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Editing With Netta

Launching A New Editing Course!

It’s here!

Content Editing With Netta

Everything you wanted to know about content editing but were afraid to ask!

This e-course is designed to help you, the writer, take your manuscript to the next level by evaluating all the moving parts. Not only will this save you money when hiring a professional editor, it will also teach you how to be a better writer.

Use the link above and receive 15% off the course! 

Three free lessons before you decide to buy!

Sign up for my newsletter and receive 25% off!

time to up your game (2)

Click here to enroll with a 15% discount!

Let’s get started! And someone take these exclamation points away from me before I put out an eyeball!

 

🙂

 

Content Editing With Netta

Yes! Finally!

After months of work, my editing course is now at the final stages and just about ready to be released. I’M SO EXCITED.

Creativity

And let me tell, you creating this course was a lot of fun. It was also brain burning and a labor of love, but what’s fun without a little brain on fire? Heh.

The course, titled CONTENT EDITING WITH NETTA, will be available to the public on Friday, May 29th. But, for newsletter subscribers, tomorrow you will receive a newsletter with all the particulars and a promo code for big savings.

If you’re not a subscriber, why not sign up now? Trust me, I don’t spam and I would never release your email to anyone else. That’s rude.

In the meantime, I’m giving everything a last minute spit and polish. (Not real spit. That’s gross.)

Sign up! Get the scoop! Pass the rum!

🙂

New Editing Course Coming Soon!

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I think I might have run into blogging burnout in addition to being so busy I just haven’t had time. You know how it is.

But with a new year comes new ideas and new opportunities. Warning: BRAIN ON FIRE!

Not my actual brain. Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com
Not my actual brain. Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

A couple of years ago I presented an editing workshop to some lovely people on Prince Edward Island, Canada. What a magical place! It absolutely oozes creativity, and if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you visit.

The workshop was well-received, and I thought about really beefing it up and creating an online course for those who don’t live on PEI and might be interested. Well, it took me long enough, but I am hard at work doing just that.

I’m still in the beginning stages, but it looks like in a month or less I’ll have it completed. WOOHOO! That’s a huge thing off my To-Do list, and I’m excited about it!

The course covers self-editing and will take your manuscript from flat to fabulous. It covers everything from plot to passive prose, complete with worksheets and resources. Whether your piece is a novel, novella, or short story, you will find many helpful tips to take your story to the next level.

This doesn’t take the place of a professional edit, but it does get your manuscript into good shape before sending it to a pro. This course is designed to help you become a better writer and to help you save money when hiring an editor.

Keep your eyeballs peeled! I’m going to need Beta testers soon, and if you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter at the top of the page to receive updates as soon as they happen. You don’t want to miss this!

white-pen (2)

Hard Work Pays Off!

Wow, so much is going on lately my head’s spinning. Those of you who subscribe to the writer’s newsletter on annettaribken.com already know some of this, PLUS you received a brand-new story from me! If anyone else is interested in reading MOSAIC, just sign up for the newsletter and boom. It’s yours.

CONGRATULATIONS TO PATTI LARSEN AND SYDLYNN THADDEA HAYLE!

Three years ago Patti Larsen introduced me to Sydlynn Thadea Hayle and her family. It is accurate to say my life has not been the same since.

I knew from the first book in the Hayle Coven Novels that all Syd had to do was get in front of the right people, at the right time, and the right place. I had a BLAST editing Syd’s stories–and I live in total amazement at the prolific and stellar talent from Patti Larsen. She’s a total professional with a work ethic that could fell Paul Bunyan. The woman is an animal.

So it is with a great deal of smugness and I TOLD YOU SO-ITIS that I announce Patti Larsen’s FAMILY MAGIC won the World’s Best Story of 2014 competition out of a field of over 1,000.

WHAAAAAA?!

Oh yeah! Which means Syd and Patti are on their way to a traditional publishing contract, distribution, and a book tour. Possibly MOVIES. Or TV. CAN YOU EVEN STAND IT?

Me neither 🙂

I’m incredibly proud of Patti and the work that’s gone into the Hayle Universe. This is one of those “overnight” successes which only took years, sweat, tears, and blood. But that’s why we love our job, no?

THE ROCK STAR ON ROCK TOUR

Aaron Galvin has not only released the second in his Salted series,Taken With A Grain of Salt, he’s made Salted, the first book, FREE.

He’s also on a book tour in Indiana; check here for dates and places.

Praise for Salted:

Debut author Aaron Galvin gives us robust characters and non-stop action, making this imaginative story of characters from a parallel, underwater world (the Salt) worth a look.

Finally a fresh take on what goes on under the sea. A thrilling, dark, page turner that leaves the reader wanting more. I am definitely hooked and eagerly awaiting the sequel. Although it is under the YA genre, adults will love this book. Readers will enjoy the exposure to a new fantasy world that has not been done before. The characters are well developed and interesting. A great read, highly recommend!!

Congratulations, Aaron!

***

I can’t believe it’s December already. This year FLEW. I’m already mulling over plans for 2015–I’m thinking about doing another anthology based on the Zodiac, playing with Sally Mae, and finishing up a few loose ends in addition to the work flow.

What plans are you pondering?

I Love Mondays

HA! Just kidding.

I don’t hate Mondays, but we’ll never be in love. Monday is is like an annoying mother-in-law, cold, rainy days in autumn, or pants that chafe your thighs. Inevitable and uncomfortable, but they don’t last forever even if it seems that way.

Schedule Updates

With the change of seasons comes a change in scheduling. My guidelines remain the same, but I thought I’d update my Rates and Services page so you all know the best time to get a hold of me. Any questions, just email me.

Newsletter News

I missed October’s newsletter. I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but there will be a newsletter on November 3 with the next installment of editing tips and the new releases of September/October. But let me ask you a question–what would you like to see in a newsletter from me? Are the editing tips helpful? I am totally open to suggestions, so if you have one (or a few), go ahead and throw them out there for consideration. After all, the newsletter is for YOU and I want to provide what’s useful to you.

If you’re interested in the writing side of things, visit Annetta Ribken-Literary Home and sign up for the newsletter there for updates on my writing endeavors.

Speaking of Writing News…

Not Nice and Other Understatements has received a makeover 🙂 She’s nice and shiny, and hopefully will be released on October 15th. People who have purchased the Kindle edition in the past will receive the update at no charge. There will be a new print edition available for those interested. More info on the writing website.

And that’s it for Monday. Hopefully yours is going well. 🙂

Editing With Netta~Basic Chores

You will find as many ways of editing your manuscript as there are grains of sand upon the beach. That’s because editing is as much an art form as writing. No two people do it exactly the same, nor should they.

However, when it comes to self-editing, there are some basic chores you need to do to get your ‘script ready for a professional edit. These are my Top Five Recommendations:

1. Put your manuscript away for a couple of weeks. Longer, if possible. Why? Because it’s too soon, you’re too close, and you’re not going to see what needs to be changed or corrected when you’re right on top of it. Let the manuscript “cool” for a little bit. You’ll be amazed at what you see when you re-open the document.

2. Take the editing in rounds, big picture to little picture. If you try to get everything in one round, it’s likely you’ll experience frustration, discouragement, and probably rage. You might reach for a hammer. Slow down, tiger, and take one round at a time.

3. Outline. If you’re a die-hard pantser and did not work from an outline, that’s fabulous. Everyone has their own way of writing, and there’s no “right” way or “wrong” way. But for the purpose of getting your ‘script into fighting shape, whether you outlined or not, it’s a good idea to create an outline from the completed material. Things could have changed from your original outline. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but enough to keep you in a straight line. *Note: It’s a good idea to share these kinds of documents with your editor.

4. Construct a style sheet or compendium. Especially if you’re working on a series, a style sheet or compendium is a must. If you start it now, it will save you so many headaches down the line. Include the proper spelling of names, locations, physical attributes of your characters…you can use an Excel spreadsheet to help. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this later when you’re in book three and can’t remember what color so-and-so’s eyes were in the first book.

5. Include a Bug Word list. Every writer has bug words. These are words you may overuse and just don’t see anymore when you’re writing. And, the bug words can change from manuscript to manuscript. TRUE STORY. Keep a list of the ones you see most often, and utilize your Search and Find function. This can really save you a lot of time when you’re whipping through a manuscript.

Next post we’ll talk about the FIRST READ. Sign up for the monthly newsletter and get your editing tips and tricks before the crowd!

Good News and New News!

Here we are in September! I’m so happy not to be frying like bacon in a pan (mmmm, bacon!) and am really enjoying the cooler weather. Remind of that when I’m bitching about the cold, okay?

Yeah. This doesn't look good.
Yeah. This doesn’t look good.

You know that’s coming up sooner rather than later, right?

But I said GOOD NEWS!

I am pleased and happy to report Jennifer Wingard and I won an award for editing Forever Road by Catie Rhodes. Jennifer was the copy editor, and I served as content editor. Love, love, LOVE me some Peri Jean Mace! She’s really my kind of gal, and I had so much fun working with Catie. It’s a great story.

CHANGES TO THE BLOG

In New News, this blog will concentrate on the editing side of things. If you’d like to keep up with my own writing, you can visit me at AnnettaRibken.com for updates on what’s happening. While you’re there, sign up for the newsletter–you’ll see covers, trailers, and excerpts before anyone else and as a subscriber, be eligible for special giveaways just for YOU. Since my production schedule is hardly blistering right now, you won’t be spammed to death with emails, promise. 🙂

NO SPAM, I SWEAR !
NO SPAM, I SWEAR !

DON’T MISS OUT ON EDITING WITH NETTA!

Speaking of subscribers, the newsletter here on Word Webbing provides valuable editing tips and new releases from my clients as they happen. So make sure you sign up–it comes out once a month and you don’t want to miss it.

Another change coming up is on Wednesdays, I’ll be posting the editing tips here. They’re six months behind, so signing up for the newsletter ensures you get the latest right away.

Work continues on both sites as I update and clean out stuff. It’s almost like tackling the closet where you throw everything because you don’t know where else to put it. Don’t play. I know you know what I’m talking about.

Yep. You know this closet.
Yep. You know this closet.

In the meantime, I hope you’re writing and having a good month! Tell me what you’re up to in the comments 🙂

Editing With Netta-Your Cast of Characters

 

file7551283339240*Photo courtesy of scy from morguefile.com

While plot is a story’s backbone, the characters are its heart, and like the heart, complex and complicated. These are the people with whom your readers are going to fall deeply in love, or come to loathe with the passion of a thousand suns. And that’s exactly the way you want it.

Some writers like to construct a character sheet, write out entire biographies including a physical description and entire back stories before they even start to write. These character sheets can then be tweaked out when the story is complete, because as we all know, characters can have a mind of their own. For editing purposes, a character sheet is not a bad thing to have (although not necessary, especially if you’re using a style sheet) to keep track of age, physical characteristics, idiosyncrasies, etc.

When you’re going through your editing round with the focus of characterization, keep these things in mind:

1. Are your characters strong and interesting enough to carry the story? Or are they stereotypical, boring, cardboard cut-outs? Your aim is three-dimensional, real people with whom your reader can identify. Yes, this most definitely includes the secondary characters.

2. Is your hero/heroine perfect? You know, gorgeous, smart, funny, flawless? Is your villain so evilly evil their evilness is totally evil? WRONG. Perfect anything is boring and unbelievable. Real people are not all one thing or another. Your heroes need faults; your villains need at least one sympathetic characteristic.

3. Do your main characters have a good supporting cast? Fab. Do they have too many? Not so fab. The little guy in the corner with the monkey—is he inimical to the plot, the setting, or to establish the personality or goal of the MC? No? Then he’s got to go. Don’t cry. Write a short story about him as bonus material.

4. In the same vein, make your secondary characters memorable, or don’t use them at all. Even a small detail, like parting their hair in the middle and gelling it down or having an embarrassing skin condition is enough to round them out. Maybe they have a stutter, or an annoying habit like honking through their sinuses or picking their hangnail. Use people you observe as a tool to make your characters real to the reader.

5. Characters should fit your genre, era, setting, etc. This ties in to making your world, whatever it is, believable to the reader. Yes, there is genre blurring but we’re just covering the basics here and this is a topic for another time.

6. Does your character behave in a logical way according to how they are crafted? Not that a character can’t behave uncharacteristically, which could add conflict, but you still have to stay within the personality and behavior you establish with your character. For instance, say your MC is a nurse, and she comes upon an accident by the side of the road. You wouldn’t have her just pass by the accident without stopping to help, unless you’ve established a believable reason for her to do so. Maybe she’s on her way to a more urgent errand, or she stopped at an accident once before and was either injured or sued. You have to lay the groundwork for such an action.

Characters are the beating heart of your story. They are telling the story, after all. Step out of the way of your own ego and let them do their job. Listen to them and what they have to say. If they tell you, “I’d never do that!” or, “I need to do this!” then by all means, work with them. Remember, your outline is not set in stone.

Next week we’ll explore setting—the window dressing for your story.

Editing With Netta-The Plot

Last week we talked about story structure—the basic framework on which to hang the flesh and blood of your story. Keep in mind this is just the basic structure. There’s a circular structure, the Hero’s Journey, etc. but at the core, it all boils down to these five elements. I could go on and on about story structure; it’s an obsession/fascination for me, but for the sake of self-editing this is what you need to know.

A Word About Outlining

There has been and probably always will be an endless debate about outlining. You have your die-hards who will outline to the very last detail down to the color of their character’s underwear, and others who paint broad strokes and leave the rest to the actual writing process. I’m not going to get into that here—everyone has their own way of writing a story and there is no right or wrong way. However, I will say once you start editing your story, it’s quite helpful to create an outline of what you’ve already written.

But Netta, you say, isn’t that backward? No, not really. An outline before you write can keep you (mostly) on track, but we all know outlines are not written in stone. Many things can change as you write. Characters can get a wild hair up their ass and take off in a different direction; that’s part of the creative process. So it’s a good idea, in your first read, to construct an outline of what you’ve really written. This will help you chart your tale, and pinpoint areas which need work to flesh out, tweak, and help you evaluate your plot line.

The Backbone of Your Story—Plot

Think of the plot as the spine. Without a strong plot line, all you have are a bunch of random people wandering around doing random things. After you complete the first read and construct an outline, take your red pen and read over the outline with these things in mind:

1. Do you have a clear story goal? In other words, what is the point of the story? Even in a series with an overall story arc, your novel requires a clear story goal within the arc of the series.

2. Does your story start in the right place? You want to establish your protagonist’s problem early, and hook your reader from the beginning. Ideally, this should happen in the first two chapters.

3. Does the plot make logical sense? No matter the genre, you are asking your reader to suspend their disbelief, but if you establish rules/parameters for your world, they need to make sense within the constructs of your world. For instance, if angels are invisible in Chapter One, you can’t make them visible in Chapter Twelve unless you lay the groundwork for this to be possible.

4. Do your hooks, twists, and turns make sense and are they related to the rest of the plot? Or are random fixes appearing out of nowhere?

5. Are there too many or not enough sub-plots? Is it clear what’s going on? Or are you leaving your reader lost and confused in the maze of Too Much Happening?

6. Do you have the right point of view (POV) for the story you are telling? If you’re writing in the first person, how might your story look in the third person instead?

7. Have you maintained a balance of narrative, action, and dialog? Or are there pages of backstory, info dumps, and long conversations going nowhere?

8. Is the climax sufficiently dramatic? Is that deep, dark, black moment ripping out the guts of your readers? Good. Clean up in Aisle 5. If not, go deeper.

9. Did you resolve the main story goal or problem for the protagonist? It’s okay to leave some sub-plots dangling, especially if it is a book in a series, but regardless, the major issue needs to be resolved even if it’s a part of a series.

Cliffhangers

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*Photo courtesy of hotblack from morguefile.com

A word about cliffhangers at the end of a volume in a series: Some readers love them, many readers hate them, especially if they have to wait a significant amount of time between books. If you are writing a series, it might be a good idea to finish the series before launching, especially if you include mind-blowing cliffhangers at the end of your volumes. Otherwise, you can easily lose your reader following and really piss them off and this way, too, you can control the timing of release.

Make notes in your outline as you read through a second time, targeting soft spots in the plot and ways to shore up the story. With a strong outline based on what you’ve written, you can easily see where important tweaking needs to be done. Don’t be afraid to cut and paste, change things around, or mark certain spots for a re-write. DON’T BE AFRAID. You always have the original document, so if you feel you’re messed things up beyond all repair, you can always return to that. Think about one thing as you evaluate your plot: If it doesn’t advance the story, it has got to go. Period. Yes, it’s a lovely scene. Yes, it might be the best writing you’ve ever done. Yes, it’s gorgeous and you love it and it amuses you. But does it ADVANCE THE STORY? That’s the real question.

Here. Have a tissue. You’ll get over it, I promise. Cut and paste into a new document and save it. These bits and pieces can be used in a variety of ways–blog post extras, a short to include in the back of the book as a bonus, a collection of outtakes for your adoring fans. Your main focus here is to create the strongest story you can. It only hurts for a hot minute. Keep your story goal foremost in your brain.

Any questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Next week, we’ll take a look at your cast of characters.

Editing With Netta–Story Structure

In the beginning, I advised you start the editing process by throwing your masterpiece into a drawer or a closet for at least a couple of weeks before you begin digging in. This is to not only give your brain a much-needed rest, but to also give you distance so you can look at the manuscript with “fresh eyes.”

Don't be scared. Unless you're writing about the undead. Or spiders. *shudder*
Don’t be scared. Unless you’re writing about the undead. Or spiders. *shudder*

*Photo courtesy of kconnors from morguefile.com

You will be surprised—maybe even shocked when you take it out and look at it again. It might be better than you thought it was, or it might be worse. A word to the wise: a writer is the worst judge of their own work. A close second would be your mother, or your Best Friend Forever. At this point you want to maintain a certain amount of objectivity, or at least as much as you can muster. Please refrain from blasting it out to everyone you know, because at worst you will get a ton of back-patting, which serves you not at all, or at best, a ton of back-patting which serves you not at all when it comes to editing.

Yes, you just wrote a book and you should be proud. But let’s wait until we pretty it up a little, okay?

The first thing you need to look at is the basic story structure. This is the framework on which the rest of your story hangs—the skeleton, if you will. There are many ways to look at the framework, but it basically boils down to this:

1. A character has a problem. (Also known as the “inciting incident”.)
2. Bad things happen and conflict intensifies.
3. Climax
4. Resolution
5. The hero learns something about self/life. Or not.

It sounds really simple, doesn’t it? It’s just that easy and just that difficult.

Take the time and resist the temptation of the red pen just yet. What you want to do here is keep a notebook and pen handy, or whatever writing implements float your boat, and read the manuscript. Jot down notes about what “feels off” as you read. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does the beginning drag? This is a common issue with many manuscripts, because in your first draft you’re getting your feet wet, putting your back into it, finding a way to open the story. The beginning of your book is crucial–this is where you will either hook your reader or not. Start with a bang, not with a boring conversation or long description of the setting. Grab your reader by the balls and take off. This might mean cutting a paragraph, a chapter, or even the first two or three chapters. Try to look at it through the eyes of the reader. Have you engendered enough curiosity for the reader to turn the page? No? Then cut it.

2. Is there enough conflict? As bad as you’ve made it for your protag, can you make it worse? If the Prince is on a horse to rescue the Princess, break the horse’s leg. BE MEAN. Then be MEANER. Cry in your Kleenex if you must–I know, I hate being mean to my characters, too–but if you’re crying, then your reader is crying. But without conflict there is no story.

3. Is there a satisfying climax? Do the events come to a resounding crescendo? Or do you leave the reader unsatisfied and wondering why the hell they just slogged through two hundred pages only to be left hanging? Readers don’t like this, people.

4. Is your major plot point resolved? Or are there dangling bits which need a solution? If it’s a stand-alone work, you need to make sure your subplots are dealt with in a satisfactory manner, but if it’s a series, these can dangle for the next work. However, it’s necessary the MAJOR PLOT POINT of the book is resolved. Readers don’t like this, either. As a matter of fact, if you don’t resolve your major plot point, be prepared for pitchforks, fire, and possibly tar and feathers. Worse than that, those readers will most likely never buy another thing you write for fear they’re going to be left hanging once again.

5. The story goal—what has changed about your protagonist? What has s/he learned from this experience, or what have they missed? If there’s no change in the character, then why? And there’d better be a compelling reason, or you just lost the whole point of the book.

Once you’ve got your notes jotted from the first read, then you can take out your red pen and work on specifics. This is what we’ll talk about next week.

Next week--IT'S THE RED PEN!
Next week–IT’S THE RED PEN!

*Photo courtesy of jppi of morguefile.com

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