eish” and “ama-zing” that may not be the familiar or in the same context as it is meant to be used. I try to avoid those in my writing. If you use such words, make sure the context is such that the reader can deduce the meaning, or intention behind it.
  3. Incorrect words for the context may not be detected by a spellchecker. Words such as “life” for “live” or “from” instead of “form”. Even recently I spotted mistakes like these in a book, clearly overlooked by the author and the editor. It does not need to happen. I keep a list of these words that I perpetually mistype. Want a few examples? fro, form, fir, than, sate, desert, etc.
    When I finish the first draft of my book, I run a search for all the words in my list. Of course sometimes the context is correct. Then there is the 99% of the time where it is wrong. I can fix those without making my editor roll her eyes at me.
You can do all of these too. It saves time so your editor will spend his/her time on the important parts, and not fixing these mistakes that you can easily correct yourself.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

My editing tips (as a non-editor) - Part 1

I might have mentioned a time or six, that editing is not my strongest skill when it comes to writing. It still means that I have to edit my work, before sending it off to a professional for that final touch. So what do I do, since I don’t know what I am doing?

Over the years I have learned a few things about editing in general, but also about things that work for me as I start preparing a manuscript for publication. Here are the first 5 tips that work for me:
  1. I print the manuscript on paper. Being sensitive about environmental issues, I print the manuscript, two pages per page and double sided – thereby reducing the amount of paper used by 75%.
  2. It is an established fact that we retain more information from reading on paper than a computer screen – hence the print. After printing, I read it beginning to end, no editing, with the exception of spelling or obvious grammar mistakes.
  3. I used a set of fine markers – all colours – to tackle this editing phase. Small things like missing or incorrect punctuation marks, red pen. Editing text, or adding more words – colour of the day. This also helps me to keep track to see if I am on schedule. If I plan to publish a book, say the 21st of April, I need to plan my own editing to be finished by 24 March. This will give my editor enough time to apply her red pen, and myself enough time to work through those editorial gems for updating my work.
     Allow yourself enough time for this process. There is nothing more frustrating to a reader, waiting in anticipation for your next book, to be told that you have extended the publication date.
  4. I edit with a notebook next to me. Despite my good intentions, it takes me about two years to write a novel. This means that there are some things that I forgot, or that was not quite sorted out while I wrote the first draft. (Reminder: while I plan some aspects of my books, I am a pantser at heart). Therefore the notebook. Place names, detail descriptions of the setting, that sort of thing. My notes help with consistency throughout the story.
    In Michael’s Mystery, the people of Kryane live in a desert and I had to be super careful with descriptions on how they dressed and how they lived. Strappy dresses and flip-flops won’t work.
  5. Titles and other forms of address sometimes give me headaches. Using capital letters or not for titles, and references to deities, God and royalty becomes part of this process. Consistency again, and sensitivity to context especially when it comes to religion, is one of those notebook entries of mine.
     In Michael’s Mystery, the High Lords and other magicians are addressed as lord this or lady that. Writing the first draft I don’t worry about capitalisation of titles or not, but during editing, definitely.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Infographic Thursday: Oops, not again!

Infographic from
I have recently read an article about famous writers, alive and dead, who chose to write their novels by hand. While I write my books on my computer, I still enjoy the weight of my heavy Waterman fountain pen when writing in my journal.
I claim no perfection in my writing, but I feel that I make fewer errors when writing by hand. Am I going to start writing my novels or short stories by hand? Hell, no! If I did I will never finish anything, simply because of the time it will take to do that, and then transcribing it to computer for it to be published.
I suppose like most people, non-writers included, I have come to rely on word processors to fix my mistakes even as I make them.
But computers don't know what we want to write, it uses an algorithm to correct words to be the closest match to the wrong word we typed. Or the rules of good grammar that is programmed into its code.
So it really is up to us to check what we are writing, and understand that the words we are using are the ones we intended to be there. Then again it helps if you know a good editor.
Do you still struggle with these annoying little mistakes as I sometimes do despite all the words I have written and published?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: Using Mindmaps

To be honest I am not a plotter, but a pantser. I have tried plotting and for some reason my characters will always do what they want and never as I planned the story. So if you are a pantser like me, there is a tool that can help you to give some structure to a story - even if you let your characters make their own choices and mistakes. It is called a Mindmap.
The funny thing is that even if you are a plotter (and actually manage to control your whole story universe) this tool can also be useful to you.
There are software packages out there that you can buy, and then there are free options too. Check out the best options for your pocket and application.
Mind maps are exactly that. Mapping of a problem or a solution or a process that helps you think about it, and change it according to a set or rules (or not!) that you define.
And it has an infinite number of applications, even if you are not a writer at all!

Let's look at the example below:

Since I write mostly romance, what you see here is a basic starting point for a romance story. The details are not limited to a certain type of romance sub-genre, and you can adapt and change as your story moves along. Even if your characters make unexpected choices, you can then map possible outcomes and decide from there which one would suit your story or characters the best.
This is especially useful if the story is part of a series, and you need to keep in line with the overall plot of your series.
You will notice mapping of some background details - like the place and time to help you keep track of those. But the basic idea is simple: whether you are a plotter or a pantser, here is a tool that could help you in writing the story you have always wanted!

Do you use mind maps? How do they work for you?

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: Proofreading (a guest post)

A humorous look at the difficulties when proofreading for a friend

Isn’t it funny how we can sit and write our hearts (and minds!) out, then pour over our own words with great diligence yet miss some basic errors of grammar or spelling? Okay, sure, spell check helps but still, we do miss the odd few (!) and there always seems to be a better way to write it. Then a stranger asks you to proof read their work and every mistake stands forth, lit up in neon lights with arrows flickering. The secret part of us knows we wouldn’t have made that mistake (sure!) so how simple it is to make the mark and suggest a correction.

Okay, so we often miss our own errors yet we pick up those of strangers with seemingly sure simplicity. Great! Until a friend asks to proof read their work of art. “Of course,” I answered. “No problem. Will be great to read your work…Cannot wait…Thanks!” and I truly felt good, almost honoured, that he had entrusted me with what I know has been so difficult for him to get out and down. Writing that has taken hours to think about, craft, and meld into a story, events that have been heartbreakingly difficult to express. What a privilege.

Until the third page!

How could I put so many red marks? Surely, they can’t all be errors? I start proof reading my own proof reading. Yep, it’s simply not the right spelling, not the right grammar. One just can’t put it down like this. And it’s only the third page!

Take a break. Have some coffee. Start again.

By the middle of the book, I’m beginning to realise why it took him so long to write it. Then, after all the red marks (thank goodness it’s digital – can always take them out later I think), I suddenly have an idea. One I’m sure we’ve all had at some stage maybe: where is the line between entertaining the reader and telling the story in the way you want it told and satisfying all the literature and language pundits who will crit the spelling, the grammar and the structure?

Colloquialisms (as in words used informally but not in formal speech or language, or words expressing ideas other than their true meanings), cultural idioms, pronunciations, accents, language localised to specific communities and groups all play a huge role in telling a story and encouraging the reader to identify with certain characters, situations and events (now there’s a sentence in need of proof reading!!). So, how much do we sacrifice for our story and the effect we are looking for and, more importantly maybe when proof reading for a friend rather than a stranger, how much do we ‘correct’ and mark, with friendship in the mix?

I’m off for a break and another coffee!

About Rob: 
Originally trained as a Classical Pianist and in Drama and Theatre Arts in the UK, Rob moved to South Africa and into the medical world. He trained and registered as a Nurse and Midwife and then moved into Sales and Marketing of Medical products. All this time, writing was a passion and words a way of life.
Rob is currently living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a day to day challenge, but continues to write. His latest novel is ‘The MageStaff’, fantasy novel available at and on iTunes, Kindle and Amazon and he has been asked to compile his poetry.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: Proofreading for a Friend (Guest Post)

To proofread or not to proofread...for a friend

Proofreading for a friend…I’ve been on both sides of this particular transaction and it’s schizophrenic all round! 
As the proofreader/editor, you want to be both kind and honest. As the author, you want to receive both kindness and honesty. In both cases, there is the fear that too much of either will damage the friendship.

2011-08-21 20.48.12.jpg
Let’s take a closer look at kindness first. Friends care about each other’s feelings – it is one of the fundamentals of friendship. We don’t like to hurt the other or be hurt by her. As an author, I trust the friend I ask to proofread to care for my manuscript as much as I do. I want her to respect it, not laugh at it and certainly not use my blunders to spice up conversation around her book club dinner table!

As the proofreader, I am keenly aware that the pen in my hand (or the track changes function on my laptop) can be experienced by my friend as a cold blade slicing into her back. Allowing myself to comment as freely as I would on a complete stranger’s work, could be a bridge too far.

But how then does one deal with honesty? Is the answer to sacrifice it on the altar of friendship? I think not. Doing that would be the ultimate act of betrayal. In addition to being kind, friends count on each other to save them from embarrassment. Would you let your friend walk through the mall with a length of loo paper trailing from her skirt? Of course not. Similarly, you can’t call yourself BFF and in the same breath allow her to publish a manuscript rendered see-through by plot holes. As an author, I really count on my friend-readers to save me from myself.

But is that a realistic and, even more importantly, fair expectation?

Having thought about this question for a while, here is my conclusion: it is not fair to throw an unsuspecting friend into the whirlwind of proofreading. It is not fair to make her the custodian of all the emotion that constitutes a manuscript.

So, does that mean you are on your own, relying on the kindness, or indeed the cruelty, of strangers? Again the answer is “no”. The word “unsuspecting” in the statement above is the key to the conundrum.

I truly believe that friends who have experienced and therefore understand the agony and the ecstasy of writing, can be the best people to help exercise your manuscript’s wings before you release it. They know how much of yourself is contained in every word. They know how long and lonely the night before the deadline can be. And because they know, they should (and thankfully often do) find the delicate balance between kindness and honesty.

It is then up to you to find the balance between pain and pleasure when you respond to the edits.

About Charmain Lines:
I have always earned my living with words, first as a corporate communicator in a state-owned enterprise and for the past 7 years as an independent consultant. Increasingly, writing and publication production have become the mainstays of my business. I am fortunate that not a day passes without a story of some description leaving my desk. The jump into fiction writing happened 2 years ago. I am planning to publish my debut novel – a character-driven drama about family relationships – within the next few months.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales - Lesson 5

Editing your Story: Using the Stylesheet for Copyediting tricks

As mentioned in Lesson 3 Copyediting is more than just using the right tenses and pronouns. In a fantasy world, your reader has no idea what the place looks like so it is entirely up to you to describe it.
In my fantasy series the first two stories take place mainly on a planet that I called Xa’an. To me as the author it is a living, breathing place full of people, magicians, dragons, rain forests, cities and a desert. But since my readers can’t ‘see’ that, I have to make sure that not only do I describe it to them, it has to be a consistent image to them in scenes where my characters walk through the village of Akan, or the streets of Ikea.
While the copyeditor is as much reliant on my words as my readers are, I can draw a map of both these places on paper or screen for me to keep track of what those places would look like. These maps can then be part of my style sheet.
Copyeditors check facts and truths as part of their service to the author, but in a fictional world these facts and truths are purely figments of the author’s imagination.
However, if I have defined my fictional universe to have two suns, and space travel and shape shifting dragons, which it does, some truths will still apply. The laws of physics do still apply, and the accepted truth that an evil being in one form is not going to turn our to be the saviour of humankind in another.
Of course, you can make your universe and characters any way you want, but there are some things that cannot be made believable just by wishing it to be so. Pushing the boundaries is what science-fiction (and sometimes fantasy) is all about, but being consistent in the presentation of the facts and truths as you define it is essential.
In my fictional universe some of my characters have unusual abilities, but they are still people with flaws and limitations. A good character definition helps make a character come to life in my mind while I am writing, but the Style Sheet can have a short list of the major traits of the main character. For example: T’ara in Géra’s Gift is constrained by her gift when using magic, while Elizabeth in Keeper of the Dragon Sword, has the same gift is constrained by having no magic at all, and yet had to learn to fight people who did.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: A Guest Post on Proofreading

I am fortunate that my writers group have some amazing people that volunteered to proofread my manuscripts. This post is the first from the group members on proofreading- her details are at the bottom - Linzé

Proofreading, a necessary evil? 

A flutter of white, printed pages or the digital letters birthed with blood, sweat and tears which reside in the memory banks of your computer means that you have finished your prized possession. For any writer this is where his heart lies and where his very soul is poured out. The next obvious step in this process is to place your jewel encrusted manuscript in the hands of proofreaders. This act is analogous to giving your newborn baby away and expecting others to care for it as you have. It is an excruciating, nerve wracking process and as a proofreader and writer myself, my sympathies lie with the writer.

Imagine the shock of getting your “perfect” manuscript back, filled with the red squiggly lines, words and sentences of Microsoft Word’s editing option, not to mention the paragraphs inserted by the proofreader to question the meaning of a particular section or requesting the enhancement of a character. Worse yet are the question marks which signify the prooreader’s inability to plumb the depths of the writer’s thoughts or (dare I say it) logic. I am reminded by the epic words of Forrest Gump: “Run, Forrest, run!” of what this feels like. However, running away won’t fix it. The writer now has to work through the proofreader’s changes, decide what to accept as gospel and what to dump in the trash can. How objective can a writer be when so much of his soul has gone into the creation of the manuscript? Not very, I can tell you from experience. It remains a very personal thing.

This inevitably leads me to the next questions: Is proofreading in any way, shape or form meant as a personal attack on the author? How sensitive should a proofreader be to a writer’s emotions which are indelibly linked to his work? Does this sensitivity change when you proofread for a friend as opposed to a stranger? Is it really necessary to change the voice and style of the author if it doesn’t suit your predilection?

As a proofreader, writers should always bear in mind that I do this for the love of the written word. Sure, there is remuneration involved, but it is and always will be a huge honour to be entrusted with such a fragile thing as a finished manuscript. I tend to handle it with the greatest of care, respect and sensitivity. To write is not an easy thing; it is the bearing of your naked soul, the dissection of who you are and what you believe. It allows others to criticise your very being. It may sound cliché but before I sit down to proofread, I remind myself of these very facts. Tread carefully, this is holy ground.

Never in my life have I seen proofreading as a form of torture or character assassination. Proofreading exists solely as a method of sculpting or moulding a work on its way to perfection. It is therefore to be seen as a resource that is complimentary in nature to the writer’s work. Proofreaders fix the syntax, spelling, and tense mistakes. We look at the continuity from one chapter to the next with regard to where the characters are physically and emotionally, the progression of the story line, intrigue or suspense. We make sure that the writer’s characters exhibit growth as well as behaviour and mannerisms synonymous with those the writer has laid down in the beginning of the novel. If the character was seen in the possession of a gun in the previous chapter, for example, that gun should not re-appear as a candlestick, wrench or rope (my thanks to the game Cluedo) in the following one. We make sure that inconsistencies are ironed out.

A good proofreader is a sensitive creature, mindful of the writer’s emotions and investment into the manuscript. For me at least one of the most important, unbreakable rules is to be kind. There is such a thing as negative criticism. Try in all your dealings with the writer to remain positive and uplifting. By all means write a paragraph or sentence if a portion of the manuscript struck you as sheer beauty, prosaic elegance or literary abandon. Fix mistakes quietly, even if that mistake is repeated ad infinitum. Be ever mindful that there is a human being behind the written word. By this I do not mean that you should pussy-foot, for then you are not doing yourself or the writer any favours at all. The manuscript needs to be ready to leap into the arms of the publishing houses and this is part of the work of a good proofreader; the responsibility is immense.

I would like to say that I am able to remain objective at all times, regardless of whether the manuscript belongs to a friend or a stranger. In most respects I do, but remember that we are human too and at times we do tend to tread lighter; it is in the nature of Homo sapiens to treat those belonging to his or her own group with more empathy and compassion, or am I grasping at straws? This slightly more sensitive approach to friends does not lie in the correcting of obvious mistakes but rather in our synopsis of the novel we supply at the very end of our task. Here the personal feelings of the proofreader towards the novel may be mentioned as well as the smoothness or lack thereof of the reading experience. In spite of these all too human drawbacks, we do try to be objective throughout. It bears mentioning that we too are susceptible to the odd mistake or oversight, again I blame my DNA.

DO NOT (EVER) CHANGE THE VOICE OR STYLE OF THE WRITER. This is a cardinal rule. Respect the fact that the writer has written the manuscript to convey certain feelings, emotions, milieus and sociological backgrounds. Far be it from any proofreader to change the style or specific voice from minimalistic to prosaic, from blunt to expansive or from aggressive and violent to passive and peaceful. It is simply not your right even if the style or genre is not to your taste. Face it if this is your job, how many of the manuscripts you proofread are going to fall within those preconceived parameters anyway?

In conclusion and on a personal note proofreading is a necessary evil; we need more perfectly nurtured manuscripts out there. As an avid reader I have seen too many mistakes slip past proofreaders, editors and publishers not to take this seriously. The writer’s work and the future of the manuscript depend largely upon the look and feel of it when it eventually ends up in the hands of literary agents, editors and publishing houses. If it is a cared for and well presented manuscript the success rate soars exponentially.

In the end proofreading is an adventure; a veritable treasure hunt I will never tire of nor pass up if I have any choice in the matter. In truth you would have to pry manuscripts out of my dying, bony hands to get me to stop. I simply love it!!

Bio: Vanessa von Mollendorf

I am primarily a visual artist with two exhibitions behind me. I work in oils, acrylics, pen and pencil. An avid reader and proofreader. At the moment, I am trying to finish my first crime novel. My short story compilation is currently being viewed by an e-book publisher- keep your toes crossed. Amongst all these things I am also a pug breeder and mother of two sons.

Follow Vanessa's blog at

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales - Lesson 4

Editing your Story: Using the Stylesheet Proofreading Trick

I am presently reading Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies by Suzanne Gilad, a lady of considerable experience in these fields. Now you might argue, correctly too, that the book was written for somebody who wants to pursue these activities as a career. I have no ambition to be either of those professionally, but I did quickly sense that learning how a professional did these tasks could also benefit my writing as a romance author.

Let’s examine the proofreading tips of the Stylesheet that I have posted here:
As a South African my English more closely resembles that of a British person, that is why the Oxford dictionary and the UK setting on my spell checker. It is a choice, but it has to be employed consistently (1).
Also, Keeper of the Dragon Sword is the second novel in a series. So any words that I used in Géra’s Gift during the magic battle scenes, I have to use again, in the same manner and spelling (1) and (4). So when someone reads Keeper after Géra’s Gift (which I sincerely hope they do) suddenly using a firestrike, instead of a fire-ball would be irritating my reader and that would be the last thing I want.
Employing the same substituted words (my characters have a more formal way of expressing themselves) is also essential in a series (3), and that includes the descriptions of my main characters’ designations (6). Going to great lengths to address Géra as ‘my lord Grandmaster’ in the first book, would really seem demeaning to just call him ‘the grandmaster’ in the rest of the series.
Something that I find particularly irritating in myself is my constant mistyping of words that the computer spellchecker would miss. Words like, ‘fro’ instead of ‘for’ and mistakes like ‘a the’ as opposed to ‘at the’. Since I do it with such regularity I made a list of them to check during editing. The list here (4) is incomplete, but I am sure you understand my point.

It is therefor important to be consistent, especially when writing a series of books.

In Lesson 5 we will look at the Copyediting tricks that you can employ using the Stylesheet.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales - Lesson 3

Editing your story: Be your own Proofreader and Copyeditor first

About a month ago, I asked four fellow writers to proofread PERFECT for me, before I published it. You know, just to make sure the language and grammar is as it should be. What I got back was the proofreading feedback from three people, and copyediting comments from the fourth.

Now I have to confess my ignorance - either of my knowledge of English or my own stupidity. Probably a bit of both, since English is not my home language. I thought that proofreading and copyediting was the same thing, and yes, they are not.

My proofreaders caught all my punctuation, language and grammar errors, as I had expected they would. Grateful for their feedback I copied their redlines into a document with the original to make sure I didn’t miss anything, since they did not all find the same mistakes, as you would expect. The fourth email message was the surprise - and not a bad one either!

Her feedback was about the contents of the story itself. Now I have to give a little of the plot away here. Dal is fe/male. That means he/she is genderless so the piece was written in first person point of view, as the normal pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she’ would not have worked. Describing someone as an ‘it’ did not quite come across comfortably either.
My friendly copyeditor suggested changes in the text to better bring out the relationship between Dal and Andrew and she also pointed out that I had a knight-in-shining-armour riding-to-the-rescue ending to resolve a problem in the plot. A definite no-no.

So here are the fundamental differences: a proofreader checks the language and use of language in your manuscript; the copyeditor takes it a few steps further to check facts, voice and plot issues as well.

Lesson 4 will show you a helpful way to deal with both proofreading and copyediting in your own writing while you write or edit.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Tips, Tricks and Tales – Lesson 2

Editing your Story: Draft manuscript written, now what?

It is a truth universally acknowledged (if I may be so bold as to paraphrase Jane Austen) that once you have completed that first (albeit a brilliant or crappy) draft, that you should stick it somewhere dark and forget about it.
Now before you think that it has to disappear into the murky depths of your drawers to aquire many layers of dust, it is only to let your mind rest from the exertion of writing it. If you write like I do, my mind never rests until I get to that last period at the end, you will need the break. Whether it be a day, a week or a month, step away.

Do something else. Rest. Take a holiday. Then tackle the next bit that truly sets the tone of that jewel hidden in all the words you have bled onto your computer screen. How long this period is depends on you, but all the research I have done, and followed myself, recommend that this is one very important step towards producing your next book.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Tips, Tricks and Tales – Lesson 1

Editing your Story: Why is it necessary to edit?

As with many other people in this world, English is not my native language, and yet I still prefer it as the language to write my stories in. Does this excuse any mistakes that I would make as a result? Never. And there are a few reasons for that, but the most important would be respect for my readers.
If I don’t make the effort to ensure my manuscripts are as correct they could possibly be, I would be insulting my readers if I delivered sloppy work and then expected them to pay for it.
Let me tell you the reason I decided to write this series of blog posts. When I decided to self-publish my first novel, Géra’s Gift, I was pleased that the publisher offered copy-editing services as part of the package that I purchased from them.
I was, however, really chuffed when they didn’t find many mistakes in the manuscript. After a re-check, I found two more and then it was published with all the corrections. Of course, I am under no illusion that it was perfect, as pointed out by a friend who found three more grammar errors after it was published. Still, three mistakes in a book of ninety odd thousand words can probably be forgiven. They were not glaring mistakes either, so I wasn’t worried.
When the short story, Hunger, was done, I decided to do my own editing, given the track record I had with Géra’s Gift. After it was published, a friend who is also an editor, pointed out some mistakes to me, and brought my arrogant self down a notch or two or three. Five errors in a 7500 word story is not the kind of quality I was striving for. Although these were minor, I was not happy since it seemed that I was getting worse not better.
So lesson learned, I asked several friends and acquaintances, all of them writers, to proofread Perfection for me. And boy, am I glad I did. Upon reading their comments, I decided that there had to be more to this editing business, and I was right.
Stick around as I share with you the tips and tricks that I find, and try them out as I do my final editing on Keeper of the Dragon Sword.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Editing and Rewrites

Finishing Keeper of the Dragon Sword is not going to plan. If it did, I would have been finished by now. The cover design is getting there (looking great actually) and only a few tweaks here and there, and it will be done. I wish I could say the same of the contents.

The hold-up is me of course. The editing is more than just fixing a few spelling mistakes, and language errors. In chapter 4 there is a mating scene in the original text that never quite worked. The writing is fine and the scene is fine, but it did not fit the plot, not so early in the story at least. Moving it to a later time slot won't have the same impact on the story, so I needed to change it. Change the whole thing.
The two dragons did need to meet. The sexual tension needed to be established, but an actual mating did not quite fit. Not yet.

The editing will hopefully now proceed with more enthusiasm, as that scene is now sorted and my mind can move on to the next. It might need another edit, but in terms of the plot, it works much better now. There is another scene rewrite coming, and this one will be a touch more difficult. Writing a sex scene can be a challenge. Writing, or rather rewriting, the first sexual encounter between two people after they were involved in a violent sexual ritual, now that is not going to be easy.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Before I even can get to that problem scene, I need to finish editing chapters 5 to 8 first. Progress is on the cards this week.

BOOK RELEASE: SOLANGE an ebook by Linzé

Will she get the future she wants? M/F/M Erotic vampire romance (18+ only)   Solange knows that she is not like the average woman who...