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How to Tackle the Editing Beast Part 1

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When I saw this picture, I burst out laughing. Yup, the main part of writing is editing. Not nearly as fun as the romantic notion of the caffeine-fit typing attack we’ve all grown up thinking writers experienced. But it’s still my favorite part because I can finally mold something worthwhile 🙂

I’ve been staring at my editing to-do list on this RBRP book for about a month now. Each time I start editing I have to remind myself that when I’m facing a massive project, the most manageable way to tackle the blasted thing is to break it down into manageable chunks.

I half the editing beast by focusing on the big picture stuff first, like character development and building tension, then the small details like sentence structure and word choices. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the big picture edits for the past several weeks:

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How to Create Your Novel’s Logline

I recently read a post by Laura Drake on Writers in the Storm about a hassle-free way to create a logline for your story. (If you’re wondering what in sand buckets a logline is, it’s the short big picture byline used to sum up your work of genius. Think: mini synopsis.)

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I thought hey, my sci-fi novel I’m currently editing is in need of a logline. And I reallllly suck at coming up with one by myself. Let’s figure out how to create one together.

There are formulas to come up with loglines:


  • At Filmmaking101 Joe Lam says it must have 5 parts:  Protagonist, genre, inner conflict, outer conflict, and climax.
  • Blake Snyder in his book Save the Cat! says:  It must contain a type of hero, the antagonist, the hero’s primal goal and it must have irony.
  • Some say, all you need is a character with a goal and a conflict.

All those work. They’ll give you a perfectly workable logline. A workmanlike logline.


But to me, that’s only a place to start.


THEN you need to add what Margie Lawson calls,


*Sparkle Factor* 


*Rubs hands together* Let’s do this.

I’m looking at Joe Lam’s 5 part list. . . and getting overwhelmed. So I’ll jump to Blake Snyder’s list. Irony? On demand? I have a hard enough time getting the bare bones down, which leaves me with the last of the bullet points: character, goal, conflict. (I’m answering this according to the New Adult sci-fi/fantasy manuscript I’m currently editing.)

Character: 22 year-old Breaker Gershom. (a description of the character is always more useful than the name because you learn more about them). This becomes >> a 22 year-old amputee who built his own prosthetic

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7 things I Learned from Pikes Peak Writers Conference

I spent last weekend in Colorado Springs at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. What I love about conferences are, not only the workshop know-how you stuff into your brains, but all the slightly neurotic writers you bond with. My people. (chest thump.)Pikes_Peak_Writers

Here are 7 things I learned from the weekend (I might turn a couple of these into longer blog posts later):

1. Don’t be afraid to talk to others. Even if big groups intimidate you, you can still grab someone one-on-one for a more intimate conversation. There were many people I’d love to keep in touch with. (And you may find an editor who is attending the conference as a regular attendee . . .who gives you their card—I did.)

2. NYT Bestseller Gail Carriger spoke as one of the keynote speakers. She wrote down every single event that happened to her during her debut year, from different editing rounds to cover movel emails. (note to self—do this) Did you know she had almost 3 books of her steampunk Parasol Protectorate series written by the time the first one hit the shelves? I had no idea books were written this far in advance.

3. When world building, keep in mind all aspects of the culture. History (could include myths), arts (music? Painting? Literature?), government, social groups (how are families structured? Friend groups?), ect. I’d even add geography to the list. (How does the actual land influence how people live? Can they farm? If so, they might have school systems based around that, and so on)

Adding in these details will make your story more rich and more satisfying to the reader.

4. In the workshop, we had different authors read aloud dialogue-heavy pages of their books-in-progress. The rest of us had to guess how old the characters were. Talk about an eye opener. Most characters didn’t sound close to their age when read aloud to strangers.

If you see me descending upon little old ladies trying to grocery shop in a flurry of pages, you’ll know why.

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Q: is for DON’T QUIT #AtoZchallenge

QWhenever I start a new project, I feel this tingly-tickle way down in my toes and undeniable urge telling me to charge forward. I jump into planning, and I’m an adult on a sugar-rush without actually consuming candy and calories.

Then my little bony ankles get wet and bring me to my senses. I take a moment to stare at the river I’m wading in and the tingly-tickle gives way to an oh-crap-belly-drop. What did I get myself into?

And I want to quit. The river’s too wild. The project’s too big. My novel’s too outside my comfort zone. My painting’s too much outside my skill level. The _____ is too ______.

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