Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who Knew Editing Could Be ... Fun?

This morning I started Donald Maass's'es's's Writing the Breakout Novel. I finished Self-Editing for the Fiction Writer yesterday and figured I may as well dive into the next on my list. Self-Editing was good; it pointed out a lot of amateur mistakes I didn't realize I was making (always a helpful thing from a writing book) but didn't deter me from writing altogether. I'd say my overall experience was pleasant.

But Writing the Breakout Novel made my heart race! In the foreword! I know it's silly to get so excited while reading a writing book, but I couldn't help it. The foreword in my edition is written by historical mystery writer Anne Perry, and she basically just talks about the book's goals.

Simple enough.

But I kept catching myself nodding enthusiastically* and fantasizing about the day MY book hits the bestseller list and is dubbed my breakout novel. Then I moved on to the Introduction by Mr. Maass himself and found myself agreeing with everything he said. (Of course I did, he's a GENIUS!)

Among his points is that word of mouth is the best marketing tool, but for that to work you must write a phenomenal book. No amount of publicity in the world will force people to buy a book that is below-par. I won't bore you with all his wisdom. Let's just say his pep talk really got me revved up. :)

Before my vacation I said that upon my return I'd start edits on my memoir. Funny thing, that. My novel will not get out of my head. I knew while writing the first draft that I'd have a lot of expanding to do: scenes I intentionally left short, characters that need deepening, one minor plot hole that my research uncovered. The solutions kept coming to me so I decided it'd be best to focus my energy where my passion seems to lie.

I have every intention to tackle the memoir edits - I even rewrote the opening to the final chapter on the plane home - and I may slip it in when I need a break from my novel.

All in all, not a bad place for me to be.

* This is an example of one of the things amateurs do. I included it purely to demonstrate a point. Mmm-hmmm.


Janna Qualman said...

Great and interesting point! I'll have to get that book.

*nods head vigorously*

Melanie Avila said...

Of course I read Spy's post after posting this one and now I feel like a sixth grader excited about her first short story about a horse. ;)

Robin said...

I know what you mean. I feel like Charlie Brown looking at the clouds after Linus has seen Roman Gladiators and the Corinthians, and saying, "I was going to say I saw a horsie and a ducky, but now I'm sort of embarassed."

I'm going to check out the books you mentioned. This is fun!

Melanie Avila said...


That reminds me - I mentioned listing all the books I brought back with me (focusing primarily on the writing ones) so maybe I'll do that tomorrow.

colbymarshall said...

giggle giggle...I love that I've had very similar experiences to the vigorous head nodding you describe ;-)

Melanie's Mom said...

I'm just happy it was worth carting all of the books back with you! Enjoy!

Jenna said...

Now you see why it's on the top of my list :).

Melanie Avila said...

*nods enthusiastically at Colby*

Hi mom. Thanks again. :)

Jenna, I was actually going to email you to tell you what a wonderful recommendation it is!

Vwriter said...

You have given me some new books to add to my to-be-read list! Thanks.

spyscribbler said...

What do you mean? LOL! Melanie! Don't be silly!

Remember how I said I've read every single one? Well, for some odd reason, I can never find Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I AM going to read that someday! Soon, I hope.

PS: Every writer dreams about the bestseller list. Amateurs, pros, and everyone else. Some are just "too cool" to admit it. :-)

Melanie Avila said...

Welcome vwriter, I hope I've been of help. :)

Spy, I bow down to your advanced grasp of when it's ok to use an adverb.

*bows down*

*straightens back up*

I just thought it was ironic the way our posts were completely the opposite of each other. ;)

Vwriter said...

Melanie, I'll definitely be back. You have a very helpful blog!

Nadine said...

I might have to pick up some of these books, now I'm excited to read them! Especially since I'm in the editing stage...

Melanie Avila said...

That's it, I'm posting the full list tomorrow. :)

Turkey Lurkey said...

Adding his book to the list of books I need to read. Glad you are in the right place! Go Mel!

Zoe Winters said...

Yes, I love Donald Maas's books. Ironically it's one of the books that really propelled me into going indie. Not because he actually supports such a thing (I'm sure he doesn't) but because he seems to believe that books that do really well are the books that are not just well written but that GRAB people, and no amount of "publisher support" for a book makes that happen.

To me it's a matter of availability. (And has a HUGE percent of market share right now, so much that all my initial efforts will be online based, completely ignoring the brick and mortar market altogether until I build up some steam), marketing, and writing that grabs people.

There is not one thing on this list that could make me a "star" if I don't have what it takes, and there is nothing that can truly stop me if I do. If I don't "have it" then it's back to the drawing board to figure out how to "get it."