Tag Archives: writingresolutions

Professional Development: Improving My Editing

One question: HOW?!

There have been a couple of situations recently where I’ve felt my lack. It’s not that I’m not good at it; I think I am. It’s that I need to be better.

I am a member of Sfep (and pretty close to getting my Professional status!) but actually, their training hasn’t been that helpful; I know how to use Word, I’ve got the basics of editing… it’s excellent for beginners, but for me, it’s the details that I’m feeling need improvement. Basically, I need to work on my reading comprehension. I need to work on what could be changed; I need to work on any and all improvements. I need to work on my skills at improving an existing book, and helping the author perfect and polish.

The problem is – how do I do this? It’s an ongoing problem in publishing, I think: how do you teach someone to recognise a good book, or to recognise what could be improved?

It’s an incredibly personal skill, too: there’s a huge balancing act between changing something just because you don’t like it, changing something because it’s not how you’d do it, and changing something because there’s a better way of doing it. All can potentially be good, bad or ugly: and all need to be used in moderation!

My aim is always to keep the author’s voice and style and choices as the primary objective, but… maybe I do need to start trusting myself more?

Work on my attention to detail, particularly when copy-editing.

Just because someone’s a good writer doesn’t mean they don’t miss things (spelling names three different ways, for example…) and it doesn’t mean that something can’t be improved.

Identify three things per book that I’d change

One of the problem areas is that I tend to have niggles about books, but struggle to pull them out into “actually, yes, this could be changed.” I’m putting an arbitrary number on it to make me think, not because every book will have issues – some will have more or less!

Trust myself – but also keep an eye on my biases

This is what I struggle with; the balance between what I like, what I enjoy reading and what’s good – and what I don’t think is good simply because I don’t like it. But – if something’s a niggle, that doesn’t mean that it’s just me; it means that actually, it might be a problem that I can fix! If something jumps out, I can usually spot that, but sometimes it’s just a….hmmmm. Hum. Maybe…

I think my little voice that identifies those things, that separates the difference between “I personally don’t like it” and “It could be improved” needs work, and the only way I can think of to do that is to keep going!

Keep reading AND ANALYSING

I think this is key: I just need to keep working on what I think makes a good book. I need to have that editor voice looking in when I’m reading; I often try to turn it off and let my brain just enjoy things, but actually, leaving it running might help me learn!

Learn from others

I was lucky enough to help a friend with multiple drafts last year, and learned so much; I could see him improving with every draft, and it was a real lesson in what could be worked on. My two colleagues at work have also offered to share skills and experience, which is fantastic – we just need to find time to do it!

 

So; I’ve got some ideas for how to keep improving, but no firm plan. I’m not sure it’s a skill that can really be taught except by experience and just damn well doing it – so, I’ll just keep damn well doing it!

2018: Aims for the Year

So, my five aims for 2018.

1. For 2018 To Not Be As Shit As 2017 Was

Hopefully that isn’t too hard, but politics isn’t really on my side there. As far as the personal side goes, ideally that won’t be getting any worse either. Fingers crossed.

2. Something Old

Aka, finish things! No Man’s Sky is waiting on two chapters, and No Man’s Dawn is waiting on its second half. Shadows is waiting on a rewrite. I need to get stuck into that.

As a subset of that…

  • My Dresden Files fanfic. This one’s a bit more difficult, but I think I’ve kinda reached the point where I’d like to do something with it. I’m going to investigate fanfic sites and maybe look into putting it on here.
  • Madcap Library. A friend recently reminded me about it; was I going to do anything about it? Well…maybe I should. So that’s underway as a self-publishing project.

3. Something New

Aka. get on with the writing! This might be 1920’s Necromancy, or The Thief and The Seer, or…something else. I don’t know. Adrian’s told me I have to start writing The Necromancer’s Charm on the 1st January, but that is founded on getting the damn voice right!

4. Improve Me

At the moment that consists of doing yoga, drinking more, and generally trying to be a bit more healthy. I’m also considering learning something…I did try to continue my French but got fed up of Duolingo being inconsistent. I might try to do some certificates in stuff. We’ll see. Also…

  • Don’t Be A Hermit. As I work at home, I am tugging at the edges of anxiety and becoming a recluse, so I am pushing myself to get out more. Writing groups, old friends, new friends, gaming, events, conventions…I need to do things, even if it scares me.

5. Read More

I JOINED THE LIBRARY AND THEY HAVE ALL THE BOOKS. I may have maxed out my loans for several weeks running, so…long may that continue, I guess? I’ve still got a large reading pile (as always) so that’s ongoing too.

That said, I’m not going officially do the Discoverability Challenge; I want to continue with more women writers, but I’m struggling with reading (and doing a lot of my own research) so I don’t want to commit to something I might not do.

 

So! They’re aims, at least. Let’s be honest, most days my aims consist of “get out of bed” with an advanced aim of “get out of the house”, so…well, let’s aim high. If nothing else, I’ll land amongst the stars.

General Update & The Start of NaNo2017!

Somehow, I got to November, and I have to write wurds…

Photo of (most of) the Grimmie Crew by the amazing Tom Parker.

BristolCon 2017 was fab. I was manning the Grimbold stall for most of the day, assisted by a lot of glamorous assistants – the Grimbold crew are amazing! – and chatted to what felt like everyone. I was on the 10am panel about You Are The Product, which was also fab (and not long enough! We could have talked for the entire day…) and then unfortunately didn’t get to any others, but I heard a lot of people say they were really interesting.

I picked up some books, too – The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith-Spark, The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby, The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu and a random copy of The Road to Thule by David R Lee, which from a cursory glance I admit may go in my charity pile (I didn’t buy it, it was randomly in our stock! I suspect from a previous convention freebie table). But hey, I’ll try it, and I’m definitely looking forward to the others.

I’m wondering if I should spend some of December catching up on my reading, and sorting out my Goodreads…I have an entire shelf of books that I haven’t yet got to, along with quite a few on my Kindle! We’ll see how this month goes.

Speaking of…

NANO2017! I am writing words! I am aiming for 70k so my aim is 2300(ish) per day. Whether I’ll manage that or not remains to be seen. At any rate, I’m enjoying the story so far.

You can find me on the NaNoWriMo site, and there’s still time to join in if the idea of writing a novel in 30 days intrigues you!

In more general news, I have good days and bad days, and I’m not entirely coping with people (as in panic-attack-not-coping-with-people) so if I’m a little quiet, that’s why! I am trying to keep in contact though so I am still online and messaging. Book Polishers is still awesome so I’m just trundling along with work there, trying to get out for some lovely autumn walks, and trying to keep busy. Not that keeping busy is going to be an issue this month!

Now, I need to go write some words….wish me luck!

Returning to a Ghost

I stopped writing things in the No Man’s Land series after Ryan died. He was one of my beta readers, and the one who cheered me on; he asked the questions, laughed at the jokes, talked to me about the latest plot and idea. He was the one I’d email at 3am with a story.  And I miss him so, so much, even eight months on.

But I did some organising this week, and hauled out all my half-finished short stories…and amongst them are six No Man’s world ones (well, No Man’s Land – they’re mostly about Ghost, because I love her). And I want to finish them. I started reading them, just to remind myself. It hurts, still. But that’s now being tempered with the love for writing, and the characters are starting to talk to me again. They’re not getting drowned by the waves of grief any more. I want to write.

Have the start of a new story that might now get finished…

The air is cold and frigid, with mist creeping across the ground, obscuring my footing. The trees are long dead, their branches hung with decades of cobwebs and vines instead of leaves. The ground is a morass of swamp and rock, its stink rising until it’s almost visible. The scenery wavers between dank, dead forest and occasional rock spires, their outlines jagged against the dark sky.

In short, it’s not the nicest of places – and in addition, the path that I’m on is most certainly haunted…I’m not just saying that because it’s pretty freakin’ creepy.

I’ve got a ghost whining in my ear.

One of the downsides of being able to see spirits is that I can also hear them, and I’ve found that they fall into three categories: dull, friendly, or freaky.

This one is trying for freaky. It’s achieving dull. After all, blood-curdling moans are only terrifying when you don’t know that the ghost producing them has no torso. I know that should be scary, but actually it’s quite amusing to see a disembodied head and legs floating along, particularly when said ghost is doing the traditional arm-waving and managing to look as if it’s attempting to land a plane. I’m not sniggering, but it’s taking willpower. Ghosts tend to get touchy when their efforts to scare go unappreciated.

Cake Club, March 2017: Aims

So, I’m part of a thing called Cake Club. Basically, it’s a small group of authors who get together every few months, talk goals, and eat cake.

The cake is the important part. You can tell by the name.

One of the members was ill this month, so it was just Adrian and I. In between plotting chaos (which may or may not come to anything, so watch this space) we also updated each other on progress and what our plans are. Adrian did an update on Saturday, and while I did tell him everything I’m up to, I’m going to put it here too – just to give myself a public record of incentives!

I like having my progress bars in the sidebar (down to the right) – it lets me see how I’m doing. Greensky’s ongoing, and I’ve submitted No Man’s Land to more agents to bring my total there up to eight. I’ve also had one short story accepted; I’ll tell you more about that when I know more!

My aims for the next two months, before the next meeting? I’ve got the Shadow series to rewrite; I’m having some time away soon (if plans work out) so I’m hopefully using that as dedicated writing time. No Man’s Dawn is in progress, currently on 18000 words with things roughly plotted. No Man’s Sky is at about 50k and needs to get to 70k, so…eh. Ongoing. I’m thinking about it!

Beyond that, it’s basically business as usual for me. The thing I like is that I am – despite all my frustrations – in a rough routine for writing. I know when my next few short story deadlines are; I’m happy with my three-times-a-week-plus-Sunday blog post schedule, and I’m reading enough to put up the occasional review. I keep enough ongoing that I still feel that I am writing.

It makes for a fairly boring update, but everything really is trundling along! I’m just waiting for news from agents (good or bad), waiting for submissions to come back, waiting for more anthology calls that I can write for or submit to, waiting for my novels to progress chapter by chapter, waiting for the ideas to fall into place. This is what a lot of writing is – step by step progress, one word at a time, one story at a time!