Monday, October 15, 2012

Close editing a must for manuscripts

I have had an enlightening past several days. I did a line-by-line edit on my 375-page manuscript, looking to tighten here, add a little there, take out extraneous words, add personality clues -- you know, all those items that make a work more complete. What did I learn? Oh, let me tell you.

I learned I use two words far too often. They are "just" and "very," and they are just very unnecessary in almost every case. I left a couple cases of "just" in because they add the immediacy factor to events. "Very" disappeared entirely.

I learned the little asides I inserted in an earlier edit weren't needed. It was a needed nip-and-tuck.

I learned I needed to ramp up the tension in some chapters. I added more peril where peril was needed.

I learned my final chapter is pretty good. It gives an intimate look at my protagonist, and he is an interesting man to get to know. What can I tell you? He is retired military. He has a distinguished record. He is a good businessman, good enough that he has a million-dollar house in the Seattle area. He lives alone, by design. He keeps the foundations in his life simple, but they have more than enough weight to support his needs. His life isn't perfect, and it gets more imperfect.Therein lies the rub.

I learned I like this guy more every day. He is a challenge. People are more interesting that way.

WHAT I AM READING: I stayed in my "The Art of ..." groove. I finished "The Art of Racing in the Rain," which was enjoyable but somewhat inconsistent. I absolutely loved the start and the ending. I look differently at my dogs because of that. I am just starting to read "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach. It was recommended by some baseball beat writers I know, and by some normal people, too.

MY NEW JOY: I am on vacation this week, which means I call the shots on how my time is spent. Obviously editing and writing have filled several hours. So has time with family members and my always enthusiastic and lovable dogs. I savor chances to sit in the sun and enjoy 75-plus-degree days. I enjoy laughing with the people I love. Life is good.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Right Image So Hard to Find

It's still not right. No, not my novel but my blog picture. Have ... to ... get ... it ... right ... soon.
This one isn't bad. Neither was the previous one. I simply hasn't hit the perfect tone yet. It's like having a paragraph in a novel that needs work. I tweak here. I tweak there. Finally it all comes together. I'm sure it will happen one of these days.

WHAT I'M READING NOW: "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein. He's a Pacific Northwest writer, and that's my geographical background. He also works with one of my favorite agents, Jeff Kleinman, and Stein is creative and daring enough to make a dog the narrator and protagonist. I'm not sold on Stein's pacing, but I'm only a third of the way through the book. I eagerly await the later chapters. Of course, I keep Donald Maass' how-to guide about writing the breakout novel near me at all times.

I also finished Jeffery Deaver's "The Cold Moon" and enjoyed his use of intricate plot lines. Now I understand why he needs two months to outline a book. Gosh, what twists and turns.

I am nearing the end of a line edit of my novel. I expect to have that done within the next two days. I have hammered away at my query letter, improving it in the process. I should start pitching the novel to agents within the week.

In the meantime, I will consider better pictures to make my author image come alive. I wish I could do it with the ease of changing paragraphs, but I'm a word guy and not a photography guy. So it goes.