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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Characters All Sounding the Same

A common culprit that keeps writers from making their work quality material is characters that sound exactly alike. Remember, each character in your manuscript is a living, breathing, thinking person with different wants, needs, and point of view from the others. A good exercise to fleshing out characters is to figure out what each character's super objective, figure out what a character truly wants in life (not necessarily in the story). These are the big things, the ones in our very core – to love, to be loved, to be powerful, to be respected, etc. Once you figure that out, realize that this is JUST to determine their core character – how they approach every situation and character they encounter during the course of your story. It's the foundation, and while it's certainly the most important layer, there are more layers: the style, and the details.
A character's style is not about their fashion, but about how, knowing their core, they approach life and other people. Things like humor, vanity, selfishness, selflessness, etc. You can think of a character's style as a collection of their coping and defense mechanisms. How they get by on their day to day life.
The details are how, knowing their core and their style, what the little actions are that they take frequently. For instance, if he drinks a lot, or is always fixing his hair or keeps a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve – even though he never actually smokes.  Each person has their own unique tics, between the character's roundabout way of parsing out information, their distinct voices from each other (stemming from different wants), and the dialogue feeding into the theme – each of those individually are subtext, but the fact that all three are present clues the reader in that the writer is a professional.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Editing Experience by Joanna Penn

1. Don’t pay your editor to pick up your (literary) dirty socks. 

As a writer, you’ll know if you’ve scattered your work with careless errors, but if you leave those in for the editor to deal with, you’re taking their time and effort away from other work they could be doing on your text. You’re paying for this service, don’t waste it getting them to do your dirty work.  To labour the analogy a little further, clear the floor so they can spend their time mopping it properly.

2. Make sure you’re getting the service your writing needs. 

Authors tend to want to get their work line-edited.  There’s something so tempting about getting every word you’ve written carefully pored over and lovingly polished. The danger is that you will be getting the fine detail right, while the structure or characters need serious alterations.  If you suspect you will be changing anything major, don’t get a fine edit done.

3. Word count costs.

 Reading and editing take time, and the longer a book is, the longer the time needed. Before you send your book out to get edited – any form of editing – cut as much as you can, and it will save you a considerable sum.  A good editor will be giving you advice that reflects on your style, and can be related to other work, so don’t be tempted to send in the first three epic novels in your series.  The first one will probably give the editor enough to work on.

4. Make sure you’ve got the right editor.

Shop around.  There are an awful lot of editors out there, so try and get a recommendation or check for reviews.  Some specialise in particular genres. There is no point sending your sci-fi fantasy novel out to an editor who never reads them.  Equally if you want your non-fiction scientific book looked at, make sure the editor you choose has the relevant background.

5. Advice you don’t like, don’t burn the report.

This last point is most pertinent for structural or critical reviews.  If you ask an expert to look at your writing and they point out things they feel you’re not doing well – it’s not a pleasant moment. The temptation is to think they’ve totally missed your point.  They’re idiots.  What have you spent all that money on anyway?  There is no way you will keep your hero alive past chapter seven, that would be compromising your creative integrity! Take a breath, shout at something inanimate, and see what parts of the report could be saying something useful.  An editor is really just a very very enthusiastic reader, and they want your writing to do well.  You don’t have to swallow all their suggestions whole, but do take time to consider what they’re saying.