Jen’s Editing Tips – Slow…Down

Most of us have big dreams of walking into a bookstore and seeing our beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful novel on a shelf. Or, better yet, seeing a complete stranger reading it in public…But, there’s something about this big dream we all need to understand.

Jen's Editing TipsIt.

Takes.

Forrrrrrever.

To.

Achieve.

Yes, I know most of you understand this. In fact, I’m sure many of you have experienced it. Writing a novel takes months, if not years. And getting it published can take even longer.

However, with the rise of self-publishing, as well as society’s increasing need for instant gratification, I fear some writers are losing patience with the process. Or, perhaps, some writers simply don’t understand it. That’s why today I’d like to share a simple, yet vital tip with you:

Slow.

Down!

I know that hurts to hear, but if you want to produce a strong, entertaining, and thoroughly developed story, then you need to stop rushing to the finish line. You need to sloooow down and remind yourself quality isn’t free. It costs time.

A.

Lot.

Of.

Time.

The more you rush through the process, the more issues you’ll face: Shallow plots. Flat characters. Contradictions. Cliches. Stiff dialogue. Redundancies…The list goes on and on. I’ve seen these issues in projects I’ve edited, and I’ve seen them in published books I’ve read. When a writer sprints through the process, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

So, to help you from making this major faux pas, I’d like to offer a general approach to writing a novel. Is this the only approach out there? No, of course not. But it’s definitely a tried and true method that ensures a story receives the proper amount of attention it deserves before it gets sent out into the world.

Step 1: Write First Draft 

This is my personal take on first drafts: They are 100% private and nobody should read them except you. Think of it like this: You’re the lone survivor of the apocalypse and you’re really bored, so you decide to strip down to your birthday suit and go dancing in the streets. Hey, why not? Nobody’s around to see or judge you.

If you approach your first draft with this mentality, I promise you won’t feel like there’s an invisible audience watching and judging you. You can charge into the unknown and write fearlessly.

Step 2: Take a Break…Or Not

Some writers will say you have to take a break after you finish your first draft. I say it’s up to you. If you’re burned out and exhausted, then yes, give yourself a much deserved hiatus from your story. A week, two weeks, a month…Then get back to work.

However, if you’re in a groove and can’t fathom stopping, then don’t. Take advantage of your creative high and leap into your second draft.

Step 3: The Real Work Begins

Draft one can be tough, but it’s nothing compared to what happens next:

Draft two.

I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s time to stop dancing and put your clothes back on. An unexpected group of survivors have arrived at the end of the street and they’re glancing your way. No, they’re not ready to walk over and introduce themselves yet, but they’re thinking about it.

So, you better boogie on home, roll up your sleeves, and start shaping your first draft into something presentable for other people’s eyes.

Step 4: Take a Break!

Perhaps you didn’t feel the need to take a break after you finished your first draft, but now you need to. You can’t  approach your third draft until you’ve put some distance between yourself and your beloved story.

If you’re really wild and crazy, you might consider sending your second draft to your first reader(s). I like to send mine to my mom. She’s trustworthy, honest, and objective. She’s also aware this is an early draft and I’m only looking for big picture-type feedback.

Or, if you’re doubting your story at this stage, you might consider sending the first chapter to an editor to critique. They can give you a knee-jerk reaction to your plot and characters, and help you decide if it’s worth pursuing. Many editors, including myself, offer such a service for a very affordable price (usually in the $25 range).

Of course, if you’re not ready for anyone to read your manuscript yet, that’s totally fine. Tuck it away and ignore it for a couple of weeks.

Step 5: Question Time

As you begin working on your third draft, ask yourself tough questions like:

“Has this story been told before?”

“Am I starting the story too early? Too late?”

“Are my characters interesting and likable? Or are they yawn-worthy, annoying caricatures audiences will reject after a couple of chapters?”

“Do I have too much backstory, especially in the early chapters? Am I prone to info dumps?”

By this stage, you better be showered and dressed, and your house better be clean, because the other survivors of the apocalypse have arrived at your front door. And they’re prepared to bombard you with questions. So, be as objective as possible. Hunt for all the flaws, loopholes, and cliches in your manuscript. Show no mercy!

Step 6: Beta Readers

By now, you’ve worked through at least three drafts and you’ve hunted down the majority of your story’s problems. Now it’s time to hand it over to your beta readers.

Yes, you need beta readers. Sure, you may include friends and family members (I always send mine to at least a few), but you must include other writers, book nerds, or, if need be, editors. Send it to people who have the ability to be objective, honest, and helpful.

While your betas are reading your manuscript, take another break. Do not keep writing. Clear your head so when feedback starts rolling in, you’re able to absorb it without getting defensive or upset. Because, yes, your betas will find problems. And, yes, it will hurt. And, yes, you’ll survive (you made it through the apocalypse, remember?).

Step 7: Critique the Critiques

Once all of your betas have returned their feedback, it’s time to evaluate it and find out what the general consensus is.

If it’s positive, great! Do a happy dance (ahem, fully clothed), and then sit down and critique your betas’ notes. Take the time to absorb each one and determine which are useful and which are dismissive…Yes, you heard me. You don’t need to use all of the feedback you receive. Please, don’t use all of it. If you do, you’ll have an odd smorgasbord of opinions that’ll hinder your story, rather than help it.

If the overall feedback from your betas is on the negative side, then it’s time to make some tough decisions. I’ve been here, so trust me when I say, you’ll be okay. It’s better to find out now if your story isn’t working than hear it six months down the road from agents or others in the business. If you find yourself in this position, you need to consider:

  1. Doing a complete overhaul of the manuscript. This basically means ripping it up and going back to step one…I’ve personally done this more times than I can count.
  2. Shelving it and working on a new project. As unthinkable as this might seem, it can be the best decision to make. Setting aside a story gives you the space, time, and clarity you need to re-approach it in the future.
  3. Hiring an editor. If you’re not ready to start over or shelve your manuscript, then you might want to hire an editor…But, fair warning, development/content editors are a hefty investment.

Step 8: Revise and Refine

Now that your betas have given you the thumbs up, it’s time to sit down and revise–again. Take all the feedback you’ve received to seal your plot holes, adjust your sentence structures, deepen your characters, etc. Fix any and all problems and strive to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Once you’ve finished, you might want to send it back to your beta readers (either the same group as before or new ones). Find out if your updated version fixed things. If it didn’t, revise–again.

Step 9: Time to be Ruthless

This is when you look out your front window and see hundreds of survivors lining up and down the same road you once danced naked in. They’ve come to meet you…and judge you.

So, guess what? You better take the time to judge every sentence, every paragraph, and every aspect of your book before they do. Stop thinking of it as your precious baby and start thinking of it as a polished product. Be brutal. Be unapologetic. Cut what needs to be cut. Tighten what needs to be tightened. Analyze every character, every piece of dialogue, every chapter break, every twist and turn…EVERYTHING!

If you feel like you need to, hire a copy editor to help you polish things up (ex: sentence structures, grammar, word usage, pacing, etc.).

Once you’ve finished this draft, you should feel confident enough to open your front door and launch copies at those judgmental survivors intruding upon your turf.

Step 10: Release It 

Yep, you’ve made it! You’ve done everything you can to prepare your manuscript for the world. Whether that’s sending it to agents or getting it self-published, you should feel proud of yourself and proud of the story you’ve worked so hard on!

Now, I’m sure some of you went through those steps and thought, “No way. I’m not doing all of that.” That’s fine. Perhaps you have a different tried and true method? Like I said, mine isn’t the only one out there.

But, I know–I know–there are writers who are simply impatient and don’t want to bother with these time-consuming, yet vital steps. They want to jump from step one, to step four, to step ten in the blink of an eye.

You can’t expect to produce a quality story if you’re not taking the time to write it. It’s as simple as that.

At the very least, before you deem your manuscript worthy of being read by the entire world, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. “How many drafts have I written?”…If it’s less than three, STOP! You’re not ready.
  2. “Have my beta readers given their stamp of approval?”…If you don’t know what a beta reader is, STOP! You’re not ready. Or, if you replied, “My best friend read it and he/she loved it!”, STOP! You’re not ready.
  3. “Have I been as ruthless and objective with my final draft as possible?” If you shied away from that statement, STOP! You’re not ready.

Bottom line:

Slow.

Down!

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 – Delete “Ing”s, Chopping Them Out For Good

A few weeks ago, I discussed a simple word that can ruin a story if overused. Today, I’d like to discuss a similar topic.

Jen's Editing TipsJust like the word “as,” this thing can wreak havoc on your writing, heaping on unnecessary problems if overused. In the past, I made this mistake too, babbling on and on. But, with a lot of hard work, I broke the habit, shattering it with sharper, clearer sentences. Today, I hope to help you break the habit too by showing you how to refrain from tacking on extra thoughts at the end of your sentences, carrying on for no good reason.

Some of you have might’ve already caught on to what I’m doing here, formulating my sentences in a way to show you what I’m talking about. In fact, you’re probably rolling your eyes at me, shaking your head, and praying I stop soon. But, sorry, I can’t stop doing this, extending my sentences to prove a point. I must keep going until everyone picks up on the clues I’m dropping, placing them right before their eyes.

Speaking of eyes, my own are starting to hurt, burning from the horridness of this sample. And it is horrid, carrying on the way I am, stringing my words together, connecting them so you can see for yourself how overdoing this thing can damage a story, killing it slowly, but surely.

To be perfectly blunt, I don’t understand why writers overuse this method to transition their sentences, forcing audiences to keep reading instead of adding a period and starting a new sentence, giving them a break, making their lives easier, and remembering they’re only human and their eyeballs can only take so much before they well up and overflow, streaming with tears and silently wondering if this sentence will ever end, or if will it keep going and going, racing to infinity and skyrocketing to a level of ridiculousness that makes me want to cackle with glee at my ability to use this subtle, but destructive weapon to blast clarity and cohesion to smithereens and annoy the you-know-what out you amazing weirdos who are still somehow reading this gibberish, squeezing your fists and thinking, “If this girl doesn’t stop, I’m going to scream and throttle her, silencing her for good!”

Okay, okay. I might’ve overdone it on that last bit. But, hopefully, you were able to follow along and pick up on today’s topic.

maxresdefaultJust like the word “as,” “ing” transitions can hurt your story. The more you use them, the more problems occur: Redundancy. Wordiness. Confusion. Over-explaining. Telling, not showing…The list goes on and on.

For now, I’ll focus on the three main issues:

Never-Ending, Ending Never! 

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first, shall we? As you probably noticed in my example above, “ing” transitions tend to drag sentences on and on and on…and on. They extend sentences beyond the point of clarity and comfort, cause repetition, and have the potential to suck all of the drama and tension out of a scene.

One way to avoid this? Read your work out loud. Yes, you heard me. Out loud! If you run out of breath while reciting a sentence, then chances are you need to chop out an “ing”, or two…or three.

Let’s test the method with an example from my horror, “Why?:

With “ing”:

“Yeah, see!” Gracie cried, pointing triumphantly at the orange flare that once again sparked in the distance, shimmering brighter than the sun and lighting up the foggy skies to a glittering canvas of doom. It was followed this time by a deep, resonating boom that rippled through the water and up along the beach, quivering through the sand pebbles, startling a flock of seagulls, and silencing the crowds, chattering and laughing only a few seconds before. Everybody froze, including the squealing children playing with their shovels and buckets, as well as the aloof teenagers acting like they didn’t care about anything and listening to music. The children stopped playing and the teenagers yanked the buds out of their ears, focusing on the horizon with everyone else, watching as the light grew brighter and brighter, casting its eerie glow on the choppy waves and illuminating the gray skies, humming with the buzz of impending disaster. 

Without “ing”: 

“Yeah, see!” Gracie pointed triumphantly at the orange flare that once again sparked in the distance. This time, it was followed by a deep, resonating boom that rippled through the water and up along the beach. Everybody froze. Even the children stopped playing and the teenagers yanked the buds out of their ears. In unison, the crowd turned and stared out at the choppy waves and foggy skies.

As you can see, I was able to convey the same scene in half the amount of words simply by chopping out my “ing” transitions.

Unnecessary Information

Writer: “I’m not sure if the reader will completely get this sentence, so I’m going to add an ‘ing’ transition to give them extra details, saving them from possible confusion and helping them see the picture I’m trying to paint.”

Reader: “Okay, I get it! Sheesh, why doesn’t the writer trust me?”

Seriously, trust your readers. They’re smart. They don’t need to be told every single thing, and they definitely don’t need “ing” transitions to help them understand something already mentioned or implied.

Let me show you what I mean with another example from my horror, “Why?”

With ing:

The rumbling grew louder and louder, deafening Gracie’s ears, and the orange flares grew closer and closer, blinding her. Small, black shapes appeared through the fog, shocking and unexpected. At first, Gracie thought they were birds soaring over the water, flying towards her and everyone else. Then she realized they weren’t flying. They were falling, plummeting into the ocean with silent splashes and disappearing into the deep blue, vanishing from sight.

Why does the reader need to know the rumbling deafened Gracie’s ears? Or the orange flares blinded her? Or the sight of black shapes in the sky shocked her? Those reactions are implied. I don’t need to spell them out for the reader.

Without “ing”:

The rumbling grew louder and louder. The orange flares grew closer and closer. Small, black shapes appeared through the fog. At first, Gracie thought they were birds flying over the water. Then she realized they weren’t flying. They were falling into the ocean with silent splashes.

Every time you use an “ing” transition, ask yourself, “Why I am writing this?” If the answer is, “Because I don’t trust the reader.”, then hold back. Leave the extra information out and see if your beta readers, critique partners, and/or editor(s) miss it. Chances are, they won’t.

And if they do, big deal. It’s better to add information than subtract it.

Bueller?…Bueller?

Bueller?…Bueller?

Monotony?…Monotony?

I’ve said it once (or twice), and I’ll say it again (and again): A story is like a song, and readers listen to it closely. If they’re unable to groove to its beat, then they’ll probably find something else to jam to.

When you overuse “ing” transitions, you basically hit the repeat button and play the same song, over and over. And that means your story has a monotonous sound. Even if the length of your sentences change, or you insert plenty of white space, you won’t be able to escape the redundant rhythm you’ve created with your excessive “ing”‘s.

Let’s do one last example from “Why?”:

With “ing” 

“It’s a plane,” she whispered, trembling at the terrible realization. “Oh my god…Phil!” Her shrill scream echoed through the humid air, shattering the trance that had been cast upon the beach, jolting the crowd back to life. Everyone began moving, bolting for safety. Mothers grabbed their kids, screaming and crying. Surfers clutched their beloved boards, holding them over their heads and using them like shields. Lifeguards jumped from their lofty towers, blowing their whistles and waving for people to run for safety. Everyone fled, scurrying away from the destructive onslaught of debris hurling towards them.

Without “ing”

“It’s a plane. Oh my god…Phil!” Her shrill scream echoed through the humid air and shattered the trance that had been cast upon the beach. The crowd jolted back to life and ran for cover. Mothers grabbed their kids, surfers clutched their boards, and lifeguards jumped from their towers. Everybody fled from the destructive onslaught of debris hurling towards them.

The more “ing” transitions you have, the louder they become. And the louder they become, the more your readers will notice them. And the more readers notice them, the more redundant and monotonous your story sounds. So, find them and ask yourself, “Is this helping my story’s beat?” If not, delete it.

In fact, delete all “ing” transitions from your work if they aren’t necessary. And, yes, “ing” transitions can be necessary. Sometimes longer sentences are beautiful and wonderful. Sometimes additional details are needed for clarity’s sake. And sometimes a story’s rhythm demands it. But not every time.

So, hunt down your “ing” transitions and ask yourself, “Do I need this?”

If you don’t, chop it!

I hope you found this editing tip useful! 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: 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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1

Friday Funny with Editing, Exhaustion, and Hoopla

It’s Friday! Let’s shimmy, shake, and dance it up!

Why do I always make you dance with me on Fridays? Hmm, maybe I need to find a better way to celebrate the fact we’ve made it to the end of the week?…Or maybe not? I like dancing and this is my blog, so…

Yep, my decision’s made. We shall keep dancing on Fridays. Beware! 😉

A quick sum up of my week goes likes this:

I wrote.

A lot.

Okay, okay. I didn’t write as much as I needed to. Honestly, it was one of those weeks where life distracted me. It didn’t help things got off to a rocky start after spending last Saturday at the Colorado Writing Workshop hosted by Chuck Sambuchino. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my experience at the writing conference since I plan to dedicate another blog post to it. However, I will say it was great and I learned a lot!

It was also completely exhausting. The combination of nerves, focus, frantic note taking, and socializing did a number on me. I woke up on Sunday feeling like a zombie, and I carried that fatigue with me into the week. All I wanted to do was curl up on my couch, watch TV, and sleep.

Thankfully, I snapped out of my weary fog by Tuesday and got myself back on track…Well, mostly. You know, life. Stuff. Distractions.

Side note: I’ve discovered that whenever I create a deadline for myself, God decides to have a big laugh by throwing unexpected obstacles at me. It’s like He says, “Deadline, huh? Hmm, I wonder if I throw this, this, and this at you if you can still finish on time?…Yeah, that sounds like fun. Let’s see how you do–And go!”

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat my feelings or gorge upon ice cream all week…Just a lot of peanut M&M’s 😉

As far as my manuscript goes, I edited the first four chapters (hopefully five by the end of today). Yes, I know I need to pick up the pace if I want to make my January 1st deadline, but…Honestly, I’ve decided I’m not going to rush for the sake of making that deadline. I want things done right, and I want them done well. So, if that means I end up being a week or two late, then so be it.

I believe one of the main reasons I’m working a little slower is because after attending that writing conference on Saturday, I’ve become extra sensitive to certain aspects of storytelling. I find myself tweaking and revising things I hadn’t expected to tweak or revise, and I suddenly see issues I hadn’t seen before.

Oh, the joys of editing 😉

Anyway, that’s it for today. As I mentioned, I do plan on sharing specific details about my experience at the Colorado Writing Workshop later. I learned a lot from the great Chuck Sambuchino and I hope to tell you about some of them. So stay tuned for that!

In honor of my up and down week, filled with edits, exhaustion, and personal hoopla, here are today’s Friday Funnies. Enjoy!

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10256795_890169144327045_3018233349446529036_nHow was your week? I’ve spoken to a few of you in private about your progress with NaNoWriMo, and I’m amazed how many have hit the 50K goal/will hit it by the end of the weekend. You’re crazy! And total rockstars!

But, really, whether you’ve hit the 50K goal, are on track to reach it, or are so far behind, you know it’s impossible to make the November 30th deadline, don’t stop! Keep writing. That’s the point of NaNo. Write, write, write!

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

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

Music Monday – Ghost – Ella Henderson

Why You Should Enter the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2015

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http://www.lipstickalley.com/showthread.php?t=439281&page=2

http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/86751220.html?page=2 

http://slitsread.com/2014/05/ 

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Friday Funny with Goals, NaNoEdMo, and Spiders

When I got out of bed this morning, I felt like doing this:

Yay for Friday! I say we all take a moment to celebrate and dance it up…Come on, dance! Shake that booty, wriggle those hips, and stomp those feet!

…Are you doing it?

Are you?

Well, hopefully you’re at least tapping your feet or bobbing your head.

Okay, okay. Enough dancing…for now. 😉

Overall, my week was calm and productive. On Monday, I received an email that lit a fire under my dragging feet and prompted me to promise someone I’d have a final draft of my manuscript done by January 1st.

Yeah, trying not to panic too much.

It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of focus, and A LOT of hermit days to meet my self-imposed deadline for a final draft by January 1st. I’ve already started telling people in my life, “I’m sorry, but I need to be selfish the next couple of months to finish my book, so if you don’t hear from me or I have to bail on you, that’s why. Again, sorry.”

I feel horrible, but chopping out all distractions is going to be a necessity if I’m going to do this.

Hey, a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, right?

Strangely, right after I made the decision to finish my manuscript by January 1st, one of my best friends text me and said she wants to do NaNoEdMo in November to edit the story she wrote during Camp NaNoWriMo in July. After I finished chuckling, I told her I’d join her. I’m still chewing over what my exact goal for the month will be. I can’t really base edits off a word count, so I’m thinking a certain number of chapters.

Whatever I decide, I need to buckle down and get to work!

I did take a break last night to decorate my house for Halloween–finally. I’ve been putting it off because 1) I’ve been so busy, and 2) I really, really, really did not want to go into my crawl space to get my bins of decorations. You guys, it’s ca-reepy down there! Dark, dirty, spidery.

*shudder*

I despise spiders. Give me snakes or mice any day of the week. Just not spiders. Anything but those vindictive eight-legged monsters!

But, alas, I had to face my fears. So last night I put on my big girl pants, sucked it up, and journeyed into the dreaded crawl space. I saw one spider dangling from a web, but it was dead, so I didn’t panic too much. But then I backed up and got jabbed in the butt by my Christmas tree and freaked out, lol. I swore Shelob had crawled out of the darkness to gobble me up. I know, I know. I’m ridiculous. No need to tell me. I’m fully aware of it, haha.

Anyway, in honor of my focused week and my goal of finishing my manuscript by January 1st, here is today’s Friday funny. Enjoy!

1798100_875822442428382_3463484613586654032_nHow was your week? Have you set any goals for your own work? How many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

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

Music Monday – Mornay’s Dream – Braveheart

You Know You’re A Writer When…Favorite Mug

How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips

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http://getoffmyinternets.net/thats-quirky-is-a-steaming-pile-of-no/comment-page-3/

http://orbitags.com/the-53-thoughts-every-college-grad-has-immediately-after-moving-home/

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Friday Funny with Paint, Chocolate, and Wallow

There isn’t much to say except:

Well everyone, this week was a doozy on the writing front. In a nutshell, I felt like this:

So, last weekend I sent my beta reader my latest two chapters. She liked them, but she wasn’t crazy about their setting. “I wasn’t wowed,” she explained. “This is a big moment, and you nailed the emotions and the action, but the actual location wasn’t thrilling. I wanted…more.”

Always more, Mrs. Beta Reader. That’s all you ever want. More, more, more

Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re all thinking: “It’s good your beta reader pushes you to do better–to give a reader more. That’s their job.” I know, I know. But, still. Grrrrr.

The problem is–and I know you’ll find this bizarre considering I’m passionate about novel writing–I’m not a fan of painting a setting. The sky, the clouds, the house, the trees…blah, blah, blah. If I could, I’d literally say, “There’s an old house that’s creepy and scary. Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s move on.”

Horrible, I know. But, unfortunately, true.

And these chapters my beta reader wanted “more” from are all about painting a setting. So, rewriting them this week has. Been. Pure. Torture! Compared to writing dialogue and action sequences, describing a location is hell for me. Going from blank page to vivid scene is a rough and frustrating process. There’s lots of writing, deleting, crying, screaming, writing, deleting, groaning, kicking, writing, deleting…

…punching my computer in the face. Apologizing to my computer for punching it in the face. Punching it again. Apologizing again…

Seriously, by the time I finished revising these chapters last night, I felt like this:

Okay, Okay, I wasn’t that bad. But I really wanted to curl up with a big bag of peanut M&M’s and wallow. Maybe chow down on some cookie dough ice cream, a slab of fudge, and an entire chocolate cake.

What? Every writer is allowed to gorge on chocolate once in awhile, right?

Right?

Fingers crossed my beta reader gives me the thumbs up on the new location I painted for her. If she doesn’t, then I will be buying a GIANT bag of peanut M&M’s and I will be wallowing….And then, after my pity-poor-me party, I will roll up my sleeves, gnash my teeth, and try again. Because, as the saying goes, “You fail only if you stop writing”.

Right?

Anyway, in honor of my rough writing week, here is today’s Friday Funny. Enjoy!

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How was your week? Wallow worthy? Or full of rainbows and glitter and blah blah blah? 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

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

Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie – Eminem and Rihanna

You Know You’re a Writer When…Alter Ego

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing

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http://fivefootattack.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-five-foots-top-five-christmas-movies/

http://itsbetterblonde.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/hey-guys-learn-your-manners/

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