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Revisions: Turning Your Manuscript Draft Into Something Worth Reading

I am a writer

If writing was easy, everyone would do it and do it well.

As I’ve mentioned, a draft is NOT, and NEVER will be ready for anyone other than the author to see…I wouldn’t even venture a friend…but certainly not an editor, and not a reader. So how do you take that draft and get it to a level where an editor at a publishing company might accept it for publication or a hired editor might assist you in turning it into something a reader will just eat up?

Revisions. Revisions. And more revisions.

When you start revising your manuscript, you’ll begin fleshing out characters – making them three-dimensional, and more alive – developing action as well as setting, and emotion. It’s about stepping into your characters’ shoes and living the story with them. It’s about building the life and depth of the story line through layers of words like a bricklayer builds a wall.

  • An example, let’s say your draft gives you:
  • John strode to the door, opened it, and walked out on the street.

That sentence is fine. It’s grammatically correct…it shows the action, but what does it really present to the reader? It says he opened the door and went out to the street. Simple and to the point, but that’s a draft.

Revision one:

  • Angry, John stalked to the door, opened it, and walked out onto the street.

Now we know he was angry, by both stating it and making it evident in the way he walked to the door.

Revision two:

  • Angry and feeling as though if he didn’t leave immediately, he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open, and despite the pouring rain, marched into the street.

Now we know just how angry he was as well as creating atmosphere because now we know it was raining outside but it’s not very smooth so let’s take a step further.

Revision three:

  • Angry, and feeling as if he didn’t leave right away he was going to hit someone, John stalked to the door, threw it open so wide driving rain sprayed him and the foyer floor. He marched into street without looking back. He knew he’d never return.

By layering emotion, setting, action, and expanding that simple line, you can create a scene and that’s what we, as editors and readers, want to see in a story. Through revisions, you can layer into it so much more without writing eons of words.

If you’re struggling with revisions, not understanding what needs expanding or what needs cutting, come back next time and I’ll start breaking things down with you. Remember…when you think you’re really ready to show it to the world, having a professional editor like me look at it can only make it shine brighter.

Let’s find success for you – together.

Happy Writing Everyone!

The TEN Most Common Mistakes in Writing

10 Most Common Mistakes in Writing

We are all guilty of using crutch words and common misspellings but some mistakes are made over, and over again by many of us, regardless of correction or laziness. Are you one of the members of the guilty party?

 

Mistake number 1

WHO or WHICH

WHO refers to a person/persons/people and WHICH refers to things/animals but never to a person.

The girl who was always late for class was chastised often.

The dog, which ate the boy’s homework, was punished.

**And replacing it with that doesn’t make it right either.

 

Mistake number 2

Commonly misspelled words:

SEPARATE

DEPENDABLE

RECOMMEND

ALL RIGHT – this one especially, there is no such word as alright.

RESPONSIBLE

INDEPENDENT

 

Mistake number 3

ITS, IT’S, and ITS’

First of all…there is no ITS’, none, nada, never!

ITS is the possessive form of IT.

Every dog has its day.

IT’S is the contraction for IT IS or IT HAS.

It’s raining outside. It’s been a wonderful day.

 

Mistake number 4

EMPTY ADVERBS

First a definition of adverb for those who don’t know what it is.

Adverbs are used to modify verbs. They tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed. In most cases, adverbs are one word but they can also be adverbial phrases.

Empty adverbs are those adverbs, which are unnecessary, and tend to be overused as filler and can be seen as redundant. Examples:

ACTUALLY   /   BASICALLY   /   COMPLETELY   / CONSTANTLY      LARGELY  / LITERALLY  /   SERIOUSLY  /  TOTALLY  / INCREDIBLY

UNUSUALLY   /   VERY   / REALLY   / FINALLY  / ABSOLUTELY  /

and many more.

It doesn’t mean these cannot or should not be used but instead, used sparingly and only when the action needs bolder, more urgent emphasis.

The ship was filling with water and the reality of death was becoming a seriously incredible possibility.

 

Mistake number 5

THERE, THEIR, and THEY’RE

Their is a possessive form of they.

They’re is a contraction of they are.

There is used to signify a place, or as an empty word to start a sentence.

Their goals were lofty.

They’re hungry after playing the game.

There are seven days in a week.

 

Mistake number 6

LOOSE vs LOSE

A very common mistake.

Lose means you have lost something

Loose refers to a certain fit.

If your shoes are too loose, you might lose them running for the train.

 

Mistake number 7

SITE AND SIGHT

Sight refers to your sense of vision.

Site refers to a location or place.

The sight of children playing together always brings a smile.

Before it shut down, that history site was one of my favorites.

 

Mistake number 8

THE APOSTROPHE

For the most part, there are only two reasons to use an apostrophe.

One…for contraction as in don’t for do not.

Two…to show possession as in Dave’s house.

If ever you are in doubt as to whether or not to use an apostrophe…just say no, and leave it OUT.

 

Mistake number 9

THE SEMI-COLON

What is a semi-colon? A semi-colon is part comma and part period. In non-fiction, it works well as a strong comma but in fiction, it tends to act as a weak period.

In fiction, it can halt or block the flow of the text, whereas in non-fiction, it helps break up long explanations, which in another world be called run-on.

Ideally, we don’t want run-on sentences in either type of writing but most definitely not in fiction.

A semi-colon should never, ever be used in place of a colon.

The child appeared to be healthy; however, the doctor chose to wait.

 

Mistake number 10

THE ELLIPSE

Ellipses are not just random dots in punctuation. It has specific uses and is always created by using THREE consecutive dots with no spaces before or after. ONLY 3!

Use an ellipse when there is an intentional omission of words or as a pause in speech or thought, but do not overuse. Although, to be honest, I’d rather see them used more often than semi-colons if it’s fiction.

“You over there…yes, you,” he called across the field.

The man had attempted to scale the wall twice…falling wasn’t his plan.

 

And there you have them…the Ten Most Common Mistakes in Writing. Trust me, there are many more but if you can master these, your writing will improve hugely.

Is there anything you’re not sure of but are too afraid to ask? Feel free to ask. Advice is always free.

Happy Writing Everyone!

BLURB WRITING – IT’S NOT AS EASY AS YOU THINK

author-writing-writer

It’s true that book covers help sell books because it’s the first thing a reader sees and if the cover is attractive and eye-catching, it will draw the attention the book needs, but it’s the back cover blurb that truly sells a book. With such a large variety of books in various formats from which to choose, authors need to set their book apart from the others on the shelves and amid the long lists of e-books available online. Yes, the cover catches the reader’s eye, the title might intrigue, but ultimately it is the blurb that sells a book.

A blurb is a brief description of the book that intrigues the reader to want to read more. A book blurb is not to be confused with a synopsis, which actually tells the entire story in short form and used primarily when submitting. You certainly don’t want to give away the entire story to a reader before actually selling him/her the book.

Think of a blurb like a movie trailer. It teases, it intrigues, and it hooks the reader into the story without giving away too many details. It makes the reader say, “Oooh, I want to read that one.”

Some tips on writing great book blurbs include doing your research, using the correct voice, tense, focusing on the underlying trope or theme of the story, and keeping it brief. Now this might sound easy enough to do, and for some it does come with ease but for others not so much. That’s where an editor can help but every author should try his or her hand at blurb writing before turning to a professional for assistance. You never know if you can until you try.

Do your research – read as many blurbs as possible. If you have shelves full of your writing genre, you’ve got all you need. Look at your favorite books. What was it about the blurbs that made you purchase those particular books? Get a feel for the format and style of the best blurbs. Take notes on what stands out most and intrigues the reader in you. What makes you want to read more about the characters and the story? What is the hook? Use those blurbs and your notes in preparing to write your own book blurb.

Write your blurb in the same voice as your book. If your book is dark and tragic, be sure the blurb carries the same emotion. If your book is light at heart, and filled with humor share that feeling in your blurb, but don’t give it all away – no spoilers allowed. 

Write your blurb in present tense. Whether you have written your book in third-person past, first-person present, or any other combination, make sure you write your blurb in third-person present. Think about those movie trailers. “Life is changing for Maggie, how will she accept it? Dave was a star once, but now he’s working toward a comeback? Will he make it or fail?” 

Charge your blurb with focusing on the underlying trope or theme of the story such as it being a suspense, second chance romance, or tragic love affair. Your full-length saga may seem too intricate in plotting to pull together into about 150 words, but writing the blurb can actually benefit you by making you focus in on what is truly the most important aspect of your story without minimizing the rest. Hone in on the main points of your story, and what pushes the story along more than anything else. It might help to write a 3 to 4 page synopsis before attempting to write your blurb. The synopsis will give you the full story. If you’re going by way of traditional publishing, you will need to write a synopsis anyway, so you may as well get it out of the way. Once you have the full story pared down, drop the ending and pull the whole thing down tighter into one page focusing on the most important points in your story and the effects those points have on the main characters.

Keeping it brief – as I already mentioned, a typical blurb is only about 150 words and consists of 2 or 3 paragraphs at most. This is what makes writing a blurb so difficult, and even frustrating. You only have a short amount of space consisting of only a small number of perfectly chosen words to entice, tease, and hook the reader before that reader moves on. Remember that movie trailer, well, in a crowded theater, with people seeking seats and getting settled, the trailer only has a few minutes to convince the viewers into coming back to see the movie. In that same manner, your book blurb only has a moment in a crowded bookstore or while browsing a long list of titles online to capture the reader’s attention, and sell your book.

Now, I’ve given you the tools to write your book blurb but if after several tries, you still feel you’re at a loss and need assistance, I am here to help. Whether you need assistance writing it from the start, or simply need a good polishing to make sure that it is all that it can be to make your book present itself with the best-selling face, I can help you achieve the polish you want at reasonable rates. Feel free to check out my services by clicking HERE.

Thank you and Happy Blurb Writing!

Happy New Year 2014!

2014 Goals

Happy New Year Everyone!

With a New Year comes a clean slate and the opportunity to make the most of your talents.

Hopefully, you’ve got your goals for the new year somewhat mapped out but for those of you who are finishing up writing works or are considering taking your NaNoWriMo novel to the next step, choosing an editor to read, proof, and steer your work to its best is as important as typing those final two words – The End.

Just remember that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get a thorough opinion on your work, its voice, and plot as well as having it edited and proofed to ready it for publishing or submitting to a traditional publisher. I can assist you on any level you need and the cost won’t break your bank. Feel free to check out my rates, how to get a free polishing sample, and free blurb polishing.

Here’s wishing everyone great success, good writing, and a prosperous and Happy 2014.

Amy Valentini – your one stop editor

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