Editing. And marketing. This is the present continuous…

I was walking down the road (as I do quite frequently these days), mulling over what I should post about today, and I thought of two things. Editing and marketing. It only occurred to me as I was typing the title, a few seconds ago, that these words are indeed both in the present continuous tense. Something you are doing on an ongoing basis while other events come and go.

(In case this foray into grammar scares you, relax. I studied modern languages at university and some things just never leave your brain. I’m normal. Promise.)

I started stressing again yesterday over the editing process. To tell the truth it terrified me. I couldn’t seem to get my first chapters to work and I knew (because I tried last week) that I wouldn’t be able to move on and edit the rest of my novel unless I got the beginning sorted first. (Cue rending of clothes and tearing of hair).

A particular issue of mine (and this is not to imply that this is the ONLY issue – it’s not) is dialogue. I have written a few short stories now, all of which, bar one, are up on this blog (the other one can be found here). I have had to write dialogue in all of them, albeit sometimes only two words. So far as I can tell, it works. In all of them. So why can’t I translate this over to short stories?

(Cue more rending, tearing, etc.)

I finally worked out, around 7am today, that there is no difference between writing dialogue for shorts and dialogue for novels. It serves the same purpose regardless of the length of the story you’re using it in. It’s just that I (and I hope I’m not the only one) tend to forget that and get lazy with it in longer works. Hopefully that’s going to change.

Another issue I was having was the opening. That all-important first line and first paragraph that has to convince every reader to keep reading. Having gone upside down and roundabout with it, I’ve now written a different beginning, having come to realise that the one I had already written belonged in the next book of the series, not this one. *sigh* But at least I realised that.

I think part of editing is keeping an open mind about ways to say what you want to say. The words already down on paper or the screen are only one of an infinite number of paths that you can take to your final destination. It’s so easy to get too close to your work to see anything else – of course we all know this – but how often do we apply this to the text in general? Not just typos and words which shouldn’t be there (or aren’t there but should be), but entire passages that could be rewritten or even cut out altogether. This comes under the heading of ‘little darlings’ and I should point out that the passage I just cut as belonging to another book was my favourite of the entire manuscript.

The marketing bit of this post is more like a very short postscript – I have been having a lot of trouble deciding on a title for my work in progress. I’ve been calling it Corynia because that’s the main character’s name, but since I intend to write at least two more books with this character things could get very confusing, very quickly. So I’ve (tentatively) decided to call it For The Love Of Gods and we’ll see where that gets us. I’m talking about this under marketing because, let’s face it, it’s hard to market something which doesn’t have a name.

What does For The Love Of Gods suggest to you? Let me know what you think my book is about based on this title, bearing in mind that it’s YA fantasy. I look forward to hearing from you!

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About Mhairi Simpson

Writer, dreamer. Magic, dragons, pink mice, cake. Come say hi!
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10 Responses to Editing. And marketing. This is the present continuous…

  1. Lenny Fultz says:

    Anne,

    Your right, editing is indeed difficult and it seems like it’s a never-ending task. I’ve been editing my latest novel for three years, had three writer’s groups critique it, paid to have it done by a professional once, and I still tinker with it almost daily. I think writers in general are that way. We never think our work is complete. Plus, ask a hundred writers their opinions and you’ll get a hundred different answers. So, I guess we do the best we can and (eventually) move on. (I’ve finally started the second book of the trilogy and will soon ePub this story).

    The title: “The Love of Gods” has many connotations depending on the nature of your story. It could be humorous, fantasy based, hinting of forbidden romance, or, if taken taken literally, a story about Gods falling in love. The very fact that the title has so many possibilities makes it a catchy title. It encourages a reader to peruse the beginning pages to see what the story’s about. I think that’s a good thing. If a reader doesn’t pick up the story, they can’t read it.

    Good luck with the story and thanks for jump-starting the creative juices this morning.

    • Thanks for commenting 🙂 I’m glad you’re going to publish your story. I forgot to mention in the blog post that there does come a point where we have to stop editing and just send that baby out into the ether 🙂

  2. Ryan says:

    “For the love of gods” well its an adaption of a well known phrase for frustrated people. You also mention gods as in more than one. The title is telling me that Corynia is frustrated with life, maybe frustrated with her gods

  3. The title strikes me as someone being frustrated–“Oh, for the love of gods!” or someone who’s caught up in something that’s beyond them.

    I love dialogue. I love seeing how different characters interact, how they talk, what they sound like, what I can learn from what they say or don’t say. I think they become so real in my head that oftentimes they say whatever they want and I’m just trying to keep up.

    Editing is always time-consuming and it can be so frustrating (and long), but I think it gets easier the more you do it. By the time my co-author and I got to editing our third book, we were like “cut that, don’t need it” without showing the slightest hesitation. I remember that when she and I were editing our third book, we got together and did it in person. It took us three days, but we took turns reading it aloud to each other, and we had so many places where it just droned on and on. We dubbed these the “blah blah blah” sections because if I was reading and hit one of these scenes, I’d just stop and say “blah blah blah” and my co-author knew I was just cutting the whole thing, and then she’d do the same thing when it was her turn to read. We learned together how to hack out the “little darlings” in our books and now we can do it in the books we write alone, too.

    I’ve had to learn how to look at everything as objectively as possible–not easy because as you said, we are so close to our projects! Sometimes I’m not sure if a scene I wrote is REALLY necessary, or if the story would do better without it. That’s when I wait to hear what my beta readers think of it–if they tell me that something isn’t needed, I listen and look at it carefully. (And I try to do the same thing when I’m the one doing the beta-reading.) I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I sometimes think that editing is even harder than writing the story in the first place.

    • Yes, I am definitely looking forward to getting better at the editing stage! As you say, sometimes you won’t be able to make the call yourself, but the number of times when you can will definitely increase.

  4. “The words already down on paper or the screen are only one of an infinite number of paths that you can take to your final destination. ”

    Well put. I find this the most crazy-making part of editing. Often I change something and become confused about whether it’s an improvement over the original or not. Wah!

    • That’s the hardest part, isn’t it? It’s hard to stand back and look at such a situation objectively. That’s when CPs and beta readers come into their own, but it’s always a value judgement, regardless of who is making it.

  5. Oh, that title screams love affair with Apollo and Hermes to me.

    Or maybe I just wish it screamed that… 😉

    I recently had to murder my darling as well (the entire Chapter 5 of Fie Eoin), and it won’t even be used in another book. But, it turns out I was the only one who liked that chapter, and everyone else thought it was boring 😛 So I know what you are going through, and promise that a little murder is best for everyone 🙂

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