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poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Open to the Skies

writing a novel – professional editing

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'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 – next in the series !

with 12 comments

Having sent my first novel ‘Open to the Skies’ (aka ‘Saving the Landing Church’) out to three publishers, I have begun my next novel in the series.  I intend for the series to focus on the adventures of running a writers’ retreat.  Same characters, same setting, same struggle to be a part of the community.

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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 and base of operations for Sadie and Tom

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

Plot: Sadie wants the first writers’ retreat to go smoothly, but the history of an old covered bridge keeps getting in the way

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My first novel was about an abandoned church.  The subject of this book will be yet another feature of our built landscape, one also having a difficult time … the covered bridge.  In the 1940s there were 340 covered bridges in New Brunswick.  Today there are only 60.

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I chuckle all the time about my ‘Saving The …’ series.  Lots of buildings to save out there!  However, I have no intention of sinking into the formulaic (Sadie falls in love with the … and takes steps to save the …).  Instead, each story will take a unique approach to honoring the bit of built landscape it portrays!

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DSCF9613

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As I have said, in New Brunswick, we have 60 remaining covered bridges.  Their numbers are dwindling, the losses due to flooding, fire and vandalism.  For a look at the covered bridges in New Brunswick, see the map and photos at  http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/dti/bridges_ferries/content/covered_bridges.html

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So how does a covered bridge get in the way of a well planned writers’ retreat?

  • Sadie includes a local tour during the retreat, to introduce the writers to the community and give them new experiences to write about.  The covered bridge is outside the tour loop, but a couple of the writers would love to go there.
  • the covered bridge is part of the community’s history.  Inside the bridge are the carved initials of some of the many people who have lingered there.  The writers want to know ‘who was Phoebe?’ a girl whose name is carved in the bridge and imprinted on the memories of some of the members of the community.
  • after the retreat is over, heavy rains and flooding threaten the bridge to its very foundations.  Can the bridge be saved and will Sadie be willing to take on the cause of another community icon?

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Sadie

Sadie … my main character … a writer and weaver … she wants the first weekend of the writers’ retreat to go smoothly …  I still think she needs an afternoon at the hairdressers

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Sadie’s husband Tom … a welder with a fatal case of welder’s lung … a likeable fellow, he refused to die in the first novel … I wonder what will happen to him in ‘Crossing at a Walk’?

 

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

 

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