Artists Town – Rewrite DONE #amwriting

Artists Town by Emma Baird

Drum roll – I finished rewriting something this week. Big deal, Ms B, you say, and I don’t blame you.

But regular readers and friends might know I LOATH rewriting. When I finish a book, I go off it very quickly. In the perfect world, it would rewrite itself, magically upload itself on Amazon, Kobo et al., and then, oh I dunno, sell? And sell in enough quantities to make money.

I gave myself a ticking off. Emma, I said, the magic fairies do not come along and do this for you. In came the carrot and stick. Restructure the novel – BOOM; you get a glass of wine. Fail to rewrite for an hour or so. WHACK – you’re not allowed to write anything new. (Writing new stuff is what I love doing.)

The carrot thing, unfortunately, ran out on 1st January as I signed up for one of those Dry January thingies, so that motivated me to rewrite faster.

Rewriting Artists Town kept presenting different issues. I changed my mind numerous times about the order of some chapters. A weird and wonderful crime that took place in the 1990s was my inspiration. When I did more research, I had to change quite a few things.

And then there were the bloody comma splices. My factual writing differs a lot from my creative writing style. It turns out I am forever putting independent clauses in one sentence. I’m not keen on semi-colons, and they shouldn’t be used too frequently anyway. I rewrote a lot of sentences as a result.

I end a lot of sentences with prepositions too*. I took them out where this would improve the prose, but left in a lot of them as otherwise the sentence didn’t sound natural.

But hey, at least I know what comma splices are now!

One rewrite does not a finished novel make. Improvements are still needed. And I have some factual stuff I need to check – police procedures relating to crimes committed in different jurisdictions. But the project is a lot further on that it was two months ago.

Here’s the blurb for the book, which I hope to publish later this year:

Fifteen-year-old Daisy has been dragged along on a family holiday in a small Scottish town against her will. But then, that’s what happens when you suddenly develop a chronic health condition. Your mum and dad take away all your freedom.

Still, the holiday has its compensations. There’s Katrina, resident ‘cool’ girl who decides to take Daisy under her wing. Katrina happens to have a gorgeous, older cousin who looks at Daisy in a certain way. Is this holiday about to change Daisy’s life for the better?

Escaping from London seems to have affected Daisy’s dad. He’s got some madcap schemes in mind, but just where is all the money for this coming from?

Set in 1990, Artists Town is a coming of age tale that explores friendship, first love, learning to be cool and navigating life’s challenges.

 

*See the wonderful Grammar Girl’s article on ending sentences with prepositions. She also does a weekly podcast which manages to make grammar easy to understand AND interesting.

 

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Beauty and the Vampire

Ten thousand words into a book and I needed matchsticks to prop up my eyes. And I’m the author. It’s not good when you’re boring the pants off yourself. It doesn’t bode well for a book.

I’ve wanted to write a decent YA novel for AGES. I’ve tried a few times, but not managed. I like one of my attempts, but a YA book it ain’t – more a coming of age thing meant to appeal to other people who grew up in the 80s/90s.

This time, I thought I’d try a tale about a girl who ends up a YouTube star with her make-up for spotty girls channel. It started off okay. I’d found her a boyfriend. I’d introduced them in the tried and trusted Pride and Prejudice way. I’d even injected a little social grit as my heroine had a little sister who was dying (she was using her channel to raise money to get her sister to Disneyland), and she’d gained a ton of followers online who hung on to her every word. Sometimes they were nasty to her, in authentic YouTube style-y.

And then…yawnsville. Darn it, the writing just slogged on, words clinging to the pages instead of dancing in the air.

Inspiration struck this week. I get a lot of my ideas while out walking. Keep her as a YouTube star, I thought, pacing out the steps to Asda, but change the world and make her motivation different. Let’s throw in vampires!

Now, instead of a YouTube make-up channel for spotty gels, she’s got another audience in mind—those who want to look like ordinary human beings, instead of bloodsuckers.

My heroine still needs to look after her little sister, as her family can’t afford the healthcare for vampire immunisation. Only rich folks can afford it, and that means I get to take a sly dig at Donald Trump too.

Always a bonus, right?

Throw in some Romeo and Juliet conflict via a potential vampire love interest et voila! Something rather more entertaining.

I might still bore it up. Wish me luck. And in a blatant attempt to direct you to my Wattpad account, you can read the first instalment here

The Value of Writing

Ever wanted to carve out a career as a writer? Writing is one of those skills that gets seriously undervalued. Take this little example I copied from a jobs website… (Some of the words have been changed.)

I need a romance story of about 50,000 words to be written before the end of July. Elements that MUST be included in the story are Bad Boy/Alpha, Motorcycle Club Romance. Sub-elements, character descriptions and the plot will be provided.

I am looking for an excellent writer who not only can supply FULLY EDITED work, but is also experienced in character development, dialogue and plot development that can hook a reader. Again, any work submitted should always be error free.

The proposed budget is between .01-015 per word (cents, not pennies) but I have been known to give excellent bonuses. PLEASE NOTE – content should be creative, high quality and 100 percent original. If you decide to accept the job offer, you agree that you will own no rights to the work or parts of the work and you understand/agree your name will not appear anywhere on the work. I would retain all copyrights to these stories. It cannot be used for portfolios or as samples for other clients.

The candidate must be experienced with this type of writing, be a NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER and have excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation. I am looking to create an ongoing business relationship with chosen bidder(s). I have many future projects in mind. Hope to hear from you!

Lordy.

So, not only must you come up with 50,000 original words in five weeks, but you will need to have them professionally proof-read and/or copy edited. It is nigh on impossible to proofread your own work when it is this length. You don’t own the copyright, and you’re now allowed to use the content in samples. And all this for $800.

Book Revising & Editing – Some Tips!

Not so fast, my friend. Now, the hard work begins…

Ever heard of the ing sentence construction? It’s new to me, but once the concept had been explained, I thought, “Aha! I do that a lot. Time to stop.”

Here’s an example:

Grabbing the cheque from his boss’s hand, George ran for the door.

What, at the same time?

George grabbed the cheque from his boss’s hand and ran for the door.

Dropping ing sentence construction was one of the tips I picked up at a recent Book Revising and Editing Course I did as part of the Aye Write festival. It’s hard work rewriting and revising a book – far harder, perhaps, than writing the first draft – but that’s where the magic happens.

What did T S Eliot have to say about rewriting? “I maintain that the criticism employed by a writer on his or her own work is the most vital… and that some writers are superior to others solely because their critical faculty is superior.”

General tips for revising and rewriting include:

Check punctuation. Punctuation errors wear away the reader’s confidence in the writer and his or her abilities.

Shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier to read. As a writer, you want to make your prose as readable as possible.

The ing sentence construction. See above!

Dialogue arrangement. Generally, if a new person is speaking, put the dialogue on a new line. Make it clear who is speaking.

Read out your dialogue to check it sounds authentic.

Remove redundancies, padding and clichés. Redundancy examples include “screamed loudly”. Isn’t it enough that the person screamed? Padding includes too much description and lots of adjectives. Clichés are overused phrases, such as “cling on for dear life”.

Try to show, not tell. Angrily he put the book down. He slammed the book down on the table is better.

Other things to consider are:

  • Is there too much exposition or back story? If there is, it feels as if the story is taking place in the past. This kills the energy of the story.
  • Are points of view consistent?
  • Are there too many characters?
  • Are there any digressions or tangents that don’t tie up with the main plot?
  • Is there anything you think, “I’m not sure that works”.
  • Is there any possibility of a gap between your understanding and that of your readers?

If you can say ‘yes’ to any of the last four points, revise and rewrite.

I have plenty of material in need of revision. Having a list of issues to go through will help considerably.

 

 

picture at Emma Baird of a piece of text with red editing marks

Editing – the Difference

Recently, I sent a sample of my work to a professional proof-reader/editor out of curiosity. What could she do? It was an interesting exercise. I didn’t agree with all the changes the editor made, but I really liked what she did.

Here are the before and after versions.

BEFORE

Combine the world’s most delicious cheese sandwich (trade-marked) with drug and alcohol-fuelled hunger, and a soft-hearted, impulsive gesture and there you have it. The basis for a romance. Who’d have thunk it?

Nell and Daniel Murray met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at university and Daniel was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur who had figured out that the students who occasionally wandered off course and into his Glasgow High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches might appreciate the closer availability of those sandwiches at other times. Times such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

Daniel persuaded his father to lend him the money to buy a cheap van. He then converted the van to a mobile sandwich-making and preparing venue, and he parked outside the union hall every Thursday from 10pm. At that time, he targeted the swotty students who weren’t prepared to sacrifice study time on a Friday for a hangover.

As the night progressed though, sales rose dramatically. Daniel had always been a practical person. He couldn’t understand why students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards from their student halls and bedsits so why not conjure up their own sandwiches at tiny costs to themselves?

As he said to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, “ours is not to reason why”, congratulating himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting. Not reasoning why left him to enjoy raking in money as leery students crowded around the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco. Not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well in her studies so far – but because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons. Her words, not theirs.

AFTER

Combine the world’s most delicious cheese sandwich (trademarked) with drug and alcohol-fuelled hunger, and a soft-hearted, impulsive gesture. And what do you have? The basis and foundation of a budding romance. Who would have thought it?

Nell and Daniel Murray met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at the university and Daniel was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur. He had figured out that the students, who occasionally wandered off course and into his Glasgow High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches, might appreciate its closer availability at other times…times, such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

Daniel persuaded his father to lend him the money to buy a cheap van. He then converted the van to a mobile sandwich-making venue. He parked outside the union hall every Thursday, 10 PM onwards. This was the time he targeted the swotty students, who weren’t prepared to sacrifice their study time on a Friday, for a hangover.

As the night progressed, the sales rose dramatically. Daniel had always been a practical person; he couldn’t understand why the students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards away from their student hall and bedsits and could easily conjure up their own sandwiches at a marginal cost?

As he conveyed this to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, he retorted that “ours is not to reason why” and congratulated himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase, which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting. Not reasoning why, allowed him to enjoy raking in the money, as leery students crowded around the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco; not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well in her studies, so far. In fact, it was because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons – her words, not theirs!

 

Pic thanks to Nic McPhee.

Potential senior photos of Thomas.

“He tilted his head to the side, pushed up from his chair and looked at me askance…”

No, it’s not a description of the man in my life contemplating some request I have just put to him, it’s three of the terms I over-use.

A quick find check of my latest manuscript revealed a lot of askance staring, too many push-ups from chairs and a surplus of head tilting. My vocabulary is shamefully limited at times.

This kind of over-use of words and terms is something a professional editor would pick up on, no doubt, but in the meantime I am relying on the ‘find’ facility in Word and an online thesaurus to come up with alternatives.

How often is repetitive anyway? If it’s an ‘askance’ every 10 pages or so, is that too much? Or does it demonstrate that my character is puzzling to others and they have a need to look at her, askance, frequently?! Maybe they should simply be puzzled from time to time.

Do you find yourself using certain phrases (particularly descriptive phrases) repetitively? Any advice for the remedy?

 

Pic thanks to Nic McPhee on flickr.

Two Slices of Carrot Cake

One slice of carrot cake.

One slice of carrot cake.

Wanted: Readers.

Wanted: Readers Who Can Make Suggestions Which Will Vastly Improve This Book.

 

 

 

I started book number two last year and finished the first draft in May. And since then, I’ve filled in tax returns, written copy for a timber craft website and spent countless hours procrastinating on social media and blogging accounts to avoid doing the necessary re-write of book number two, title Two Slices of Carrot Cake.

Sighs…

Anyway, here’s the blurb about Two Slices of Carrot Cake – see what you think and if you think it sounds worth reading…

Two Slices of Carrot Cake Book is the story of 16-year-old Savannah Dunn, a wise-cracking teenager struggling with a serious eating disorder (binge eating) who disguises her issues via various personalities online.

There is the super sexy girl who is engaging with the Hollywood star of the moment via Twitter, then there is the needy teenager who keeps asking various eating disorder forums for help, and finally the girl who is having a love affair with an authority figure via a blog that is notching up the ‘follows’ by the minute…

But where is real life in all this? Real life, unfortunately, has a habit of catching up with you and when the truth gets out there a whole load of nasty repercussions, discoveries and revelations. But ultimately, real life away from the online world has a lot to offer and Savvy is about to find out why pretending to be someone else online is never a good idea…