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You Can Edit Your Own Work by Connie Vines

July 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , ,
‘Do I really need to hire a professional editor?’

When you are busy writing your first draft, you can definitely edit your own work.  An editor is usually brought in only when you have a complete manuscript. Whether you’re at an early stage of writing your novel or you can’t afford to hire an editor at present, you can learn to edit your own work. Begin these 6 easy steps:
1. Take a break
This break in between the time that you finish your novel and the time that you return to it for editing is essential for several reasons.
During the time that you are apart from your novel, your subconscious will still be working on it. You will be surprised at the types of connections that you’ll make on returning to the work. If you are a writer who edits as you go, taking small breaks between finishing sections like this can also help. Thus resulting in the growth of fresh story ideas.
Distance from the work allows you re-read with a fresh perspective. On returning to your novel, you will be surprised to find passages that you don’t remember writing; passages that affect you emotionally as though someone else were the author. I call this the ‘goosebumps’ factor (remember the scene in Romancing the Stone?  If not, rent the movie).
With this re-read you will find weaknesses, plot holes, sentence structure that simply doesn’t flow, etc.   Assessing your book realistically is easier after a break as well. While in the process of writing it, you probably experienced times when you thought you were writing an extraordinary novel as well as times of great self-doubt. Now your judgement will not be clouded.
Try not to think about your novel very much during your break (work on one of my other WsIP). If something does occur to you, make a note to come back to when you start your revision. Do not dwell on your new ideas. Calendar your re-read a week or two after completion of your novel. 
2.    Get organized
  • When you sit down to do your revision, you must first get organized both physically and mentally.

Prepare your work-space. Have your writing reference resources within reach.    
Make a schedule for your revision just as you did for writing your novel. Set a goal and stick to it. Do you need a tracking system? Sticky notes? Spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicolored pens/highlighters, or a filing drawer?
Whatever planning you did prior to writing your novel, when you revise you will need to track things such as structure, characters, scenes and plot points to ensure that they all fit together. During your revision, you’ll need to do things like examine each scene to ensure that it moves your novel forward and does what it sets out to do. Your system can be as formal or informal as you like. The most important thing is that any editing system you use is intuitive for you and helps rather than hinders you.
3.    Develop a plan
You should make yourself a checklist for dealing with all the large and small issues you want to examine over the course of your novel. A romance novel, will have one thread showing the progression of the love story.  A crime novel, will require clues are appropriately placed and reveal just enough to the reader. While science fiction or fantasy, will require world-building that is very solid.
4.    Questions to ask yourself
·         Does the book work structurally? If you followed some version of the three-act structure, did you maintain that structure and does it create a satisfying form?
·         Does your plot make sense? What about the subplots? Are there any logical errors? Do the subplots work with the plot, or do they distract from it or make the book seem like too much is happening?

·         Are your characters well-developed? Do they seem like they could exist as flesh and blood? Do they behave in ways that are plausible for them?
·         How is your setting? Is it fully realized? Does it need more or less detail? Is it integral to the story?

·         Are there places in the book where the narrative seems to drag?
·         Do you deliver information to your readers in a way that is engaging?
·         How is your prose? Are your sentences grammatically correct?

This is just a start; you will have your own questions you’ll want to consider. Once you’ve made your plan, it’s time to start the actual revision:

5.    Make multiple passes
Editing is seldom a one-step process. First do a read through. Make notes, about problems, new ideas, structure, language problems. Don’t stop reading and begin revising.  Just make notes.
Next, go through the book more carefully and address the major elements. (# 3) Use your checklists to look at plot, structure, character, setting and the other major parts of your novel. If you find that you are going to be doing major rewrites, you should work on those rewrites before you do any line editing.
After addressing any major issues and completed your line editing, take a look at your prose. It’s now time to read your book out loud. This may seem time-consuming, but nothing compares to reading a piece of fiction out loud for finding clunky phrasings, repetitions and other things that just don’t work (if I’m not careful, my characters spend too much time drinking coffee).
6.     Get feedback

The final step in your revision is having others read your work. You may already have writing friends or belong to a writing group. Some writers(I) find it useful to ask my reader(s) to focus on certain aspects of the book. Remember readers who are not writers notice things, both views are valuable.  

The value of having others look over your work is that they will spot mistakes or inconsistencies you might miss because you are so immersed in the craft of writing.
Editing and revising are not separate from the process of writing. They are just as important as writing drafts. Editing and revising will sharpen and strengthen your novel.  After all, we want our novel to be ‘exactly’ a publisher has been waiting to acquire.
Happy Writing,
Connie Vines


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Brain Food for Writers by Connie Vines

June 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

It wasn’t until I completed this blog post that I realized that my title, well. . .carried an unintended double meaning.

My featured novella this month — Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow– is a Zombie story. And today’s topic is brain food.  Well, brain food for writers, anyway.

On deadline? Obsessed with your current storyline?  Forfeiting sleep, exercise, and nutrition to reach the moment you can type the words The End on the final page of your novel?

Here are a list of grazing foods that you can keep on hand.  High in protein, easy prep, and tasty.

Single serve, or 5 ounces of nonfat cottage cheese.  3 grams more protein than a typical serving of Greek yogurt.

Hard boiled Egg.  No longer shunned due to claims of too high cholesterol, we can enjoy in moderation. You can boil yourself or purchased peeled and packaged at the market.

Peanut butter.  Scoop your own or purchase in single packets, smear on a banana or apple slices.

Roasted chickpeas ( I love hummus and falafel).  120 cals per serving, 5 gram of protein and fiber.
To prep yourself rinse and drained chickpeas in a bowl with olive oil.  Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Oven bake at 425 degrees for 45 mins.

Greek yogurt

Turkey roll ups. Nitrate free deli turkey breast with a squirt of mustard, a slice of tomato, and some lettuce.  Add red pepper slices and baby carrots. Roll and store in a plastic container or foil.

Hummus.  Made from chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil, hummus is a healthy mix of protein and fiber. Use it as a dip for carrots, tomatoes, red pepper, and cucumber slices,

100-calorie almond packets.

String cheese.

Happy Writing & Reading.

Connie

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Dear Diary by Connie Vines

February 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,

It wasn’t I until experienced a seven-hour power-outage during a rainstorm on Sunday that I really pondered the world before electricity.

With the rain and cloud-cover, it was very, very dark and icy cold.  I could actually see the alignment of the five planets quite clearly.  For those familiar with the southern California skyline, you know that we cannot see the constellations or planets unless we drive to Palm Springs, the mountains, or the high desert.  So, combined with the exceptionally cold temperatures and wind chill factor, and an inability to prepare a meal inside my kitchen, I felt as if I plopped into the center of one of my historical novels.

This is what had me ponder the act of writing in a diary.

I hadn’t read a diary (except for research purposes in years).

 As a teen or pre-teen, you probably received a diary as a birthday gift or a Christmas present.  I know I did.  The diary with a lock (which anyone, on a whim, could pick) and a key.  At first, my entries were made daily, then weekly, then, seldom at all.  Later, the diary evolved into journaling for a writing class, or jot down events, or milestone in my toddler’s life.  Now I have a journal app on my iPad that I often use for notes and thoughts about my novels points.

None of scribbles in my journals were as emotionally purging or filled with day-to-day angst of a teenager’s life.

Why?  I believe because most my of my journaling was via the keyboard.

Scientific studies prove the act of pen to paper stirs creative thoughts.

While I have no real interest in keeping a detailed diary for myself

What about fictional characters?  Do you ever have your fictional characters write a diary?
That is when I recalled my salad days are a writer.

When I starting writing fiction and non-fiction for the magazine market.  I published in “Jr. Medical Detective” and “Humpty Dumpty”.  In my article, “A Candle in the Dark” (still available as part of the Thomas Gale Education Series), my heroine, Sarah kept a diary.  The story dealt with the Salem Witchcraft Trials.  I found the diary to be a very effect plot device.  It was also a good way to give the reader information without using a backstory to interrupt the flow of my story.

What are you feelings about diaries in a novel?

Are there diaries you’ve read you found of interest or diaries that change how you viewed the world?
Why is it a good idea to have a diary in your storyline?

Fictional characters are forced by their authors to carry the story (the process of the narrative).  At the most basic level the diary gives you a first-person narrative without the protagonist knowing what is going to happen.

The use of diaries in novels of the past.

Pamela (1740) by Samuel Richardson is usually described as an epistolary novel.  However, our heroine also writes a journal, and then sews it into her underwear for secrecy.

Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë has a skeletal framework of a diary: “I have just returned from a visit to my landlord. . .Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold.”  Mr. Lockwood will learn about true emotion day by day as he finds out and writes down the story of Heathcliff and the Earnshaws.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) by Helen Fielding is well known to be based on the plot of Pride and Prejudice.

The more I ponder the use of a diary in my next novel, the more I warm to the idea.
I have my favorite pen and I also have turquoise Martha Stewart premium journal I received as a gift for Christmas.  While there isn’t a lock and key, there is an elastic band to keep the journal closed. There is also a fabric bookmark so that I may keep my place.

I can picture myself writing today’s date, time, and my first entry. . .Dear Diary.

Happy Reading,
Connie

Connie’s books

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Software Programs for Writers by Connie Vines

December 13, 2015 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,
I was reading my friend, Beverly Bateman’s, blog topic titled Writers Software Programs (Blogging with Beverly on Blog.spot) when I realized this  topic was of interest to me and most likely other novelists too.
I also began to wonder exactly how many programs I used when writing, plotting my novels, balancing the reading levels for my YA stories, etc.   I feel the content would be of interest to writer, readers, and those who man be looking for a program help them make it through the rigors of an AP, university level, or an extension class.

My go-to program is Power Structure purchased via Write-Brain.com.  Since I work in segments: Chapter 1 – 3, etc. rather than scene-by-scene or chapter-by-chapter, this program is adaptable to my thought process.  I am able to work in three Acts, Chapters, Scenes, or any structure model of preference.

Conflict, Subplot, plot point. You can also change almost any term used in Power Structure to suit your personal preference.  Long ago attended a class held at OCC using a writer’s workbook written by Chris Vogler, a Hollywood screen writer, who uses Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero’s Journey” as a plotting bible.  Since I have followed Joseph Campbell’s works and find the “A Hero’s Journey” the best way for me to write a story.

Beverly also mentioned Dramatica Pro.  Pricey, yes.  I believe for characterization, especially for detailed historical novels, or when writing a continuing series, this program was a good investment.

This program also allows you to work on levels for character development. If you so wish, you may print a StoryGuide at each stage of development.  This program also has a number of templates to choose from, e.g., screenplay, novel, short story.  Each comes with an appropriate number of archetypal characters already created, ensuring that each character has a clear dramatic function in the story.

A Plot Progression Window allows me to examine where to place a pivotal point.  There is also a Spin-the-Model Brainstorming option.  This helps when, heaven forbid, I have writer’s block–and much, much less painful than pounding my forehead on mt desk until my muse comes up with a plan.

On my iPad I have several program: My Writing (which I seldom open), A Novel Idea (where I have grains of thoughts/names of future novels) this takes the place of scribbles from my lip liner on discarded pieces of paper I’d find in the depths of my tote bag. I Do Notepad I Do Notepad Pro that I will use but it have a devil of a time retrieving what I have saved.

The Journal app is good for free-flowing thought/plotting etc.  and also for using as a writer’s journal.  You can create labels, change the font and even add a background picture.  This is where I many place the notes from my character interviews. 

Of course, every writer has his or her personal method of developing a story. 
If you have software programs that you cannot live without, please post a comment.  I’d love to hear the details!
Happy Writing,
Connie Vines

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Help For Those Late Night Fights With Your Blog

April 25, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , ,

by Jenny Hansen

Technology has been a fluffy happy kitten for some of my friends and a scary jaw-snapping lion for others. Everyone knows it’s here to stay but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna be their Happy Place.

Last week, I saw an email from one of my blogging pals at 3:30 am because she’d set an alarm TO POST A BLOG. After fighting a migraine the day before. I’ll tell you what I told her: I don’t ever want to hear that any of us got up at an obscene time to post a blog!

For the love of your sleep (which is golden to me as a new mom) and your stress level in general, please schedule your posts!

If you are shaking your head and wondering what I’m talking about, read on my happy friend, read on. You’re about to get a whole lot more sleep. 🙂

Below are the instructions for how to do this in the two most popular blog hosting platforms: Blogger/Blogspot (which is what OCC’s blog uses) and WordPress. (If you’ve got great tips or links for any of the others platforms not mentioned here, please post them in the comments.)

Blogger /Blogspot

From the Blogger Dashboard, click the New Post button. You will be on the New Post screen on the Posting tab.

This screen is where you add text, format, insert Hyperlinks (the button with a globe and a chain link). Below is the Hyperlink screen, which I’m including by request.

At the bottom of the New Post window, you will see Post Options underlined in blue. Click this link to show the extra window detail seen below. This is the area where you can schedule your blog (Marianne, our webmistress, is blessing me right now) and label or tag it for search engine optimization. (Think Google results.)

When you are finished with your changes, click the Publish Post button and this blog will be shown in your list of scheduled posts.

All the screenshots above were done on the old post editor for Blogger (since that’s what I use at work). For the new post editor, click this link. There are several improvements, particularly with the handling of images. I might have to lobby for an upgrade…

To enable the new editor, first navigate to your blog’s Settings Basic tab. Near the bottom of the page you will see a field called Select Post Editor, and from there you simply need to select Updated Editor and save your settings.

WordPress
Log in to your site and go to the Dashboard – there’s typically a toolbar at the top of the screen with a button that says, My Blog. When you click it, a dropdown menu appears – the word Dashboard will be at the top. All the magic is in the Dashboard – Settings, Posts, Widgets, etc. – this is a place to spend time exploring.

To schedule a New Post:

In the toolbar above (to the right of Jenny Hansen’s Blog), there is a button that says “New Post” or you can look on the navigation bar on the left side of the screen. You will see the word Posts and below that is Add New (you might have to click Posts to open this menu).

Go to the Add Post button to get to the Add New Post screen (shown left).

On the right side of the screen, just above the Publish button (which changes to say “Update” once you’ve published), you will see the word “Immediately.”

Click the word “Edit” to the right of “Immediately” (it is underlined in blue) and choose the date and time you wish to post your blog.

Note: If you don’t click OK, this will revert back to “Immediately.”

If you have the Publicize feature turned on in WordPress, an update will be pushed out to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of your choice. You may edit the Twitter/Facebook content by clicking the Edit link next to the accounts that you’re Publicizing. Again, this is just above the Publish button. I also add Tags to my posts to make them come up in more search engine results – this is located down the right side of the screen.

Click the Publish/Update button at the end of all your edits in order to post the blog.

Other cool Techie blogs:

Are You A Learning Addict? by Jami Gold

WordPress Plug-ins at Dear Author – tweeted by Elizabeth Spann Craig (if you are a writer and haven’t found Elizabeth on Twitter yet – @elizabethscraig – you are missing out…her Tweets are legendary!)

Blogger For Dummies – has all sorts of articles for Blogger websites

Keyboard shortcuts while posting in Blogger

Scheduling your posts lets you add three or four posts at a time and get ahead. I think it’s one of the best features available in both these blogging platforms.

What do you love or hate about posting your blog? Tired bloggers want to know! If you aren’t blogging at all, what made you decide to bypass it?

Jenny Hansen fills her nights with humor, writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit and short stories (and walking the floor with her new baby girl). By day, Jenny coordinates training for two accounting firms. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, it’s nice for her to be able to sit down while she works.

Stay tuned each month for Jenny’s blogs on software, computer how-tos, new parenthood and the latest works in progress. The rest of the time you can find her on Twitter at jhansenwrites, over on the Writers In The Storm blog or on her own blog at http://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com.

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