Tag Archives: edit

Turning good into WOW

Your manuscript is complete, now what?
Send it off to the publisher and/or agent of your dreams, right?

Now that your manuscript is complete, and your story is told you have a lot of work ahead of you. First, you are going to want to polish your script. I wish I had known as much about this when I turned in Crushing Desire and Bound by Freedom, Unbound by Love as I do now. It would have made the final edit process easier and more fruitful.
You can’t finish a manuscript and say it is good enough. Unfortunately, it likely won’t fly in the publishing business. They will tell you, in no kind terms that the manuscript isn’t polished and they can’t accept it. I have discovered in my research about the craft that there are steps that you must take when you revise a manuscript and I will list them for you here.

Steps to a final edit…
I can’t say it enough. Edit your manuscript… Edit, edit, edit.

Step one…
Download a text to speech reader.
These things are amazingly helpful for first as well as final edits. When you are reading your manuscript, things might seem to be going smoothly. You know what you meant to write, and you are reading those words and getting wrapped up in the prose. Even your critique partner might miss a small mistake.

You meant to write:
They moved from the kitchen, holding hands as they went.
But what you typed was:
They moved form the kitchen, holding hands as they went.

This is a mistake you can easily miss. I know that I have missed it form time to time. JK. A reader -such as Natural Reader, which has a free download of their text to speech software- will catch these if you read along with it. I usually open the text in natural reader and my word processor as well. I can then follow along in the word processor document and make corrections while the reader reads the text.

Step two…
Remove repetitive words and beginnings.
It is important to remove repetitive words and repeated sentence beginnings in the text. Overused words can get annoying and you might not catch them on first reread. Look especially for words like had, was, and that. Make certain that all -ly words, such as lazily, have a purpose. If not, omit them. Pay attention to words you overuse, and try to pare them in step two. Check your manuscript for the words saw and noticed, and see that the are not telling instead of showing.

Jane moved into the room, and was surprised. She saw John sitting on the couch, his length lazily stretched along the cushions of it. She was sure that he knew that she had no dowry, so why was he here? Was she to believe that he thought that she would not know that it was he that had divested her of it?

This is a bit overdone, but you get the picture. It would be better written this way.

Jane stepped into the room, eyes widening in surprise. John reclined on the couch, stretching his length along its cushions. Her dowry was gone and he knew it, having divested her of it personally. So why should he be here?

Removing the repeated and overused words gives the passage a fresher sound. In fact, you could remove the term ‘in surprise’, and ‘stretching his length along its cushions’ in this passage as well. They really are implied. Surprise is suggested in the widening of her eyes. The word reclined insinuates that he is stretched out on the couch. As a romance novelist, however, I appreciate that some things are left in for the craft’s sake. It is up to you. Remove what you can of the repeated words without destroying your voice.

Step three…
Give the manuscript to one, or more, trusted reader(s)
A critique partner, or heck, even two or three of them can be invaluable. Give the script out to beta readers. People who will read your scripts and tell you (honestly!!!) what they think. They might give an opinion on the whole book or on something specific you ask for an opinion on, but they can be helpful in catching mistakes. Your readers can tell you if some question isn’t answered or if there is a major flaw. Some critique partners will go through chapter by chapter with you and give you a detailed critique.

I have critique partners who is critiquing my current WIP chapter by chapter. I also have two readers that read my WIP and tell me what they think on the whole.

Step four… Final read-through and polish.

Once you have all the feedback and have removed or reworded what must be fixed, it is time for the final polish. This is the spit polish, so to speak. You really want to do your best for this part of the final edit. I often use Natural Reader for this part as well. I want to hear how the final product is sounding. I keep listening until I can get all the way through without revision. Then my manuscript is ready.

Step five…
There is no step five… Yay… If you follow the previous steps, and polish your heart out, you will finally be ready to seek your agent or publisher. You will also have a far better chance that the search will be successful.

April Dawn
-Author of Crushing Desire and Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.


What I learned in 2010

I thought that I would talk a little about what I learned this year like I did in my post last year.

What I learned while researching-

-Your hero/heroine should meet within the first 3 chapters if you have a regular novel, sooner if it is short. (This is one that I think you can play with depending on your story.)

-You have to make your hero and heroine lovable, but you should also think about the smaller characters. (This is something I always try to do, but I thought it bore mentioning.)

-You can’t have a character under 18 be sexually active, even if it is a realistic thing for the time you are writing in.

-Reading about writing can give you ideas, so even if you know everything about a subject, you should still check it out. It can help.

-There are a number of websites to help you find the things you need. If you need to research how much money a stable boy made in the 18th century, or what an officer would do when responding to a shooting, you can find it on the internet. (Ava Delany is blogging on this very subject on Friday, and as she always reminds us, Just be sure to check the credibility of the information and the website). History teachers, librarians, even cops are all willing to take time to help you if you tell them you are writing a book.

What I learned personally in 2010-

-It always hurts to get rejected by that agent you really thought you would gel with or would make your work shine. No matter how prepared you are, or how many others you query, that one always hurts.

-You have to get out there, no matter how many acceptance/rejection letters you receive. And each one will be just as nerve-wracking as the last.

-You have to take chances in your writing. You never know what people will want next.

-Don’t be afraid to write what you feel. It may not be as dark or scary as you think. Besides, dark and scary can make for great tension. 😉

Hope these help those of you who are thinking of writing, and perhaps even those of you who have written often.

April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.

Another year gone by

Last year I posted a what I learned on 09 and what I hoped to achieve in 2010 list. Sort of a new years resolution list. I was derailed mid-year by an unexpected high risk pregnancy, but now we have a very welcome addition to the family, so it was all worth it.

Let’s see how I did anyhow.

In 2010, I hope to learn what it is like to

  • -Have a great review (or many of them.)
  • I’m happy to say that I achieved this one. I’m glad so many of you loved my novels.

  • -Get a great agent.
  • Not yet, but I’m hopeful for a few manuscripts I have for next year.

  • -See my novels in Barnes and Nobel.
  • Ditto

  • -See someone reading my novels on the street.
  • Wouldn’t that be fun!

  • -Hit 1000+ followers on Twitter.
  • 586, not too bad…

  • -Have another reader send me an email telling my how much they enjoyed one of my novels.
  • I’m happy to say I have received a number of these as well. Thanks for the kind words.

    What’s on the agenda for 2011?

    -Submit and publish more novels

    -Enter a contest or two (scary! lol)

    -Get a great agent

    -Hit that illusive 1000 followers on twitter

    -See someone reading my book

    -Submit to the other genres I’m dying to try

    -Get a print contract to widen the readers I reach with my work

    We shall see how I do next year with this list, but for this year I have to say 1/3 of the list isn’t bad for resolutions achieved.

    Stay tuned for what I learned in 2010.

    April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
    Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.

    Ebook Readers – Nook, Sony, or Kindle, oh my!

    For Christmas, I decided to research ebook readers. While there are many choices, all within about $50 of each other for base models, I decided chose to focus on the top three 3G readers – the kindle 3, nook, and sony daily reader.

    So many sites review these readers, but after much research I found some little known information between seeing the readers in store. Though I will share some of the regular info, I will focus on the little known facts.

      There are three main features of each reader that I love, unfortunately they seem to be unique to their reader.

    The Sony Daily reader offers a handwriting feature. Using a stylus (or a finger) you can draw pictures, take notes, anything you want. That’s a great option for a woman with two kids and one husband that is quite similar to a kid when it comes to drawing cartoons.

    The Nook has the lend me feature. You can lend any book you buy (once for a two week period). You can also get loans from a friend with a nook. Reader applications on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry or certain other androids can also allow this lending feature with the proper app.

    Kindle has text-to-speech. I love that, especially as a mom. When you just can’t put that book down, and you need to make lunch or change a diaper, you only need a pair of headphones and viola!

      Other than these features, there are a number of great things about these ebook readers.

    The Sony features six font sizes, which could come in handy. The media expansion slot is a great plus. The Daily Edition also displays Word and PDF files, shows most image files, and plays MP3 and AAC audio. Unlike most other readers, the protective case is included.

    The Nook has “in store” features that include the ability to browse complete eBooks (though there is a one hour limit within any given 24-hour period) and promotions for Nook users. MP3 audio files and images can be loaded onto the reader, but can’t be done wirelessly. Each of these readers has 3G and wifi, but the Nook actually lets you browse the net. It also has android apps which might make the Nook future bright.

    Kindle is said to be the fastest and easiest to use, not that I noticed that much of a difference in store. You can listen to music on this one as well. Social networking and some web browsing is allowed with the internet connection, as are blog updates, so you could keep up with blogs like A History of Romance. *wink*Your books are synced with other devices so you can keep your page even when you get home or go out sans kindle.

      Other small considerations.

    There’s no charge/contract for the wifi or 3G service.

    Both the Nooks and Sony Readers let you read ePub files (library and free materials are often ePub).

    Kindle 3 does not offer a touch screen, however Sony Touch Edition and the Daily Edition, the nook (only at the base of the screen) and the nook color do have touch screens

      Read more from some of the sites I visited:

    Top ten

    consumer research

    This one has videos for each reader.

    Anything you want to add to help others make a choice? Leave a comment.

    April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
    Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press, All Romance, and Kindle.

    Know Thine Rules Take 2



    Hello, and welcome. Come on in and make yourself at home. There’s coffee and tea on the table along with cookies and donuts. Help yourself.

    Today I’m going to talk about two more writing rules.

    If you’re like me, your head is probably spinning with all the writing rules we must learn. And learn we must if we desire to write a great short story or novel. A story or novel we hope will one day become published.

    Just when I think I’ve mastered yet another rule, up pops another one. I’m worried I won’t have enough room in my brain to hold it all.

    Last week I touched on point of view, tense, and show versus tell. This week I’d like to address passive voice and redundancy. Two rules I’m still struggling with.

    Back in the beginning stages of writing, I had no idea what passive voice meant. In fact, I’d never heard of it until I received my first critique. My manuscript came back filled with sentences, highlighted in yellow, with the comment, you tend to use a lot of passive sentences. Using active voice instead of passive voice will liven up your writing.

    I was confused–baffled. What’s passive voice? What’s active voice?

    Not wanting to appear like the amateur I was—though my writing said it all—I decided to research passive voice and its meanings on my own instead of asking my critique partner what she’d meant.

    First, I looked up the word, passive in the dictionary. Definition: acted upon, not acting; submissive; denoting the voice of a verb whose subject receives the action.

    Does this clear things up for you? Well, it didn’t for me, so I continued with my research and goggled passive voice. I read almost everything I could find on the subject—and there is a lot of info–until it started to make sense.

    Simplified, passive voice moves the object of the sentence to the subject’s place, drawing attention to the object.

    Here are a couple examples of sentences using passive voice.

    The wagon was pulled by the horse.

    The ball was hit by the boy.

    Both are grammatically correct, but both place more emphasizes on the process rather then who is preforming the action.

    Let’s have a closer look at the first example and find the subject, object and verb.

    The wagon was pulled by the horse. The object in this sentence is the wagon, and the subject is the horse, and the verb is pulled. So to make this sentence active, let’s move the subject to its proper place.

    The horse pulled the wagon. Now this is a more active sentence.

    Let’s look at my second example. The ball was hit by the boy. Again, we’ll move the subject back to its proper place.

    The boy hit the ball. Active, clear and to the point with fewer words. Active gives more power to writing and is more direct.

    When I went back over my manuscript, I realized by using passive voice, some of my sentences were unclear, not telling the reader who or what performed certain actions. So out came my red pen . . . again.

    Like every rule, there are exceptions. Not all passive sentences are bad, evil. There is a time and place to use passive voice. The trick is to know when.

    So, you may ask, when is it correct to use passive voice?

    The correct time and place to use passive voice is if the subject of the verb isn’t as important as what is happening, or when attention needs to be focused more on the person or thing–object– acted upon. Also, when the person or subject is not important or to self-evident to mention.

    What I have discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much, much more to be learned about passive voice. If you’d like more information, there are many wonderful sites, full of everything you ever wanted or needed to know. Type in passive voice, hit search, and happy reading.

    I will leave you a short list of words to help you spot the use of passive voice in your writing.

    Forms of to be verbs: Is, are, am, was, were, has been, have been, had been, will be, will have been, and being.

    Another problem I’d come across in my writing is redundancy, which can lead to wordiness.

    The word redundant means: no longer necessary, surplus, excessive. So applied to writing it is when you use to many words, repeating what you have already stated.

    Here are a few examples of redundant sentences I’d found in my own writing. He shrugged his shoulders. She blinked her eyes. He raced quickly across the yard.

    To say, ‘his shoulders’ is redundant since when one shrugs, it’s already implied the shoulders are doing the shrugging. Same goes for, she blinked her eyes. We don’t need, ‘her eyes.’ Eyes are the only body part that blinks. I think.

    As for, he raced quickly across the yard, we don’t need quickly. The word, raced, expresses he is moving quickly.

    He shrugged. She blinked. He raced across the yard. All are clear, direct, and to the point with less words.

    I leafed through my manuscript, looking for words, sentences and even paragraphs that imparted the same information. I also searched for two or more chapters that essentially achieved the same thing.

    Remember, the best way to learn all the many rules–learn how and when to use them–is by writing.

    I hope you can join me next Saturday. I will be tackling the question: Why do I find sex scenes so hard to write?

    Until then, happy writing.