Jen’s Editing Tips – Beta Reader Etiquette 101

Most of us know how important beta readers are. They’re the ones who catch major flaws, cliches, loopholes, and other problems in our work before the rest of the world sees it. That’s why it’s so important we treat them with the respect and courtesy they deserve.

Jen's Editing Tips

Respecting beta readers seems like an obvious thing, right? Well, not to everyone. Unfortunately. Although most don’t mean to do it (and most don’t even know they’re doing it), many writers offend, snub, and/or annoy their beta readers.

To help you maintain solid working relationships with your beta readers, here are some basic etiquette tips to consider:

Say Thank You

Duh, right? Well, believe it or not, there are writers who forget to thank their beta readers. They’ll email them a story, wait and wait, and then dig into the feedback the second it returns. And they’ll completely forget to say, “Thank you!”

This. Is. Not. Acceptable.

No matter what a beta tells you about your story, you need to thank them for taking the time to read and evaluate it. Because they took the time to read and evaluate it. They didn’t have to, but they did.

A great way to prevent this major faux pas is to thank a beta before you read their feedback. That way, you won’t get distracted and forget.

Tactfully Reject

Asking someone to be a beta reader is sort of like asking them out on a date. You won’t know until you sit down and review their feedback if there’s chemistry between you.

Sometimes there is. Sometimes there isn’t.

If there isn’t, that’s okay. Thank them for taking the time to read your story and then–quietly–set their feedback aside. You don’t need to use it. You also don’t need to ask that person to read your work again. In fact, unless a beta asks to stay involved (usually a friend or family member), it’s rude to request additional input from them.

Which leads to the next tip…

Don’t Waste a Beta Reader’s Time

Rejecting a beta reader’s feedback is perfectly okay.

Rejecting a beta reader’s feedback and then sending them another draft to review is not.

Beta readers have busy lives just like the rest of us. Jobs, families, chores, projects, etc. Why would you ask them to read multiple drafts of the same story if you’re not going to heed their advice? It’s a waste of their time and, let’s face it, inconsiderate.

So, before you send someone a draft, ask yourself, “Will I use this person’s feedback?” If the answer is “no” (or even a shaky “maybe”), then be kind and leave them alone.

Keep Track of Betas

Some writers like to only use one beta reader. Some writers like to use many. It all depends on your personal preference and goals.

For those of you who like to use multiple beta readers, it can be hard to keep track of each one. Lines get crossed. Emails get lost. Names get mixed up.

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet (or some kind of list) to remind yourself who’s who and what’s what (story sent, feedback received, thank you sent, etc.) If you do that, then you’ll have a much better chance of keeping everything straight. And you’ll have a far less chance of offending someone.

Don’t Badger

“Can you read my eleventh draft?”

“Do you think I should change my character’s hair color from red to blond?”

“Should his name be Bob or Bobby?”

“Would this sentence sound better if I wrote it like this?”

“What about this sentence?”

“And this one?”

Poke, poke, poke! If you badger your beta readers with too many questions or requests, they’re going to get annoyed. Really annoyed. So annoyed, they might stop helping you. Let’s remember, beta readers have lives, too. And, if they’re writers, then they probably have their own projects to agonize over. So, be careful. Don’t drown them in questions and countless drafts. Be wise and pick your “battles.”

Bottom line: Whether it’s another writer, a friend, or a family member, you need to treat your beta readers with the respect and courtesy they deserve. After all, most of them are helping you out of the goodness of their hearts.

So, what about you? What are some of your beta reader etiquette tips?

Don’t forget, my editing website is up and running! If you’re looking for someone to help with your story, check out Jen’s Edits and Critiques.

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Jen’s Editing Tips – Cut the S–Hit Delete

A couple of weeks ago, I received feedback for my first round entry in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge (NYCM). 

Jen's Editing TipsWhile my critique from the judges focused on a couple of minor plot hiccups, many of the other competitors received this comment:

“The best advice I can give you is to always strive to keep your writing as tight as you can get it. Cut out as many unnecessary words as you can and when you think you can’t cut any more, start over. Always try to paint a picture with your words.”

This comment spurred a conversation on the competition’s forum. Many writers, including myself, discussed strategies for eliminating the fluff from our work to make it as tight and vivid as possible.

It-is-my-ambition-to-say-in-ten-sentences-what-othToday, I’d like to share some of those strategies with you. It’s important to know how to cut the s–hit the delete button and remove unnecessary words from your work. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing flash fiction or a novel. Tight, concise sentences will make your story stronger.

So, here we go! Here are my top five tips for cutting the fat from your work!

1. Stop Telling, Start Showing

Was. Should. Could. Felt. Heard. Saw. Thought. Noticed…

Cut, cut, cut!

Not only do these telling words eat up space, but they keep your audience at arm’s length. Instead of inviting readers into your story and experiencing it firsthand, you make them stand back and observe it from afar.

Let’s take a look at an example from “La Jolla,” my first round entry in this year’s NYCM Flash Fiction Challenge.

Telling:

The rumbling was growing louder, and the vibrations became harder. Cole heard a chilling screech tear through the train. It was followed by a metallic groan and cracking glass. The train was speeding over a bridge when it lurched sideways. Cole went staggering into an old man. He felt him grab his arm in a hand that was trembling and shivering uncontrollably. “We’re gonna die!”

Total words: 65

Showing: 

The rumbling grew louder, the vibrations harder. A chilling screech tore through the train, followed by a metallic groan and cracking glass. The train sped over a bridge and lurched sideways. Cole staggered into an old man. He grabbed Cole’s arm. “We’re gonna die!”

Total Words: 44

By removing the telling language, I chopped over 20 words and I thrust my readers into the story. They went from being an observer to a participant.

2. Go on a Which Hunt (“Which” and “That”)

My business communications professor at CSU loved to mark my papers in red pen. She crossed out half of my words, circled the other half, and alway–always–scrawled this note at the bottom: “Go on a which hunt, Jenna!”

At the time, I despised my professor’s red pen and “which hunt” comment. Now, I’m thankful for it. To this day, I can’t use “which” or “that” without asking myself, “Is this absolutely necessary?” Most of the time, it’s not. “Which” and “that” tend to be empty, fluff words. Worse, they often lead us to over-explain things.

Let me show you what I mean with another example from “La Jolla”:

With “Which” and “That”:

Finn strained to reach Cole, which was near impossible. Their fingers brushed once, twice—Finn lunged and grabbed his wrist, which was trembling from fear and panic. As he yanked Cole down, the train plunged into water that was the color of steel. The impact tore Cole out of Finn’s grip, which was so tight, his knuckles were white, and catapulted him into the rear window face first. Cole stared through spider-webbed cracks that spread across the glass, down into a deep, black chasm that never seemed to end.

Total Words: 89

Without:

Finn strained to reach Cole. Their fingers brushed once, twice—Finn lunged and grabbed his wrist. As he yanked Cole down, the train plunged into the water. The impact tore Cole out of Finn’s white-knuckled grip and catapulted him into the rear window face first. Cole stared through the spider-webbed cracks spreading across the glass, down into a deep, black chasm

Total Words: 61

See the difference? By cutting out “which” and “that”, I eliminated almost 30 words. Plus, I removed extra details the reader didn’t need to know. They could imagine the scene without them.

3. Skip Dialogue Tags

This is my policy about dialogue tags: If you don’t need it, don’t use it.

Nothing against tags, but they’re often unnecessary. If a reader knows who’s speaking, then why clarify it? And if you can insert an action (smile, glare, hair flip, run, jump, etc.) instead of a “said” or “asked,” then why don’t you? It’ll paint your scene brighter and bring your characters to life better.

Let’s use an example from my short story, “The Ark,” to illustrate what I mean.

With tags:

Her mom squeezed a dollop of sanitizer onto her palm and asked, “How’s Cal? You two still dating?”

“Don’t,” Becca snapped.  

“What?” her mom asked. 

Becca glowered at her and said, “Don’t act like everything’s fine.”

“I’m not,” her mom exclaimed. 

“Because things will never be fine again,” she hissed. 

“I know. But, please, honey,” her mom said, raising imploring hands, “let’s move on…”

Total Words: 64

Without tags:

Her mom squeezed a dollop of sanitizer onto her palm. “How’s Cal? You two still dating?”

“Don’t.” 

“What?”

Becca glowered at her. “Don’t act like everything’s fine.”

“I’m not.”

“Because things will never be fine again.”

“I know. But, please, honey. Let’s move on…”

Total Words: 44

Of course it’s okay to use dialogue tags. But, before you do, ask yourself if you really need them. Or, better yet, see if you can replace them with an action. You’ll save yourself words and make your story more evocative.

4. Beta Readers

Two weeks ago, I wrote my second round story for the NYCM Flash Fiction Challenge. Besides being a total emotional drain, “Kleine Mäuse” was a mental drain too. I had to chop over 700 words from my first draft to meet the competition’s strict 1K limit. For hours, I narrowed the plot, condensed my sentences, and deleted any and all fluff.

I succeeded in eliminating 500 words…But I had 200 more to go, and I didn’t know where to cut.

So, blurry eyed and mentally zapped, I turned to my beta readers. I emailed them my story and begged them to help me find those final 200 words without hurting the plot or characters. Gradually, their suggestions trickled in: “Delete this.” “Reword this.” “Do you need this?”

My story drained from 1,200 words to 1,160… 1,120… 1,070… 1,035… 1,012…994. Victory! With the help of my betas, I got my story under the 1K requirement. I also made it stronger by removing redundancies, weak sentences, and other things that dulled my story’s edge.

So, even if you’re not in a contest with a strict word count limit, I strongly suggest you rely on beta readers to help you chop unnecessary words. I assure you, you might think your work is as tight as it can get, but it’s not. Let someone with a fresh pair of eyes and a clear head help you see what you cannot.

5. Read Out Loud

Personally, my favorite editing trick is to read my work out loud. Not just once, but multiple times. And not just to myself, but to someone else. Or, better yet, to have someone else read it to me.

It’s amazing how many flaws you catch when you hear your work read out loud. Repetitive words, clunky sentences, stilted transitions, useless dialogue tags…The list goes on and on. So, if none of my other tips have helped you, then heed this one. It will do wonders for your stories!

It-is-my-ambition-to-say-in-ten-sentences-what-othHopefully you’ll be able to use one or all of these strategies to cut the you-know-what from your work and take it to the next level.

Don’t forget, my editing website is up and running. If you’re looking for someone to help with your story, check out Jen’s Edits and Critiques.

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Jen’s Editing Tips: Kiss Your As’s Goodbye

For today’s editing tip, I thought I’d focus on a simple word that can ruin a story.

Jen's Editing TipsIt’s a word that might not be as fancy and obvious as some, but as you begin to use it more and more, it’s hard to ignore.

I hope as I carry on you catch it. I promise, it’s right in front of your eyes as you read this. It’s as clear as a summer day. As clear as a sparkling window. As clear as (insert cheesy simile here).

Have you caught it yet? No? Well, as you keep reading, I’m sure you will.

It’s a word many writers like to use as a way to connect and transition their sentences. Even I love it as I sit down to work. It’s as addictive as Peanut M&M’s!

But, as you might’ve noticed by this point, this word becomes a problem the more you use it. It’s redundant, wordy, and as annoying as rush hour traffic. In fact, as I continue to insert it as many times as possible, I feel like banging my head against a wall as hard as I can.

And, as you finish reading this, I bet you’re thinking, “Okay, I get it. Stop before I bang my own head against a wall as hard as I can!”

Okay, okay. I’ll stop before we all start banging our heads against a wall. But, hopefully, you picked up on what I’ll be discussing today: The word “as.”

It’s time to kiss it goodbye.

maxresdefaultIt’s amazing how innocent and sweet this two-letter word seems. But, I assure you it’s not. Writers need to be wary of overusing it in their work for a few reasons:

Repetitive

“As” is just like every other word out there. The more you use it, the more noticeable it becomes. And the more noticeable it becomes, the more distracted readers get. And the more distracted readers get, the less focus they have. And the less focus they have, the more likely they’ll put your story aside and find another.

Ahhh!

Repetitive words can ruin a story. And sweet and innocent ones like “as” are the worst because they sneak in the back door and slowly kill a story by grinding on readers’ nerves. But, don’t worry. There’s a trick you can use to find and eliminate “as.” Simply replace it with another word, preferably a ridiculous one that STANDS out. Like, “hiccup.”

But, hiccup you might’ve noticed by this point, this word becomes a detriment over time. It’s redundant, wordy, and hiccup annoying hiccup rush hour traffic. In fact, hiccup I continue to insert it hiccup many times hiccup possible, I feel like banging my head against a wall hiccup hard hiccup I can.

And, hiccup you finish reading this, I bet you’re thinking, “Okay, I get it. Stop before I bang my own head against a wall hiccup hard hiccup I can!”

Lazy

Way back when, a fellow writer told me, “Stop being lazy! Get rid of the ‘as’ crutch and find a stronger way to word your sentences.”

At first, I didn’t understand what they meant. How was using “as” considered lazy? Well, after working hard to rephrase my sentences to eliminate each one, I saw what they meant. “As” is such an easy strategy to transition our sentences and/or show simultaneous actions. But easy isn’t always better.

With “as”: 

He slammed his hands over his ears as he dug his nails into his tangled hair and screamed and screamed. As he did, the entire canyon shied away from him. Pebbles skittered down the steep walls as birds scattered into the air and gusts came to a halt. Even Caroline took a step back as Gary continued with his unhinged outburst. 

Without “as”: 

He slammed his hands over his ears, dug his nails into his tangled hair, and screamed. Screamed and screamed and screamed. The entire canyon shied away from him. Pebbles skittered down the steep walls, birds scattered into the air, and gusts came to a halt. Even Caroline took a step back, unnerved by Gary’s unhinged outburst.

Wordy

Maybe you’ve noticed by this point, but every time I use “as,” my sentences get longer, clunkier, and more confusing. That’s because they draw out sentences and add unnecessary fluff.

Chop out the fluff!

If you do, your words will land a mightier punch.

With “as”:

A twig snapped behind them. Charlie spun around and, as he aimed the flashlight at another clump of trees, the branches rustled and unease crept up his spine. As he did, he wondered if his dragon had returned? Or if this was another monster? A real one?

“I wanna go back!” Annie squeaked as she yanked on his arm. “Please, Charlie? Please?” 

“Okay!” He gripped his sword as he slowly backed away from the trembling pine needles.

Without “as”: 

A twig snapped behind them. Charlie spun around and aimed the flashlight at another clump of trees. The branches rustled. Unease crept up his spine. Had his dragon returned? Or was this another monster? A real one?

“I wanna go back!” Annie squeaked. “Please, Charlie? Please?” She yanked on his arm.

“Okay!” He gripped his sword and slowly backed away from the trembling pine needles.

Now, should you kiss all of your “as”s goodbye?

No, of course not. Just like every word, “as” has its place. In fact, it could be the perfect one to use to maintain your story’s rhythm and flow. However, you need to be aware of how often you use it. Because, as you might see from this sentence as you read it, the word “as” can become as off putting as an alarm clock on a Monday morning. As irritating as a younger sibling. As distracting as…

Okay, I’ll stop. 😉

I hope this week’s editing tip will help you write stronger, clearer stories!

Don’t forget, my new editing website is up and running. If you’re looking for someone to help with your story, check out Jen’s Edits and Critiques.

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Jen’s Editing Tips: The Power of White Space

Since I’m now a freelance editor, I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog: Jen’s Editing Tips. This will give me a chance to share some of the common mistakes and missteps I come across in the work I edit, and hopefully help you avoid them.

Jen's Editing TipsTo kick things off, I’m going to discuss one of my biggest editing pet peeves: White space.

Or rather, the lack of it.

white-space-journal-3As you probably assumed, white space refers to the empty areas on a page. You know, the lovely gaps between paragraphs. The simple, yet powerful tool writers use to present their stories to audiences.

Before I get into the exact reasons why white space is so important, let me show you an example. Below is my 150-word flash fiction piece, Crumb Layer.

Without white space:

When I was little, my mom would let me help her frost cakes. “Remember, Annie,” she’d say, “the first layer is the crumb layer. You frost, wait, frost again, and—voila! See?” She’d point at a finished cake. No crumbs, no blemishes. The decorating method worked beautifully. It still does. I hum to myself as I spread a second layer of white goo over the crumbly surface. I dip, swirl, smear, and wipe my metal spatula down and up, left to right. Over and over. I work carefully, but quickly. I have to. Even with the heater on, the house is cold, and the cold makes things set faster. I give one final swipe and stand back to study my handiwork. I smile. The plastered wall looks great. With a layer of paint, it’ll look perfect. Nobody will ever suspect I hid a dead body behind it.

With white space: 

When I was little, my mom would let me help her frost cakes. “Remember, Annie,” she’d say, “the first layer is the crumb layer. You frost, wait, frost again, and—voila! See?” She’d point at a finished cake. No crumbs, no blemishes. The decorating method worked beautifully.

It still does.

I hum to myself as I spread a second layer of white goo over the crumbly surface. I dip, swirl, smear, and wipe my metal spatula down and up, left to right. Over and over. I work carefully, but quickly. I have to. Even with the heater on, the house is cold, and the cold makes things set faster.

I give one final swipe and stand back to study my handiwork. I smile.

The plastered wall looks great. With a layer of paint, it’ll look perfect.

Nobody will ever suspect I hid a dead body behind it.

See the difference? With just a few taps of the return key, I was able to strengthen my story without changing a single word of it. It read faster, cleaner, and easier. It also had more tension and landed a bigger punch at the very end.

So, now that you’ve seen what I’m talking about, let me list some specific benefits of using white space:

Reader-friendly

The majority of readers love to see white space on a page. It immediately welcomes them into a story, encourages them to keep reading, and tricks them into thinking they’re reading less (even though they’re not). To most readers, white space says, “Hey, I’m your buddy. I’m not gonna overwhelm you with long, dense paragraphs that make you want to quit before you’ve even begun.”

Trust me, your readers will be more enthusiastic and less intimidated if you insert white space into your work.

Pacing

White space is one of the best and easiest ways to control the pacing of your story. To speed things up, use more of it. To slow things down, use less of it. Simple, right?

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should use tons and tons of white space.

Just because you use more doesn’t mean people will zip through your story.

In fact, too much white space can be as detrimental as not enough.

Why?

Because, as you might see here, white space can become distracting.

Too much of it, and your story loses its cohesion and fluidity.

It also takes on a jagged feel.

And readers might get lost.

Or irritated.

Or both.

So don’t overdo it!

…Don’t.

Rhythm

Think about how a song would sound if it stayed in the same key from start to finish:

Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum.Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. 

Not exactly thrilling, is it? Let’s mix things up by adding some variety.

Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum.

Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum.Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum.

Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum. Bum-bum-bum.

Bum-bum-bum. 

See? Even without changing the monotonous “lyrics,” the rhythm changed because I added white space. That’s how you should approach a story. You should remember it isn’t just words on paper. It’s a song and your audience listens closely. If they’re not grooving to the beat, then there’s a chance they’ll switch to another station (er, book).

Emphasis

One of my favorite things about white space is it ensures readers know something significant happened. Like, a new character was introduced or a plot twist was revealed. It also helps magnetize key moments in a scene. It ups the level of drama, hilarity, or, as seen in the example below, terror.

The smell of rot stung her nose, making her eyes water. Howls and groans she couldn’t comprehend echoed around her. They seemed to be coming from every direction.

Pete shoved Andy into Kate’s arms. “Run, dammit!”

She hugged Andy to her and bolted. The sky shrieked with inhuman sounds, and the ground trembled so violently, she feared she’d tumble.

The sky went white.

Blinding, icy, horrifying white.

If I hadn’t isolated those last two lines in my story “Inevitable,” they would’ve been diluted and lost amongst the other horrific events in the story. And they wouldn’t have amped up the tension and propelled readers to the very end.

Limits Confusion

In addition to emphasizing vital plot points and powerful moments in a story, white space helps cut down on confusion.

Think about it:

If you clump everything together–characters, plot twists, scene changes, time leaps–it’s likely your readers will miss something important. And once that happens, they’ll inevitably get confused. And confused readers tend to become bored readers. And bored readers will likely set your story aside to read one that doesn’t have them scratching their head.

Bottom line, no matter what your personal style is, white space is a key element in storytelling. Whether you enjoy using a lot or a little of it, it must be used to some capacity to ensure your story is presented in the clearest, most satisfying way to readers.

So, what do you think about this simple, yet strategic editing tool? Is it something you think about while writing? Or is it something you haven’t considered? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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6 Keys to Revising Your Fiction

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Yes, I’m fully aware it’s been a few months since the last one. Sorry! Just blame my manuscript and crazy life. 😉

Anyway, to kick off 2015’s Twitter Treasure Thursday features, I found an article from one of my favorite resources: Writer’s Digest. While skimming their Twitter feed, I came upon an article all about revising. Since I’m about to jump into the fourth revision of my manuscript, I decided to check it out.

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-revise-all-the-revisions-b120e9As expected, the article offered up some great tips courtesy of playwright and author, Monica Trasandes. I actually chuckled at one point because Trasandes uses the same trick I do when chopping out beloved sentences and paragraphs….When you read it, you’ll get it. And I strongly encourage you to read it since Transandes provides such excellent advice!

6 Keys to Revising Your Fiction

4) Be tough, others certainly will be

Assume every editor or producer you ever meet, within five minutes of shaking your hand will be thinking of ways to say no to you. Why? Saying yes will require that they convince others of the work’s merits—editors if it’s prose or financiers if it’s a play or a film. That will mean a lot of work on their part—probably unpaid.

Assume every editor is looking for a reason to say no. Don’t give it to them.

A teacher of mine, at Emerson, Pam Painter, would write DB on manuscripts, which stood for “do better.” She was saying, ‘this really isn’t the best you can do, is it?’ You have to be willing to ask that of every sentence you write.

To read the entire article, click here!

For more useful advice, follow Writer’s Digest and Monica Trasandes on Twitter!

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Friday Funny with Brrrr, Reading, and a Writing Workshop

Brrrrr! Denver is freezing this week, everyone. Like, crank up the heaters, open the bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and constantly run the faucets–freezing.

For those of you who don’t know, Colorado’s weather tends to go like this:

Mother Nature:

Five minutes later…

No joke! The weather here is a tumultuous roller coaster. Sunny one minute, a blizzard the next. Within 24-hours, the temperatures can plummet 60+ degrees. That’s what happened this week. Last Sunday, it was a sunny and beautiful 75 degrees. By Monday evening, it was a snowy and freezing 15–and dropping. By midweek, Denver had nosedived below zero, with a windchill of negative 35 degrees.

NEGATIVE 35!

Ugh.

I actually took Wednesday off of work because of the frigid temperatures and icy roads. The only problem was my car. If it sits too long in the cold without moving, the battery dies. So, I was forced to leave the warmth of my house multiple times to warm up the engine…and I’m positive every time I did this, my neighbors snickered, frowned, and laughed at what I was wearing:

Honestly, I looked like a walking, talking, shivering marshmallow as I executed Operation Save Car Battery on Wednesday. The repeated process went something like this: Step outside. Waddle, waddle, waddle. Unlock car. Fall inside. Flip ignition. Sit, wait, freeze. Turn off engine. Heave self out of car. Slip. Gain balance. Lock car. Waddle, waddle, waddle back into house.

Oh, I love this time of the year. 😉

Anyway, besides freezing my booty off and looking like a puffed up moron, I spent the week rereading the second draft of my manuscript and making edit notes for a third draft. Upon finishing it, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the first half of the story. The second half…

Well, I won’t say it’s bad, but it definitely needs a lot of work. My characters lost their edge, the dialogue wasn’t as snappy, the plot got foggy, the actual writing sloppy…Ugh. I think part of the problem is I began working faster and less diligently as I moved along. I wasn’t perfecting my later chapters like I did my earlier ones.

The good news is there is a story there, and I know what needs to be done to get it where I want it to go. So now I just need to roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and dig into a third draft.

I probably won’t be starting my third draft for a couple of days since I’m attending my first writing workshop tomorrow: the 2014 Colorado Writing Workshop with presenter and instructor Chuck SambuchinoEeks! I’m really nervous, but also really excited about this event. Not only am I going to get the chance to learn a ton about the publishing world, but I’ll be able to meet a ton of other writers from the Denver region.

I’ll be sure to fill you in about my experience at the workshop next week!

 Okay, enough chitchat. Here are some Friday Funnies to brighten your day. Sort of random this week, but I laughed so maybe you will too? Enjoy!

8db5ec3e22e8839ce5ac9c3929116f3e 80a75624d4450211905882e66c05ccc7How was your week? How’s NaNoWriMo going for those of you participating?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Defying Gravity – Kerry Ellis

Make Your Opening Pop!

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Photo credits: 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/things-people-who-are-always-cold-understand

http://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/disney-characters-who-really-need-to-see-a-psychiatrist

http://thegoggindiaries.com/2014/01/06/i-hate-winter/ 

https://www.tumblr.com/search/waddle%20of%20penguins

http://bluesdanceworld.com/2014/01/02/jane-russell-and-marilyn-monroe-in-gentlemen-prefer-blondes/

https://www.tumblr.com/search/Deep+Breath+reaction 

http://www.pinterest.com/WStoryBoards/writing-humor/

Friday Funny with Writing and a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

It’s Fridayyyyyyyy!

So, is it just me, or did every day this week feel like Friday? Seriously, each morning my alarm clock went off, I thought, “Yippee! It’s Friday–No, wait. It’s not. Not even close. Beepity-beep!”

I was very happy when I woke up this morning and realized it was Friday–for real. Woo-hoo!

Anyway, it was a busy week for me, but a productive one. I’m proud of myself for not getting too caught up in the mad dash of life and focusing hard on my manuscript. Since last weekend, I’ve knocked out four new chapters, each one approved by my beta reader.

If I keep up this pace, I might finish my second draft by November 1st. Which means I’ll have two months to edit a third draft. Which means I just might have a presentable draft done by my deadline of January 1st.

*fingers crossed*

Besides writing my booty off this week, I had some fun too. I celebrated my dad and sister’s birthdays (back-to-back days), and then put together my costume for my family’s Disney-themed Halloween party this weekend. I had wanted to go as Ursula from The Little Mermaid (you know, do my hair all crazy like octopus tentacles), but my nephews demanded I go as Elsa from Frozen.

Okay, my costume won’t be nearly as glamorous as Elsa’s, but people will get the general gist–er, hopefully.

I also spent some time this week shooting photos and video clips for my friend’s latest film for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. These films are silly, but I love contributing to them. They’re a great way to bring the NYC Midnight writing community together, build friendships, and have fun. Oh, and laugh at myself.

A lot.

JennaDisney1Like the last round, I needed to use the story I wrote for round 2 as my inspiration. Since Operation Disney revolved around the recent debacles of the Secret Service Agency and Julia Pierson’s absurd Disney quote (“We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting…”), I decided to dress up like Mickie Mouse and wave around a toy gun while singing/dancing to “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”.

Here are just a couple of the clips I took:

(And, yes, feel free to laugh/shake your head/mock me. I don’t care–ha!)

I know I look ridiculous, but I actually had a blast while filming. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to let go, act like an idiot, and laugh at yourself, you know? And I laughed at myself a lot. There were many blooper moments, one of which included me accidentally hitting the trigger on the toy gun and dropping it in surprise when it made that motor-like sound. I wasn’t ready for it!

Anyway, here is today’s Friday Funny. I thought it was fitting after taking those pictures and video clips for my political satire piece. The day I wrote Operation Disney, I did quite a bit of research and Googled a variety of things, including Secret Service Agency, Air Force One, Obama, attack, guns, Russia…By the end of the day, I said, “Well, that probably put me on the NSA’s watch list.” 😉

Enjoy!

10671284_10152514271928432_1697126134585438931_nHow was your week? Busy? Calm? Do anything goofy and silly? I know many of you are preparing for NaNoWriMo. How’s it going? Are you ready for it?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Explosions – Ellie Goulding

You Know You’re a Writer When…Awkward Introductions

Yes, Agents Google Writers

Photo credits: 

http://giphy.com/gifs/DImeco37S0Fl6

http://ynaija.com/teen/these-are-the-problems-of-todays-social-media-girl-her-facial-expressions-are-just-too-funny-look/

https://www.tumblr.com/search/self+five

http://tatara94.deviantart.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ericjodomfb/photos/pb.195590938431.-2207520000.1414167501./10152514271928432/?type=3&theater