A Writing Journey

Posts tagged ‘novel’

Cartographer’s Quest Teaser

Cartographer Lacey Wentwether has worked hard to claim her place in the Empire. When not restoring maps for the august University Library, she travels across the continent with a team of archaeologists to map and catalogue distant ruins. Tom is one of those archaeologists – and the man Lacey secretly loves.

While working in the remote Dosid Mountains, Lacey and Tom make a chance discovery triggering a chain of events that threatens to destroy the life she’s built. To protect her future she must uncover the secrets of an era past and as she delves deeper into the mystery, she finds both allies and enemies in unexpected places.

Joined by her steadfast friend Kosaeken and the imperious Prince Nicondre, Lacey embarks on a harrowing journey that risks everything she holds dear. As she faces the reality that her life may never be the same, Lacey must decide who to trust, who to protect, and what she is willing to sacrifice.


The first chapter of Cartographer’s Quest will be released on my Patreon page on Saturday, May 1st to patrons. In addition, the first map of Ilruin, the world in which this story is set, will be released at the same time to the public on my Patreon page. Don’t miss it!

Follow this link to view my page on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/emilyfelixart

Self-Editing

Your first draft is done, and you may want to start sending it out or letting people read it straight away. You shouldn’t. Let it sit, let it rest, and then after a few weeks (or months, or whatever), come back to the desk and look at it afresh. You will see bits and pieces that don’t fit, rocks among your gems, and you will get to work editing.*

So how does one go about self-editing? It’s a tricky business, I’ll tell you that. It’s tricky because you know what you’ve written, and you may either be sentimentally attached to certain parts of the story that need to be seriously changed (or deleted altogether) or you may skim over your writing and miss things that need to be fixed. If you are like me, you may intentionally gloss over something that you know is wrong, but you aren’t sure how to fix it yet.

Thus the first step in self-editing is to READ CAREFULLY. In fact, read out loud, slowly. When you do this, you will catch things that you would likely not catch reading silently (think awkward word pairings, misspelled words, horrifyingly long sentences). Read once through without changing anything.** Doing this will give you a good sense of your story, how it flows (or doesn’t) and what places need work. Once you’ve read through, go back to the beginning and get started editing with the following tips:

1.Get rid of your “catch phrases”

We all have certain words or phrases that we tend to use more frequently than others. You’ll notice them as you read, and you will remember them. A few times through the book is okay, because your reader may or may not remember that the phrase you used on page 238 is the same as on page 24. HOWEVER I will advise to use particularly “pretty” phrases or words (think quiescence) only once. A word that your reader has to look up or a phrase that they will linger on WILL be remembered. Go ahead and rework these phrases, choose different words, and go on from there. You may have to do this several times.

2. Cut “very”

Do you remember the scene from The Dead Poet’s Society where Mr. Keating talks about “very”? He warns the boys to pick stronger words. And now I’m warning you. If you are using “very” to beef up your verbs or adverbs, you need to work harder. And I know it’s tough. Sometimes you just can’t think of the perfect word. That’s why we edit more than once, and why when we are writing the first draft, we don’t worry so much about “verys.” But to make your novel as strong as it an be, pick “crucial” instead of “very important.”

3.Check your POV

No matter if you are writing in first or third, point of view is crucial to your story. (See what I did there? Huh, huh?) First of all, you should pick a point of view and stick with it. If you pick to follow two characters, alternating between them, don’t all of a sudden drop one (unless they die – which in that case I hope it’s a mystery and we know something the protagonist doesn’t!) or add a third. I’ll give you an example. If you’ve been a follower here for a long time, you know that I LOVE Robin Hobb. This is probably the only complaint I will ever have against her. In one of her recent novels, she changed perspectives and started following a different character – without any indication that this is what she was doing. It was confusing and, to be honest, it took me a couple pages to understand. I did understand, but for those few moments I was not immersed in the story – and our goal as writers is to keep the reader immersed.

When you are writing a single character, try to make sure that every word you write reflects that character. If your own biases or stylistic word choices slip in, cut them. Be careful about consistency. Your novel will shine when you are consistent.

4.Grammar, typos, and formatting

The general stuff, right? Make sure you use correct grammar (or stylistically consistent grammar). Correct misspellings and repeat words. Make sure that your formatting is consistent throughout the manuscript. It’s tedious stuff, but important. Publishers and agents expect a level of expertise when it comes to writing.

I hope these tips will help you as you begin self-editing, and if you have more, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Take care,

Emily

*You may also need to rewrite huge swaths of your story. This is fine. This is expected. This is probably needed.

**Mark places that you feel need work, if you must. But try your best to refrain from changing things! You want to come into the work with “fresh” eyes – as a reader not a writer. It will help in the long-run, I promise.

Packet Ready

So I posted a while back that the manuscript of QFS was ready. Since then I have been working on the synopsis, story blurb, and cover letter required for my first submission. Tonight I’ve got it all printed out and stowed away – all that’s left is to send it. That will probably happen on Saturday, as I’ve got work most of the day tomorrow. I was really anxious about it, but now I’ve come to a calm place. Whether they take it or not, I’ve accomplished something, you know?

As far as other writing goes, I haven’t done much. I’ve been in a state of pretty constant chaos the last couple of months (moving, finding work, other personal stressors) and so have been very much away from writing. I think I’ll be getting back to it soon though – I feel the need to write starting to eat away at my insides.

The sequel to QFS – working title Scourge of the Daiyen – is about 3/4 of the way through the first draft. I remember now why I hate first drafts – they feel clunky and wrong and I forget to include important things. But that’s what rewriting is for.

I have some other ideas stewing as well: a couple more high fantasy, a psychological fantasy sort of deal (really don’t know how else to put it concisely), and a non-fiction.

Right now I’m trying to get myself back into writing daily, which has been tough with the amount of clutter around. Plus I fell down the stairs the other day so my tailbone is not liking to sit for long stretches of time. UGH.

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated about when I get my packet sent and how the writing is going. Thanks for hanging in there even through my hiatuses!

Being Inspired

Yesterday, I had a conversation about reading and writing (among other things). One thing that stuck out to me was the need for motivation (though I like the term inspiration better – motivation makes me think of working out and dieting). Whether a person is working on a college paper, a painting, some sort of building project, or writing, being motivated/inspired is key.

I’ve had a problem with this inspiration/motivation lately. I’ve had great ideas for what I want to write about, how I want to rework QFS so that I’m satisfied with it (though let’s face it – having a completed manuscript is pretty satisfying on its own), but whenever I have the time and desire to work, I get stuck. Part of that is because it isn’t new and exciting anymore – but that isn’t all. If it were, my other new fragments of stories would be holding my attention. More than anything else, I have been stuck because I’ve not been talking to people about it.*

I’ve been working full-time with people who don’t do much reading or writing (as far as I am aware) and the friends I used to talk to are busy (not to mention far away after  the end of college). I’ve been busy trying to get my life in order, to learn new things (gosh, I miss school!), and to get involved in the community. That doesn’t leave much inspiration for writing.

So here is my advice to you, if you are stuck. Talk to someone about it. Not online, (preferably) not by texting or any sort of electronic communication.** Talk to someone, in person, about writing. You don’t have to talk about your specific project, just talk about writing and you’ll be itching to dive back in, to feel the flow of words on your skin.

Try it.*** Trust me, you will thank me! (And if you don’t, well, sorry! What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for all.)

*Well, that and my apartment is NOT conducive to writing.

**Of course, electronic communication is better than no communication. But in my experience it doesn’t have the same effect.

***Another thing to try is getting out of your normal writing space. Sometimes, for me, if I’m stuck for too long and I keep trying to write in the same place, it sets me up for failure. Go to a library, a coffee shop, or even a restaurant.

Take care!

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