Editing. That’s the mammoth task every writer must face in the process of publishing a book. I know some writers don’t bother—you can easily spot their eBooks like you can an elephant in your corn chowder—but editing is the one essential task that must be done and done to a specific professional level to gain success and respect in self-publishing. It can’t be half-assed, sped through or done with no knowledge on how to do it.
Readers will notice. Other writers will notice too. Even my ten-year-old can spot a spelling mistake.
Unedited books also become fair game to reviewers. Some will politely tell the author there are mistakes or that “this is a good first draft” or “it has potential”, but most will not be so kind.
Here are a few actual one-star reviews from Amazon
Posted by Diane Tibert on December 2, 2013
It started innocent enough. My story idea of a woman who takes up chicken husbandry to avoid the doldrums of retirement was fairly simple, a little silly and a bit laughable.
Here are the first few unedited paragraphs.
The accolades and celebration of forty-three years of service with Canada Post dissipated the first week of retirement. At the age of sixty-five years and seven days Mildred Fowler decided she had received the worst possible birthday gift: unemployment.
The smiles and hugs from coworkers still flashed before her eyes and the din of their congratulations hummed in her ears. Even the sweet smell of Sally’s breath as she toasted to long days of leisure lingered on her nose hairs. She now wondered if they truly believed being sent out to pasture was a happy occasion or if they simply wanted to give her a final hurrah before she entered obscurity. In reality, who really wanted to do nothing all day?
Her son Clyde told her to take up a hobby if she got bored, which he sincerely doubted she would. “You’re where everyone aims to be,” he had said. “You’ve earned this freedom. Take advantage of it while you still have your health.”
“You’ll be able to sleep in,” her youngest son Victor had said on the phone from his office in Summerside.
Posted by Diane Tibert on November 5, 2013
Several years ago–I’m talking about ten or more–I discovered Writing World. I was relatively new to writing fiction and publishing at that time, so the articles on the site really helped me.
When I switched computers (and email addresses) almost two years ago, I lost the subscription to their newsletter and forgot to renew it. As things happen, I forgot about the wonder writing world. Until a few days ago when I went in search for it for another writer.
There it was. Just as I remembered it and just as informative.
Now I want to share it with you. You can check out the Writing World for articles on all aspects of writing, publishing, editing, freelance writing, genre fiction, character building, etc., etc. and etc. There are more than 600 articles waiting for you.
If you’re inspired, you can also write for Writing World. Pay is 7.5 cents per word to a maximum of $150.
Posted by Diane Tibert on October 10, 2013
I read about someone doing this before, but never considered it. I thought it would feel forced. Then it happened so naturally that I had to leave it be. Leave it in my novel.
What am I talking about? Dropping book titles in a novel.
Have you done this? Have you mentioned a book title and/or author in one of your stories? Would you consider doing it? Have you read books where this has been done?
While writing Twistmas -The Season of Love during the summer of 2012, I did. Here’s the loosely edited paragraph in which a book gets mentioned:
Jan took a deep breath to calm her already frazzled nerves. As if this noise wasn’t bad enough, the overhead speakers blasted the same Christmas music she’d listened to for more than a month. She used to enjoy Silent Night, but the scene in front of her was far from it. Again, she wondered how Delanie had talked her into leaving her warm home and venturing out into the cold to endure this headache. She glanced at her watch: 7:18 pm. Under normal circumstances she’d be cosied up to a pillow on the chesterfield, enjoying a cup of tea and reading a book at this time, but tonight Deborah Hale and The Wizard’s Ward would have to wait for Santa Claus.
Of course, I had to use a local author. It only seemed right. It also had to be a book I’d read.
Now, while writing “Throw Away Kittens” I almost did it again. Except it didn’t feel natural, so I didn’t. But the thought was there. Charlie–the little guy in the story–walked into the kitchen to find his mother reading a book. I was about to mention the title, but there was no reason why Charlie would know this, so I left it out.
So have you? Will you? Have you considered it?
Posted by Diane Tibert on October 9, 2013
Long before modern science took over medicine there were brave, knowledgeable women who healed with herbs, oils, honey and many other natural substances. In many villages they were honoured for their wisdom and respected for their ability to heal.
Then came the bad guys. Men who felt threaten by these ‘magical’ women. They began to discredit them. They slowly turned the good names of healers and green witches and everything associated with them into a wicked force.
The bad men continued their crusade to flush out the wise women in the villages and hold them up as examples of evil. The witch hunts killed many wise, knowledgeable innocent women.
Posted by Diane Tibert on July 27, 2013
I love writing. Make no mistake that when I envision characters racing across my mind, screaming at me to tell their stories, I’m listening. And I’m following them, finding out what they’re up to, sharing in their joys, fears and heartaches.
These characters become lifelong companions—like an invisible friend for some kid—who I miss when I’m not writing or reading about them. Now and again, I have to pull them off the shelf and share an afternoon with them. If they died, I’d be lost.
Posted by Diane Tibert on February 28, 2013
I’ve been missing in action a wee bit the past two weeks, but I do have a few good excuses.
1) It was the last two weeks of summer vacation for my kids before school began, and I wanted to spend more time outside with them.
2) I’ve been busy editing a few things which won out over social networking.
3) We’re starting to get ready for winter in little ways. It’s better to do little ways when you live on a farm than run around like the headless chicken bumping into things because you have so many things to do in a big way.
Posted by Diane Tibert on September 4, 2012
Over the past few months, I’ve been gathering pictures and ideas to create a book trailer for my fantasy novel, Shadows in the Stone. I’ve watched about two dozen trailers of various degrees of quality to get an idea of what others are doing. Even the poorest was interesting and held my attention, which meant they worked. The high quality trailers were elaborate with a cast, unique music and played like a movie trailer.
My hope is my trailer falls somewhere in the middle; it’s my first, and although I see a few things that need to be changed, I don’t have the experience to fix the problems…yet.
Posted by Diane Tibert on August 1, 2012
The setting for my first romance novel, Pockets of Wildflowers, is Nova Scotia, Canada. Why Nova Scotia? Because I’ve been from one tip to the other and around most of its shorelines. I’ve cut swaths across it from north to south shore and from north to eastern shore. I’ve bathed in its lakes, peed in its oceans, climbed its mountains and crossed its rivers. I’ve camped, skied, hiked, witnessed every season, endured extreme storms and survived its forests.
Writing a story about people in Nova Scotia feels like home. Everything is at my fingertips.
Posted by Diane Tibert on July 23, 2012
I have a confession to make. I’ve been cheating.
I had good intentions. You can read about them in this post Juggling Summer, Kids, Sheep and Writing .
Unfortunately, the unexpected happened…I fell in love…with the new book I started. I should have seen it coming. After all, it is a romance novel.
It didn’t help that when I created the male character for the female, I created someone who I’d consider a great catch. I’m the writer, so I see through his faults and his lies, and I see what dwells in his heart. Darn it. Maybe I should have made him less likeable, but then, maybe Olivia wouldn’t have fallen for him either.
The woman slapping the man and sending him off to be never seen again doesn’t work in romance novels.
Posted by Diane Tibert on July 18, 2012
Throughout the month of June, I wrangled with what to do with July and August. I didn’t want to see two months pass with nothing accomplished. After all, I have big plans for the fall and couldn’t have things stall over summer, creating a back-log of work for September.
No, I couldn’t do that.
Keeping up with the pace I had set over winter wouldn’t do either since the six hours of ‘free time’ while the kids were in school was gone while they enjoyed summer vacation. Many ideas came to me. Putting my blogs on hold and focussing on my novel and column writing was the obvious course of action to get things done, but I didn’t want to lose ground on the the social front.
Posted by Diane Tibert on July 9, 2012
It was inevitable. Eventually, I knew I’d face the Fantasy Writer’s Exam. I had seen it a few years earlier but had ignored it. This week, it was brought to my attention again.
So here I am, taking the exam created by David J. Parker and Samuel Stoddard at Rink Works. They believe, “Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too.”
That’s quite a statement, and there’s more: “The problem is that most of this “great, original fantasy” is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we’re sick of it, so we’ve compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam.”
Fantasy writers who answer ‘Yes’ to just one question fail the exam and are instructed to abandon their novels immediately.
Posted by Diane Tibert on June 13, 2012
Bronwyn moved off to the side. “To make a firm stance, move this leg back like this. And put the other like this.” With Anna’s feet in position, he slowly moved his hands in an exercise motion to get her to handle the sword efficiently.
After a few tries, she lowered it. “It’s heavy. Your sword is not appropriate to my body mass.”
He picked up a fair-sized stick. “What you need is a slim sword, one weighing about a pound. It looks similar to a long dagger, but you wield it the same as you would a sword. The next chance we get, I’ll show you what I mean. Until then,” he exchanged the stick for the sword, “you can practise the movements with this.”
So how heavy were those swords back in the dark ages? One popular writer, who I won’t name, claimed the sword her character used was ten pounds.
Posted by Diane Tibert on April 12, 2012
The six legs of the ladybug moved in unison across the leaf. They carried the red bug to the base of the foliage where it joined with the stem. Tiny white aphids worked there in the axil, sucking sweet juices from the plant and creating sugar the ants would harvest. The ladybug feasted on the succulent aphids until a robin swooped down, snatched it and flew off to feed its young.
The rush of wings pushed a breeze across the face of the dwarf lying on the forest floor nearby. A soft wind entered his air passages and began to awaken his senses. Gentle but persistent prickles inside his nose and throat roused him further. He breathed deeper. The first dry swallow forced him to generate spit.
Posted by Diane Tibert on March 26, 2012
Sometime during the course of my writing life I somehow decided some to be an appropriate word for many things. After all, it’s generic. I could say sometime, somewhere and simply some. It meant a lot of things. I didn’t need to go looking for the perfect word to describe something; some summed it up.
Some was the perfect word for everything I didn’t want to identify.
Posted by Diane Tibert on March 19, 2012
Since I was a wee lass I’ve hunted for the perfect location for a fantasy novel to take place. Oft times, my camera sat only a stretch away, so if the magic of the scenery moved me, I could attempt to capture it on film. This was more difficult to do than one can imagine.
I’ve found many pockets of wonderful locations throughout Atlantic Canada and on my travels. The pictures I’ve gathered easily show the location, but when it comes to revealing their beauty through words in a novel without pictures, at times they’re tough to describe. That’s when you need landscape lingo.
Writing fantasy requires me to learn landscape lingo, the basic names for the structure of the land. After all, who wants to travel through a bland forest all the time when the countryside, glen and meadow are free for the taking?
Posted by Diane Tibert on February 27, 2012
In a previous post I made a confession: I am a was girl. Was makes our sentences passive and we need to wipe them from the face of our stories unless they’re absolutely necessary. But how do we go about doing that?
Knowing we must do something is different than knowing how to do that something.
Let’s take a look at how I’ve tackled the was words in my current project, the fantasy novel Shadows in the Stone. Chapter 15 contained 4814 words, including 86 was words. When I finished, there were only six of those three-letter words remaining.
Posted by Diane Tibert on February 9, 2012
I love writing for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is because it’s fun. Now and again I stumble upon something that reminds me of this fun factor. Just over a year ago I heard about clerihew. It’s a poem of sort, a few quick, rhyming lines that are intended to bring a smile to the reader.
What is a clerihew?
Posted by Diane Tibert on January 16, 2012
I get it! I really get it! For 25 years, I’ve struggled with point of view. At times I thought I had it mastered only to later realise I didn’t know as much as I thought I had. Now, after reading Gabriela Pereira’s blog post on Do-it-yourself Degree in Creative Writing, I finally get it.
Last Point of View Cheat Sheet You’ll Ever Need provides a blow by blow explanation of POV. If you’ve ever questioned your POV, I recommend printing the post and the Cheat Sheet for future reference. From my experience, these lessons need to be reread now and again to refresh the brain. It’s like they get dusty or get mouldy and need cleaning to be remembered.
Posted by Diane Tibert on December 12, 2011
I didn’t know I was a ‘was girl’ until a few days ago. A fellow writer and I had exchanged chapters of our fantasy novels and she told me I used was a lot. She said it created passive sentences. Passive sentences are not good.
I had never been told this before – or if I had been, I didn’t hear it – , so I was a little sceptical. I ran a search through the chapter I was editing. To my surprise, there were 78 was words. Eek! My next chapter which had half the number of words as the previous had 47 was words, and the next had 75! Sometimes I had four in one paragraph. This wasn’t good.
Posted by Diane Tibert on November 11, 2011