Editing

Working with an editor is a great privilege and will undoubtedly make your book 100% stronger. All the writers I have spoken to on the matter say that their editors are wise people who must be listened to at all costs and I can’t argue with that. If you think about it, a writer takes a year (or more) to produce a book, editors are working with different authors on numerous books all year round. Their editing skills improve more in a year than probably an author’s skills do in a lifetime. It’s their job after all, so ignore them at your peril.

But to the uninitiated, working with an editor can be a shock to the system. It certainly was to me. Even with the knowledge that you’re in good hands and that your book will be sharper and stronger for it, editing is a tough process. I’ve yet to meet an author who hasn’t nodded in agreement with a knowing look in their eye when I’ve admitted that the first time I received my manuscript from my editor I cried a little. It sounds ridiculous, but it was the sheer amount of work I was facing when I thought I was almost there. Once I wiped away the tears I realised that as a writer I was being asked to level up, (as my tutor used to describe it to me), and leveling up is painful. But what do they always say? No pain, no gain. And after the hard work is done, you see the difference in your work, and that is a great moment. And as writers, we are always improving, with every word we write, with every mistake we make and with every triumph we achieve.

The best way to prepare before you get an editor is to join a writer’s group. There you will learn to accept constructive criticism, hone the editing part of your brain, and to distance yourself enough from your work to really see its flaws. You will also gain a small but insightful widow into how hard an editor’s job is, as they try to improve your work without putting you into floods of tears. A few tears are fine, floods of tears are not so good. But so you know you’re not alone, just know that editing is painful, and the odd tear along the way is expected and normal. You’re in good company, with just about every other writer around (except for the few rare exceptions who love editing – they have nerves of steel!).

For those writers who decide that indie publishing is for them, you can actually hire an editor to go through your work. Reedsy.com is a great place to look, and it’s a site that brings writers, professional editors and book designers together. The one tip I’ve been told if you decide to get an editor from this site is to search for an editor that works in your genre, as they will be best placed to edit your work.

I’d also recommend watching Ellen Brock’s YouTube channel, just search Ellen Brock editor. She is an editor who has kindly given up her time to film short 5-20 minute videos with tips on editing your work, improving your writing and there’s even advice on submission letters. So whatever stage you are at, there will be a video for you waiting.

Anyway, that’s it for now on editing. Good luck with the writing!

Characters

When writing a series my best advice is to start a character dossier immediately for each and every character. Even those ones who make a brief guest appearance. It can become quite a time sink trawling through your book trying to work out whether a character on the periphery has brown, hazel, green or blue eyes and their age!
Character dossiers are so handy, because if you’ve got writer’s block, it’s a great place to start to get the creative juices flowing again.
And it’s fun.
Creating characters from scratch is surely a writer’s chance at playing God and is a lot quicker and less expensive than creating actual humans (or so I’ve been told).
I have only just started comprehensive character dossiers, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it at the start, when I could have just drip fed information into the document as the story grew.
It really helps you to breathe life into your characters, and although I originally scoffed when a friend told me he drew pictures of all of his characters, I now know where he was coming from.
It’s not procrastination. It’s creation. Or that’s what I keep telling myself whilst my word count remains stubbornly the same.

The Dreaded 2nd Book

Here is a tip for when you decide to start your second book. Whatever you do, don’t read incredible books like All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, as they will leave you paralysed by feelings of inadequacy. These fantastic books are the sort of books that should be read when you are polishing your completed MS and you smugly think that it is done. Think again. You realise, after reading such titans, there is always more you can do and you throw yourself back into editing mode with keener eyes.

I am at that tricky stage where I am working on my debut, trying to make it the best that it can possibly be, whilst aware that the sequel isn’t going to write itself.  The age old dilemma, when to let the first book go and move onto the second. And is it possible to do both at the same time, an act of rubbing your tummy whilst patting your head?

Well, there’s only one way to find out in writing, and that is trying it for yourself (after trawling the internet for advice from other writers!). Writing is so idiosyncratic that even you won’t know what your method is until you’ve gone through a few attempts and finally, after much trial and error, settled on what works for you. But I guess that’s what makes writing so interesting, you are always learning on the job.

Good luck with the writing, and remember we’re all just making it up.

Vicki

Competitions are the way forward

write-here-right-now-logo-awardIn April/May I went on a competition entering spree.

It meant pestering friends to proof read my entries and staying up until midnight to hit submit before the deadline bewitching hour hit!

I started thinking that I should be writing, rather than fiddling around with my first 3 chapters so that they were under 10,000 words. I was wrong. Entering competitions was precisely what I should be doing. They hone your editing skills, force you to look at your first three chapters like never before, (chapters you might not have looked at for months) and they give you enforced deadlines. It’s also a chance to take stock at how far you’ve come on your writing journey. You’re a real writer now, entering actual competitions!

And there’s always the chance you might win. Like I did. I’m ecstatic (and still in shock) to announce that I won WriteHereRightNow.

Competitions are the way forward.

Competitions

It’s competition time and so far I’ve been shortlisted for 2 writing competitions.

First Novel and WriteHereRightNow. I’m very excited and feel like I’ve won just being shortlisted.

I recommend entering competitions when you’re at the point of submitting your MS to agents. It will give you a good indication of whether your novel is ready for the world and competitions are good deadlines to give yourself to get your MS up to scratch.

It is so easy in writing just to drift along and realise that a year has past and in many ways your no further forward. I need goals to keep the momentum going and to feel like I’m achieving something, be it an editing goal or getting a submission in for a competition.

A good website to look at to see what competitions are out there is Aerogramme Studio.

Good luck with the writing all!

Vicki