Monday, May 4, 2009

Editing, Books, and a Little Help

Saturday I officially started my "edits." I've spent the past month -- ugh, that long? -- writing seven new chapters for a subplot I decided to add, and as I finished those last week, it was finally time to get to the real edits.

Chapter One took me most of Saturday and it was only seven pages. Not the best start, but it was also the chapter with the most red ink from my readers. My wip originally started with what's now Chapter Two and I added the new first chapter because the action was actually starting too late (unlike most newbies who start it too early). That meant I'd spent less time tweaking the first chapter, and there were a lot of little details I'd left out.

Yesterday I tweaked some more (I fear this word will quickly dominate my vocabulary) and was all set to move onto Chapter Two when the Red Wings game started. I figured a three-hour break on a Sunday afternoon would be nice, but then they went and played THREE overtimes! In hockey, in the playoffs, overtimes are full-length periods (20 minutes) which means they played over five periods -- close to two full games. Needless to say, I didn't get much editing done after that.

Besides the setback yesterday, I'm really excited to finally be ON with it. I've got my word count to 81K -- woo-hoo! -- and I'm enjoying playing around with things and seeing how much I can improve them. I think I've set it aside long enough that I'm able to cut sentences without cringing, but no word yet on full paragraphs -- or eek! -- pages.


For those of you paying attention, I set aside Reading Like a Writer and I'm not sure if I'll go back to it. The lessons in the book are great and I can see how I might benefit from it, but I cannot stand the literary examples she uses and that makes it hard to read the book. The entire book consists of these examples, which she then deconstructs. Um, no.

I did, however, LOVE The Time Traveler's Wife. Oh wow, why didn't anyone tell me how GOOD it is? It took me over a week to finish because I was just drinking up the words and sentences, the descriptions, the emotions. It inspired my own writing so much that I'm tempted to keep flipping through it as I work on my edits.

I haven't started reading anything new yet, but I did pull Writing the Breakout Novel off my shelf. Several people have talked about it recently and since it still ranks as my favorite writing book, I figured it can't hurt to re-read the sections I highlighted on the first read.


Finally, if you haven't already, please take a moment to read my post from Saturday. A friend of mine from college is taking on his local school board to make sure his autistic son gets the education he deserves, and they need help raising the money to pay their legal fees.

Check out his site here:

Owen's Due Process Legal Fund


Jenna said...

Good luck with the edits Mel! Oh how I wish I was at that point!!

P.S. I treat Writing the Breakout Novel like my bible of writing--I refer to it constantly. And I just got The Fire in Fiction Saturday--I won't be able to dig in until late tonight or tomorrow but I can't wait!!

Melanie Avila said...

Jenna! I was about to email you and make sure you were still alive. :)

I think I'm going to have to elevate it to Bible status as well. Just flipping through to the parts I underlined before has already inspired me.

You'll get there!!

Janna Qualman said...

So much good stuff! Good luck with your edits. You'll do great.

Lauren said...

Good luck with the edits!

And, yes, The Time Traveler's Wife is *amazing*. I read it in a book club a few months ago and still pause and think about it from time to time.

Writing the Breakout Novel is by far my favorite book for writers that I have run across. I flip through it super frequently, but each time I feel like I come out of it with another great idea to firm up my novel.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Janna. I'm a little intimidated to change things, but that's silly. It's MY story!

WendyCinNYC said...

Good luck with the edits, Melanie. There's another book, Self Editing for Fiction Writers or something like that, I found really helpful as I made my first pass.

Melanie Avila said...

Lauren, the fact that I adore Mr. Maass so much makes it seem a little strange that I'm considering querying him. Eek!

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, I have that as well. I think I read it between rounds two and three. :) Also very good.

Maybe I should peruse my entire writing shelf.

spyscribbler said...

Isn't that funny how we're so different? That was actually a skill-shifting book for me. I confess I skip the examples and just read the deconstruction. I don't know why. I have a short attention span.

I do the same thing with Donald Maass's new book, Fire in Fiction. REALLY good, but it does have lots of deconstruction. Not as in depth as Francine Prose, though!

I read Writing the Breakout Novel so many times (5? 10?), it is now programmed into my subconscious. I used to read it as a guide as I started each story for a couple years. He has another one, something like the Career Writer, that was pretty good.

Nadine said...

I'm excited that your edits are going so well! And I am still in awe at your word count!!

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, that is funny. I guess that just proves that we all think differently and that different processes work for each of us. I just read an interview with someone on Writer Unboxed (Friday's post) and she outlines much the same way as me. She just explained it much better than I do.

I have Maass' The Career Novelist, I just haven't read it yet.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Nadine. I'm still a little shocked I made it to this point!

EMC07 said...

Congrats on the edits. Writing the Breakout Novel is next on my list. Almost done with Plot & Structure!

Good Luck with the process. What an accomplishment 81,000 words :)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks EMC. :) Do you have other books in the Plot & Structure series? I can't remember if I asked you that before. I have the Character one too.

Robin said...

Congratulations, Melanie! I veered away from my novel for a bit, and I'm working on a screenplay with a friend. What the heck? You only live once!

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, writing a screenplay with a friend sounds FUN! I once wrote an episode of a sitcom with a friend for a scriptwriting class and we had a blast!