It Has To Be Right

I want everything to be right. Perfect.

I’m not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination. Sagittarians are pretty scattered to begin with, and I take the swirly path a lot further than most.

But I want my blogs on Writing Your First Book to work for both the reader and the writer. For us both to get something out of it. Especially because these days my FB account is flooded with people who have the “free” answer to your writing dreams. And I know I can do better.

Sometimes I wish I had grown up more confident. More self-assured. You know what I mean. I’ve had enough moxy to make it through 66 years of ups and downs, including writing. Yet  I don’t always have the push to “go for it”, because my worksheet is incomplete.

But I’m going to do it this time.

I’ll be retired by January, and that is when my career with change. No more writing (or more like not writing) things I’m not interested in, and lots more of what I do like. I can get a job as a freelance writer or freelance proofreader.

And finish a product to boot.

My consulting friends say there is such a thing as 10,000 hours of experience that counts just as much as a college degree.

I have that.

If they need 10,000 hours of heart, I have that, too.

So it is with blushing regret that I have put my tutoring skills on the back burner until the New Year. By then I will have a whole curriculum of tips and advice that I can share. I will have advice to give away for free and books and information to sell.

A win/win for everyone, I hope.

In the meantime, let’s learn more about unique artists, about getting older, writing mistakes to avoid, and writing successes to boast about.

Boast to me. I can take it.

For I want everything to be right. Perfect.

Proofreed Everything!

I got soooo ticked off the other day.

I want to finish proofing/editing my first book so I can:

  • make it into an e-book
  • try a publisher
  • sell it through my website
  • throw it in the garbage

So I’m going through it ONE LAST TIME, and I keep coming across all these  ; ‘s  and and and overusing first names in conversation.

And THIS is one reason why you shouldn’t be the only editor of your publication.

I will cover this in my series “How To Write That Book”, but being as ticked off as I am I need to share this life lesson NOW.

You can be as meticulous as you can be; you can read and reread and spell check and go through each sentence 10,000 times and you will still miss something that an outsider would see.

This has happened to me throughout my writing career. That’s why I don’t hit “send” or “publish” right away.

You never know what will pop up.

Most of us cannot afford an editor to look over our book/magazine article/term paper. If you CAN spend a few bucks on any part of your writing, this is where to spend it.

If you just can’t, and still want/need/should look professional, have someone else read your paper for grammar, punctuation, and repetitiveness. They don’t have to get into the “flow” of the story (although that helps, too).

But an outside eye can catch things your mind cannot.

To prove my point, this came through on my Facebook feed yesterday:

Now. What did you just read?

Maybe you read it right the first time. Most likely you did not.

Neither will your readers.

If you edit your own pages, no matter what they are, either read them out loud, take note of punctuation, sentence structure, think of how people speak. We write faster than we think — we also read faster than we think.

Hope you got a chuckle out of my post.

Thank goodness it was proofread first.

Oops — There’s that “;” Again….

th (5)As I get older (there’s that cliche again), I find myself developing more and more ticks. You know — odd behaviors that can often drive one mad. I try and be cognizant of these oddities, for many can be eliminated by just paying attention.

I have restless leg syndrome, so I drive myself crazy by constantly swishing one leg back and forth once I get in bed. I also have some A.D.D., so I often call myself the fidget queen.

Oddities aside, I also find myself victim to writing glitches too — ticks that can only be caught by conscientiously rereading what I’ve written.  These errors shine a glaring light when I read others’ pieces, but I often don’t catch my own fingers in the grammatical pie until too late.

Check yourself to see if you have any of these unconscious writing ticks:

  •  Semi-colon king or queen.  Every time someone speaks, and adds something to their sentence, I find the need to semi-colon it. The forever pause, it seems. I reread a story the other day and deleted or changed more than half of my dramatic pauses.
  • Added words.  Like that (She remembered that she once went to school there…) or and then (She washed her face, and then walked to the kitchen, and then took a cup out of the cabinet). Almost like a stutter.
  • Fragmented sentences. I am the queen of these. It IS my writing style, and I know professional writers caution against it, so I try and make more of my fragments into full sentences. Which is hard. Because that is the way I write. Like this.
  • Keep your dialogue consistent.  My murder mystery was a test for me: I wanted to see if I could write a story from 4 different points of view, along with a narrator. As the story went on, I found the 4 different dialogues blending a bit into each other. Keep your characters separate. Make a list of their quirks and writing styles right off the bat, and uphold those standards throughout the book. Wear a hat or draw a moustache on yourself if it helps keep you in character.
  • Pay attention to words. Like my funny, good friend Carrie Rubin (http://carrierubin.com/) said on Twitter: “Oops. Found a “pooped” instead of “popped” in my manuscript. Big, big difference there.” I replied that I once wrote “breasts” instead of “beasts”. You can imagine. Read outloud if you must. But double check.

I know you all know all of this. know all of this. But yet my fingers and brain always move faster than my abilities. When you’re excited about what you’re writing, it will happen to you, too.

Just think of what would happen if you didn’t spell p.u.t.t. or p.u.c.k. quite right…

the beginning is the most important part of the work…

questionmark

…Plato

I don’t often get many responses to my blogs, as most of my readers are very busy and read on the run. For those of you who do like to drop a word or six (for which I am eternally grateful), I have a question for you.

Would the following prologue make you want to read more?

 

       “You cannot live in both worlds.”

      The words echoed in the back of Anna’s mind like waves hitting the breakwater. Soft, rhythmic. They made no sense, at least not in their current context. She tried to hold onto the silver threads, but they slowly faded into meaningless whispers. All her mind could focus on was the slow, continuous beeping that radiated from some distant point.

      Beeping. Then silence. More beeping. More silence.

      God, she wished her mind would clear. That her eyes would open. That the throbbing in her head would stop. A lot of demands for a brain floating in a pool of thick, cold porridge. Anna thought about sitting up, getting up, but her body wouldn’t respond. More pain, more porridge. More voices, more beeping. Red flags were popping up throughout her consciousness — something was wrong. Too many mumblings, too many voices at the edge of her hearing. Voices that had no business being in her bedroom.

      “Anna, can you hear me?”

      Hear you? You are right here in bed next to me, Adam. Of course I can hear you.

      But her husband’s voice had a disquieting tenor she’d never quite heard before. His muffled words echoed in her ears, softly insulating her against the harsh beeping that tried to distort her every thought.

      A different voice followed. A deep, dark, musical voice — a voice rich with temptation.

      Do not close this door we have opened.

      Suddenly a swell of emotions overwhelmed her senses. It was as if the dam had burst; the dam that held back her energy, her very soul, releasing a flood of wordless images that pulsed to the beat of her heart. Anna felt a smile spread across her lips, even though the rest of her body refused to respond. How she wanted to linger in the warmth the memories promised. But the voice, the melody, disappeared as the scent of antiseptics whiffed across her nose. Bleach, perhaps. Or ammonia. What happened to the cinnamon potpourri in the crystal bowl on her nightstand?

      Anna’s head hurt just putting sentences together, and she still couldn’t open her eyes. So willful her thoughts, so unwilling her body. She could feel her pulse rise, her heart beating faster, her automatic fright/flight instinct taking over.

      “She is coming around, Mr. Powers.”

      Whose voice is that? In my bedroom? Who in the world would be calling Adam “Mr. Powers” anyway?

      More voices now. Closer. Louder. A squeaky high-pitched one and another with a sweet southern drawl. A shadow blurred the indirect light that fell upon her unopened eyes as she heard Adam’s voice echo from a tunnel off to her left somewhere.

      Damn, Adam. Speak up! Quit mumbling. And what are all these people doing in our bedroom?

      A moment of silence, an eternal moment, until suddenly a soothing sensation danced across her mind, melting her thoughts into puddles of warm milk. Anna thought she heard Adam say something about dying, but perhaps the word was “crying”.

      Either way, she decided she would try and open her eyes later. Yes, later. She was so sleepy, so content, that she’d rather follow the whispers that called her name.