Archive for the ‘“aditing”’ Category

‘For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.’

– Anne Lammott

Once the initial edits of your ‘shitty first drafts’ have been done, you get into a deeper level. For me, this is when hope starts to form that all is not lost, or as author, Tee G. Ayer put it, ‘Me while writing: This is drivel. What am I thinking? It’s worse that horse poo. Me while revising: This is surprisingly good. Better than I thought it would be.’

Once you wade into the revision, you start to see the potential.

At this stage in the editing, it can feel like weaving the words. One goes from the beginning to the end of the story, and then back to the beginning again over and over. The task for the writer is tightening the strands: to link thought processes, plot and sub-plots, deepen the characters, flesh out the scenes. As you go through to the end and then back to page one again, the picture slowly forms. The content draws together and takes shape.

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Last weekend, I finished the fourth pass of my book, ‘The Last Tree,’ which is the final book in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, and the analogy of the weaver above came to my mind. It reminded me of one of my early illustrations in which I depicted a character I called ‘The Woman at the End of the World,’ who knits the planet the characters lived on. As a writer, I feel I am doing this same function; I knit the words, one after the other, they take on a newer denser mass and richer substance, they start to form a living, breathing world.

I showed chapter one of my book, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ to good friend, author, James Preller. It’s a chapter in which Aden’s stone is tested and proved fake. In his reply, James gave me some terrific advice which is also helping me with writing the next book. He helped me understand why we elaborate for the reader. It’s something I alluded to in the previous post, Breathing Life into your Story, that thing of teasing out the scenes moment by moment, for the maximum impact. Here is an excerpt:

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You could slow down, spend a little more time. It’s not enough to just name names. So the stone moves. Was that the extent of the test? A little anti-climactic, because I’m not sure what’s at stake? I guess my point is that with all the mythology here, is that if you move too quickly my mind gets muddled. By bringing us closer to Aden, by having his thoughts help us understand what’s happening, we learn.

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My mind is the type of thought processor which likes to know the why of things. Knowing that as I develop the material, I’m seeking to elucidate context and the stakes, and help the reader get inside the characters’ heads serves to guide me.

I work at my loom spending more time, giving more detail, and all these things have the effect of bringing the reader closer to the hero, which is the ultimate goal.

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One has to be prepared to put in the hours. I heard myself telling my nephew this week, “When you sit writing from 6 a.m. till midnight, you need to take breaks.” And I thought, wow, this is really hard work. I do have to take regular breaks for my eyes from the computer as most people recommend, to prevent eye strain.

Yet, when you have a passion for something, you are driven to go far beyond what is normally possible. There is extra energy available. Or as Charles Bukowski put it, there is no other feeling like that. you will be alone with the gods and the nights will flame with fire.

My weekend always starts here, with my blog post first. Then, will come the long hours aforementioned, for two days I’m ‘alone with the gods,’ until my children return home again, when my creative powers become dormant for the week and go into raising my boys instead. My time off, my respite, is spent writing every minute I can squeeze into the days. It is such a joy, writing refills my cup until it runneth over.

How about you, what are you creating? Have you ever felt you were weaving your story?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R. R. Martin. A Dance with Dragons

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A story comes alive in the reader’s mind. You use the sole medium of the word to get the story from your mind to the reader’s. It is the wonder of writing to create something out of nothing. Every story started with just an idea in someone’s head. Isn’t that a fantastic concept? ~ Bob Mayer

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Yes, it’s a great concept. Yet, how do you bring a story to life?

I’d like to share a technique which has helped me.

Whenever I start working on a new story or writing project, I always feel as if the prose is “dead on the ground.” It is cold and lifeless. Nothing about the piece makes me want to pick it up. In fact, I make excuses not to work on it.

But, I don’t take no for an answer. I’m a beast of a taskmaster. I force my butt back in the chair and make myself work whether I like it or not. When you’re an Indie the buck stops here. Even if I’m only sitting at my kitchen table wearing trackies and slippers, I must knuckle down and put in the hours and hours and hours of effort at the computer. Period. Or a book will not result.

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Producing a novel is like giving birth. My friends and I laugh about the analogy at Toastmasters, and I even gave a speech about my fourth baby (being my first book). Yet, the analogy is more than apt. It perfectly illuminates the process of creating art.

I have to put in the grunt work. I spend hours at the computer hacking away paragraphs, shooting lurking “little darlings” (or favourite bits). I endure the Herculean labours of editing and refining words. I start to shape the miasma of words into something resembling a reasonable story. I add and subtract. I constantly have to add fresh words in order to have to have stuff to take away again. It’s a gentle and sometimes not so gentle method of agitation similar to the way an oyster grows a pearl.

Then, comes the magical part, where the action of writing fresh copy slowly brings the prose to life and animates it.

About five years ago, my good friend, writing buddy and editor, Maria Cisneros-Toth, and I started working together on my first book, The Or’in of Tane Mahuta. Maria has taught me a lot about the craft. I remember she would stop me at certain times and ask me to go back and rewrite a scene with a view to slowing the pace. This is one of the best bits of writing advice I’ve ever received.

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Maria’s advice: ‘Take the exciting, pivotal scenes. Slow the pace. Tease out what happens, moment-by-moment, really let us experience everything.’

When I re-read my book now, the slow scenes are the standouts. This has proved a real turning point for me as a writer, because I understand the visceral impact we can achieve, just by altering the tempo of the way the tale is told.

When I started working on the third book in my series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver a few months ago, I felt as though the rough draft was “dead on the ground.” It was cold and inert. Nothing about the piece made me want to pick it up. I made a couple of obligatory rounds of editing, but, my heart wasn’t in it. I was merely “doing the rounds.”

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Two weeks ago, I began the process of teasing out the key scenes. I once again accepted Maria’s original challenge. I began to take the most dramatic parts of the novel and slowed the pace right down to include the minutiae.

To my delight, before my eyes, the copy began to perk up and come to life. The prose became warm and vibrant. There was energy there. The characters came alive in my imagination. I now find myself in the happy place of being drawn irresistibly back to work on the story. That’s when I know we’re on the right track.

I must continue the good work and edit the copy until the story is fully grown, matured and strong enough to hold its own in the world. What an honour! What a privilege to be a writer parent.

What about you? How do you bring your worlds to life?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Storytelling is really one of the most wonderful things about human beings. And some of us get to be lucky enough to also be the storytellers. ~ Bryan Cranston

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

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Wednesday is time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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The wonderful writer and the guy behind the successful blog, The Write Practice, Joe Bunting said, ‘No one is born a writer. You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease becoming, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a writer. And so are you.’

Three chapters from the book I’m working on, had come back from critique, and one comment in particular came up again and again. Show it. Don’t tell it. This is basic, fiction writing 101. Yet, this is what the process of critique is for. By showing your prose to third parties for evaluation; you discover blind-spots. In my case, there have been seemingly endless ways and times in which I have told when I should have shown.

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I haven’t abandoned my earlier stance, my stated belief in the value of a good “tell.” I still feel the same way. Telling gets such a bad rap these days. I still align myself with the bestselling author, Lee Child, who once famously said, “I’m a storyteller, not a storyshower.” Me, too, Lee!

In her essay, ‘On Rules of Writing, or, Riffing on Rechy’, popular author Ursula Le Guin cautioned against the commonplace writing advice, ‘show, don’t tell.’ Says Le Guin: ‘Thanks to “show, don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented.’

However, too much exposition is like pepper in a meal, too much will spoil the dish.

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‘Adjectives and adverbs are rich and good and fattening. The main thing is not to overindulge.’ Says Le Guin. So, while telling is vital, the technique must also be leavened by lots of hearty showing.

I found a number of places in my story, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ where judicious tweaks along these lines elevated the material by miles.

Here’s an example:

On the long walk from the HAFH library back to their quarters, Aden pondered the news of the Forbidden Time.

I rewrote the opening paragraph:

On the long walk from the HAFH library back to their quarters, Aden recalled how they’d managed to get into the library. In his mind’s picture, he again stood peering at the framed page, which proclaimed the news of the Forbidden Time. His heart beat faster.

It’s a slight tweak and yet, it improves the whole flavor. Truth to tell, I’m constantly surprised and delighted by the power of the show.

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I’m editing my novel, The Sasori Empire, and yet rather than cutting words out, I’m adding words in. We coined a new term for it, “aditing.”

The thing is, we all know we have to show not tell most of the time and yet, for some reason perversely, it’s quite hard to do. Maybe we could work an 80/20 ratio on this.

Having acknowledged I needed to show more areas of the book, I have continued to wade through each chapter, like a “tell” seeking missile. I locate static areas on each page to break down and expose.

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These areas of telling are really just momentary lapses of attention on my part, when I was originally writing the rough copy. With the help of my critique partners, we find more dark corners like this in my story all the time, areas badly in need of illumination.

The best ways to “show” parts of your story is to think as if you’re in a movie and tease apart all the elements that make up a scene, action, dialogue, and rendered thought.

Herein lays the real value of showing. It gives us detail, context, a sense of place. These things influence our sense of the stakes, whether we care about the story and the characters enough to keep reading.

How about you? Are you creating something? Editing? Writing? Aditing? Let us know, and share the pain!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Now let’s write our brains out passionately and with minimal reference to grids and rules. Let’s write from a love of the art and the heart of fiction.” ~ PJ Reece

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

On Wednesday of this week, it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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What am I feeling insecure about? Being stuck in the “aditing” phase with my book.

I tend to get asked this question a lot these days, ‘How’s the new book going?’ My standard answer has been to say that I’m still editing. However, as I was confessing to a friend, at Toastmasters this week, I’ve been going through my manuscript adding more words than I’ve taken out. She coined the perfect word for it, which I immediately purloined, “ad-iting.”

I thought, wow, this is the perfect word for a stage in the writing process which is necessary and also, annoying. The “aditing.”

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The other day, I celebrated having edited the entire manuscript the whole way through five times. Here I am, studiously taking words out of my tome of 60,000 words. Yet, by a process of diligent aditing, I’ve also managed to get the word count on ‘The Sasori Empire’ up to 63,760 words!

How? Answer: because I’m temporarily stuck in the stage of “aditing,” which is strictly speaking the opposite of editing. It is nevertheless, a valid part of the creative process of creating fiction. For any writer, especially those who are just starting out, this can be the most frustrating stage of our job. This is what happens naturally, when each time you go through your prose, you find more and more gaps which need filling, more questions which need answering, or where there needs to be more description, more context, and more depth in general.

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These are the tough yet vital moments in the development process of a good story. This is when you have to examine what’s there and what needs to be there to add texture and context. It’s vital to the enrichment and vibrancy of our fiction.

A few years ago, I entered a short story into a contest held over on LinkedIn. On the forum boards, members of the group wrote in with their feedback on the entries. A lovely old Indian writer, who I was friends with, gave me some very valuable insight on my piece, which I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Nice story, but not enough furniture.”

His wise words made me wake up. I had an epiphany. I realized that in my slavish abeyance to the modern rules of writing fiction, I’d stripped my writing nearly bare. This is the danger today. There are rules for everything! The danger is that we polish a story to the stage where it’s too sanitised. We might get an “A” from the “Was Police,” but no one else wants to read it because the story is also sans voice, sans colour, and sans energy. It’s boring!

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When I began work on this series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, a decade ago, I set out as we all do, into the fun, easy “Genesis project” stage of writing a book, when you’re gushing the rough copy into words.

Once I had the substance of the overall trilogy, I started editing Book One, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ However, I cut out all the flavour. In my nodding to every literary more, I’d whittled my story down to the bare bones. I ended up having to do some serious aditing, before it ended up feeling like a fully realised story.

Therefore, with the sequel, I didn’t want to leave the bones bare. This is when the aptly named, “aditing” came into play; the vital time spent adding furniture to the rooms of the house. Then, adding the decorations.

The award-winning author and teacher, Kate de Goldi said, ‘I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction, and a palette of Smarties.’

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It’s in the visceral detail that brings the scenes alive and makes the characters more real.

I commenced working on Book Two in September.

Within the process of editing, I have had to re-learn how to accommodate prolonged periods of aditing. I’m here to report, it can be done. One must keep a stoic face. And, not worry or think of it as a waste of energy. Allow the words to flow to fill the gaps. You can always take half those words out again later. The important thing is to let them flow. This is that point of manuscript development about which Oscar Wilde famously said, ‘This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.’

This admittedly requires a lot of patience. But then, what part of writing does not?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned. ~ Oscar Wilde

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com