Saturday, 26 January 2013

How Many Rewrites Are Too Many? There's No set Rule.

Those who've been following my blog know I've spent the last four weeks revising and rewriting entire slabs of my first manuscript. Why? After sending it to a reputable publisher I received a two page report outlining what they loved about it and what it needed to bring it to publishing standard. And after much thought and discussion with my beta readers, I had to agree and I got to work.
I also realised, when I thought my manuscript was complete, it wasn't. It always takes another - neutral - pair of eyes to see the problems.

So, what changes have I made?

1. Reduced the word length from 134,000 words to 120,000. It's surprising how much superfluous information an author can include in their work. It may look great, but overall it doesn't advance the story, nor does it enhance character development. This particularly refers to back stories. If it's not relevant to the current scene, leave it out!
These days, most authors have a website, and it's a wonderful place to showcase those so-called unnecessary deleted chapters. That way, it provides readers with extra information about some of their favourite characters.

2. I've introduced an extra element at the beginning of the story, that creates tension between my two protagonists. And this isn't resolved until the end of the book. Hopefully, the reader is kept guessing as to the real intentions of the male lead.

3. There are several action scenes in the book, but I left the most dramatic till the end. It answers all questions, rounds off the story and provides a satisfactory conclusion.
In essence what I did was restore my book to it's original form, before I split it (in the wrong place) on the advice of another publisher.

4. I added a couple of romantic scenes (Yes! There's sex in it!) Originally I intended including only one, but somehow my characters bullied me into adding another and I must admit, they were right. It needed another to show how far my protagonists have come on their journey with each other.

5. Lastly, I added an epilogue. This isn't always necessary, but because my book is part of a series, it provides a taste of what the reader can expect in Book 2.
Besides that, I also provided my future readers with a complete glossary of terms, characters and places and a genealogy of the Dantonvilles.
The more we give our readers, the better the chance they'll beg for more!

Overall, I've now rewritten, revised and edited this manuscript at least twenty times. There's no set rule. It's ready, when it's ready. That simple. And every author knows when that time is.
I think I'm there.
So, what's next?
I've sent the manuscript off and the waiting game begins!

I'd love to know how other authors have rewritten their MS and if they were happy with the end result. Did it lead to a publishing contract?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

What To Do When You Don't Have Time To Blog - Guest Blog!

Now every now and then, we all reach the point when deadlines get in the way of our usual routine and that includes us bloggers. It's not that we run out of topics - is that possible for a writer? - rather we're so desperate to complete that manuscript, those rewrites and revisions that everything else comes to a standstill. And if you happen to be a woman, that includes those lesser things, such as housework. I've already told my friends they can look at the dust, but please don't write in it!

So, a dear friend came to the rescue and happily volunteered to be a guest blogger (I'll send her the lifetime supply of chocolate, later). Her humorous - and very original - observations of life have often made me laugh, and now I'm happy to share her with the rest of the world.

Here's Claudia - lawyer, blogger and budding writer.

Man Crushes: An untold story

Hello all. My name is Claudia and I dream to be a plus size supermodel one day. That way I can eat as much as I want as my job demands it! That is my mini bio for you all.
First and foremost, thank you to Tima for letting me be a guest writer on her blog. Now please buy her book when it comes out! (Tima, can I get my life time supply of chocolate as we discussed now?).
Alright kidding aside, I am doing this out post as a favour and no chocolate has or will pass hands. I am just happy for this opportunity and have my material read outside the realm of Facebook.
I want to talk about man crushes. Is it just my husband that openly speaks of his man crush? What exactly is a man crush? And, when does a man crush become a bromance or are they the same thing?
This line of thought came to my attention over the weekend when my husband and I went to see Les Misérables. As we were leaving the theatre, my husband looks at me and says with a very serious tone and a meditative face, "Hugh Jackman is such a dreamboat! Honey, if Hugh Jackman asked me marry him, I would leave you for him"
Seeing the solemnity in his face, I had to try hard to stifle a laugh. I understand where he is coming from. I wouldn’t mind being Hugh Jackman’s man purse. He is a stud-muffin and then some! Then, after I thought about it for a while my mood changed and I thought to myself, ‘I am already competing with millions of other women for the affections of Hugh Jackman and now my husband?! Are male celebrities no longer objects of lust just for us women?!’
Being concerned about my husband’s confession, I went home and researched this man-crush phenomenon. I noticed that men are becoming more open about having a ‘man-crush’ on other men. For example, I put up what my husband said on Facebook as a status (all in the name of research, I swear!). A male acquaintance of mine commented of the status, Like me with Johnny Depp, at least he is comfortably man enough to say it!”  This was a worrying thought and commanded me to further my research outside the jurisdiction of Facebook.
As I continued my research through authorities such as online Marie Claire articles and chat rooms dedicated to the matter, I noticed something very interesting about man-crushing. I noticed that for the majority of men it isn’t because they romantically want the man they crush on. It is usually because they want to BE that man. It may be because the object of the man-crush may have great football skills like David Beckham or excellent acting the likes of Denzel Washington. This was confirmed when I read Urban Dictionary’s definition of man crush:
“When a straight man has a "crush" on another man, not sexual but kind of idolizing him. Many straight men end up having man crushes on Johnny Depp (I don't blame them)”
So, I questioned my husband about his man crush. I asked why he wanted to run away and marry Hugh Jackman and he responded, “He’s Wolverine! He has claws and kills people. I want to be Wolverine. Plus, I already have the beard!”

Okay, so it was a case of my husband not being able to describe a man crush properly. He didn’t want to really marry Hugh Jackman. Rather, he wanted to be Wolverine! At least that meant I could sleep easier knowing that my husband was not ready to leave me just yet, and more importantly, not vying with me for Hugh Jackman’s affections should he leave his wife!
Then as I was about heave a sigh of ease, my husband said something very interesting and alarming at the same time, “I only want to be Wolverine. Relax, it’s not a bromance or anything”
Apparently, women should heed the warnings of a bromance more than a man crush. A Bromance is when the object of the man crush reciprocates the man crush and the target of is your husband/ boyfriend/ partner/ handbag! In that case it’s a bromance and you’re dead out of luck in the quality time department as according to Wikipedia, bromances:
“… are often primarily based on shared activities. This can include playing video games, playing musical instruments, shopping, smoking pipes, chatting by the fire, watching movies, fishing, camping, and other sporting activities, gambling, social drinking, and engaging in the use of psychedelic substances. Emotional sharing (which is common in women's friendships) is another such activity.”
So, my fellow women, we must keep a vigilant eye out for signs that a man crush is transforming from a one sided affair to a two sided situation. Let men have their one sided man crushes for they are nothing harmless. It is more akin to a young boy having a sport player they look up to and idolise. So long as the man crush is unattainable, then Ladies, you’ll be assured of the affections of your man. Just don’t let the man crush turn into a bromance. You have been warned!
Thank you for reading.
And thanks  Claudia Taylor.
If you enjoyed this feature, please let me know. Maybe I'll feature guest bloggers more often.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Do Writers Need an Editor? Hell, Yes!

Every author, no matter how experienced, needs their work viewed by a professional editor who can spot the flaws we writers are blind to. The old adage, "not being able to see the forest for the trees," I believe was written specifically for writers. We are too close to our work - our baby - to recognise its faults. Honestly, what parent doesn't see the sun shining from their child's rear end, when that said rear end needs desperate cleaning?!
Nor are we like Mozart - well maybe someone is, and good luck to them - who could pen an entire symphony from scratch, without a single correction and have it performed the next day to worldwide acclaim! The rest of us humble mortals must drag that precious idea from our fevered minds and find the right words to convey our story to the world - minus all the corrections, deletions, scratchings, and rewrits that are a normal part of any writer's life.
Recently, I had my manuscript viewed by a publisher, who helpfully sent me a three page report outlining what they loved about it and suggestions where it could be improved. They then gave me the option to resubmit.
I'd be a dumb bunny not to take them up on the offer, as such free editorial advice is invaluable.

To briefly summarise, these were some of the issues in my manuscript:
- create tension between the two main protagonists that can be sustained throughout the length of the book. It heightens the emotional journey and gives the reader greater connectivity with your characters. In other words, if you're writing a romance book, don't make your two leads fall in love too quickly. Make them suffer!

- get rid off anything which doesn't enhance the character or journey of the protagonist, even if it means "killing off your darlings" - that favourite chapter, scene or paragraph. If it doesn't make any difference to the book, leave it out!
I've now removed two chapters.

- tighten up paragraphs. If it can be said in one sentence, don't add another three. As they say, less is more.
I've now tightened up at least a hundred.

- you can have more than one climax in a story, but leave the best one for the end, where all questions are finally answered and all loose ends are neatly tied up.

That's the gist of it.
So, until the end of this month, I'll be working on those issues and resubmitting my manuscript.
Stay tuned.
I'd love to know if anyone else has received good editorial advice from a publisher,  and acted on it.