nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘editing

The “proof” arrives!

with 2 comments

A knock on the door yesterday afternoon brought the “proof” of my new book Meniscus: Crossing The Churn”. So exciting!

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carton
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The proofing with CreateSpace takes a while if you follow their process. At the suggestion of one of my blog readers, I sent for the hard copy “proof” and I am so glad I did! I am also reviewing a virtual book and a PDF version, both provided by CreateSpace.

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I know from my read of the virtual book, there are several things I want to fix. But having the proof makes publication of the book more “real”.  Also, a read of the real pages will probably point out other edits … there always seems to be a difference between my perception of paper and screen versions!

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It will take a few hours to read the “proof”, make any changes and go through the process of downloading the new version to CreateSpace. Then, a repeat of the proofing process. Nevertheless, I am that much closer to the publication of my book on Amazon!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

March 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm

writing a novel – professional editing

with 4 comments

'a writers' retreat' Jane Tims, November 29, 2012

‘a writers’ retreat’
Jane Tims, November 29, 2012

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Remember my first novel? – ‘Saving the Landing Church’ aka ‘Open to the Skies’. The book is the story of how a woman tries to preserve an abandoned church with unexpected consequences for herself and for the community. The setting of the novel is a writers’ retreat in rural New Brunswick.

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I began the book three years ago and worked on it, on and off, for a year. Since then, I have been working on two more novels in the series: ‘Crossing at a Walk’ and ‘Shore to Shore’.

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In the last year, I sent ‘Open to the Skies’ to three publishers. Eventually I heard back from each one: ‘interesting but does not meet our publishing needs’.  Disappointing but expected. However I intend to accomplish my goal of getting my novel published!

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louvers in the belfry

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I decided to take another step and ask a professional editor to look at my novel and offer comments. I hired Lee Thompson of ‘Lee Thompson Editing +’ (  http://leethompsonediting.com/ ) to read my book and comment. I knew Lee from his role as Executive Director with the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation and took him up on one of the editing specials he occasionally offers. Lee read my novel and provided me with chapter-by-chapter notes about dialogue, plot pace and voice. He helped me most by pointing out areas where he felt characters were not contributing enough to the story.

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The following is my commentary on Lee’s editing services:

One of the hardest aspects of writing is overcoming subjectivity. Hiring Lee to read and assess my novel helped to overcome this problem since Lee is not only a skilled editor, but is able to provide his comments in a way that encourages a writer’s objectivity. Lee provided a chapter-by-chapter analysis of my novel, including his assessment of what worked, what didn’t and suggestions for improvements. First, I knew by his synopsis that he had read the novel thoroughly and understood what I was trying to achieve. His comments on dialogue, plot pace and voice were specific and not only improved this book but helped me to look at my writing in a new way. Most important, his insightful thoughts on gaps in the story led me to discover story areas and directions that had previously eluded me but waited just below the surface to be discovered. Thanks to Lee I am now in the last stages of a final draft and almost ready to submit the novel to some of the publishers he suggested. I have realized that obtaining the services of a professional editor is one of the most important steps a writer can take – Lee’s confidence and skill made this part of the process painless and productive!

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I am realising that writing a novel is a story of its own, consisting of many parts, each with its own consequences:

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  1. First ideas about story and plot – a place to begin
  2. First Draft – the novel takes shape
  3. Second Draft – revision
  4. Third Draft and so on – more revision
  5. Beta Reader – someone to cast a reader’s eye on the draft and provide feedback
  6. Professional Editor – someone to cast an editor’s eye on the draft and provide feedback
  7. Publisher – someone to read and reject the novel
  8. Publisher – someone to read and accept the novel for publication
  9. Readers – someone to read the words and discover the story

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total words written at end of day

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Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

December 9, 2015 at 2:10 pm

writing a novel – draft by draft

with 2 comments

Title: Unknown

Working Title: ‘Crossing at a Walk’

Setting: a writers’ retreat – the renovated Landing Church, the hall and the rectory – now used as a Learning Center, a Sleeping Hall and a home/base of operations

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer and manager of a weekend writers’ retreat; her husband Tom, a retired welder; people from the community; writers participating in the first weekend of the writers’ retreat

Plot: Some of the participants in the writer’s retreat become interested in the carving of a woman’s name in a local covered bridge

Story: Sadie works to make the first writers’ retreat go smoothly, but forgets to keep her own life on track

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Wheaton Bridge

Wheaton Bridge (Tantramar River #2) in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. This is the bridge where I found the PHOEBE carving in 1992. We re-visited the bridge in early June and the carving no longer exists, probably lost to necessary bridge maintenance.

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As I complete work on the fifth draft of my novel ‘Crossing at a Walk’, I am planning how to further improve the book. I am now at about 82,000 words.  I have defined the story and the plot.  Now I have to complete the editing phase.

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This blog has proven to be a valuable tool in writing.  It helps me to check my progress against my first book, and to make sure I don’t forget steps in the editing process.  To help with this process, I have made the table below to chart my progress through the various drafts.

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Number of words Tools used Objectives
Draft #1 32,000
  • Write early ideas and scenes
  • Create plot
Draft #2 54,000
  • Story board
  • Table of Contents
  • Create story arcs, character story arcs, other sub-plot arcs
  • Define plot and story
Draft #3 65,000
  • Story board
  • Table of Contents
  • Tables showing occurrences of characters and symbols by Chapter
  • Refine story arcs
  • Define symbols
  • Define characters
Draft #4 77,000
  • Reading start to finish
  • First edit (passive voice, adverbs, repeated words, etc.)
Draft #5 83,000
  • Reading aloud
  • SmartEdit for Word program
  • Deep edit (better word choices, repeated words and phrases, punctuation)
Draft #6
  • Reading aloud
  • Reading start to finish
  • Paragraph by paragraph editing
  • Character by character editing

 

  • Refine  setting descriptions and dialogue
  • Make consistent
  • Obtain opinions on technicalities, plot and story
  • Consider carry-over elements from first book to second, and second book to third
Draft #7
  • Reading start to finish
  • Beta Reader
  • Final author edit
  • Obtain opinions on readability, plot and story

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During Draft #5, I began reading my book to my husband and to the members of my two writing groups. Reading aloud is the first test of my audience and helps me find many errors.  In particular, I am able to hear words I have repeated in near proximity to one another.

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Also during Draft #5, I have used a tool I found useful in the writing of my first book.  This is SmartEdit for Word  (http://www.smart-edit.com/) a ‘first-pass-editing tool’ designed to help identify errors and problems with writing.  It is Word compatible and works directly with my Word documents. It identifies clichés, adverbs, repeated words and phrases, punctuation errors and so on.  Although it doesn’t take the place of a human editor, it shows the writer possible areas for improvement. SmartEdit for Word can be used free for 10 days or can be purchased for a reasonable price.  I have found it to be trouble-free and worth the cost.

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As I begin Draft #6, my objectives are to make elements in the book consistent. This includes listening for the way characters speak, making certain settings are described completely, and ensuring the story arcs are coherent.  I also have to think a little about the third book in the series, so I know what characters I will need and know if I have to make small plot adjustments.

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Have you ever used editing software to help with your writing?

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Carving of the name Phoebe on a beam of the Tantramar #2 Covered Bridge near Sackville, New Brunswick

Carving of the name Phoebe on a beam of the Tantramar #2 Covered Bridge near Sackville, New Brunswick

 

Written by jane tims

July 3, 2015 at 10:10 am

writing a novel – being the reader

with 2 comments

 

At some point during the writing of a novel, the writer must become reader.

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a ‘reader’ in my library – one of a very old set of bookends I call the ‘Two Muses’

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The writer reads their work, over and over and over.  Eventually, the sentences and paragraphs, the story itself, become so familiar, the writer can’t ‘see’ them properly any more.

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The writer has two disadvantages.

First is familiarity.  The writer knows every detail of the story, even details not written down.  The writer’s mind fills in the gaps and the poor reader is, perhaps, left wondering.  But the reader has experience as well.  The writer has to know how much detail to include and how much to leave to the imagination.   Sometimes the details the reader fills in make the better story.  Have you ever read a book, having a perfect idea of what the protagonist looks like, only to be told, mid-way through the story, he has a twitch in one eye?

Second is love. Writers tend to become enamoured of their characters, their stories and their own writing. A description or sub-plot or character may take root and grow within the novel, even though it has little to do with the larger story. Once written, it is difficult to rip those paragraphs from the whole. Keeping track of word number will help, since it is an objective measure of progress towards a goal. In my novel ‘Crossing at a Walk’ I often write bits that I later remove. Too allay the fear that they will be lost forever, I have a file for a bone-yard – I can always return to this pile in future.  I rarely do.  ‘Murder your darlings‘ (Arthur Quiller-Couch, 1914).

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This young lady never reads … she just sits among the potted plants and dreams.

 

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The writer must also consider the questions the reader is asking as he or she reads the book.  If the book hints at a problem or something that needs resolution, the reader will watch for an answer.  For example, if a character mentions she has heard a cousin is coming to visit, the reader will wait for the cousin to arrive.  If the cousin never shows up, the result may be a disgruntled reader.

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I read my book, cover to cover, at every draft.  I also think it’s important to read it aloud at some point, once the story is complete.  Reading aloud to another person will give the writer some feedback.  The act of hearing the word spoken will also suggest problems with rhythm, word choice or continuity.  I read aloud to my husband and to the members of the two writing groups where I am a member.

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In the end, the writer cannot be an objective reader.  Every writer must find a test reader, someone who will provide honest feedback on characters, plot and story, as well as editorial advice.

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I use my Kobo to read drafts of my book …

 

 

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 29, 2015 at 7:34 am

writing a novel – pulling out the weeds

with 3 comments

I have completed Draft Three of my novel ‘Crossing at a Walk’. The entire story is there. If I add more ‘story’ now, I will only confuse my plot and my readers.  Next I have to concentrate on honing every sentence, including dealing with the oddities I allow to creep into my writing. As if I am growing a garden, I have to find and pull out the weeds.

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DSCF7356_CROP_crop

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I think these are different for every writer and writers have to learn these for themselves. For me, the culprits are:

writing in the passive voice.

using the word ‘that’.  I never use ‘which’.

using adverbs, although I (quickly) drilled this one out of my system.

repeating the same word in adjacent lines or adjacent paragraphs.

using phrases like ‘she stood and … ‘, ‘I opened the door and …’ , ‘I looked at her and …’ – I sometimes tend to breathe for my characters!

using colorless words like ‘felt’, ‘drove’, ‘went’, ‘wondered’, ‘just’ and so on.

putting two spaces after every period – I learned to type on a typewriter!

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I also have to do careful editing with respect to tense and person.  I tell Sadie’s story in the third person and past tense.  Tom speaks in the first person and present tense.  I also have an angler who likes to fish just below the covered bridge and always speaks in the second person (something new I am trying).

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my husband when he was a boy, fishing on the North Branch of the Rusagonis River, under the covered bridge

my husband when he was a boy, fishing on the North Branch of the Rusagonis River, under the covered bridge … this covered bridge is now gone from our community

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My husband is not looking forward to the completion of Draft Four.  It ends with me reading him the entire novel, chapter by chapter, every evening, an hour before ‘Coronation Street’ on TV.  Until we finish.  Poor fellow.

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm

writing a novel – still editing

with 8 comments

IMG480_crop

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Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat, including an abandoned church

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer; her husband Tom; people from the community

Plot: the story of how Sadie tries to win over a community in order to preserve an abandoned church

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DSCF8355_crop

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Still editing.

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I am on Draft #7 of my novel.  In this draft I am going chapter by chapter through the whole novel to look for opportunities for improvement:

  • I need to make sure I am showing, not telling.  Instead of telling the reader that Sadie is afraid, I try to show the reader her fear, by writing about her accelerated heart rate, her dry throat, how her shoes seem stuck to the floor, and so on.
  •  I need to be sure I not only describe how the scene looks, but also include the smells, the sounds and the tactile experiences.
  • I am still looking for words I repeat in consecutive lines, a hard-to-break habit of mine …

One of the tools I have constructed to help me with fine edits is a chart about the characters.  I have character sketches (in both words and drawings) for each person in my novel, but it is tedious to refer to these over and over.  So, I constructed a table with the important details – how old the person is, what they look like, and so on.

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IMG486_CROP_crop

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Especially helpful is a list of the words he or she uses.  For example, Sadie says ‘dinner’ for the six o’clock meal.  Her husband says ‘supper’.  Sadie uses the word ‘graveyard’, while most of the local people say ‘cemetery’.

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I have 44 characters in my book, including both major, minor and dead characters.  This is probably too many, but it is a book about a community.  Here is my table for a few of my characters:

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Character  Occupation Nickname Characteristics  Age in 2005 Words they use
Sarah Hatheway writer Sadie Plain, thin, oval face, short   brown hair 42 Bed and Breakfast; silly;   retreaters; dinner; graveyard
Tom Hatheway welder Sadie’s husband; strong, short   grey hair, pale 48 B & B; hey girl; clients;   supper; graveyard
Oliver   Johnston minister 42 graveyard; supper
Emma   Southkind homemaker Keeps a journal; solid; yellow   purse; curly grey hair, gentle 59 cemetery; supper
Mark   Southkind retired train conductor 60 cemetery
Katherine   Birch writing coach Kitty Language a bit coarse 62 graveyard; dinner
Alexandra   Connelly student  Tall; long brown hair 16  supper
Joe   Connelly accountant Alexandra’s dad; widowed; tall 45 graveyard

Written by jane tims

October 28, 2013 at 7:09 am

writing a novel – characters with a point of view

with 18 comments

As some of you will know, I have been working on a novel since November of last year.  Although I have been quiet about it in my Blog, I work on my manuscript almost every day and the plot is getting tighter with every edit.  I now have 83,000 words, 23 chapters and 273 pages.

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The novel has the working title ‘Saving the Landing Church’ and is about a woman, Sadie, who decides to buy an abandoned church as a learning center for her new writers’ retreat.  People in the community where Sadie lives have mixed opinions about her undertaking and Sadie meets a lot of opposition as she sets about acquiring and moving the church to its new location.

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abandoned church near Knowlesville, New Brunswick

abandoned church near Knowlesville, New Brunswick

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The book is written in the first person, past, from Sadie’s point of view.

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Sadie

Sadie … she looks a little timid, but she is determined to own the abandoned church

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When I completed the second draft of the novel in January, I asked a few people in my family and my writing group to read it and tell me what they thought.  I also workshoped Chapter Twenty at the Maritime Writers’ Workshop Winter Retreat in February and received many helpful comments from the workshop participants.  I have obtained useful analyses from several people, most especially my niece who has read the draft carefully and given me many useful insights and edits.  Various members of my two writers’ groups have also listened to parts of the novel and provided ideas for improving the writing.

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One of the most consistent comments I have received is about one of my main characters, Sadie’s husband, Tom.  Tom is not well.  He has an advanced condition called Welder’s Lung and his doctors have given him less than a year to live.  This situation is one of the main drivers behind setting up the writers’ retreat – it will give Sadie a livelihood after Tom is gone.

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The criticism about Tom has been that his only role in the book seems to be to die.  Readers have consistently told me they want to find out more about him.  One of my writing group friends suggested I try writing the book from Tom’s point of view.  She said she knew I would resist this idea, and, sure enough, my first response was ‘No way!!!’  …  my book was almost done, my book was perfect!  And write from a man’s point of view? … squiggle!

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Tom

Tom, Sadie’s husband … he is looking a bit battered by his illness, but he is willing to do anything to help his wife

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However, I thought about the possibilities and decided it might be interesting to write a small part of the book in Tom’s voice.  I looked at each chapter and extracted a bit of the conversation or action that I thought might be better seen from Tom’s point of view.  In some cases, Tom’s viewpoint immediately solved the problem of segments where there was no action, only Sadie’s thoughts about where she was in her quest for ownership of the church.

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The new parts of each chapter were surprisingly easy to write and it took me less than three weeks to develop Tom’s ‘words’.  As Tom’s voice began to emerge, I realised that Sadie has some things wrong … an example is her analysis of Tom’s  response to his illness.  To her, he has given up all hope.  Tom sees his response not as despondent, but resolute.  Also, Sadie has a consistently passive response to some quite violent behavior in the community.  Tom takes nothing passively.  Confronted by opposition, he responds in kind.  And he has a couple of pals from his days on the construction site who will help him in any endeavor.

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Tom's friends

Tom’s friends Paul (left) and Rigger (right)

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Tom also wants a dog and the introduction of Jasper, a German Shepherd mix puppy, to the action has been so much fun to write.  Try adding a dog to your own novel or plan for a novel.  At the height of the action, who is taking care of the puppy???

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Dusty

Jasper responds to a crawling military toy

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Responding to people’s editorial comments is difficult.  First, your ego has to be tamed.  Then, you have to decide if the edit will really improve the draft.  I try to look at every comment objectively but this is so hard.  I give extra weight to a comment made by more than one person since this suggests the reading public may have a similar response.  I know, however, that when all is said and done, it is my book and I have to make the decision to edit or not to edit.

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My experience with the ‘Tom re-writes’ shows me that sometimes a seemingly radical comment can lead to an improved draft.  Writing from another character’s point of view can suggest new ways of working out plot problems, add dimension to the story and background, and take the narrative in new and interesting directions.  I strongly suggest looking carefully at each character in your story, writing a good character sketch for each and considering every bit of action from their point of view.  As your characters find their way through the story, they will reveal unique ways of responding to the action.

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As for my squirming about writing as if from a man’s point of view, this was easier to do than I first thought.  Tom’s character was embedded in my head, so I had a good idea of how he would respond to a given circumstance.  His ‘voice’ and reactions are unlike Sadie’s, so there is a significant difference in the words they use and the way they express their ideas.  Tom also speaks in the present or immediate past tense, so his ideas are more visceral and lack the reflection brought by time.  As for thinking like a man, I think Tom is likely from Saturn, rather than either Mars or Venus!  And he likes quiche.

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Lots of fun …

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Copyright   Jane Tims   2013

Written by jane tims

May 15, 2013 at 7:31 am

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