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How to Tackle the Editing Beast Part 1

aspiring_novelists
photo found here: http://goo.gl/meCuuR

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.)

How_to_create_logline
Original photo found here: http://goo.gl/3X3Qak

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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Mondays #fiction #shortstory

Mondays
Original photo found here: http://goo.gl/ksMVH

“Sarah, are you okay?” Mr. Davenport stopped her at the doorway, trig textbook in hand. “You didn’t answer questions eleven through fifteen on your quiz last Monday. I hope you didn’t skip over answers on this week’s quiz.”

“I didn’t feel very good.” Her chest had grown tight that day. The numbers blurred in front of her face, little animated Star Wars figures chasing each other round and round the page.

“The math-bowl is next week, and we need you at your best. We wouldn’t want to miss our chance for a fourth state-championship. We’re counting on you for another win.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be ready.” She shuffled her backpack and pushed past him toward English.

What if she wasn’t ready? What if all she saw were more Star Wars figures? The hairs on the back of her neck rose. Think about it later, not now.

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Gnawed Pencils #fiction #shortstory

gnawed_pencilsI arrived at the classroom early Monday to find him waiting by the door. “Are you the returning student?” I hipped the stack of books and papers and unlocked the door.

He didn’t look up from the ground. “Yes, Ma’am.” His pants were ragged, average-brown hair a little longer than approved dress code length.

I walked to my desk to put down my stack. “I expect you to come to class prepared each day, same as the others. Since you’re coming in a little late into the semester I can give you some extra tutoring to help you along. I don’t have that plaque on my wall for letting students fall behind. Though since it’s only English you’re taking, you shouldn’t have trouble keeping up.”

He shuffled a foot and made brief eye contact.

My chest tightened, as though my Grapes of Wrath flew from my stack and walloped me. “Robert? Robert Maples? Is that you?”

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Cleaning Dead Hydrangeas #fiction #shortstory

Cleaning Dead Hydrangeas
original photo found here: http://goo.gl/QadEi

I don’t like crud under my nails. Or the crud she tracks in but never bothers sweeping. Or the filth she eats, and the plates she never seems to have time to wash, but seems to have plenty of time to let migrate into other rooms of the house. Or the layers of oh-my-god-what-is-that caked on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

Living in such conditions is inhumane. Only a matter of time before I slip some Clorox into her tea, hoping she’ll take the hint. I mean, the whole point of having windows is to actually see the outside not the streaks of bird dung. Three more months of living in this crap-happy place and I’ll go senile before her.

I think it’s why I love the medical field, helping people through an ordered environment. A clean environment.

When Grandpa was still alive five years ago they spent hours gardening together. Mrs. Howard Daapt, she insists on being called now, introduced me to gardening when I moved in for a medical internship three months ago. She showed me the dried hydrangea bush he cut flowers from to decorate the kitchen table. The seeds were an anniversary gift, ordered with money long slaved over.

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