Saturday, January 27, 2007


One of the most painful parts of the editing process is trimming the fat. YOu know what I mean; cutting out those awesome scenes that are only there because they're awesome, removing the blatant info dumping. My opening page dropped three full paragraphs of a character who was ruminating on his love life. Completely irrelevant to the main character, who kills him in paragraph four. And it would be death to someone who decided to pick up that book in a store... or on an agent's desk.

I've been struggling a bit with an old memory info dump. Basically, once you figure out who the assassin's old flame is, I do this huge chapter-long flashback that outlines their last two days or so together. Nice stuff, good and intense at the end...

But ultimately, only a few parts are even relevant.

So, I've whipped out the axe. I've cut 90% of the scenes from that chapter, and the rest will be dropped here and there as flashbacks, but only where it actually adds something to the story. I cut out two pages of detailed description of her bedroom. THAT, I blame on shameless NaNoWriMo word padding. And I'm going to have to work on that, because I'm still not happy with the results.

Editing is difficult. I've had to cut some really good stuff that honestly just didn't improve the storyline at all. There is one line that I'm quite glad to see go, though, and I'll share it with you because I think I must have been in that weird place where you're not really seeing what you write, but just writing. I certainly don't remember doing it, and I refuse to claim responsibility.
"There was death in her visage, and it showed, even to those who knew nothing of her true profession."
Eeew. Yeah. Editing is hard, but editing is good. I no doubt thought this was bloody brilliant when I first wrote it, but four years of collecting dust certainly changed my perspective on that.

I also cut this happy-fuzzy scene where she gets all buddy-buddy with one of the guards she has to train, complete with "You can come to me if you ever have a problem *hugs*" type dialogue. So out of character! So I switched it to her being her usual blunt, acidic self. Feels better.

The act of writing is such an organic, mystical thing for me. It's me and the keyboard, and words flowing from my brain to my fingers. Holly Lisle says it far better than me: it's an "almost-metaphysical fugue state where you're watching events in the story happen and typing what you see." Editing is far less intuitive, and requires thought, preparation, pens, more paper, and a lot of being honest with myself. It's no wonder that I, like most writers, put it off. It's work, real work.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chapter One

Well, I've read over most of the story (it's missing about 50 pages... something I'm rather annoyed about. It's alright, I recall what happens, but it still annoys me.), and it's got a good, solid base, and the two main characters don't suck.

I've whipped out my purple and green pens , and have marked the first page all to hell.

I think I'm going to work this chapter by chapter. There's a lot of infodumping, so I'm going to have to streamline that a good bit, and some stuff that comes right out of a bad Mary Sue fanfic. I DID write this four years ago, after all.

It's salvageable, and I'm getting excited about the story all over again.

My basic Plot:

An assassin seeks to slay the man who destroyed her life, only to discover more dangerous quarry awaits. She stays her hand, and they work together to defeat a common enemy. She must face her demons... not only those that haunt her soul, but those who wear flesh and blood bodies.

It's a story of redemption and facing the past.

Cliche? Perhaps. I think it will work, though. After all, if I refused to write anything cliche, I wouldn't so much writing at all.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A foray into uncharted territory

Well, inspired by a recent Pub Rants Post, I decided to branch out into a genre of books I have reviled for ages as silly, ridiculous, and in general, not worth the paper they're printed on. My own form of book snobbery, my anti-romance stance (snerk).

So, I made a trip to Walmart to see what the big deal was. I found one with a dragon on the cover. It caught my eye, and I decided not to travel TOO far out of my comfort zone; I chose a romance in a fantasy setting. Dark Demon, by Christine Feehan. Vampire thing.

Dubious, but determined to go through with this experiment, I glanced at the cover. $9.99? For a paperback? Even reduced to $7 according to the Walmart price tag, that's still more than I 'm used to paying for a book. Still, I decided to give it a try.

It sat in my suitcase for the next four hours. After a climb into the North Georgia mountains, a long, irritating day with my family, and booking ourselves into a not-bad hotel room, we got the baby ready for bed, and I curled up and peeled the cover to the first romance novel I have ever read.

The first page was not impressive. Not even a little bit. I had expected tripe, but this cover proclaims Ms. Feehan to be a New York Times bestseller. Surely she could find an editor worth a damn? Adverbs abound, and the lack of description is appalling. 500 pages later (exactly), and I STILL don't know what the primary love interest looks like. He does have long hair (of course) and is apparently very warrior like and muscular, but don't ask me what the color of his hair is. I'm fairly sure that the main character has hair that likes to randomly "band" itself orange and red like a tiger or something, but I'm still not sure what her actual hair color is.

During the first few pages, she actually dons a brightly colored vest, which is described as such not once, but twice. No mention of what those bright colors are, only that they aren't the dark colors favored by the women of this village. This stuff literally reads like I used to write back in my middle school days.

The main character is a super-perfect determinedly strong warrior, and of course her lifemate (can't have a fantasy romance novel without some form of eternal love bond, now can we?) spends the entire book keeping her from being just that. And the main character spends most of the book denying their destined love. Naturally.

I'm really trying to give this stuff the benefit of the doubt, but I'm NEVER going to look at the word "channel" the same way again.

One question, if any of you are regular romance readers: Why is it that words like "velvet folds" and "tight channel" must be used to describe female genitalia in purple-y euphemisms (always preceded by the word "feminine") but there's no problem throwing in a random "scrotum" for your viewing pleasure? Why not the "tender mound of his masculine roundness"? Fits the formula, doesn't it?

I still don't get it. And all I have to say is this: if this chick can get on the NYT bestseller list, I'm writing the wrong stuff.

Friday, January 19, 2007

1st 50 printed

Only took about a minute on those industrial super printers at the school. I don't have my printer hooked up to this computer yet (massive motherboard failure on the other comp... thank goodness for backup) and this one doesn't have floppy access anyway, so I'm just printing out my rough draft on the school printers for now. Free that way, anyway. ;)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Debugging template

Apparently, thanks to the fact that I just got Firefox, I found out that the template I've been using doesn't work in Firefox, at all! BUT, I fixed the problem, thanks to the removal of a tiny snippet of code, so it should work now.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From the dusty archives

I've finally found the old 2002 NaNo (Shadowhawk's Fire - isn't that an awful title?) on disk. It's incomplete, but more complete than the hard copy I have printed out. I still know what happens (I did write it, after all!) so I can reconstruct the missing pieces with little trouble. I would like to know where the old stuff IS.

I've uploaded the original word document to my Gmail, since for some ungodly reason, the PC I use at home has a slot for a floppy drive, but somehow LACKS said floppy drive.

I've also downloaded OpenOffice, because I refuse to pay $200 for Microsoft Office.

My first goal: GEt this beastie printed out (yay school computers... I can probably print out 10 or 20 pages a night in the labs at school for nothing) and break out the red pen. Then, start with a blank document, and start rewriting.

I think the best advice I've received so far for editing is to leave a project for a year before editing. It really gives you distance, and lets me see the holes that I couldn't when it was still close, near and dear to my heart.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Writer's meeting this weekend

My NaNoWriMo group is getting together for a post-nano pre-critique group meeting. It's something I've desperately needed, to get my tail back in gear.