Alley

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Alley

My offering for this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge:

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A utility alley in my neighborhood. I liked the row of little red flags running down one side and the row of dumpsters down the other, and the trees peeking over the walls.

Wordless Wednesday: Arizona School Calendar

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Wordless Wednesday: Arizona School Calendar

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Horsey Limerick

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Horsey Limerick

In response to The Daily Post’s prompt, Willy-nilly:

There once was a spotted old filly
Who scared an equestrian silly.
When he tightened her cinch
And it started to pinch,
She bucked and ran ‘round willy-nilly.

How to Rewrite, Revise, and Edit Your Novel–Part I

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How to Rewrite, Revise, and Edit Your Novel–Part I

First drafts are ugly.

They’re supposed to be ugly. The function of the first draft is just to get the words down. Much of the first draft will not even appear in the final copy.

But how do you get from the first draft to something that is publish-worthy?

Disclaimer: As an as-yet unpublished novelist, I don’t have the credentials to say I’ve found the definitive process that will guarantee a best-seller. However, I’ve spent many years rewriting, revising, and editing my work, and I know the strategies that follow can help you improve your manuscript.

Rewrite

 

When you finish that first draft, put it in a drawer and don’t look at it for at least six weeks. Fall out of love with that beautiful baby. Work on other projects in the meantime.

After six weeks, read the manuscript from beginning to end with a notebook at your side (preferably the one you started with your planning notes for this book). Don’t worry if some parts of that baby aren’t as beautiful as you originally thought. Write down everything you see that needs re-thinking.

Consider the big picture. If you outlined your book during your pre-writing process, check it to see if you adequately addressed every section of the outline. If you think of addition points not included, write them down in your notebook. Maybe even rewrite your outline.

If you didn’t outline your book already, do it now. Outlining at this late date may reveal plot holes. If you hate outlines, at least make a list of every scene. Some authors like to do this on index cards, so they can change the order of scenes easily. (The Scrivener software has a virtual index card function.) Note the characters who appear, the setting, the action, and the purpose of each scene.

 

 

 

Typing on laptop DeathtoStockWrite a summary of your story—the one you are trying to tell. Reread your manuscript and see if it does, in fact, tell your story, in the clearest way possible, with the greatest potential impact. Does the way you’ve structured your story make sense? Does your plot include complications and twists? Did you leave anything out? Could a change in the order or length of your chapters improve the novel’s readability? Keep your mind open, and write down any possible changes that occur to you. (Writing them down doesn’t obligate you to make the changes, it just saves your ideas for future reference, so you can remember and ponder them.)

Read through the manuscript again, this time looking for two things: plot holes in the main plot, and any inconsistencies. As you read, write down any plot questions that come to mind, such as, what would have happened if your character had chosen a different path at a pivotal moment? Look for solutions that come too easily, or events that are too implausible. Does the plot have a full arc, with a set-up, an inciting event, action rising to a climax, action leading to resolution?

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Also, hunt out details that contradict each other. Did the grandmother have salt-and-pepper hair in chapter one and platinum hair in chapter two? Was the antagonist writing with his left hand at one moment and firing a gun with his right hand later on? Either fix these inconsistencies as you find them, or make a note so you don’t forget to rectify them soon.

Reread the story again, examining each event. Is everything predictable? If so, rethink each scene, and look for places your characters (or external forces) can do something unforeseen (but plausible). Changes might require major rewriting of large sections of your manuscript, but if it makes your book stronger, it’s well worth the effort.

Reread all your notes and give them serious consideration. Simmer them while you walk the dog, fold the laundry, wash the dishes. Go for a few long walks with notebook and pen in hand. (I know it sounds counterintuitive, but some of my best ideas come to me while my body is in motion.)

Go through your manuscript with your notebook open, and implement as many improvements as you can, while noting new ideas. This is ROUND ONE of your revising (or, if you’re making truly big changes, rewriting). If you’re uncomfortable with the thought of making changes, save the original draft, make a copy, rename it Your Novel’s Name 2.0, and make your changes in this new document, knowing you can always go back to the original. (In my experience, after I’ve spent several weeks in my latest draft, I go back and delete my previous version. I never regret the changes.)

You’re not done yet. But don’t worry; I’ll post the rest of the process this Saturday and next Tuesday. See you then. If you found this post useful, please click the “like” button below, and share on your favorite social media.

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Monday Morning Wisdom #115

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Monday Morning Wisdom #115

Found on Twitter:MMW

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From the Creator’s Heart #111

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From the Creator’s Heart #111

. . . The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs: The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue (2 Samuel 23: 1-2 NIV).

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #67

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #67

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday participants share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the links to see the full lists.

Mine! Six-year-old Buddy terrorizes the playground, appropriating everyone’s toys. How can the kids teach him a lesson and get their stuff back?

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We left Buddy at the water fountain last week.

Hot and panting, he took a long, cool drink, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and looked around.

A little girl pushed a doll buggy along a path. Every so often, she’d stop walking and adjust her doll’s blanket or feed the dolly a bottle. She smiled as she sang a lullaby.

When a patch of dandelions distracted the little girl, Buddy flung the pail and shovel, the dump truck, and the basketball into the carriage on top of the doll. Then he took off with it as fast as he could run. One of the wheels hit a rock, and the whole carriage turned over, dumping the toys.

“My baby!” the little girl cried, trying to regain her pilfered possessions.

“Mine!” screamed Buddy. He threw the doll, the ball, the truck, the pail and the shovel back into the buggy and ran down a hill with them all.

I know it’s short (10-sentence limit), but what do you think of this small excerpt? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Review of Aimless Love by Billy Collins

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Review of Aimless Love by Billy Collins

I recently read a list of recommended books that included the entry any book of poetry by Billy Collins.

Hmm, I thought. I don’t know the poems of Billy Collins.

So I immediately surfed over to Amazon and browsed through the selections by Collins, and chose a used (like new) copy of Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems.
Billy Collins is a former Poet Laureate of the United States who also served a term as Poet Laureate of the State of New York. He has written ten books of poetry. I can’t remember who wrote the article that recommended him, but I am forever in his debt.

A well-written poem can transport you to another place or time, can help you experience someone else’s emotions, can make you see a familiar object with new eyes. Collins’ poetry does all those things brilliantly.

I have to share a poem:

Absence
by Billy Collins

This morning as low clouds
skidded over the spires of the city

I found next to a bench
in a park an ivory chess piece—

339px-Chess_piece_-_White_knight Michael Maggs

Photo by Michael Maggs; edited

the white knight as it turned out—
and in the pigeon-ruffling wind

I wondered where all the others were,
lined up somewhere

on their red and black squares,
many of them feeling uneasy

about the salt shaker
that was taking his place,

and all of them secretly longing
for the moment

when the white horse
would reappear out of nowhere

and advance toward the board
with his distinctive motion,

stepping forward, then sideways
before advancing again,

the same moves I was making him do
over and over in the sunny field of my palm.

Can’t you just hear the pigeon-ruffling wind? And I love the personification of the other chess pieces, uneasy about the substitute colleague; and the mention of the way the knight has to move. The poem delights me each time I read it.51TbLKa6oYL

Cleverness resides in this book, as well as mocking the way people express themselves, and serious gripes about growing old. Some of the poems don’t move me at all, but most insist I read them a second time, and a third, and then pause to ponder.

Earth, Air, Water

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Earth, Air, Water

For the Daily Post Photo Challenge prompt, elemental:

Photos  © ARHuelsenbeck

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In the Meme Time: Inventive

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In the Meme Time: Inventive

Inventive