Tag Archives: Lauren

Edit 6 (auditory)

This is where I just go straight through the book, looking (actually listening) for anything that stands out. Words, characters, plotlines. Does everything fit? If it stands out to me, it will probably stand out to my readers.

As part of the earlier edits I usually convert the draft to PDF, and here I do it again. This time I read and listen. If you have adobe reader, Ctrl shift Y turns on the reader and Crtl shift B activates it (for Windows). Then I can just lay back and listen, taking notes at anything that sounds wrong.

Being able to listen to my words also gives me a chance to catch things I usually don’t in print, like rhymes or alliterations, repeated words or repeated phrases.

Another thing I look for is places where the description or emotion is insufficient (since those are my weaknesses). I can find this out loud far more easily than I can just reading the words.

I don’t usually find a lot wrong–details, things I need to check like timelines (which moons are in which phases, do the characters speak of things they can’t know yet, etc) and blocking. If one character is involved in a conversation and a moment later he wasn’t present that should have been caught previously, but sometimes I still find such things even at this stage.

Writing this editing series has been interesting on a number of levels, because it’s forced me to actually quantify the editing process and write it down. It’s been a loose structure, but I’ve never written it down this way.

This could technically be combined with edit five, but since I do them separately I split them out. Aside from that, seven seemed like a good number. 🙂


Edit 5 (Which doesn’t have a name)

Edit five is really pretty quick, because by this time I’m deep into another project and have no interest in finishing.

In the fifth edit I’m doing a broad over-view to make sure things fit. Are the issues creating a problem with flow? Does a particular scene work? Why did I put that description there, and would it be better in another place? Did I use the same description more than once? (Which I have done, oops) Are there any sections where I get bored, and want to go do something else?

This is the place where I work on fight scenes, to make sure they read quickly so that the readers don’t get bogged down in details. It’s basically a read-through, stopping at anything that catches my attention.

Then I send the book out to the beta readers again, if I want to overwhelm them. Then on to edit six.

I usually have this process going for a couple books at a time, so one (or five!) might be in Traige stage while another is in stage five and two are in the emotion-description edit stages. I try not to have more than one in each of those two categories, because otherwise nothing else gets accomplished.


Edit 4 (description)

I don’t do description. My novels have been described as “place holders in a shadow world” because there is little or no description. Shapes, colors, scents, sounds, all have to be added after the fact.

The descriptive edit consists of colors, textures, smells, sounds, movement, and even size. Does a character look up or down at another? Are her fingers small? What color are the leaves on the trees?

Trying to fit all the senses in, after the fact, is more difficult to me than the emotion edit. It’s just an artifact of how I see the world.

I like reading books with a solid physical presence, so I try to put those things in my novels. This edit and the emotion edit take the most time.

I’m afraid I have a desire to appeal to everyone, so I want those who like description to be drawn in by the description, and those who like characters to be drawn in by the characters. There’s something for everyone here.

I just need to make sure there’s not too much, but that hasn’t been a problem to this point. If anything, my readers want more than I’m giving them.

I’m much better in this sense than I used to be, but it’s still a continuous struggle.


Networking

I’m a plant freak.  That doesn’t mean I’m a freaky plant (either vegetative or the spy variety) but that I love plants.

This week it’s strawberries.  Strawberries are interesting little critters.  They’re invasive, but sneakily so.  During the summer, under the guise of spreading out their leaves to soak up the sun, they put out runners that move into places where strawberries are not supposed to go.

They’re very strong and can survive things that kill other plants.  Part of the reason for this is all those runners.

The parent plant puts out runners not only to perpetuate itself but also because the baby strawberries send nutrients back to the parent plant once they put down roots.  In reality you have not one plant but a colony, all interdependent and interconnected.  If one plant grows in a place where there’s lots of water, and another is usually dry but has plenty of nutrients, the two can trade and each fill in the gaps in the other.

Eventually all those runners dry up, when the plants are strong enough to survive on their own.  

As writers we’re much the same, or at least we should be.  One writer alone has weaknesses.  I might not be able to see the problems with my plot, while another person doesn’t understand grammar.  Standing alone, neither of us could do what needs to be done.  Working together we’re both stronger.

I’ve also heard of successful authors who mentor others, who in turn mentor others, creating a support network that is seldom found in any other career.  Those sneaky little runners go out, feeding the baby authors until their roots are strong enough to survive on their own.

But unlike strawberries, those runners don’t dry up.  The network just continues to grow, authors helping authors through the generations.  

If we used that network to its capacity, the author community would have everything.  Like strawberries, we already have everything.  We just don’t know it yet.


Demolition

By Lauren Ritz

I am sitting here in my office, listening to the sound of demolition ten feet away. It’s a beautiful day (which means no sun and it’s slightly cool) so of course the door is open.

Sledge hammers, saws, and other tools of destruction are in the process of demolishing the old deck so that a new one can be put in. It won’t be much different—prettier maybe, more sturdy. The old deck is about twenty years old, the boards warping and turning when people try to walk on it.

I find myself in exactly the same place with one of my stories. I still love it, but it’s old. When I wrote it I was just starting to write seriously and had learned nothing about characterization, plot, and the million other facets to writing. I thought I knew, but I didn’t.

So now I get to demolish it. Break it apart, piece by piece, learn what can be saved and what needs to go. Restructure the plot so that it’s more of a cohesive whole than a series of unconnected events. Put in foreshadowing and make sure that the real villain shows up early in the book—in the original version, you only find out what’s really going on (and that there’s another villain) in the last few pages when the real villain kills the villain that we thought was the bad guy through the whole book.

Demolition is sometimes necessary.

Even with a new deck, sometimes you learn that there are problems with the construction only after it’s been in for a while. The color’s wrong, or the contractor made the deck wrong so that it slopes to one side. Then you have to go back, do it all again.

The interesting thing for me to watch is people whose deck (their story) is essentially sound. But they don’t like the color, or the boards are slightly too narrow for their aesthetic sense, so they tear the whole thing up and start again. Worse yet are those who wait until all the furniture is in place and tear up the deck because one of the plant pots is the wrong shape.

I have never written a story that I didn’t like. If I don’t like them, they don’t get written. Tearing up the deck because the grass needs to be mowed is the epitome of self-defeating behavior.

If demolition is necessary, that’s fine. Take the time, do it right. If it’s the fence around the yard that’s bothering me, I don’t go tearing up the deck and rebuilding it to match the fence.


Eighteen months

Eighteen months ago I quit my job to spend a year focused on my writing.  I had enough money to last a year (on a minimal budget) and I finally took the step in August of 2011.  If you want the whole story you’ll have to look at the “Lessons Learned” series on my blog, Eclectic (http://lauren-ritz.blogspot.com/2012/04/lessons-learned-1.html).

Sometimes I feel guilty, knowing that I’ve been able to get up in the morning and spend the day writing.  For almost two years I’ve been doing what I love.  I rather expected that I would start to hate it, or at least not enjoy the writing as much over time, but that hasn’t happened.

Although I won’t want to go back into the workforce I have accomplished a lot of what I wanted.

Goals for the next two months:

Finish two novels (i.e., beginning middle and end)

Finish editing two of the existing novels

Query more

Try not to get depressed over going back.  I won’t say “back to work” because I have been working…

By Lauren Ritz


egnartS erA elpoeP

I wonder about people.  I look out the window of an office building and watch people zip around in their cars (they look like odd-shaped bugs) and nobody really seems to be going anywhere, they’re just going.  Rows of cars like caterpillars around the rim of a flowerpot.And they sit in their cars and they have no idea that I’m up here looking down at them.  Wouldn’t care if they did know, but maybe there’d be fewer accidents on the silly roundabout.

People are just strange, and I put myself at the head of that list.  But sometimes I just sit and wonder.  Is that semi parked in the driveway in front of the building full of explosives?  Is the driver who just went into the building going in to get his girlfriend or use the restroom?  Is he aware that a minivan just went right over the curb to get around his truck?  Does he care?

What about the driver of the minivan?  Is it actually a kid taking his mom’s car for a joyride, and he’s going to crash it into a ditch a few miles away?

Then there’s the lawn maintenance guy zipping around on his 4-wheeled toy.  Is he just zipping because that’s his job?  or does the lawn really need to be cut?  Would he even notice if he came out one day and the whole place had been covered in concrete, or would he just zip around as usual and mow the concrete?

Some day I think I’ll go out there and just drive around and around and around and around that silly roundabout and see how long it takes people to notice.  🙂

By Lauren Ritz


Listen to our appearance on Dungeon Crawler’s Radio

If you want to listen to Ava, Lauren, and Alice chat with the boys of Dungeon Crawler’s Radio, you can find the interview right here.


Listen to Writing Snippets on the Dungeon Crawlers Radio show!

Tomorrow, Monday, January 2, several members of the Writing Snippets crew will appear on the live internet radio program, Dungeon Crawlers Radio!

Tune in via their website from 6pm-8pm Mountain Time to hear Lauren, Ava, and Alice chat with the boys of Dungeon Crawlers about our experiences putting together our own podcast. You can listen later via the Dungeon Crawler’s archives.

Happy New Years!


Writing the Uncomfortable

From time to time, as authors we find ourselves writing about topics that we (or our audience) might find uncomfortable or even dangerous. If you’re never writing anything that might discomfort your audience you’re probably writing technical manuals or advertising (which is fine, but this isn’t about those types of writing).

Especially at this time of year. Religious holidays—and that word’s a redundancy if I ever heard one—are in the current social and political environment anathema, not to be discussed in polite society.

See my blog at www.lauren-ritz.blogspot.com for my politically correct version of Santa Claus.

I’m not going to go into the social ramifications here, and this is not a discussion of specific holy days. At some point we have to face difficult topics in our writing. Even the shallowest of writers sooner or late writes something that makes one of their readers say “Huh, I never thought of that” and it makes a difference.

If we avoid writing about the hard topics, if we deliberately or subconsciously avoid any mention of things our audience may find uncomfortable, we shortchange them and ourselves. Writing, particularly fiction writing, is about the human condition and making our readers sympathize with our characters—even the villains. If we didn’t empathize with them on some level, they wouldn’t feel nearly as dangerous. Villains are the embodiment of the dark madness that we would rather not reveal to those around us.

If you find yourself writing around a difficult topic, it may be something that you want to explore instead. Whether you choose to incorporate that topic or not is your own choice, but ignoring it should not be an option. Maybe you’ll learn something by exploring it. For certain your readers will.

By Lauren Ritz