My Editing Process

Writing Life

As I’m winding down the final edits for Moon Shine (goes live in 12 days) I thought I’d compile a list of steps my draft goes through when it becomes “done.”

1. Draft/Edit: it can feel frustrating at times but really it’s the most fun part of the process.

2. Finish Draft: then put it down for a week to let it simmer.

3. Proof-read + make notes of repetitive words.

4. Make corrections

5. Copy edit #1

6. Proof-read again + fix dialogue

7. Read draft aloud + Copy edit #2

8. Proof-read #3 + find continuity issues

9. Add to fill plot holes

10. Read aloud again

11. Take list from step 3 and use thesaurus. Use the fuck out of thesaurus.

12. Proof-read #4 fixing problems from notes taken during steps 1-11

13. Read aloud #3 + Copy edit #3

14. Give manuscript to final beta reader (Mr. J)

15. Re-read manuscript specifically focusing on using correct names/descriptions/actions/mechanics of firearms (if applicable).

16. Final read aloud

17. DONE

Note: Reading your draft aloud is the best thing you can do for editing, in my opinion. I catch so many grammatical errors and passive voice issues when I read my work aloud.

Note 2: Throughout the editing process I look for A) filter words, B) repetition, and C) passive voice

Note 3: Throughout the editing process I make notes every time I re-read the manuscript. I write down questions I have about setting changes and character development. I also write down/highlight all plot holes and anything I think is boring.

Note 4: I do not spend money on a freelance editor and copy editor. I have an MFA in Creative Writing. I do all my edits myself because I know how (feel free to argue with me in the comments if you’ve read my work) but I do use beta readers to gauge plot pacing, character development, and identify possible sensitivity issues.

Note 5: As important as it is to work consistently on your manuscript (especially if you have a deadline) it is equally important to give your book some down time. I try to take days off whenever I feel myself getting frustrated with a scene or when I feel myself over-editing. Remember, writing is supposed to be fun. You’re doing something you love, don’t burn yourself out. Also, taking breaks lets new ideas emerge and distance allows you a fresh perspective.

Series Update: The Heart of the Forest Cycle

Writing Life

Series…Serieses? Is that a word? My spell check says no and suggests Series’. But it’s not the series(es) possession. It’s plural. You get the idea.

Anyway. I am currently writing two story arcs: The Slaughter Chronicles and The Heart of the Forest Cycle. The Slaughter Chronicles is about my main character Regina Slaughter and all her adventures and mistakes. The Heart of the Forest Cycle is about several different faeries, or fair folk, or fey, depending on how you see them.

The Slaughter Chronicles are mainly written in first person limited point of view. I am writing a few novellas that focus on the supporting characters and those are written in third person slightly limited, slightly omniscient depending on how I feel.

The books in The Heart of the Forest Cycle are third person limited and the perspective flows across multiple characters (if you hate character jumping I sincerely apologize).

What I enjoy immensely about writing two different stories at once is that if I get burned out on one I can switch to the other. In a perfect world that kind of transition is seamless and productive. In reality, it’s more often jarring and annoying, mainly because I want to keep to my self-imposed deadlines and when the story doesn’t flow I can’t meet my deadline.

So, my plan was to finish the final draft of the first book in The Heart of the Forest Cycle this month, during Camp Nanowrimo, and work on editing the manuscript over the summer and self-publish it in August.

The story isn’t’ ready.

I have to re-work the magic system. I have to re-write all the things! (Well, not really all the things but it sure feels like it!)

And all while those thoughts are going on Regina is clawing at the back of my brain and screaming, “Tell my story, bitch!”

So after about a week of thinking about how to solve all my problems and two days of not writing (sometimes you just need a break) I have decided that I’m going to put The Heart of the Forest Cycle on the back burner AGAIN and write Regina because her plot holes are WAY easier to fill and smooth over than all my fey drama.

(They wouldn’t be real fey if there wasn’t any drama.)

The thing that I’ve learned/realized that I need to do in order to be a successful writer is to write whatever wants to come out of my brain regardless of what project it fits into. If I had listened to my brain and wrote that one scene when I first thought about it I would probably not have as hard a time solidifying my characters for The Heart of the Forest Cycle but I said, “No! I need to think about this other thing now.” And then the problem got bigger and bigger even though the other thing got done.

My hope still is to publish the first book of The Heart of the Forest Cycle this year but if I don’t, I’m not going to cry over it. I’d rather have a good story than a rushed story. I still love both my stories and all my characters even when they argue with me. Eventually both will be out in the world in full force but Here and Away probably won’t be ready until 2020.

Who else is working on more than one project? More than one project with different genres?

I’d love to hear how y’all do it 🙂

Character Consciousness

Writing Life

This is an example of one of the ways I think up characters:

Me: (recording poems for my audiobook)

Icharus: I want to be a character now.

Me: But you already are.

Icharus: In a book.

Me: …what?

Icharus: I want to be in a book. I didn’t die when I fell. And I love Orpheus.

Me: You do? Ok just hang on a–

Icharus: And I want my book to be like every James Baldwin novel but with more sex.

Me: I don’t know if I can be that brutal.

Icharus: And it’s going to be a trilogy.

Me: Really?

Icharus: Yep.

Me: Well you’ll have to get in line behind Regina, all the Echos, Helen, and everybody else.

Icharus: Did I mention I love Orpheus? And maybe one of the gods too. Apollo could be very metaphorical.

Me: Take a number and get in line!

Icharus: I really, really want a book-trilogy.

Me: You’ll get one just shut up and let me work!

Icharus: I don’t trust you.

Me: It’ll happen! You’re in the queue. I promise!

Icharus: You’re going to have to do a lot of research. Geography is really important.

Me: I know!

Icharus: …maybe Achilles…

Me: Don’t push it.

*

And on and on it went and that is how I made the decision to eventually write a gay romance. A character popped into my head that wouldn’t shut up. But really this character has been in my head since 2012 and didn’t find his voice until day before yesterday. Before that he was a shadowy idea floating around in my brain meat.

It happened during a writing exercise I did back in grad school (see how long ago). The exercise was to look at a book cover and write the synopsis on the back. No influence from the real synopsis or any other information from the book. Just write something based off the cover. You should try it, it’s super fun.

When I read my little blurb the girl sitting at the table directly across from me lit up with a smile and after class she told me I had to write that character, that his voice was so clear to her.

At the time I wasn’t writing fiction but I thought she was super nice to say so, so I put the suggestion away and now almost 7, count em, 7 years later here’s that voice again.

But this time I am writing fiction and I don’t want to tell him to go away. So I guess I’m adding another project to my publication schedule.

*

How do your characters come to you?

Or, if you’re a poet, how do poems happen?

NaNoWriMo (2018): Book Synopsis(es)

NaNoWriMo

Instead of working on 1 project I’m going to work on 3. Because 2 of them are small and near completion and the other NEEDS TO BE WORKED ON. So I’m trying to kill 3 birds with 1 stone this year.

Girl+Muse=

Lupercalia, Poetry

morning, we woke up

and you performed

another extraordinary miracle:

wings split

the paper thin skin

taped across your shoulder blades,

your wet spine

glistened through jauntily

angled prisms thatched

to your ribcage

with flayed nerves

and slippery veins,

as you flew around the room

you said: “No. That’s not how

it happened.”

I woke up alone.

Why I can’t write Part 2

Writing Life

So I just had an epiphany.

I was writing an email to a friend, I like to let her know what I’m working on even though sometimes I feel quite intrusive because she’s made of awesome and does all the awesome things (more on confidence and conversations with other creatives later). I wrote sometimes I get discouraged or find things hard because a project feels too big for me to handle. And then I thought about that.

Havoc’s Moon, my work in progress, feels too big for me to handle.

In a way, that’s kinda cool. I feel like I just got a positive diagnosis or something because I’ve identified something I can work with.

I’m not going to shorten my book. One of the things that made writing Past Life, my sci-fi novella, fun was its smallness. So I just need to figure out how to translate that into a longer thing.

I’ve got way more characters in The Slaughter Chronicles and many plot lines. Whenever I think about my story I feel like I’m looking at a huge world map, my scope is so wide I can’t see any of the topography clearly.

So now I’m going to work on zooming in.

Why can’t I write?

Writing Life

Writing as a person who has a “day job.” I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m not a business person. I can’t afford to just write and make money off of my writing. I have zero expectations that writing will make me financially stable. But writing isn’t a hobby for me, writing keeps me alive. Writing gives me the strength to go outside my apartment and exist as a human being in a society filled with other human beings. Sometimes being human is scary.

But I’ve found, more harshly than previous bouts of writer’s block, in the last few months I haven’t been able to write. I haven’t found myself capable of putting the ideas forming in my brain onto the page. I have several works in progress and several ideas for how to make them awesome but when I turn on my iPad to write I can’t make the words happen.

So what do I do?