My first novel, His Lady to Protect, is in the hands of my copy editor and will be available on Feb. 14th. It’s a book that has been SIX YEARS in the making.
I thought it would be fun to compare the first chapter of that book, back when it was loosely titled “1812 Trilogy Book 1,” to what it has become. I’m almost embarrassed to do this, for my first effort was SO POOR in so many ways (bonus points if you list them in the comments!), but at least now I (think I) know how to write a little better. (The original, 6 year-old chapter is first, followed by Chapter 1 of HLTP.)
Now, if you’ll please pardon me, I’m going to hide under the covers while you read.
1812 Trilogy Book 1 – Chapter 1
“Do whatever you have to, Susannah, but don’t Continue reading
At the beginning of November, I received comments back from my developmental editor. This was the first time in six years of writing that I’d gotten far enough to 1) finish a book, and 2) submit it to an editor. When I got her comments–which included a letter with general recommendations as well as detailed line edits throughout the MS, plus a 1.5 hour Skype call–I sat back and processed everything she threw at me before making changes, and I’m glad I did.
But once I was done digesting, how did I figure out what to use and what to keep? I listened to my gut.
Just because an editor (or anyone) makes a suggestion, doesn’t mean you make the change. It doesn’t mean you ignore them, either. The rule of thumb I follow is this:
- If one person makes a suggested change, I think about it, weigh the merits, and listen to my gut.
- If one person + my gut makes a suggestion, I usually change it.
- If 2+ people make the same suggestion, my gut is usually quick to follow suit, and I usually change it.
I say “usually” because sometimes (really…rarely) there’s a compelling reason for me not to. If that’s the case, I’ll brainstorm with my critique partners to see if there’s a way to make a different change that remedies the problem or issue they pointed out. In general, though, if more than one person (or my gut and someone else) suggest something or point out a problem, I try to fix it. Continue reading
Author by day, copy editor by night. That’s me. To keep myself occupied in the evenings (I’m not much for watching television) and to help pay for my book cover habit, I take copy editing jobs from select writers. In my former life, I had a ten-year career as a technical writer. Combine all of this experience and one starts to notice particular consistent misuses of various grammar guidelines (I don’t like the word “rules,” because there are some rules made to be broken).
Over the next several posts, I’m going to lay out a few basic guidelines, abuses, and misunderstandings of grammar in the hopes that you, fair writer, will learn them and will put them to good use. If you’re paying for copy editing, this will not only make your copy editor love you more (trust me, it will), but it will reduce the time it takes your copy editor to work through your manuscript.
Disclaimer: I use the Chicago Manual of Style as my “bible” for anything grammar- or copy editing-related. There are other style manuals which may offer differing views. Continue reading
I’m currently attending the Orange County RWA’s California Dreamin’ conference and am having a great time, learning a lot, and connecting with other great writers. I’ll have more to report in the coming weeks about such things as ACX/Audible, great ways to advertise your books for free, and other marketing and selling ideas. For now, though, my best takeaway is this, from Caitlyn O’Leary:
Consider your book a brick-and-mortar store
- Your cover is the storefront
- The blurb is looking in the window
- The sneak peek is going into the store to make a buying decision
- The ads get the reader to your store. (yes, the ads come last, because if your store is a mess, there’s nothing to get your reader in the door)
I’ll have more on this soon.
What are some of the best conferences you’ve attended?
“The more we stur a tourde, the wours it will stynke.” So said J. Heywood in the 1546 Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue. How true is that? I have muddied around with the first several chapters of my book for MONTHS now, but as the Golden Heart deadline approached on Friday, I found myself having to follow the equally proverbial “fish or cut bait.”
In other words, I had to make whatever changes I could get done before the deadline, then send it off on its merry way. (I have few hopes of finaling, but I thought because it’s the last time RWA will hold the Golden Heart–the “Academy Awards” of romance writing for unpublished authors–I should give it a go.)
When I finished my submission, and in conjunction with my Word Of The Year (which is DEADLINES), I told my husband that I was not going to touch those first five chapters again. And he made me sign THIS:
So it’s moving forward, starting with Chapter 6 and going until it’s done and I turn it in to my editor.
Do you put a stake in the ground when it comes to your MS? Do you only allow a certain number of revisions to a given chapter?
I am in the throes of editing my first novel. I’ve never done this before. I’ve written a first draft…numerous times. But I have never gone back through and cleaned it up to make it spit-shined, polished, and ready for the world.
My thoughts on the process? Editing sucks.
I finished my draft, read through the whole thing from beginning to end, and focused on the high-level changes that thought I needed to make. And about ¼ of the way into my first chapter, I was so overwhelmed by my perceived flaws that I didn’t think they were surmountable. I was ready to toss the whole story and start over. At a minimum, I wanted to play the avoidance game, doing such things as scrubbing tile grout or watching repeat episodes of The Queen while eating lots of chocolate.
It was bad. Continue reading