The Writer In You Blog Hop – 2

The Writer In You is a blog hop hosted by Katie at The Fiction Diaries. In her own words, “this is a blog hop for all aspiring writers out there. It is a chance to meet other writers and share tips, writing, and experiences, all while gaining new followers for your lovely blog…” Every Saturday, Katie asks a question that we have to answer.

This week’s question is: Do you outline your writing?

I do outline my stories before writing them. I didn’t use to, but over the years I have learnt that outlining your novel before writing it actually 1) saves you time and 2) helps you be a better writer. Because outlining makes you think about your story, makes you deal with the tough questions (Where is this all going? Is this scene/chapter useful for the plot? What are the arcs in my story? etc.) and makes you solve all the problems BEFORE writing the story. So when your outline is done, you can just WRITE. No excuse.

What about you? Do you outline your writing? Join the fun here and happy writing!

ROW80 Check-In #6 – Self-editing and dealing with repetitions

Hello gentle reader,

last week I tackled the issue of self-editing a novel (here!) and from your comments I gathered that a lot of us have the same problem: repetitions. When we write, we unconsciously repeat the same words or ideas when really, once is enough. Then, when self-editing our work, we are faced with the issue of dealing with those repetitions.

So here is a 4-step guide to help with reducing unconscious repetitions…

Step 1- Identify overused words

Having a fresh look at your novel or a beta-reader read your WIP is a way to identify overused words. However the best way to know which words are the most frequently used in your manuscript is to use a word cloud generator like Wordle. According to its own website, “Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.”  So in our case, and if you paste your manuscript into Wordle, you will get a word cloud where the words that occur the most in the manuscript are the largest. The largest words in your cloud should be proper nouns.

Here is the word cloud for THE LAST QUEEN, which I’m editing during this ROW80:

See? All the biggest words are my characters’ names. If your largest words are “eyes” or “says”, you might want to have a second look at your manuscript…

Then you can…

Step 2- Identify repetitions of effects

In SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS, Browne and King explain:

“Most writers already know to edit out places where they have literally repeated a word or phrase. But the repetition of an effect can be just as problematic. (…) Repetition can rob your writing of its power.” (pp. 175-176).

So you need to check if you have in your manuscript:

–       two sentences that give the same information,

–       two paragraphs that accomplish the same thing,

–       two characters who could be made into one without harming the plot,

–       two chapters that cover the same topic or use the same plot device.

If you do, highlight the repetitions you identify. Once you have done this, you can…

Step 3- Eliminate repetitions

Two is too many…

This is the hardest part. Because this is the time to make choices, to decide what to do with your highlighted words/sentences/paragraphs/chapters. And only you can choose whether to delete or change repetitions.

Step 4- Do a final check

To do so, repeat steps 1 and 2: your word cloud should now only have large proper nouns and you shouldn’t have the same ideas/effects repeated over and over.

That’s it for me. How are you other ROW80 writers doing?

Here is the Linky for the other check-in posts.

ROW80 Check-In #5 The art of self-editing your novel

Hello gentle reader,

6 weeks into ROW80, I am happy to announce that I have had a breakthrough in my self-editing process. As a reminder, my goal for this ROW80 is to edit my YA Fantasy manuscript The Last Queen and to have a final draft for it by the end of June.

So, up until this week I wasn’t very organized to self-edit my novel: I knew I had to cut 20K words and tidy up the whole thing, but the way I went about doing it was quite random and unsystematic.

But this week, I decided I had wasted enough time playing around with my MS and being inefficient. It was time to be professional and serious about this self-editing process.

It was time to slay some bad writing habits and come up with a shiny, edited and readable manuscript.

Today I am going to share my method to self-edit my novel, as maybe some of you, fellow would-be-published writers out there, are still struggling with this process.

Step 1: Finish the first draft of your novel. Your book has a beginning, a middle and an end. Congratulations on making it this far. Now put the manuscript away in a drawer for at least a couple of weeks and celebrate.

Step 2: Recover from celebration. then read two amazing books on the craft of writing.

How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman 

This one is not only a hilarious read, but it will also help you reflect on the main aspects of your novel: the plot, the characters, the setting. It is a great way to evaluate if your book has cartoonish villains, a plot so complex even you have lost track of it, or a setting so clichéd it will make any publisher nod off.

Self-editing for fiction writers by Browne and King

This second book is great for the next step of your self-evaluation: it will help you see the mistakes you have made regarding style, dialogue, points of view, beats, proportion and repetitions.

Once you have read those two books (or others like them), you can move on to…

Step 3: Know your strengths.

These you will know from experience and from the feedback of your beta readers. For example, I know that I don’t really need to amend the plot and characterization in The Last Queen. Devising a complicated plot that falls into place by the end is what I know to do best. Once you know what is great about your novel, you can focus on amending what needs to be edited, rather than wasting time fiddling with characters that are already well-written.

Step 4: Know your weaknesses.

From your readings, you should know by now what is probably not that great in your Beloved Manuscript. One of my main problems in The Last Queen is repetition. For you, it might be settings that are too detailed, lengthy paragraphs with boring content, and so on. Just know what they are. Because it is only then that you can…

Step 5: Make a checklist of what you want to edit in your novel. Edit your novel.

I love lists. They are a great tool when you self-edit as you can have yours by your computer while you read through each scene/chapter. Read each scene, and check it against your list of mistakes. If you have committed any, you edit, then move on to the next scene.

Step 6: Finish self-editing your Precious Manuscript. Celebrate some more.

Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 a few times before thinking about sending your Masterpiece to an agent.

That’s it for me. How are you other ROW80 writers doing?

Here is the Linky for the other check-in posts.

A Round of Words in 80 Days – Check-in #4

Let’s review: last week I missed my weekly check-in as I was away from home without an Internet connection. This week I’m back but I’ve had to change my goals, as what I had decided on four weeks ago is no longer attainable, given my personal circumstances (day job and other non-writing obligations).

So let’s have a look at my goals:

1-        Write the first draft of my new dystopian novel with at least 750 words per day: not anymore. I just don’t have the time. So I will probably write this first draft from time to time, but I cannot pretend I can write it every day, with a set number of words.

2-        Self-edit/revise The Last Queen so that I finally have a final draft for it: this is what I have to focus on. I need to be done with that by the end of June and so far this final draft is not ready yet. So it’s Revision, Revision, Revision for me. My manuscript needs to be 20K shorter, so I have to start making serious cuts in it. Samurai like.

That’s it for me. How are you other ROW80 writers doing?

Here is the Linky for the other check-in posts.

This week on my blog you can find:

an interview with YA writer Rebecca Maizel on writing, reading and her books.

a post on YA best-selling author Lauren DeStefano with her advice on writing a book and getting it published.

inspiring pictures!

Happy writing!