Got/Get: The laziest words.

I don’t write a lot on craft in this blog. I’ll share editing books I like and tell you over and over again that no matter what you do, ads, graphics, book promotion sites, what have you, if you’re not selling a good book, you’re not going to make it. I don’t mean a well-written book that doesn’t resonate with some readers. You’re not going to please everyone, and that’s just how it is. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to keep going in the past few years of writing. Certain people may not like my stories–I’ve never written a character people hate more than Jax in All of Nothing, but never in any review have I ever read of my work has anyone told me I’m a bad writer. So whether or not people don’t agree with my characters and all their flaws, at least I can hold my head up and know I’m a good writer.

I’m not sure where I was going with that?

Oh, so I don’t offer much craft advice. That really should come from your beta readers, your writing group, your editor. What you choose to take from those people is your own business, and as one editor I know says, “It’s always going to be their book.” So yeah, I don’t like craft advice very much, at least, not giving it.

Lately I’ve been reading more on my Kindle. I pay for a KU subscription and I signed up thinking that I would keep up with my comp authors that way. A lot of romance authors are in KU and it’s always a good thing to keep up with what’s selling. That was my intention anyway, but I paid for a few months of it before I charged up my Kindle and decided I was going to take advantage of my subscription. I read a lot of non-fiction and reading in KU is a lot cheaper than buying paperbacks.

Anyway, so I finished a mystery/thriller the other day. It’s written in first person present, which is why I chose to read it. I’m writing my own stuff in first person present and for me, it’s easier to keep in that POV and tense.

It didn’t take me long to get annoyed. This author really, I mean really, liked the words GOT/GET/GOTTEN. Not short for Game of Thrones, like we associate that word now, but the. . . I guess it’s a verb? . . . got. Gotten. Getting. Get.

She’s got an open black peacoat revealing black slacks and a gray blouse beneath.

When I got in last night, (character name) was in the middle of working on a story.

I need to get to that hospital.

While everyone else has pictures or knickknacks on their desk, she’s got nothing.

I don’t need to do anymore, and it didn’t take me long to find these. The author turns sloppier toward the end of book, like he was tired of writing it and wanted to finish it as quickly as possible.

Maybe it’s just me because that word has already been a pet peeve of mine, but it really turned me off. There are better verbs you can use, and they aren’t hard to reach for–She’s wearing an open black peacoat . . . Even as something simple as changing out GOT for HAS. While everyone else has pictures or knickknacks on their desk, she has nothing. Maybe it’s not any better, creatively speaking, but to me it reads a lot better.

He was able to comb through her devices after we got them from her parents.

It just sounds all around clunky and I’ve hammered it out of my writing. I know how easy it is to slip into easy language, and sometimes that’s all right. But the more you do it the more you can fall into “telling” a story rather than “showing” it. First person is particularly difficult because we’re writing someone’s thoughts, and people’s thoughts are messy and not particularly sophisticated.

And of course, I didn’t tag any dialogue because that’s how how speak. “To make it on time, we have to get going.” “We really gotta go now.” And if you’re speaking to kids, “We really gotta go NOW.”

I’m not blaming this author–I blame her editor for not catching it, or not caring enough to catch the repetitiveness of the word and asking the author to perhaps do a word search of her document and swap out the word where applicable. This wasn’t an indie published book, and unlike some indie where you’re not sure if an editor has gone over the book, this one has. It’s too bad because the word ruined a story I could have enjoyed.

In my own unfinished WIP (67k+) I used GOT 19 times. All but one time is in dialogue. In this particular conversation I used it to express character:

“You got balls, doll, but I guess you’d have to, to lie to so many people for so long. It’s not going to be that easy for you, either, once your secret comes out. What got you into that mess, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Murray Jameson, from an untitled WIP

I can search through that book and find GOT maybe every three pages, and I wanted send out a warning. Words like putting, getting, put, got–those are lazy words and you can do better. If you can’t pull the word you need out of your brain while you’re in the zone, I don’t blame you and you shouldn’t let it derail you. Keep going but make a note, maybe an actual note so you don’t forget, that you’ll need to do a sweep for that word in edits.

I don’t write literary fiction, and I’m not out to be the next Margaret Atwood, but I do want my books to read clean and give the reader a chance to immerse herself into my story. I don’t want sloppy grammar to pull her out.

I got into plenty of trouble after Hannah died.

So easily remedied: I found plenty of trouble after Hannah died.

I know we all have our voices, our own styles, and if you want to use GOT go ahead. There is a time and place for it, and I know that. But too much of a good thing can be bad.

And that is my craft post for the month.

“Got” a pet peeve that you’ve discovered in books? Let me know!


Editing: Can you edit too much?

As I look up wrapping up my six book series (I’m at 67k for book five) editing 540,000 words is weighing on my mind. It’s a daunting task. I edit my own books, which people tell me is quite a no-no, and I agree for first-time authors and writers still working on their craft. I use beta readers who hunt for typos and point out murky scenes and I take their opinions to heart and decide if what they say has any validation in my work. (It usually does.)

On the other hand, my betas are writers, too, not only readers, and writers don’t read like readers do. We are pickier, which may or not be a good thing. The problem is, the pickier you are, the more you’re going to nickel and dime your manuscript to death.

So how can you edit without sucking the life out of your story?

  1. Don’t write by committee. I have to thank Kristine Kathryn Rusch for this tip. While critique partners and writing groups can offer valuable tips and suggestions, the end product should always be yours. There is no “best” way to write. Readers read your work because they like your voice. Writing by committee is the fastest way to lose your voice. You simply can’t implement everyone’s suggestions, nor can you make your book “perfect.” There is no such thing. Your book could have a million endings, a million different twists. If what you have chosen gels (meaning no potholes, you have realized character acs, etc) there’s no reason to be swayed by someone else’s opinion if you like what you’ve already got.
  2. Too many cooks ruin the broth. Every beta reader is going to have an opinion and your mind can spin if you try to listen to everyone. Some people think the more beta readers the better, but all that does is give you more opinions to listen to. Maybe you like that. I have one or two trusted betas and that’s it. I wouldn’t even bother with that except it’s not a good idea to publish without another set of eyes just to be sure you’re not missing anything plot-wise.
  3. Too many editing sweeps and you’ll edit the flavor right out of the story. I did this with Wherever He Goes. I wanted my first standalone to sound good, but all I did was make the opening chapters sound bland. It’s difficult to trust your gut, especially if you haven’t been writing for a while and you know your voice and writing style still need a little work. Going over and over your work won’t make it better–it’s already written. Make that particular piece the best it can be with as few editing sweeps as possible and move on to something new.
  4. Trust your instincts. I have already made some changes with my first couple of books in the series that I don’t agree with based on beta suggestions, and I regret them now. In my next editing sweep I’ll put them back. The things she pointed out and I changed were based on her personal dislikes and I should never have listened to her. I liked what I had before I made changes.
  5. Choose beta readers in your genre. I think that was part of my problem with number four above. The person who disliked aspects of my book doesn’t read or write in my genre. Sometimes this can be valuable, but usually having a beta familiar with your genre can help with tropes etc. and tell you if you hit the nail on the head or missed the mark. (Usually if you are an extensive reader in your genre, you’ll know without being told.)
  6. If you’ve been writing for a while, you may not need an editor. Hear me out. You may only need a proofreader so you can publish a clean copy of your work. As you’re writing evolves, you’ll become more confident and you won’t second-guess yourself like I did with Wherever He Goes, or even when I listened to my beta reader with the first couple of books when deep down I didn’t want to.

In closing, I’m not going to go all crazy with the editing of these books. I don’t want to edit my voice out of them. I want my characters to sound like themselves and that is a real risk when you over-edit. You can edit the spirit right out of your characters so they sound like every other character you’ll ever write.

You don’t want to publish a first draft, but you don’t want your editing to take longer than the actual writing either. There’re a lot of stories out there. Go write them.


If you want to hear Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s talk, she spoke at the 20booksto50k conference in Vegas last year. I think I might have referenced this video once before on the blog, but I’ll post it again if you’re curious.

Also, if you’re curious about a couple of good editing books, I just recommended these two to a friend on Twitter:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is a fabulous book and it’s highly recommended by a lot of writers, agents, and editors. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Self-Editing-Fiction-Writers-Second-Yourself/dp/0060545690/

Taken from Amazon

And a new editing book that just came on the scene not long ago by Tiffany Yates Martin called Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing is fabulous! I heard about it in one of the FB groups I’m in, and it is awesome! I recommend you check it out! https://www.amazon.com/Intuitive-Editing-Creative-Practical-Revising/dp/1950830020/

taken from Amazon

Thanks for stopping in! Until next time! 🙂


Indie-Publishing 411: Chat with Vania and KT–Beta Readers and Editing

Indie Publishing Chats

Thanks for joining us for our second chat of this series. KT and I chatted about beta readers and editing. Enjoy!

Vania Margene Rheault
You’ve written Down to Sleep, and it’s been slightly edited and with a couple betas. What has been your biggest surprise so far?

KT Daxon
My biggest surprise so far has to be that my Betas were able to finish it without wanting to throw it across the room. They enjoyed it, and to me that is HUGE. On the self-publishing side of things, I think I was a bit thrown off about how difficult doing everything yourself can be.

Vania Margene Rheault
Yeah, that is a rude awakening for sure! And as you can tell by some indie books out there, not everyone gets it right.
What made you decide to beta? I’m thinking back to where I was at your stage of the game. I had written On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton and someone offered to beta for me. The feedback was less than thrilling. Then I had Jewel edit it for me. Those two people were the only eyes I had on it before I published.

KT Daxon
That’s another story I need to read …*scratches a note on my notepad*. I decided to Beta because someone told me I should. I didn’t think anyone would be interested, so I took a chance. Melissa and Shannon were wonderful. Both had different styles and gave me TONS of amazing feedback. My editor will be happy as she won’t be getting pure crap. Ha!
What are your thoughts on Betas? Pros? Cons?

Vania Margene Rheault
I say don’t let them have too much weight. If I had listened to my beta, half of 1700 would be missing. Just because they don’t like it doesn’t mean you need to take to heart everything they say. Do stay true to your work and vision because at the end of the day, it’s your book and no one else’s.
What is the next step for you?

KT Daxon
That’s some good advice to carry with me as I move forward. I let what other people think dictate a lot of aspects of my life. But, this was my story in 2013, and it’s still my story today. As for what’s next, I’m currently editing the Beta suggestions. Picking and choosing what I think needs changed. I’m hoping to be done by the start of the 2nd week of January, and I’m trying to decide if I want to do another round of Betas or just shoot it to the editor…thoughts? How many rounds of Beta advice should one take?

Vania Margene Rheault
Probably that’s not best coming from me–Don’t Run Away, Chasing You and Running Scared won’t have any. So I would say do as many as you feel is necessary.
In the near future here, you have a lot you’re going to need to know. How are you preparing for that next step?

KT Daxon
A stiff drink? Haha. Kidding … though the thought does sound appealing. I’ve made myself a sponge. I accept advice when it’s given and I utilize the veteran’s in the writing community, such as yourself, for help. I’m dedicating the first weekend of the New Year to research on all aspects of self-publishing. Cover design, formatting (which scares me btw lol), ISBN’s, whatever I need to learn to publish this book, I’m soaking it up every way I can.
Any tips on what to tackle first?

Vania Margene Rheault
I read a lot of books when I first decided to self-publish. One of the two I read right off the bat was APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book.
APE
This was one was instrumental in getting the lay of the land, so to speak, and the other one I told you about was A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers: How to Print-on-Demand with CreateSpace & Make eBooks for Kindle & Other eReaders.publishing with amazon

While there is some outdated info in each, they both still have really important information in their own right.
The first one was given to me by someone who was taking publishing classes at our university in Moorhead. It was a textbook in their class.

KT Daxon
I intend to get the second one once payday hits. It looks like it’s an easy read.

Vania Margene Rheault
I would caution you though, and make sure you double-check advice. What works for someone may not work for you. I read up on how to do it all myself, and while 1700 didn’t come out the best, at least I can say I learned what *not* to do. Fortunately, you know people have gone through it so you should have more help than I did.

KT Daxon
That’s true. It’s good for anyone to remember that advice isn’t someone holding a gun to your head telling you to change things or else, it’s just suggestions … helpful suggestions.

Vania Margene Rheault
Right. And everyone has a suggestion. LOL Okay, we’ll wrap up this chat for tonight! Thanks for hanging out with me!

Thanks for hanging out with us! Here are a few other articles on beta readers:
Ultimate Guide: How To Work With Beta Readers

How many Beta Readers do you need?

WHEN NOT TO LISTEN TO YOUR BETA READER

beta readers
Just for fun, since I’m not doing chat anymore, I’m going to give away Better Critiquing for Better Writing: Use Writing Feedback to Craft Your Story, Refine Your Message and Become a Better Writer by Kelly Hart. Enter HERE.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time when KT and I discuss ISBN numbers.

Vania Blog Signature

How Do You Feel When You Get Your Work Back From Your Editor?

As a writer, putting your work out there is difficult. It’s probably the number one reason writers don’t publish: they are afraid of people seeing their work. And not only seeing their work, but judging it. I’m editing Summer Secrets right now. My editor (I feel like such a professional writer when I say that!) sent me back my novellas, and over the past week, I’ve slowly been putting in the revisions she suggested and fixing the mistakes she found.

You would think that I would be ecstatic that my novellas are so much closer to publication, and don’t get me wrong, I am. But you know how I really feel when I go through all her comments and suggestions?  Shame. Embarrassment. Sadness. Fear.

Shame

The definition of shame from Merriam-Webster is:

shame definition

When I go through my editor’s comments (and let me be clear, these are all my feelings, not caused by my editor. My editor is a professional, in that she is kind, supportive, and in no way hurtful or disrespectful in regards to me and my work) I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed I made the mistakes I made. I’m a writer, aren’t I? I can’t see for myself I used the same word five times in two sentences? I can’t see for myself my two main characters have names that are similar and therefore yes, a reader may mix them up, and why couldn’t I choose different names, for crying out loud?  In the definition above, 1a mentions shortcomings.  Uh. Yeah. Nothing makes you feel like you are less than a writer than when all your mistakes are highlighted and accentuated with a comment. Definition 3a mentions regret. Yep. I have a ton of regret in that, why didn’t I find all these mistakes before I passed on my work to someone?

Embarrassment

Embarrassment goes hand in hand with shame. I’m embarrassed I sent her my work with so much wrong with it. I’m embarrassed I didn’t try harder.  Never mind how many times I read through them, never mind that I used Grammarly, then read them again. Never mind I spent money on printing them out to edit a paper copy. I didn’t try hard enough to make them mistake-free. That’s my inner critic talking, my irrational, unrealistic inner critic. Because any writer knows how impossible it is to catch all your own mistakes.

embarrassed

But it’s how I feel when my eyes slide away from a highlighted paragraph and the comments telling me what’s wrong with it and possible ways to fix it.  My cheeks heat up, I have to swallow hard, and I have to force myself to just get on with it.

Sadness

Sadness is probably the weakest feeling I have when I edit, but it’s still there. I get sad that my editor had to work so hard, I get sad when I feel like I could have tried harder. I get sad when I think there are better writers out there than me. Sadness waltzes with self-doubt in my heart when I see how many comments she made in my document. But you know what else I get sad about? Thinking about not writing anymore. That makes me sad, too.

Fear

fear of writing

When I searched “fear in writing” I found this lovely drawing on Lynette Noni’s blog post. I have a lot of fears about my writing, and yes, they come out when I’m editing. I fear I’m not a good writer. I fear I’ll never sell any books. I fear I’ll never be able to make a career out of my writing. After all, I can’t be a good writer if my editor finds all these things wrong with my book, right? And I want to be a good writer so I can sell books, so people can say, “Wow, that was probably one of the most emotional, heart-wrenching books I have ever read.”  We all want to be writers who touch someone in some way with our work.

But What Else . . .

But you know what else I feel when I edit? I feel joy. I feel happy when my editor says she enjoyed a setting description or how I nailed how a character feels with show and not tell.  I get excited when she tells me she loved an intimate moment between two characters, and a “More please!” in the comment section. I get excited when she congratulates me on proper grammar.

I’ll feel pride when I hold my published books in my hands, when my friends, family, and co-workers congratulate me on being tenacious, of having a dream and working toward it.

The act of writing and publishing is no doubt an emotional roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs, you’re thrown sideways and completely head over heels. But the trick, and oh my, is it a trick, is to keep fighting. To not let those negative feelings overwhelm you, to let them win. Surround yourself with friends who know what you’re going through, who will support you, and not let you give up.

If I have any advice from going through the editing process, it’s to keep your mind open and learn. Learn from what your editor is telling you. S/he’s on your side. Your editor wants to you to put out your best work, and that undoubtedly is your goal too, which is why you hired one. Don’t take their advice and suggestions as hurtful criticism, (unless it is, then you need a new editor) take their feedback and turn it into a positive learning moment. I’ve learned a lot going through my editor’s feedback.

I took a break from editing to quickly write up this post. I’d come to a paragraph where her advice was hard to swallow. I see it, I understand it, I agree with it, but there again, those feelings come up. Why didn’t I see this? Why did I send my work to her this way? What is so wrong with me I couldn’t fix this on my own?

Nothing is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with you, either. We’re all human, and doing the best we can.

For more articles about fear in writing, look here:

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/10-ways-to-harness-fear-and-fuel-your-writing

http://www.prolificliving.com/overcome-fear-of-writing/