Baby Bites on SCVK


I’ve been struggling with doing some major edits to SCVK. They really need to be made, though, so yesterday, despite a low-motivation fog-brain sort of day, I managed to work over an hour on the Tough Stuff.

Today I spent almost two hours on Frankensteining pieces together, and (just as predicted), I like what I’ve stitched together much better than what I used to have. I’ve got piano in the morning, but after my lessons, I think I’ll try to finish up this section while I have the momentum.

And after that…there’s still more to be done! ALWAYS MORE. But I’ve posted some affirmations and I’m picturing this thing FINISHED–a small doorstop with a beautiful cover I can hold in my hand and flip through, something people are actually buying and READING!–and it’s helping a lot.

One of my most important affirmations is this: My dreams come from God, and God has the power to accomplish them.

So often I feel like my writing–which is SO FUN–isn’t Important or Spiritual enough. But this affirmation reminds me that it’s OK to chase my dreams because they were put in me for a reason.

It also assures me of something I told myself long ago: this is NOT my book, it’s Heavenly Father’s book. (It has to be because nobody in his right mind would make his debut novel the same length as Gone with the Wind.) So as long as I sit my butt down and do the work, He’ll make sure it turns out all right.

In the meantime, I must continue editing!

what being an editor is like we-are-done-breaking-bad editing edit.gif

What being an editor is like.



Behold my beautiful pie chart!  And the progress it indicates!

(I didn’t start this piechart until well into the home stretch.  
Otherwise I think I would’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of work I
had to do.  So my advice to you is don’t start a pie chart right away.)

Xposted from

Your Inner Critic and You (Part 2): How to Listen to Your Inner Critic

Muse at 11, Writing

Your Inner Critic mostly wants to be heard.  The trick is to let him speak–but not to listen too closely (especially when you’re drafting!)

In my own drafts–both digital and handwritten, I use the following technique:  If I’m writing along and suddenly my inner critic points out something, I simply insert a square bracket, write its comment, close the bracket, and proceed with the story.

If I’m doing this on the computer, I turn the comment red so it stands out during editing. That way I can review the comments later (some of them may be on to something, after all) when I’m not in the flow of writing.  I get to write, the Critic gets heard, and everybody wins.

It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something.  ~Ornette Coleman

“Trim fat, add muscle.”

Muse at 11, Writing

This is something for you to kind of have an eye out for during the writing process (but don’t do anything about it–because you’re writing, remember?).  But when it comes time for you to actively edit your piece remember this:  SKIP THE BORING PARTS.

I just read two books: Bruce Coville’s My Teacher is an Alien

vs and

Richard Paul Evans’ Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25.

Both have interesting premises (Coville’s is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; Evans’ is about a boy with electrical powers), and deal with kids taking on forces way bigger than them.

But here’s the thing: Coville’s book is only 128 pages.  But every scene that has to be there, is there (with exception of one–when a shy bookworm suddenly starts showing his smarts in class; that’s summarized, and I’d bet if Mr. Coville did it today, he’d write that scene out so we can see it), and there is nothing…well, there are extraneous-sounding things, but all of it’s entertaining, and in the end, relevant in some way or another.  The scenario is played out to the fullest degree.  The high notes were hit, the dull parts summarized, and the book became memorable.  All in 128 pages.  The story, in other words, is so tight it could float.

In contrast, I’m thinking the first section of of Evans’ 326-page novel plods.  In the first hundred pages or so (remember, in that amount of time, Coville’s written an entire story) I have to sit through the presentation of the following:

  1. Michael is an average dude.
  2. Michael is short.
  3. Michael has problems at school.
  4. Michael deals with bullies at school.
  5. Michael’s Mom has single-mom problems.
  6. Michael likes a girl who doesn’t know he exists.
  7. Michael may have a mysterious past.
  8. Oh, yeah, Michael has a mysterious power.

None of these things are exactly irrelevant, but do we need to spend 100 pages on these mundanities?  Especially when there’s kids with superpowers and conspiracy theories and bad guys about?

All of these things be written about in an interesting manner; the trick is to “trim fat, add muscle” (as my writer friend Linsey told me once).

If it sits there, it’s not getting you to the good part, and you should consider cutting it.  If it’s moving the story forward or adding flavor, keep it!

When you’re in editing, take note of anything that you, personally, are skimming over.  It might be a clue that it needs to be cut, summarized, or rewritten.

It is a crime to bore your audience.


Building Up and Breaking Down

Muse at 11, Writing

Before we get too far into things, I wanted to put up a couple of my definitions.

Writing is the act of putting words on a page and making something new.  You put word upon word, line upon line, paragraph upon paragraph, always moving forward.

Editing is taking a draft of writing and tinkering with it.  You add, you take away, you rearrange.

Writing is the first action.  It’s about getting something down.  For me, this process is about “allowing” and almost not-caring about what I’m doing.

Editing is the second action.  You examine and evaluate the results of your first step.  Your goal is to improve, smooth out, something that already exists.

Both steps are necessary to the overall writing process.  And I’ve found that they’re best done at separate times.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven [. . .]  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up[.]”

— Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3

On polishing


I think I’m finally in the home stretch of edits for my latest short story, “Out Where the Sun Always Shines”.

What I’ve been doing is highlighting the bumpy passages in red (using Word), then retyping, retyping, and retyping until I get something I don’t hate.  I leave it there for a night, then re-read the next day.  If I’m going, “Why the heck is this red?  This is fine!” I change the color back to black and forget about it.  (In some cases, I even Frankenstein

But in this final run, I’ve noticed I’m dead-ending on a few passages– even though I’ve run through them a few times, they’re just not working for me.  So what I did yesterday was grab some 8.5×11″ scratch paper.  Then I visited each highlighted section in the story.  Instead of typing, I as many variations as I could by hand, just free-writing, almost as if I was writing it brand new.   At one point, I filled 3 pages with different variations on a single sentence.

Tedious?  …Actually, no.  Tedious to me is doing the same thing over and over and over again with no visible result or change at the end.  When I polish, I’m attacking the problem phrase or paragraph from as many different angles I can think of (cerebral!  creative!), and when it’s done, I can see the improvement.  Hard work, yes.  Repetitive and boring?  Nein.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m at the “ARE WE THERE YET?” stage.  I’m ready to be done with the story.  But I’m thrilled to discover that editing is just as satisfying as writing.

Seth Godin on ‘Good Enough’

Recommended Reading, Writing

I’m wrapping up edits to my latest short-story.  It’s been a while since I’ve edited anything outside of a classroom environment and I’m coming to realize that I’m harder to please than any teacher.  I’m working on the fifth and final draft.

Before that I had:

  • the handwritten draft, the typed version of the written draft (known as the “first draft”)
  • the “aha, typoes-are-gone-let’s-send-it-off-to-my-Friendly-Readers” draft
  • the post-Friendly Reader draft

and the dreaded

  • “I read it all.  OUT LOUD.  To myself.” draft.

I’ve long heard that a project is never done, it is only abandoned (because hey, as long as you’re noodling on it, you don’t have to deliver anything)…so I was getting nervous.  Was I, in fear of releasing this weirdo story into the world, noodling on this?  Would I know the right time to call it finished?

Then Seth Godin posted How do you know when it’s done?, a useful post about this very topic!

It’s very useful if you’re a perfectionist (like me!).