Posts by Shay

Divas on Writing: Let’s Talk about Sex and Perspective

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Divas on Writing | 0 comments

Divas on Writing:  Let’s Talk about Sex and Perspective

There are manifold ways in which a sex scene can go wrong. Hello, disembodied motion, I’m looking at you! It can become unbalanced by focusing on one aspect too much. When readers and editors start complaining about robotic scenes this is the problem. It may be unrealistic (Welcome to the Virgin Extreme Sex Olympics!) or rushed (It’s over? When did we begin?) or may not fit the readers’ expectations (#!*#%&#@! fade to black!). But occasionally there is something about a scene that just leaves the reader uncomfortable and they don’t know why. Today, I’m going to reveal the reason behind this phenomenon. When you’re doing everything right in the scene but readers are still receiving it wrong (no pun intended LOL), it’s time to look at sex and perspective. Who’s relating the scene? Sometimes it’s those little subtleties that matter most, and that is true most of all when it comes to the perspective through which you tell your story. While there are many things that can make or break a story, I find perspective to be one of the most important considerations when it comes to writing. Who is telling the story can have the same impact upon a story as characterization. If your narrator sucks, so will your book! Perspective is evocative. Your readers will react to a scene, and its narrator, in a variety of ways because they are influenced by their personal proclivities, morals, and hang-ups. These aspects of your readers’ personalities are just magnified by a hundred when it comes to sex. And as a writer, you can use this knowledge to your advantage or ignore it to your detriment. Which brings me to the first rule of writing sex scenes: Know thy target audience!! Your readers are going to have different levels of comfort when it comes to sex scenes. Some readers are going to skip over them entirely and be upset that you even put one (or ten) in the book. Others are going to read them without an ounce of embarrassment and be grateful for the added “hot factor”. And others will dig a scene or be turned off by it simply because of the narrator alone. Recently this very thing happened to me, and it got me to thinking. I was listening to an audio book that was narrated by a man. I’m ashamed to say that the book squicked me out to an extreme degree because of the way the man read the sex scenes. I was so embarrassed by his moans and groans and sighs of the protagonist’s name. The book was absolute hell to listen to because it made me so uncomfortable. While I was OK with the male narrator relating the story to me, I couldn’t handle him narrating the sex. The lesson I took away from that story debacle? The narrator matters, especially when it comes to sex scenes. There are strengths and weaknesses in every perspective type and you need to consider the story you want to tell and the content that will be in it before you ever sit down to write, especially if you want to give your audience what they want and do it in a way that isn’t going to make them uncomfortable. -the omniscient narrator The omniscient narrator is awesome, no doubt. But the omniscient narrator is an unknown observer. He or she is a voyeur, a Peeping Tom. And while the omniscient narrator knows all and can relate all, the distance this type of narration can create in a sex scene can be problematic. Some readers may be turned off by the voyeuristic feel of this point of view. This type of reader prefers to be in the action rather than benched on the sidelines. While other readers will appreciate the observational perspective, the insight into the minds of both the characters while intimately involved, and most of all the distance from the action. -the limited narrator When you are writing using limited narration, you are telling the story through the character. This can be a problem when...

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Editor Speak 101: Tools of the Trade

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Featured Articles | 0 comments

Editor Speak 101: Tools of the Trade

Editor Speak 101 – The Tools of the Trade Imagine if you will that you hired someone to mow your lawn and they showed up with a pair of hedge clippers. You would immediately know that they are using the wrong tool because you know a lawn mower is required to trim grass properly. Now you may not know how to use a lawn mower or even have your own mower, but you do know enough about the tools necessary to get the job done to avoid being taken advantage of. And that, dear reader, is the essence of today’s article. Editors, like authors, are students of the craft of writing, but we are also teachers of that art.  While you do not need to be trained as your editor was or read the books your editor has to write a great book and have it edited, you do need to be able to recognize what is a proper tool for an editor to use and what is not. It’s important you not only trust your editor but you also trust the tools your editor is using. Below we discuss the standards in software, style and usage guides, dictionaries, and editing practices.   The Mighty Word Processor The first tool of the editing trade, if your editor isn’t using the red pen o’ doom, is going to be a word processing program. The standard program your editor is going to use will be Microsoft Word (aka Word or MS Word). While there are many fine alternatives to Microsoft Word and Word is generally compatible with these programs, I recommend you use the same word processing program as your editor while formatting your manuscript and during the editing process. Issues can pop up when using different programs, types of computers (PC versus Mac for example), or even different versions of the same program. Not to throw an ad out there for Microsoft, but you can have the latest version of Office on your computer for about $10 a month and it will run on a PC or a Mac. This is a worthy investment in my humble opinion. Your editor will edit your manuscript using the comment and track changes features of Word. It is important you know how to use these features as well; otherwise, disasters can happen. You would not believe the sheer level of errors that can be inserted into a manuscript because an author did not know how to properly accept or reject changes. If you are unfamiliar with track changes or just need a refresher course, please see Janine’s wonderful series of articles on this topic: http://writedivas.com/old/track-changes-basics/ http://writedivas.com/old/track-changes-intermediate/ http://writedivas.com/old/track-changes-advanced/ Given our modern age, I’m going to assume your editor will be editing in a word processing program rather than on a paper manuscript, but if that is not the case or if you would like to familiarize yourself with common editing symbols, you can find them here. The Wonderful World of Dictionaries There are a many dictionaries in the world. And that’s part of the problem. Because while dictionaries agree on most spellings, they do not agree on all spellings. In fact, what may be a word in one dictionary may not be a word in another. You and your editor will need to be on the same page when it comes to which dictionary you are using. The Unabridged Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, or Cambridge Dictionary are all good options and they have searchable online versions, including thesauri and usage information. Your editor most likely has a preferred dictionary and a backup, or two. Ask about what dictionary your editor is using and find a common ground. Dictionaries help editors decide whether a word should be treated as a compound word, as an open compound word, or as a hyphenated word. It also helps us decide the spelling of a word based on its part of speech. For example, backup and back up are two distinct words with different meanings and different parts of speech. And your editor will use the dictionary to determine...

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Divas Rec: Thickening the Plot by Vickie Hinze

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Divas Recommend | 0 comments

Divas Rec: Thickening the Plot by Vickie Hinze

Divas Recommend: Thickening the Plot by Vickie Hinze In this week’s recommendation we unravel the mysteries of constructing a concise, well-developed plot. Vickie Hinze takes plotting to the next level in her article “Thickening the Plot” over at the absolutely wonderful writer’s site, Absolute Write. So if you are having issues developing your plot or creating a plot that doesn’t de-evolve into the clichéd, this is the article. Now back to...

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Third Person Narrative Perspectives

Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Divas on Writing | 0 comments

Third Person Narrative Perspectives

Divas on Writing: Third Person Narrative Perspectives Today we are going to discuss the differences between omniscient and limited third person narrative perspectives. I believe that every writer needs to have a good handle on narrative perspective before they put pen to paper. Not having such will lead to a narration that is all over the map. What you want is consistency in narrative tone and style. So what’s the difference between omniscient and limited? How do you tell the difference? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective? Omniscient Narrator: An omniscient narrator is a storyteller who is not a part of the story, but they have a godlike view of every event and everyone’s minds. The hallmark of an omniscient narrator is they do not tell the story from a specific character’s point of view, but rather from their own. Most often the voice the omniscient narrator uses is the author’s. The omniscient narrator may express what a character is thinking and this will be expressed in the voice of the character in the same way the discourse is, but the narrative itself is in the voice of the narrator. Issues arise in the omniscient perspective when the narrator becomes distracted or unfocused and shares too much information—usually information that has no bearing on the plot or characterization. Omniscient narration can also be prone to distance between the reader and the characters if the narrator’s voice is too strong. Also, sometimes the voice of the omniscient narrator bleeds into the discourse and the characters begin to sound like the narrator instead of like themselves. Like any narrative style, if the narrator is not a visual storyteller, the story can become dry, stilted, and telling. Limited Narration: A limited narration is limited to one or several characters. The limited narrator is very much like a first person narrator. The limited narrator only knows the past and present of the character through whom they are telling the story. They are privy to that character’s thoughts, perceptions and emotions. When a limited narrator leaves the perspective of their narrating character and jumps into another head and then back to their perspective character, this is referred to as head hopping, and it can be a very distracting problem. The limited narrator cannot tell events that they are not privy to. Many times authors abuse limited narration tell a story through the minds/perspectives of many characters. Do not do this. The limited narrator should speak through at least one character, but I would limited it to no more than four just for the sake of keeping the narrative tone somewhat consistent. Limited narrators are confined in the mind of their perspective character. If they know what everyone around them is thinking, then they are mind reading, which is another narrative issue and other than head hopping is the primary issue with the limited perspective. To help you differentiate between the perspectives, I have created a chart that contrasts the aspects of the different styles of third person narration, its strengths and its weaknesses.   Omniscient Limited Using Multiple Characters Limited Using One Character Aspects of Omniscient Narration: Aspects of Limited Narration: Aspects of One Character Limited Knows all of the characters motives, thoughts, desires, etc. (but may withhold information) Knows the past, present, and future Is sure of what they state and is generally a reliable narrator Doesn’t insert their opinions into the story (generally) Doesn’t speak with the voice of the characters Is limited in the amount of minds it narrates through—usually one or two. Knows only the perspective character’s motives, thoughts, desires, etc. Knows only the perspective character’s past and present Can be unsure of what it states or make suppositions. Can insert the perspective character’s opinions into the story. Speaks with the voice of the perspective character Can use a conversational tone Limited to the perspective of only one narrator Only knows his own motives, thoughts, desires, etc. And can only relate what he has been told, seen, experienced, etc. Has only varying and limited knowledge of the other...

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Editor Speak 101: Types of Editors

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Featured Articles | 0 comments

Editor Speak 101: Types of Editors

Editor Speak 101 – Types of Editors During and even before an edit, you are going to hear a lot of terms, both technical and grammatical, that you may not have heard before. In this series, we are going to define these terms so you and your editor will have a common ground when speaking about your edit. First, before we get into the good stuff, we are going to discuss the types of editors you will meet when shopping for the perfect helpmate. You’ll find there are just as many types of editors as there are types of edits. And while your editor may be a jack of all edits, you may decide you want to hire someone who specializes. I’ve found it to be true, certainly regarding myself and other editors I know, that editors tend to be better at certain types of edits than they are at others. Just because an editor is awesome with development does not mean that they will be a great proofreader and vice versa. Development of a story requires a much different skill set than proofreading. And though your copy editor may be proficient when it comes to content editing, you may want to hire someone who is expert instead. I’ve always looked at it like this: Just like I wouldn’t hire a brake specialist to put a new transmission in my car, I wouldn’t hire an editor who doesn’t specialize in the service I require. Developmental Editor A developmental editor is all about the big picture. This type of editor will help you make a disjointed story and turn it into something that shines. As the name implies a developmental editor helps you “develop” every part of your story. They will direct you when it comes to plotting, characterization, and setting. They will identify places that need to be expanded or deleted. These editors deal with the creative side of writing and the technical side of story construction. If you are having issues with plot or characterization and need help, I recommend a developmental editor. Content Editor Content editors deal with a story on a line by line basis. They are going to help you get spot issues with sentence structure, consistency, pacing, flow, and the tone of the writing. Like a copy editor, they will also help you cut the fluff and fat out of your novel. This type of editor will question the plot, the characterizations, the actions and motivations of your characters, help you keep your voice and scenes consistent and tell you when you’ve jumped the shark. If you want an editor who will point out the potential flaws in your plot, who will cut the fat and help you say things in a clearer, more succinct way and will make the pacing and flow of your story hit on the mark, you are looking for a content editor. Copy Editor When most people think of what an editor is, they are in fact thinking of the venerable copy editor. When grammar and spelling is the issue, the copy editor is your go-to expert. They can quote The Chicago Manual of Style and the dictionary like the most fervent of Bible-thumpers. Your copy editor will make sure it’s right. Whether it’s a dangling modifier, passive voice or an issue with tense, your copy editor will have your back. To me, there is no discussing whether or not your book needs a copy edit. It does. There’s no getting around it. If you are looking for someone to make sure you are using who/whom correctly, your commas are in the right spot and whether your antecedents are clear and in agreement, well, don’t skimp. Hire an expert copy editor. But copy editors generally do a bit more than just make sure your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are good. They are there to help you cut wordiness and redundancy and catch issues consistency (especially with spelling, but sometimes substantive inconsistencies as well). Proofreader Traditionally, your proofreader is the last vanguard before publishing. These editors give your manuscript a final read through....

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