Posts by Janine

What Should Authors Expect From An Editor?

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 in Divas on Writing | 0 comments

What Should Authors Expect From An Editor?

Whether you are embarking on your first publishing venture as an author or if you are already a published author who’s decided to jump into the deep end of the self-publishing pool for the first time, working with a freelance author is a necessity if you want to present your best work. Many authors venturing out into the freelance world are former publishing house authors. Having worked at a mid-sized publishing house and as a freelance editor, I’d like the discuss the difference between an edit from a publishing house and an edit from a freelance editor. Editing With a Publishing House For authors who have worked with a publishing house before, access to a number of editors and editing options can vary to a few to as many as it takes. At the mid-sized publishing house where I worked, we didn’t have an army of editors at our disposal, but we did have teams of editors who went through the manuscripts of their assigned authors. On average, those books were looked at by five to six editors who went through the manuscript one to three times each. In most cases, the manuscript went back to the author between editing passes so the author could address changes before it came back for more editing. Between the editors from the publishing house and the author, a manuscript typically received about twelve passes. Larger publishing houses can afford to have more editors work on any given manuscript—usually until they can’t find any more errors. While attending an author panel several months ago at a convention, I listened to an author talk about her experience working with a large publisher as they edited her book. She commented that it was the twenty-sixth version of her manuscript that was eventually published and that most of the editors who worked on her manuscript only went through it twice before another editor was brought in to edit. That’s a lot of editors. Creative Control: How much creative control the author has over their manuscript varies from publisher to publisher. Some want things their way and since they’re footing the bill, they typically get to call most of the shots. But not all publishing houses rule with an iron fist. Many will listen to authors when they object to creative changes and try to work out a solution that will make both sides happy. All relationships are about the given and take, which means neither side will win all the disputes. Editing With a Freelance Editor What should an author expect from a freelance editor? The same thing they’d expect from a single publishing house editor. One pass of editing (going through one time) to correct the bulk of the errors and another pass to find what she missed and to correct any errors caused by the editing process. Should an author expect a freelance editor to catch every mistake in a manuscript? No. A freelance editor does not have an arsenal of other editors at her disposal to go through your manuscript multiple times. Each pass costs time and money and since most freelance editors depend on editing for their income, it isn’t cost effective to expect them to go through the manuscript more than two times. Keep in mind that editors are human and make mistakes, too. What you should expect from your freelance editor is an edit that will catch the majority of errors. But the editing doesn’t stop after the freelance editor. The author must go through the manuscript, line by line, and do her part after the edit is returned. A few freelance editors, Write Divas included, offer combination edits. The Write Divas version of a combo edit is a two-pass edit with two editors: the first editor performing a content edit (one time through to catch the bulk of mistakes and a second time through to catch anything that got missed), and—then once the author has made the edits suggested—the second editor performing a proofread on the manuscript. I’ve seen several variations of this from a few other freelance editors. Creative Control: An author should also expect a give and take with a freelance...

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Are Your Characters Mind Readers?

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in Featured Articles | 0 comments

Are Your Characters Mind Readers?

Do you have a gifted character that knows what everyone around her thinks or feels? Is she making the other characters in your book uncomfortable with her uncanny insights? If so, you just might have a mind reader on your hands, and I’m not talking about the sparkly vampire variety, either. I mean, think about it… How creepy would it be to be around a mind reader? It’s an invasion of my privacy, really. It would be like inviting your friends to come into the bathroom while you… er… use the facilities. Personally, I’d probably avoid any mind reader at all costs. Either that or totally mess with them just for kicks. But I digress. We’re not here to talk about my insecurities or twisted amusements. We’re here to talk about characters who are mind readers. Mind reading characters can happen in any point of view one chooses to write in, but it’s most common when the perspective is limited to one character at a time and not omniscient. As an author it can be hard to separate yourself from your POV character. That’s because you know the inner workings of all your characters. Sometimes it’s easier to tell what’s happening by giving your POV character too much insight into everyone else. Unfortunately this results in several things. What happens when your characters are mind readers. Mind reading Jumps in logic Mary Sue / Marty Stu characters Lots of tell and little showing How to avoid characters that are mind readers. Avoid the use of mind reading words: could tell, knew, seemed to, appeared to, etc. Remember to show instead of tell every time you feel the itch to give insight that shouldn’t be there. Ask yourself how your character came about that insight. If it can’t be explained logically, you just might be mind reading. Avoid determining what someone is thinking and feeling because of the look on their face or other cues like body language and tone of voice. The best course of action is to show what the other characters are doing or saying and not doing or saying from the POV characters perspective and leave it at that. Resist the urge to define it and allow your readers to come to their own conclusions. Writing Exercise Change things up a bit with a writing exercise to familiarize yourself with those triggers that cause your to lapse into mind reading when you write. Practice writing a character who “reads minds” without any supernatural abilities. This character always jumps to the wrong conclusions because they assume they know what everyone is thinking or feeling, when in fact that are merely projecting their own wishful thinking on everyone else. Use the mind reading as a character flaw and then show the awkward situations your character ends up in because they assumed they knew everything. What tricks do you use to avoid mind readers in your stories? Have you ever purposefully written a “mind reader” who actually doesn’t read minds in a story? Share, please! Now… go write...

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Divas Rec: Stir Reader Curiosity by Beth Hill

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Divas Recommend | 0 comments

Divas Rec: Stir Reader Curiosity by Beth Hill

Divas Recommend: Stir Reader Curiosity by Beth Hill Keeping your reader interested from the first page to the last can be a difficult task writers of fiction need to master. Not only do you have to make your story interesting enough so a reader wants to continue, but you have the learn how to keep your reader’s curiosity engaged so they can’t put your book down. While visiting one of my favorite blogs on writing is The Editor’s Blog, I came across an article by fiction editor Beth Hill. In her article Stir Reader Curiosity, Hill talks about ways to lay down breadcrumbs in your story to lead your readers where you want them in a way that feels natural so they don’t know they’re exactly where you want them. The task of the writer, then, is to promise a satisfying ending and to drop enticing breadcrumbs along the way to keep readers on the path toward that ending. –Beth Hill If you want to learn how to keep your readers turning the page, give Hill’s article a read. While you’re at it, check out the rest of the blog. It’s full of great writing advice. Now… go write...

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How to Use Subplots

Posted by on Jul 6, 2015 in Divas on Writing | 0 comments

How to Use Subplots

I’ve written about the three-act structure  in novels and how it relates to plot. In this article, I want to take a look at subplots and how to use them in fiction. Subplots are secondary or side stories to the main plot of the story. By nature, they have less action, focus, and events that unfold than the main plot. In addition, subplots have a lower impact on the story and usually involve the secondary characters. There are two types of subplots: parallel and interwoven. Parallel subplots oftentimes revolve around secondary characters and move alongside the main plot but are not related. However, they do have an impact on the main plot and characters, because of the association between the secondary and main characters. As the main plot and the parallel subplot unfold, it’s not always clear up front if the subplot is pivotal until later in the story. This can be used as a tool to drive up the tension of the story. Interwoven subplots weave in and out of the main plot and are related to the main purpose of the story. Both the main plot and the interwoven subplot affect the other, thus creating complex layers as the main plot and subplot continually push and pull along the path to the resolution of the story. There are many ways to use subplots in a story. They can be used to drive the main plot, develop a rich and complex story, and give secondary characters life. Subplots can also be used to increase rising tension and to purposefully misdirect the reader. If the main plot and subplot(s) unfold at the same time, they can be used to show contrast or add mystery. Each time you present a set of clues with each scene, the reader must work out what’s important and what isn’t. And as the main plot and various subplots continue to tangle, the tension rises. Some of the most satisfying climaxes in literature are when the main plot and subplots unravel for the big reveal. So when and where do you add subplots into your story? One simple way is to use the decisions of the protagonist and antagonists as catalysts for subplot development. Every decision has consequences and these can cause ripples throughout the story, causing that straight line from point A to point B to take a detour because one decision to clear one obstacle caused another obstacle to appear that wasn’t there before. This is where those secondary characters and their arcs (or subplots) come into play. And it is how the different characters’ desires, fears, strengths, and weaknesses interact and change based on what each character did. Short stories and novellas are typically light on the subplots because there simply isn’t enough room to develop both the main plot and a subplot. If you’re writing a novel, but have hit a roadblock or your story suddenly stalls because there just isn’t enough there, take a look at the decisions your main characters have made and ask yourself what types of ripples that decision set off. Is there a secondary character who can now contribute to the story, thus giving you a subplot? With all subplots, it is important to remember that it is a subplot and should never outshine the main plot of the story. So what subplots have you used or enjoyed reading? Do you like writing subplots or do you find them to be too intimidating? Now… go write something! Related Articles The Five Basic Elements of Plot The Three-Act Structure in Novels Plot and Genre Storyboarding Plot...

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Working From Home: Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Featured Articles | 0 comments

Working From Home: Mistakes People Make and How to Avoid Them

I love working from home. For most of us, this sentence brings up an image of someone dressed in their pj’s, sitting in front of a computer, and has the time to spend with family. Sounds nice, right? After working from for home seven years, I’ve come to realize that I’m just as big of a workaholic at home as I ever was at the office. Keeping a clear division between work and home life is tough and not everyone is cut out for it. I’ve made some mistakes, neglected those I’ve loved, worked until I couldn’t stay awake. Why? Because I could. Working from home has also allowed me great flexibility with my home life as well. I don’t have to schedule time off for every school function and orthodontist appointment. I can also stay home when someone is sick and still get some work done. Regardless of whether you are a full-time author, an editor, book cover designer, book formatter or PR representative, working from home isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. I’ve come up with a list of mistakes people make working from home and how to avoid them. No Purpose Ask yourself what you expect to gain by working from home. Why work from home? The standard answers are not on the table for this one. You can’t say because I will cost me less or I get to stay home with my children or my carbon footprint is smaller. Make it personal. Why are Why are you working from home? Do you have that secret wish to become the next E.L. James but with fewer whips and chains? We all want to be the next biggest thing. And sometimes it’s nice to get lost on that fantasy. But if we never come down from Cloud 9 and get realistic about our goals, we’ll constantly be disappointed because we’ve set the bar too high. Are you writing to just to earn a paycheck? Is it less about the money and more about the art? Whatever your dream is, define it. The set a goal, set ten goals. Whatever you need to do to achieve it. If your goal is to be successful, define what success means to you specifically and then set goals with milestones The best way to do this is simple, really—take baby steps. Set smaller goals and build on those small successes until you get there. Ask anyone who has achieved success and they’ll tell you they didn’t get there with a pie-in-the-sky dream. It happened because they set realistic goals, did honest hard work, and persevered. Lack of Discipline If you’re going to work from home you’ll need to be a self-starter. There’s no boss to check your time card, no one to hand you a list of items to get done for the day, and no set time to be at work and then go home. Sure, you can wake up on a beautiful day and say, “Let’s hit the ski slopes.” or “Forget work. Let’s go to the water park.” But you can’t put off work like this on a regular basis or you’ll pay for it in the end. Working from home takes discipline. You still need to get up every workday (you can define your own) and actually work. The other side of discipline is recognizing when you have too much work. Don’t over work yourself because you bought into the idea that you’d have more time and be more productive because you don’t have the distractions of the office. This is a myth. You’ll have just as many distractions at home as you would in an office. They’re just a different kind of distraction. (Think cat videos and social media.) Doesn’t Prioritize Time Speaking of distractions… One of the biggest issues with working from home is the distractions. While it’s nice to be able to say you work in your pj’s, it’s also easy to lie around all day and watch television or surf the Internet looking for picture of Bill Murray from What About Bob for your blog article....

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