Making Progress on the Sagging Middle

November 26, 2017editing

My goal this November was to complete Julius, but I have fallen short. I planned to plow through my sagging middle but as I began to write, I realized I reached an important juncture in the story that needed less pantsing, but more planning. Thus, November has been spent refining plot and character motivation.

I’m not disappointed with what I’ve accomplished so far because I believe the story will be stronger, but I’ve noticed I have few chapters that are like fish out of water flopping about and gasping for air. I usually try to salvage these, but this time I’m saying adieu. They no longer work for this version of the story.
When I’m not writing, I’m honing my editing skills. I’m currently reading Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon and The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell.

On page three of chapter one of Manuscript Makeover, Lyon recommends that during the revision process writers should cultivate deep listening skills. Reading your story silently to yourself isn’t enough. Read it aloud—slowly and carefully—and you’ll catch all the clunky sentence structures, catch typos, repetition and graceless transitions. By reading in a straightforward fashion, you’ll be developing an ear for deep listening. I used the deep listening method when revising the two sequences of part one of Julius. I not only caught typos, but an inconsistent voice when writing from my MC’s point of view.

I purchased The Artful Edit because I was interested in the case study of  how Max Perkins and F. Scott Fitzgerald worked together to refine The Great Gatsby. Any insight to what turned that into a 20th century classic is definitely worth studying.

Both Lyon and Bell provide checklists at the end of each chapter so that you can review as well as practice exercises. I admit I’m impatient and want to finish the book, but I know it’s in my best interest to do the exercises and pinpoint and correct all the potential problems that I may have missed.

I figure now that I’ve gone this far, I can extend it for another few months until I begin to query agents.

When My Eyes Bleed

April 17, 2011editing
Bleeding Eyes Courtesy of Flickr

The meaning of this post’s title is twofold. In preparing all the HAND/EYE articles for this coming Thursday, I realized  I would have to invest some time in editing one article on Kota Doria. This fabric is used for sarees and other garment pieces. What’s unique about the khat weave (a checkered pattern) is that it renders the fabric almost translucent.  The problem with the article was that a good chunk of the copy had to be reorganized, rewritten and then edited.

I discovered that the author seemed to have little experience in research and then applying what she learned to write a concise and informative piece. I had to take her almost 3,000 word article and cut, reorder, do my own research on the topic and rewrite the damn thing. For the editing process I’ve gotten pretty quick in turning articles around because I know what our readers want to see and can make a quick addition or two. Bur when you have to write the entire piece on an unfamiliar topic and discover that much of the research is taken from outdated multiple sources that’s when the headache starts and little tears of blood appear in the corner of your eyes.

After spending eight hours of working on it, crying that I wouldn’t find the needed information to make it seem fresher, and dreading the moment my fearless editor would find something terribly wrong with it, I was relieved to see that one sentence needed to be reworded and Keith did that for me (sometimes he makes me use my brain a little more).

Now that I’m able to enjoy the rest of my weekend, I plan to edit more of Julius, write my 1,000 words, and read Atlas Shrugged. That’s where the second part of the title comes into play. After my hemorrhaging  tear ducts finally clotted, why would I put myself through the misery of reading Ayn Rand? For Julius, and to help me strengthen my eventual query to agents.  Not seeing the connection? Plainly put, Julius is the anti-Atlas Shrugged and I’m using  it as a point of reference because one character is an avid fan of the lady’s view point.

And now to write that chapter about the FBI and Homeland Security…


Farewell Back Story

February 15, 2011craft, editing, The 'Julius' Chronicles

For the past few days I’ve been in editing mode. I’ve taken my sharp eye and sharp pencil and read through the first seven chapters of Julius, and cut, cut, cut.

A lot of what I’ve taken out is back story. I know. It’s surprising that I, lover of back story, decided that it should go out with the rest of the garbage. But I’ve seen the error of my ways, and I discovered in this past reading marathon that backstory, indeed, slows the narrative down. So one issue has been put to rest.

Unfortunately, however, Julius has many other issues and I have to tackle them all one by one. The first part of the book sets everything up for the second and third parts, so that means I really can’t move forward until Part One is perfect. It’s  frustrating, but it has to be done. In the meantime I can start outlining the second and third parts when I need a break from the editing.

Back to the salt mines…