Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!

I received official notification from WordPress that my blog is now a year old:

Wordpress

Thank you to friends, followers, and everyone in this wonderful writing community for your friendship and support. I love working with writers, and my goal for my blog posts is to provide useful content that will help you whether you write for publication or “just because.” In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m listing links to some of my most popular articles and guest posts from the last 12 months, and I hope I’ve grouped these in a way that makes searching topics a bit easier for you. Feel free to add a comment on any of them—your comments are always welcome.

Self-Editing

Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls

Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part I: Macro Issues Continue reading “Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!”

Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls

ID-100145898Many books and articles are available that offer step-by-step processes for revising and self-editing your manuscript. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, but . . .

The real secret to getting through “revision hell” is trying different methods until you find the one that works best for you and your writing style.

In today’s digital world, some of the most-used and best-loved writing programs also offer a digital method for revising your first draft. One of the most popular (at least with my clients and writers whose blogs I read) is Scrivener. According to Wikipedia,

Features include a corkboard, the ability to rearrange files by dragging-and-dropping virtual index cards in the corkboard, an outliner, a split screen mode that enables users to edit several documents at once, a full-screen mode, and “snapshots” (the ability to save a copy of a particular document prior to any drastic changes). Because of its breadth of interfaces and features, it has positioned itself not only as a word processor, but as a literary “project management tool.”

The whole idea of virtual index cards just makes my heart skip a beat—I love the ability to virtually duplicate what I used to do on paper. And even in today’s high-tech world where novels are written on smartphones and self-help books are created on tablets, low-tech methods sometimes still work best—especially if you’re not in the mood to learn another new software program.

When you’re struggling with revisions, try playing with paper dolls.

I’m not actually suggesting you stop writing and crack out that box of childhood toys you’ve saved “for the grandchildren.” I am suggesting you consider returning to a method that you probably used in your pre-computer days, which I call the Paper-Doll Method. Continue reading “Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls”

Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part II: Micro Issues

ID-10051081Whether you plan to self-publish or try for a traditional publishing contract, your post-writing/prepublication steps begin the same way. In Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers: Macro Issues, we looked at some “big picture” strategies you can use for your first round of revisions and self-edits. In this continuation, we’ll consider the smaller details, the “small-tooth comb” review, that every writer should consider before declaring a manuscript ready for the copyeditor.

As you may recall, addressing a manuscript’s macro issues includes reviewing for global details, like how the characters develop over the course of the story and whether or not the story arc works; micro issues include sentence structure and word choices.

When checking a manuscript for macro issues, here are some points (in no particular order) to consider: Continue reading “Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part II: Micro Issues”

Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part I: Macro Issues

ID-10043426Whether you plan to self-publish or try for a traditional publishing contract, your post-writing/prepublication steps should be the same:

  1. Pat yourself on the back for completing your manuscript, and then put it away for a few weeks.
  2. Once you’re ready to begin self editing, review your outline (if you have one) to refresh your memory about your original plans; this step will help you remember, for example, that the character who was originally named “Mary” was later changed to “Marie,” so you can do a search to be sure they were all changed. It will also help you if (when!) you begin moving chapters around.
  3. Run a spell-checker and grammar checker. Be careful, though—don’t automatically assume the computer software will catch all your mistakes. Here’s a fun example of correctly spelled words that prove the point:

I have a spelling chequer,

It came with my pea sea,

It plainly marks four my revue,

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

(read more at http://www.future-perfect.co.uk/grammartips/spell-checker.asp)

Now it’s time to begin going through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. For most writers, moving from macro to micro works best, but if you’re easily distracted by minutia, you might want to reverse the process.

I’ll cover micro issues in another post. Macro issues include big-picture concepts, like how the characters develop over the course of the story and whether or not the story arc works; micro issues include sentence structure and word choices.

When checking a manuscript for macro issues, here are some points to consider: Continue reading “Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part I: Macro Issues”

Readers for Writers: Beta Readers, the Superheroes of Your Writing Team

One of the writers I’ve come to know and admire through writing this blog is JH Mae, who asked me to write a guest post about beta readers.  Please join me at By, JHMae, and while you’re over at her blog, I hope you’ll take a few extra minutes to read some of her amazing work!

*****

After you complete your manuscript, it’s time to send it out into the world.

Or is it?

If you are serious about publishing, your first readers should be beta readers.

And just what is a beta reader?

Think of beta readers as superhero partner/readers for your WIP. Correctly employed, your superheroes can save you a lot of time and money. How? I’m glad you asked!

Ideally, you want to assemble a team of beta readers. By getting focused, constructive criticism from multiple viewpoints, you’ll be able to identify (and you’ll have the opportunity to address) potential problems with your manuscript before you spend money on professional editing. Then, when you do hire an editor, you’ll get more bang for your buck. (I wrote about that in Three Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do.

Each one of your superheroes will have a different strength, and no one beta reader will offer the same level of advice in every area. (That’s why you’ll get the most comprehensive feedback from a team.)

Some will be generalists, some will be detail-oriented, but they’ll each see your story in a new way, because

Beta readers approach your manuscript from a fresh point of view.

Here are the types of beta readers who make perfect team members: (read more here)

Happy Writing,

Candace

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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.