Thursday, October 8, 2015

It Approaches... aka NaNoWriMo

That is right. After a long silence I'm going to talk about the first thing that comes to mind and right now, with it being already October 8th, the thing I'm focused on is getting ready for NaNoWriMo.

Yep, I'm doing it again this year. Last year was one of my not successful years but I don't have any qualms or regrets about taking part in it or any of the camp ones where I didn't write much. Even not making it to 50k (or in camp whatever goal was chosen) is still an accomplishment if something gets written.

Whether to prepare ahead of time or not is going to be a personal decision. It did help me the first year that I succeeded in getting 50,000 words. However, since then I have both prepped novels and written ones with no prep. Either way can go well and the end result tends to vary on the novel. Some are easier to write than others. I'm prepping this year but not as ahead of schedule as I've been in the past but still making progress. Although I'm finding I don't know much about this story yet. We'll see if that's the case when writing time comes too. Either way, I'll be writing.

One thing I need to work on as we get closer to November is going to be a schedule. I have a lot going on in general, plus will be gone for 6 whole days as my stepsister is getting married and I'm driving out to attend the wedding plus spending a day with family in a different state. I won't have much writing time at all from the 3rd through the 6th. So, I won't be trying to get 50k in 10 days or less this year. In fact, my normal beginning push and end of month slow down will need to be reversed. I will have work at least 5 days a week and the hours will either be closing or middle of day shifts, but not sure at this time. Plus, I have the gym though I will be running a little less by then since after the 10k the goal is just to maintain until spring, when I start training for the half marathon. The last few months, I have struggled to keep up with things, like blogging, and am slowly working on  regaining my ground. Hope to keep it forward so that by 2016, things run smoother.

I do have some suggestions, however, when it comes to November's writing and the results of the excursion. I could talk a lot about tips for during and before NaNoWriMo but we'll keep it to a few things for now.

A couple of things I don't recommend during and after NaNoWriMo:

1. Sending out to publishers or agents right after November ends, or with that novel a few months later. While it's exciting to have a novel written, there is much left to be done and the first is to take a little time away from the story. Plus, many agents and editors are closed to submission over the holidays.

2. Publishing right after November or a mere few months later. I'm not against self publishing and if that's what you want to do then great. However, I do recommend taking a little time between drafts and doing more than one draft of the story before putting it out for the waiting audience. Unless that is your already established protocol of doing very fast drafts and putting it out there where you have a readership that supports such, I just don't recommend it.

3. Fretting over word count often. I have seen a few spend almost more time worrying about how behind they've gotten than actually writing. Don't put too much into panic or talking about how you should be writing. Or posting too much in forums when you have 10,000 words to catch up on. Plus, even if you only write 5,000 for the whole month (I might have made close to that my very first attempt), it's still more than you had October 31. Whether you take a month or three years to finish a novel, doesn't matter. Just write.

4. Ignoring everything for the sake of the novel. Perspective and balance are still good to have during November. Sure, the house can be a little messier and meals take less labor, but it's also not good to completely ignore everyone or skip out on responsibilities just for the sake of getting to 50,000 words. Write, yes, but don't ignore the rest of your life entirely.

Those are just some general pointers. I know not everyone is a fan of the national novel writing month with the quick writing and rough draft results. For me, it works and helps me focus on a single story for exactly one month. Now I'm going to get back to preparing for it and write a few scenes/stories on the side because I multi-task and over commit.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zealous

Made it to the end of the challenge with a similar Z word for both of my blogs. It was tough this year for some reason even though I've done A to Z for the past few years. I hope to do next year as well but we'll see how things go. For now, I'm glad to be at the end as I have editing to do.



It helps to have zeal towards the novel when editing because it's hard to push through the tough work, especially for me the first time around. The first draft of my first novel was really hard. Then trying to figure out how to do the first rewrite and now that scary last edit. Every stage has its own difficulties. I keep working on it because I am zealous about the story and the series. I still want to see it grow and I want to give it a try at the publishing world.

Even though editing is work and it doesn't have the same fun that just writing can hold for me, through zealous drive, and just making myself work on it, this will get done. In June look for a post on submitting to agents because that is what I will be doing. :-)

Are you Zealous about your novel? Does it help drive you in the editing process?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Years

I'm a tad late on this one. These last letters are hard with the editing topic but I am going to make it to the end. Check out the other blogs over in the A to Z Challenge.

Why years? Well, because that is how long it has taken me to reach this final edit stage and I've been trying to do the edit for over a year now, though didn't actually spend that whole time doing any of it.

One of the good parts about not having a first book out yet, or having any publishing contracts is that you can take your time. No one is waiting at this stage and you can jump between different novel projects, try out all kinds of genres and take as long as you need.

However, the downside is you can take years in order to finish something. I'm better if I have deadlines and without them I meander and spend too much time on the Internet when I should be working. I don't do well if I go by the mood striking me on even first drafts. I need to decide to do something and just get it down within a time frame.

So, this novel has taken years (started first draft in 2007) but I'm not going to let this edit take up more years. Tomorrow, I get some stuff done.

How many years do you take on different drafts and editing?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xerox

Oh the dreaded X day. I did have to do some online searching and managed to learn a few words not relevant to editing. Lots of medical, geology and fear related words. Go to the A to Z Challenge in order to see what X word other bloggers picked.

After searching, it hit me when I saw the word on the list, aha!


Photocopy may not seem like an editing term because it's an exact copy/replica of whatever is used, but that does bring up the questions: Which copy are you working on? Where do you save your copies? Do you print out and do a hard copy edit?

Right now, I don't do hard copies of my stories because aside from the cost of ink, there is the fact I don't have a sufficient printer. The library here costs 10 cents a page and I haven't looked into the costs of getting copies made anywhere else. So, at this point all of my edits are done on the computer.

However, when I'm editing I do make copies chapter by chapter within Scrivener (my writing program of choice) because I want to keep the  old version just in case something happens and I make a very big mistake. I also try to get a copy of a draft on Word and save it to a couple locations, including an external and now I have a flashdrive too. It's good to have numerous copies when possible.

I do the new copy for most edits and rewrites, however, for the last one, I am not doing a xerox or extra copy. I am using the draft that I worked on last time, which involved editing a few things. I"m hoping it's the last copy for now, because I will be sending out the story but I also hope that it's not the last overall because edits are necessary when publishing. Anyways, that's my X topic: Xerox and a couple types of copies that relate to editing.

How many copies do you have? Do you make a new copy for each edit?

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Weak Words

Near the end of the editing topic month, although not the end of the actual edits. There aren't many days left, so make sure to check out the other blogs still poster over in the A to Z challenge.

I talked a little bit about this in other posts, like J where I focused in particular on the word Just, but it is one that bears repeating because it's something I often have to edit out during a few different rounds of editing. Those pesky, not as useful as I first think in rough draft writing, weak words.

We want our writing to be strong and to hold the interest of the reader, but in first draft the whole point is to just some how get those words onto the page. Which can mean later, in edits there is a lot of muck to deal with in order to take the lump of clay and make it something presentable. Weak words have a use at times, much like everything else (even adverbs) but they also can hold back a story and lesson the readers experience.

I know for me, there are weak words I  use far too often. These include: just, almost, vague uses/descriptions/etc, multiple prepositions, and then, redundancies, something and many more.

I mean, sure it's okay to use them at times. There are instances where it makes sense to say the character almost fell. However, when  it happens too often then it just becomes boring and even I tell myself, "either make them fall or don't mention it" when that shows up a few times in a story. Or in edits I pick between "and" and "then" because most of the time they both don't need to be there together.

It's a constant struggle, determining what words are weak and not necessary in the story and how to make them better.


What weak words do you use often? Do you take out weak words when editing?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Verb

Another grammar day here on Dawn Embers blog and part of the A to Z challenge. We're near the end and I must admit, it will be nice to get back to a regular, few posts a month, schedule in May. Though I also plan to jump around to others blogs to comment on them during May as that part I didn't quite keep up with well this time around. Make sure you check out some of the other blogs here.


Definition: any member of a class of words that function as the main elements of predicates, that typically express action, state, or a relation between two things, and that may be inflected for tense, aspect, voice, mood, and to show agreement with their subject or object. (source =

All verbs are not created equal, however. Often times, the ones I need to edit out the most that I'm sure others might too, are the ones that show a general state of being. Yep, the "be" verb commonly known as "is" "was" and "will be". Okay, maybe not "will be" often because who writes in future tense? Not that they don't come in handy at times, but it's easy to overuse the "be" verb along with the adding of -ing to verbs. That's something else I also work on in edits, the number of times the action has the -ing added to it.


What are your favorite verbs? Do you have enough action in your sentences?

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Under

Near the end of the challenge and we're getting into some of the fun letters. I'm struggling through but will make it to the very end and have a plan to comment on random blogs throughout May too. Check out some of the other blogs here.

Today we are going to look at a few Under options in relation to editing.

under-whelm - This is something we don't want our story to do most of the time. You do not want to under-whelm the reader with the conflict and characters. You don't want to over do things to the point that it's hard for the worry to heighten or to keep the interest that active for too long, but definitely don't want the story to be under in the whelm category.

under-write - This is a depends on style and genre aspect. And will vary on draft too, so it can be okay. My first draft of the one I'm editing was only 23,000 words. Talk about under-writing. I had to more than double the word count during the following drafts in order to get it up to the sufficient 70k that it is now. I still under-write certain aspects, like description and am working on those aspects in my editing. It's not uncommon for a bit of an "edit" to increase a chapter word count, instead of decrease,  for me.

under-emote - I struggle with this because the main thing the beta readers noticed is they wanted more emotion. It's challenging to do it without telling and I'm still working on how the emotion comes across even in this final edit. Want the emotions to seem realistic but not melodramatic either.

What type of Under- do you work on in your edits?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for the Terrible Trouble

I may have made that up. Maybe.  Remember to check out other blogs in the A to Z challenge.

What do I mean by terrible trouble? First, both start with T and I couldn't decide which one to use, but also because it's a terrible mindset that can cause trouble during edits. It's the "everything is terrible" problem causing thoughts that surface when trying to make that final draft shine.

At some time or another, elements of the story will seem terrible. It happens to us all. One has to be able to tell the  difference between something really needed deleted or fixed versus being in a bad mindset where one might make a poor judgement call. It's also why you shouldn't edit the same copy of the novel. Make sure to have previous drafts as their own copy saved some where, just in case a mistake occurs and you delete whole chapters under the misguiding of "it's all terrible." Don't let a trouble hour lead to days of repairs and make sure to give yourself some space  before going into an edit to begin with because there are times when we are too close to a story. It can go either in the "it's perfect" or "it's all terrible" way of thinking and neither will give you that polished draft.

Also, as troubling as it might be, there will be a time when you can't fix everything. Even years after a book is published most say they had things they would change. At some point you have to let go.

I had a painting professor who would often say "a painting is never finished, it is only abandoned" because there is always something that can be changed. The same goes for novels.

Do you struggle with "terrible trouble" and how do you push the negative mindset away in order to get to a point where you can abandon the edits?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Sentences

Back to the editing chatter. I am going right down to the nitty gritty and basics with this one. We're getting closer to the end of the month and alphabet. See how the other bloggers are doing over here.


Definition: A sentence is a linguistic unit consisting of one or more words that are grammatically linked. A sentence can include words grouped meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request, command or suggestion.

Grammar. a grammatical unit of one or more words that expresses an independent statement, question, request, command, exclamation, etc., and that typically has a subject as well as a predicate, as in John is here. or Is John here? In print or writing, a sentence typically begins with a capital letter and ends with appropriate punctuation; in speech it displays recognizable, communicative intonation patterns and is often marked by preceding and following pauses.

Basic components:
Source =

First, it begins with a capital letter.
In addition, it includes an end mark—either a period [ . ], question mark [ ? ], or exclamation point [ ! ].
Most importantly, the complete sentence must contain at least one main clause. A main clause contains an independent subject and verb and expresses a complete thought.

How to edit: Depends on what needs fixed. In some instances it will be taking out the unnecessary, such as extra adverbs, weak words or in my case, the use of the word "just" 4 times in less than half a chapter. Other times, you might need to adjust the comma situation, where the independent subject relates to the verb, or how the complete thought is expressed. On the rare occasion, you will not edit something that is technically considered wrong. There are many ways to edit a sentence and the main point is the method and responsibility is up to you.

How many sentences did you edit today?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Red Nose Day

A slight break from my theme on editing but it's for a good cause, I promise. Make sure to see what the other bloggers come up with for day R over in the A to Z Challenge.

Red Nose Day

What is Red Nose Day?

Red Nose Day, the U.K.'s #1 television fundraising event, is coming to America on Thursday, May 21 (8-11 p.m. ET) on NBC.

Inspired and supported by Comic Relief U.K. - the British charity behind Red Nose Day - NBC will televise the three-hour benefit featuring hilarious stand-up comedy, clever parodies, sketch comedy, incredible music performances from A-list artists and short, compelling films about the cause.

The money raised during Red Nose Day will be used to fund programs that address the immediate needs of children and young people living in poverty in the U.S. and internationally in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Charity organizations include: Boys & Girls Clubs of America, charity: water, Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, Gavi The Vaccine Alliance, The Global Fund, LIFT, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Oxfam America, Save the Children and United Way.

Where to get a Red Nose:
The red nose that is so kindly modeled by my stuffed penguin, Peppermint, was purchased at my local Walgreens. They can be purchased all the way up until May 20th and the money goes to the charities. A nose costs one dollar.  They also are encouraging selfie pictures of people wearing the nose with the tag #RedNose to be used on social media.

Links to check out:

I have my red nose. Do you? Do you have a favorite charity you like to support?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Query

Aside from all of this editing, the other thing I need to do is rewrite and edit my query letter. Since my goal for finishing the edit is to submit to agents, the query is of great importance and makes for a good Q topic. Check out the other words used for Q blog here.


The query letter is an important one as it's one of the factors that will make an agent/editor consider reading your chapter/novel. It has some basic elements and examples are easy to find online.

Some of the elements are pretty simple. Novel title, genre and word count should be something you already know (or have a vague idea of at least since they don't need to know the draft is exactly 87,565 words). Genre can be tricky at times but you do the best you can. I have this part down though I'm not 100 percent on the exact location as I've seen it in a couple of places in queries that worked.

Personalizing the letter with a sentence or two that shows you've done your research and why you've chosen to send to that person in particular is also helpful but can be tricky at times. Sometimes we are sending because they represent the genre but beyond that, it's a slight shot in the dark. Do try and do some research even though many are aware how some send out to many in hopes of finding one that requests a full or partial.
The hard part, for many are the bigger paragraphs of the letter. That is the part about the story (the most important part some might say) and the may be small bio. My bio is tiny because I have no publications at this time and in some cases the bio won't even be on the query. That makes the toughest part the one or two short paragraphs that in an attention getting, voice showing way, describes the entire novel. No pressure or anything, right? ;-)

I have a rough draft of a query but still working on the voice aspect and wording things the right way to convey the YA novel. Hopefully I can get it in the next couple of drafts.

Some links on query letters:

Have you written a query? How many drafts did it take you?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Progress

That thing we strive for with edits: progress. Also there is blog progress as me and all of the others still going along with the A to Z Challenge have made it to the letter P. Getting closer to the end and some tough letters are yet to come.

On N day, just a few days ago, I made my topic as No Excuses because yesterday I was going to do some editing no matter what. Did I accomplish that plan and finally make some progress?

Yes, I did.

I'm still not very far but I worked on the edits in the first section (aka first five chapters) focusing on making sure I have some use of the senses, looking at description and tying up a slightly questionable loose end. The trouble with final edits, for this one, is that there are the very small errors to fix just geared towards making it the best I can before submission, but there are a still bigger term issues that involve writing more. And since my typing is stall with this weird little keyboard I have to use, it them means also checking over every sentence for random extra spaces. So, it has elements of previous edits, new elements and yet marks an important line in the terms of progress.

It feels good to make progress but it also brings up a couple other things that need done in order to reach my goal of submission. I need to rewrite and edit my q... Oh yeah, that is monday's topic. See you then. ;-)

How is your progress? Did you edit?

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Organize

Organization comes in handy when it comes to editing. Organize and take notes, they are two aspects I've used both during and in between drafts. In fact, organization helps in many venues, including blogging. Like, if I had been more organized, I would have my blog posts done in advance and just be spending this time commenting on others in the A to Z challenge.

For editing, I do try to be a little better when I organize my notes and the novel.  I posted some time last year I think about my note methods for the previous edit. I did a set of color coded highlighting to emphasize weak words, passive voice, adverbs and the such with the help of Though I had to do a part of it on my own as any program will miss some and make errors on others. It wasn't that great on the saidisms because most of what would be highlighted on the site wouldn't be attached to dialogue, but that's okay. It gave me a starting point and I was able to keep the notes for the edit well organized using the color coded system.

For this final edit, the organize method is a little different. I split the novel in sets of 5 chapters and used index cards for notes on big items. This mostly focused on emotion, description/senses, locations and any extra things I noticed, like the gender of a teacher I needed to check to make  sure stayed consistent. I'm using my notes on the stuff I need to tweak in order to do this final edit.

I try to organize when editing. But it's a challenge either way.

How do you organize your edits?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for No Excuses

Or at least, that should be my new frame of mind when it comes to editing. Yep, no reason I shouldn't be working on my edits this month. Even if I have work, this blog challenge and other things to be doing, I should also find the time to edit. Also, no excuses for checking out other blogs in the A to Z Challenge as I am trying to catch up in commenting on other blogs too.

This time my N post is going to be short, but not for the same reason M was short (finished on my  phone as was late in the day it needed posted). My focus for today is the idea that I have No Excuses.

Friday I will work on the novel edits (day off from work).

How about you?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Manipulate

Editing is manipulation and sometimes you have to manipulate yourself in order to edit.

When we edit there are many forms of manipulation used in order to get the draft twisted into our desired results. Whether it is changing characters, scenery or even down to the specifics of sentence structure and punctuation, during the process we are manipulating the draft in order to get the finished product.

Editing is manipulation and I made need to manipulate myself in order to get it done.

How do you manipulate your novel?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Learning Curve

Another letter of the alphabet brought to us by the A to Z challenge.

I struggled to pick the write L word as a couple ideas came to mind when pondering this blog. Editing is a tricky topic for some letters but much easier for others. I could have even gone with letters, for example, but that's a little too minutiae for me. I decided on "learning curve" in the end because overall, editing does have a bit of a learning curve involved, especially for one's first novel.

There is a learning curve to edits. Sure we want things to go right the first time, or by the 5th draft at the very least, but with each novel, we are learning. Even later, if an agent and editor takes interest, there will be more edits and things to change.

We learn what to fix, over time can start to spot our own weaknesses and develop ways of fixing the story the best we can. We also learn when it's time to let go.

There is much to learn when it comes to editing novels, so it's a good thing there is a learning curve involved. And there are probably certain aspects of the first novel that are going to be different than the 5th novel, but that's just a guess.

How much of a learning curve do you think exists for a first novel?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Kill Your Darling

This topic works well with editing because first draft is not the time to try and let go of a darling, no matter what form it takes. Even second draft is a bit too early. But nearing the end in rewrites and edits, that is a great time to kill the darlings and thus my topic for day K in the A to Z blog challenge.

Kill Your Darlings

What does it mean?
It is a reference to certain parts of a manuscript that the writer (creator) has grown attached to for varying reasons but it ends up not being a necessary part. The part can be a character, phrase, joke, description, setting or other forms within a draft. While it may be a great piece of writing, the love felt by the writer is not as experienced by the  reader who will find the bit superfluous and unnecessary. Think about those long paragraphs of description that you skipped in that book you had to read years ago. It's something like that. While it was good at the time, in that edit phase, sometimes the good sounding needs to go if it doesn't do enough for the story as a whole.

I haven't had too much experience with the full kill your darling concept just yet. While I like many aspects of the stories, there aren't many particular paragraphs, descriptions (pfft, still need to add those), or even characters that need cut that would cause me pain in doing so. I may kill a character some day in a series, my apologies to readers in advance for that, but so far,  haven't had to kill many darlings in edits. But this is my first major edit. Never know what the other novels will need.

Links to peruse:

Have you had to kill your darling? What kind of darlings do you find the most in editing?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Just

As in the word I use way too much. I am not sure why, but during first drafts and the occasional second or third, one of the words I use too often is "just" even though I'm well aware of the overuse. The characters just do a lot of things. Like you should just check out the other blogs in the A to Z challenge.


Definition:  (adverb) exactly. or... in the immediate past. Very recently. 
(adjective) Based on or behaving according to what is morally right or fair.

As you can probably guess, more often than not, the word just is used as an adverb. He just wanted a little ice cream. She just happened to have what they needed. So forth and so on. While I am pretty good about cutting down the obvious -ly adverbs, for some reason, my typing draft mind is drawn to the word just and I use it all of the time.

In at least two of the edits where I'm fixing sentences and cutting out excess, I take out "just" in almost every chapter. It's something I not only need to be aware about but accept as a factor involved in every edit. 

It's just something I do and often have to fix.

Do you use the word just too much? What is your overused word?

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Importance

Yes, a blog on what is important. This should be an important topic. That and it was hard to come up with an I topic for the A to Z Blog Challenge. Check out the link to see what other bloggers decided to post for today.

By importance I mean more than just it's important to edit. What I really mean and will write about briefly is in determining what information and actions are important to the story. This can be a challenge for some writers and why it's something one must focus on in particular during rewrites and edits because the first draft is no place to worry bout such a detail.

Is the scene important? Is that character important?

There should be varying levels of yes or no, however. It's not completely straightforward and just because something doesn't have a huge, pressing, plot changing level of importance, that doesn't mean it needs to be cut.

It can be hard to tell if something is important because having written the whole story, you might think of course it is important. Everything can seem important. This is why it's often recommended to take a break between drafts in order to gain some judgment distance. Getting a little distance will make it easier to both see some of the excess but also to not hate it if the rush of the draft ended with tiring of the story.

Overall, finding the important bits of story, fixing the minor errors and such, that is all part of editing. Important editing...

How do you determine what is important in your story?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Habit

As in getting into the habit of editing on a regular basis. Something I still need to work on since I haven't done any of the edit in the last week though trying to keep up with this challenge is proving a tad difficult. Check out the others making it through the alphabet over here at A to Z.

Today will be short as there is only so much one can say about creating a habit in editing or writing. It's helpful because you then get things done on a regular basis instead of random bits and pieces. Once used to doing something, having created the habit, it also seems easier each time expected to sit down and get stuff done. The last edit didn't feel so bad once I got into the rhythm because the small term habit was then created. This new edit, the type I hadn't done before, that is hard once again because I don't have that steady form to work on it on a regular basis, yet.

How to form  a habit?

Schedule -This is kind of a make it happen approach, also known as the fake it until you make it. Pick a specific time and specific days in order to work on the edit. Make it a priority and write it down. Then keep to your schedule. After a while, it should be a habit.

Just Do It- Even when you don't want to, just work on the edit. While you may not be happy at first, you will feel better later and may find you get even more done then you expected. Plus, if you keep just doing it then soon it will become something you do without having to put as much effort.


Do you have a habit of editing? How do you make writing or editing a habit?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Gerund

Which is something I probably use far too often. Like: You should be checking out the other blog in the A to Z Challenge. Hehehe, but really, I do use -ing words far too much in attempt at avoiding overuse of was(to be) so the topic does come up during editing.

The Gerund

What is it?
A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding "-ing." The gerund form of the verb "read" is "reading." You can use a gerund as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.

The trick is these aren't always the easiest to spot because the -ing can also be a present participle, or it may act much like a verb. According to Grammar Girl there are nouny gerunds, verby gerunds and gerunds in compound nouns. But most of the sources say that they always end in -ing.

And that reaches the extent of my knowledge on gerunds... I haven't done an edit with a full focus on searching for them in particular. I tend to focus on things I have used too often and try to figure out then how to rewrite the sentence to make it better. Some of that involves finding a way to cut down on -ing, which I hope is eliminating a few gerunds when they aren't needed, but hard to say for sure.

There are others who know way more than me about gerunds. Here are a few links to ponder:

How do you gerund? Do you need to edit some out now?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Fragmentation

Check out the other blogs taking part in A to Z blog challenge.

Yep, sentence fragments. Back to the technical side of editing. This time it's to talk we're going to focus on a very specific aspect and one I always remember with the warning of know the rule before you break the rule.

What is a fragment sentence?
- Simply put, it's an incomplete sentence. Most noticeable factor that makes it such is that the sentence will be missing something important - the main clause. Every sentence in general is recommended to have a main clause, which is noted as a subject and a verb.

While it's recommended to finish your sentences, there are also times when a fragment sentence not only works but is necessary. Some of the examples on sites about sentence fragmentation are ones that need to be fixed due to punctuation errors, there are other times where it will be fine to keep a sentence or two that may lack a part of the main clause.

Dialogue - There are times when people don't complete their sentences or talk in fragments as speech doesn't always follow the rules dictated by grammar. There are times when a character will say something, be interrupted or imply the subject while focusing on the verb. It's okay to have the occasional fragment in dialogue if it fits the moment.

Command - Sometimes a command will be said or something similar to a command will be expressed within a story. This is the implied subject type of fragment sentence that can also be found at times in dialogue. This might be something liked: Run! Whoever is being told to do the action is the subject within the sentence but it's not outright stated. Instead, the focus is on the action/command and it can work as a single word sentence. However, other single word sentences don't. Work. (See, typo formed a single word sentence and while work could be one on its own, in this case, it's not a correct use of fragmentation.

Some handy links on fragments:

Do you use sentence fragments? Find any in editing that need fixed?

Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Ending

Not for the blog but on editing that end of the novel as you can do that any time. I like to write in order but for editing, I just hop around the story depending what catches my attention for the day. So, for the E topic, we're going to look at editing the end of the story and maybe chapter endings too. Check out A to Z blogs to see other blog posts for the challenge.

The End

It's an important part of the novel. After many many words, you finally reached the point in the story where things need to stop and the pages can no longer be turned. In the first draft, it can be a great moment or one full of anguish depending on how you got there. But when you do, it feels good, especially that very first time because it's done. (Unless, of course, you write the end first or in the middle, as not everyone does the very last pages or chapters last when writing.) There is success in finishing that first draft and a sense of completion. Then you remember you have to one day rewrite and edit.

Rewrites are fine and will vary depending on how much needs changed. Then there are the edits and our topic. Much like the first page and chapter of the novel, that ending needs to be spot on because you want the person who reads it to finish with a lasting impression from those final pages. There will be time spend and maybe a little anguish, trying to get the words just right.

Many things to consider. The end needs to feel like the end, all the loose strings should be somewhat tied and if there are books to come after, some sense of more to come can be helpful. There is a lot to take in and consider for this part of the novel. Even if there are sequels, the end of the book has to feel complete enough or readers will be unhappy. Yet one can only edit it so much before they just need to stop. There will always be something you can change and at a certain point, time may come to let go.

There are other endings involved in editing too. There are chapter endings, scene endings and even sentence endings. What has a start often has an end. Each chapter ending, for example, has to accomplish a few things. It marks a small end but at the same time, often the goal will be to give the reader interest to keep reading. Some are okay with giving obvious stopping points, but many want their reader to have that urge to keep going, to stay up all night if need be in order to know what happens next. Editing helps create those chapter endings.

I'm not at the end of anything in editing (chapter/section/novel) but I look forward to reaching that point because I still work linear, so it will be close to the anticipated end of editing. A nervous and exciting ending as well.

How are your endings?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D is for Description

Now we are getting somewhere if we want to reference things I'm not good at and need to work on in rewrites and edits. Check out the other blogs at A to Z Blog Challenge to see what other people come up with for D and beyond. Now, time for my topic and it was an easy pick.


I do not write much in the way of description. I managed to write 165k in NaNoWriMo one year and the first draft ended at about 180k but there is very little description in the fantasy story. Yeah... Not sure what it is but I'm definitely more comfortable with things like dialogue and I can even throw in some action more than I can write a descriptive scene. Even with the novel I'm editing where I have done rewrites where I more than doubled the word count, I still need to add description in this final edits.

One issue, for me, is the use of the senses. I can admit that it's a weakness of mine, or at least some of the sentences in particular. Some are easier to add in a story, like visuals and depending certain situations a sound or touch. However, there are some that I struggle to add without it seeming forced. Taste is a tough one for me because unless the character is eating or there is a specific reason for them to suddenly think about what they are tasting in a moment, it's not something I just write in a scene. Same goes for smell at times. I know you don't need them all, all of the time, but I do know it's something that I need to work on still. I am trying in this edit to make sure that some of the senses are used on a regular basis to really bring the story more to life for the reader.

Giving specific details is a challenge at times. There is a thick line between too much detail and not enough and we want to try of the time to be on that line. Some detail helps create the world and show things to the reader. Too much description and details, however, will take the reader out of the story or just plain bore them. Some readers skip parts more than others but if anyone is going to skip a section of story it is often said they skip the overly descriptive parts because they seem boring and not as vital to the story overall.

So, I'm going to work on description in my edits and in future rewrite/edits of other novels.

Here are some links to check out on descriptive writing:

How are you at description? Do you need to cut or add description in rewrites or edits?

Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Catapostrophe

Okay, in seriousness. There is some editing thing here and as much as I'd like to say it's the cat... it's probably not the cat. Back to the minor focus on edits and there is that little detail such as punctuation and when to use things in correct form, including the apostrophe. It can be an important factor in a sentence, so it's something that you'll want to make sure is done right throughout the story. The apostrophe can mean the omission of a letter or more, possession or make an item plural. All depends on the usage.




The big conflict in your story could be viewed as a catastrophe. Things have to go wrong, but they also have to be built up throughout your story. Even most surprises, if looking back later, readers will often find subtle clues that hint towards the bad times ahead. Making sure that the big bad moment is not only well lead up to but gives the reader the promises the story makes can be a major challenge for both rewrites and edits.

One is the nit-picky focus from this slightly joking topic. Going through and making sure every apostrophe is correct does take time and is something one does at the very last bit of editing because you don't want to be doing rewrites at that point. The final final minor edits is where you just fix the tiny things to try and make it the best possible. The other forum is well, all the things that go wrong at the climax of the story.

What do you think? Cat-apostrophe? or Catastrophe? Need another cat?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Background Checks

Day 2 and it took me a moment to figure my B topic when considering editing and technical focus but I found something and that deals with keeping background information available to double check in edits. There are many things to check when doing edits, like character details but today we will focus on just background.
Make sure to check out the other blogs at
Background Checks
There are many factors that one could need to check to make sure everything in the background is kept in check between different novel drafts.
Setting - this is an obvious aspect of background. It makes sense because setting is often refered to as background, which makes it something one would often check during a background check in edits. There are different aspects to check from desired levels of detail, consistencies and keeping from falling into white room syndrome (another topic previously posted about on this blog). Edits are where we see what needs cropped or embellished, depending on your writing style.
Character information - not every detail is necessary but it does help to keep the background information on the characters in check. While we don't need to show every aspect of every character in the story, there are details that exist within the background of the story that needs to be checked during edits in order to maintain consistency.
One minor character note I have had to keep track in my edits of the current novel had to do with the math teacher. It took a couple drafts for me to notice that halfway through the story, the math teacher switches from male to female. Ooops. Have to check the limited scenes throughout the story in relation to all teachers to make sure they don't have minor things changing at random.
Pre-edit checking - one thing I did before this final set of edits was to take a series of notes, chapter by chapter, in preparation for the task at hand. That way I knew the background information available, what my be lacking and having that check beforehand did help me prepare for the daunting edit tasks that I am still wading through this month.
What parts of the background do you check during edits? What do you consider the background of your story?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Adverbs

Welcome to my blog and this year's attempt at the wonderful A to Z blog challenge. I've taken part in the challenge for several years, though not always with this blog, but I'm happy to be back to the writing topics this year (though I do need to pick up my book reading pace once again). On this blog, as I have 2 in the challenge, I am going to be posting on the technical side of writing as I'm also in the process of doing a final edit before I take the leap into the unknown land of submitting to agents.

Check out other blogs in the challenge here:

A is for Adverbs

I went with a rather obvious first post of the month and A topic. It's something I come across quite often as a reader on a writing site I help moderate and it's a part of writing that I'm well aware of during edits. I don't write a ton of the -ly adverbs myself from years of having them on the back of my mind as something to avoid overusing, but I do find even then, since I do fast first drafts like NaNoWriMo, there are some that need cut out for every edit.

First: What is an adverb?
- a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc.

Now, to be clear, I always mention when I comment on someone's adverb usage that it's not a case of never. I know that adverbs have their place in writing and one doesn't need to cut them all out in order to have a good draft/story. However, I find in the unpublished, less edited short fiction that I read often times does tend to use them to a large degree. For me, a short story (under 10,000 words) and in particular flash fiction (under  1,000 words) shouldn't have as many or more adverbs than several novel chapters. If the story is 700 words, there is a limit to where the amount of -ly and such can become glaring and drags down the writing instead of doing the job of modifying the way the writer is wanting. I'm talking 20-40 of them withing the parameter of a flash fiction. That's just too many (yes, just is one of my weak points in writing but I'll get there probably on W or J day). So, I'm an advocate of caution, limiting adverb usage and knowing how the words are helping or hindering a story.

Why limit adverbs?

Here are a few of the main reasons I've seen over the years while doing research and writing:
1. Weakens writing
2. Amateur
3. Show versus Tell

Let's start with number 2. Often times, a large abundence of adverbs in a story will imply to the reader that the person doing the writing is an amateur, someone who is still a beginner to the process. This is in part due to the other factors, having less experience to know whether or not the many ones used weakened the writing or if they had a strong enough purpose to provide to the story. And, based on my experience, the newer writer does tend to rely on the -ly a little more, though some people will still cling to their adverbs after many years of writing if they don't want to work on that aspect of their skills.

Number 1 and 3 are close together. I've heard the weak word explanation the most but the show versus tell can be tricky at times for some writers, so it's not surprising that is a factor too. From what I've noticed, often times the writer is trying to create a certain mood or show something in particular about the character or action by the use of the -ly. However, the result on the other side, as the reader is that it does part way do what the writer intended but not in the best way possible. I also have found that the non-ly adverbs are often words associated as "weak words" and are ones I have to work on in edits (words like just, sometimes, very, etc.) while others get us to number 3 more. The -ly action at times, like trying to show how a character is reacting, can either be great or actually make the sentence more of a tell instead of a show.

Either way, it's a matter of finding balance and knowing when to cut down. Some adverbs are great and the modification to the sentence can be handy. Other times, they will become overdone and bring the story down instead of offering the proper nail in the support beam. Learning when to use one and when to cut, that takes time and practice.

Other sources:

What are your thoughts on adverbs? Do you cut some out in edits?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A to Z Topic for 2015

Yep, it's time to announce the topic of the month for this year's exciting A to Z blog challenge.

It was a difficult decision.

While my first instinct was to go with something fun, like character or maybe even worldbuilding since I started working on my epic fantasy before nanowrimo and didn't get very far. I'm notorious for wanting to worldbuild but never actually doing much of it as I instead just write the first draft. However, after much consideration, I decided the topic I needed to cover on this blog is:

Edits and Other Technical Aspects of Fiction Writing

Yep, I'm buckling down with my edits  right now and this blog gets to be a part of that because I'm still very new to this whole final edit before submission process. I stalled since I was uncertain which steps to take and need to push myself in order to get things done. So, that's the topic for A to Z challenge. It will include grammar, point of view, description (and my insane lack thereof even after multiple rewrites) and many other similar topics related to the editing process.

Come back on April 1 to see which topic got picked for A.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Coming Soon: April Blog Challenge

That is right. It is time once again for the A theatrical Z blog challenge.

This year I am going between three different topics and plan to pick one in the next two weeks. It's not easy to pick what to spend an entire month talking about so I'm going to give it a little time even though I have a slight preference at this point.

Top choice right now is a month focused on character. Each letter would focus on an aspect of characters that can range from meta to miniscule. I do like characters so any chance to talk about the many different aspects involved in minor and main characters will nab at my attention. I have done some character posts in the past, so will need to make sure don't repeat myself too much in this one and really any topic chosen.

Another option is a whole month on world building. I would probably need to specify on that option as have done some in the past even though I don't world build much. There are so many topics available with building a world that one could probably use the topic per month for a number of years with the A to Z challenge and not run out of material.

Finally, I'm considering talking about the technical side of writing since I'm trying to learn how to get edits done. I've managed to find my groove with first draft writing and even rewriting, but this final edit has been on a major stall. I need to get that done so I can finally reach the submission process. Writing about different editing points and such for a month could be a good reminder of what I should be working on myself.

So the three topics: Character, World Building or Technical. 

Tough pick.

What will you work on in April?
Hope to see many bloggers out and about during the month and I can't wait for the challenge.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Abundance of Dialogue in Short Fiction


When it comes to this writing element in short and long fiction, in general: I'm a fan. Ever since practicing for specific dialogue only contest on a writing site, I've often put a fair amount of talking in my stories, in particular in first drafts and during NaNoWriMo cause it's now the easiest for me to do quick with little worry of end result. I struggle to get much description and at times with action, but boy can my characters talk.

There can be benefits to the chatter, however. Dialogue has definite uses and many stories would not be complete without some (though it is possible to write a short story without dialogue, for sure). It can allow characters to provide information to each other and the reader without coming off as too much of a tell from the writer.  There are times when the right bit of dialogue in a moment, the right phrase or saying can help set the tone, pacing or even conflict. The way the speech is done and word choice can also be useful in showing character.

It can also be used to help setup a scene/story. All one has to say is: "We need to talk" and a moment is created with much potential. There is the anticipation and internal thoughts that occur when the character is preparing for the talk, no matter which pov is being used at the time. Much potential exists when it comes to dialogue.

However, it can reach a certain point, where the talking might become too much. At times, in particular with short fiction, if much is taking place in dialogue only, there might be other things missed. Pacing is affected along with distraction and uncertainty as the reader tries to see the whole story. Depending on the story, this could mean that too much dialogue was used.

Yep. I said it. Too much dialogue.

Is that even possible? Honestly, even as a fan of characters who talk, there are times when there is too much dialogue in a story. It is possible.

Most of the time this experience is with unpublished work as I spend a fair amount of time on a writing web site. However, it's possible to see this in published work as well because opinions will vary. There are times when I'll read a story on here and while it has potential, I will struggle because much of the story will be done in dialogue. I'm not saying that can't work, however, it can also work against the story in some cases. While at times, characters talking can help with the show versus tell aspect, when taken too far it becomes the characters telling, and it's easy enough to notice. The reader might end up distracted by all the chatter or feel as if they missed something important because other aspects of story telling are lacking. And in short fiction, word count does limit what can be shown to the reader in the given time frame.

Balance is a difficult task to achieve because it will vary with every single story but it's something we should all work on as writers. Plus, the dramatic dialogue reveal can be made stronger by also having other aspects such as emotion and enough description to put the reader in the moment even more. Something to consider at least. One story will require more dialogue than another, but trying to determine what is needed is all part of the craft and challenge of writing.

This will be more noticeable in short fiction than novels because there is less space and words used to tell the entire story. All dialogue stories can be successful, but it will depend on the writing and the story being told. On the other hand, a story with half dialogue can feel like the talking takes over the story. Variables. Let the character's talk but in editing the task will be working on reigning things in with the hopes of making the story the best it can become.

What do you think? Can there be too much dialogue?