Wednesday, December 7, 2016

29 Quick and Easy Social Media Updates to Share

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Sometimes connecting with our readers through social media seems like such a time-consuming chore that we can’t pull together the energy to even try. Truthfully though, by doing a little bit on social media consistently, we can make great strides. Today I’d like to share some easy—quick—ways to make those important connections. My tips are divided into three sections—things we can do now and share later, things we can share on the fly, and things we should avoid sharing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Team of Writer and Editor

By Andrea Merrell

In my last post, we talked about the importance of paying for a professional edit. Today, let’s discuss the writer and editor working together as a team.

Writing—at least for most people—is not a solitary venture. Most of us are members of critique groups, attend writers’ conferences on a regular basis, and have writing buddies who love to get together to brainstorm ideas. Some of us even have wives, husbands, children, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends who love to read and can give us valuable feedback on our stories.

But there’s another person who plays a vital role in the quality and success of your project: your editor.

Whether you plan to self-publish and hire a freelance editor or have one assigned to you through your publishing company, this person can become your greatest ally and even a valued friend. The partnership between writer and editor is a key factor in the process.

An editor’s input is essential for both the new writer and the experienced author.  Once we write, rewrite, edit, proof—and then start the process all over again—we can become “blind” to our own mistakes. As writers, we know what’s supposed to be on that page. We know our story and characters so well we dream about them and have conversations with them in our head. But after we’ve read through our manuscript a number of times, our eyes begin to skip over obvious mistakes. That’s why we all need help. As I like to say, even the best editor needs an editor.

So, what can you as a writer expect from your relationship with your editor?

When you and your editor are working together as a team, I truly believe you can learn more about the writing process than in a workshop or conference, because this is doing and not just hearing.

Bottom line: trust your editor. Work with him or her and learn from the process. If you have questions and suggestions, don’t be afraid to voice them. Your editor is there to make you look good and help your words shine.

Do you have any questions about the relationship between writer and editor? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of Miles/Master isolated images.) 


Monday, November 7, 2016

Why Pay for a Professional Edit?

By Andrea Merrell

A recent email from a potential client asking about my rates for editing ended with “I’m holding my breath.”

I had to laugh because this is the way many—if not most—writers feel when it comes to paying for a professional edit. I certainly felt that way in the beginning of my writing career. I couldn’t imagine how someone could charge so much per hour to proofread and make corrections to my words. 

How little I knew …

There’s much more that goes into a thorough (substantive) edit than simply looking for typos. Along with an eye for punctuation, grammar, and spelling, your editor will look up and verify Scripture references and check the meaning of unfamiliar words. He or she will double-check hyphenated words, quotes, facts, and rules in the CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style) and CWMS (Christian Writer’s Manual of Style). These are the go-to books for editors and are considered industry standard.

A good editor will also look for:
·       Your writing style.  Your editor should never try to change your voice. After all, this is your story.
·       Formatting and consistency issues.
·       Redundant words and phrases. Sometimes we tend to overuse certain words without realizing it. Your editor will help you catch these redundancies that can ruin your story and wear on the reader.
·       Strong hooks. Using strong hooks will keep your readers turning the pages.
·       How well you set the scene.
·       POV (point of view) issues. Head-hopping will frustrate the reader.
·       Dialogue issues. This will especially apply to speaker beats and tags.
·       Showing, not telling. Your editor will help you put your reader in the scene and even inside the character’s head by showing external and internal conflict.
·       Proper use of backstory.
·       Syntax. This is the rhythm and flow of your sentences and paragraphs.

There are many other elements involved in the process, but this will give you a better idea of what to expect.

A professional editor can comfortably edit six to eight pages per hour. Best case scenario (a manuscript that requires less work) would be ten. Most editors will go through a manuscript at least twice and sometimes more. This depends on the quality of the writing and the amount of editing that needs to be done. It’s virtually impossible to catch every single mistake the first time through.

There are also notes for the author, e-mails, and (sometimes) phone calls.

Alycia has done several posts over the past few months about how you can save money by learning the craft of writing and applying those rules to your projects. Here is the link to part  1: The More You Know, The Less You'll PayI would encourage you to go back over these posts and study each point. This information will help you submit a much cleaner manuscript that will require less time, effort, and—ultimately—dollars.

So, back to the question … why pay for a professional edit?

An editor’s job is to make you, the writer, look good … to make your words shine. This person keeps up with industry standards and plays a vital role in the quality and success of your project. Unfortunately, there are many poorly written books on the market today because the writers did not think it necessary to pay for a professional edit.

Next time, we'll talk about the team of writer and editor. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on professional editing? If you have a success story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it.

(Photos courtesy of Miles/iosphere.)


Monday, October 31, 2016

Writing Memes for Halloween

"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat."
- Edgar Allen Poe

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
- Anton Chekhov

Feel free to share! :) Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The More You Know, The More You'll Save: Part X ~ Dialogue Do's and Don'ts

by Alycia W. Morales

As authors, we're always looking for ways to save money and time. This is the eighth post in a series that is meant to help you save both. On the front end, putting forth the effort to learn these points will cost you some time, but in the long run, it will save you money on professional edits.

Last week, we went over showing vs. telling and active vs. passive writing. This week, we'll take a look at dialogue.

Speaker Tags: said, asked, yelled. These are speaker tags. They designate who is speaking, especially when there are more than two characters in a conversation.

When using speaker tags, don't use words like "laughed," "cried," or "growled." Keep it simple. Said is the best. "Asked" goes well with question marks, but you could also use "said" with question marks. Use "yelled" before you use an exclamation point (use a period instead). But people can't cry words. Nor can they laugh words. If your character needs to laugh or cry, use a speaker beat.

Speaker Beats: When our characters do something between dialogue sentences, we use speaker beats. It's better for the reader, especially if you have a bunch of back-and-forth dialogue, if we use speaker beats to designate who's speaking because it gives the reader an idea of what is happening in the story.

For example:
Mariah laughed. "You've got to be kidding me." She tossed the book onto the table and shook her head. "There's no way I can finish that in one night. What was she thinking assigning us Great Expectations on such short notice?"
Elizabeth picked up the book and flipped through it with a frown. "Yeah. There's no way I can read that overnight, and I'm a speed reader."

What you don't want to do is use a dialogue tag with a beat. There's no point in using the tag.
For example:
James stood and said, "I don't think we need to read the whole thing. Let's go to Barnes and Noble and get the Cliffnotes."
We know he said the sentence if he stood just before he said it.
James stood. "I don't think we need to read the whole thing. Let's go to Barnes and Noble and get the Cliffnotes."

Talking Heads: Using speaker tags and speaker beats helps us avoid having talking heads in our novels. Talking heads are characters that go back and forth with dialogue, leaving the reader wondering who is saying what. If you have more than a few lines of dialogue between two characters without a tag or beat, you have talking heads. If you have multiple lines of dialogue between more than two people, and your readers have no idea who's saying what, you have talking heads.

Dialect: When using dialect to notify your reader of a particular way of speaking, use it just enough in the first chapter that the reader catches on. Then revert to using normal dialogue for the rest of the novel. Otherwise, the dialect will slow down the reader.

Casualties: Don't use the casualties. When your character answers the phone, we don't have to hear them say hello. They don't need to ask how the other person is doing. They don't need to say goodbye. Get right into the conversation. In other words, get to the point.

Dialogue Do's and Don'ts {Click to Tweet}

What's the difference between a speaker beat and a tag? Dialogue tips via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}