Normally Shannon posts on Fridays, but I'm stepping in for her this week. If you're missing Shannon, here's a post of hers from a few months ago that I'm particularly fond of: Write Stories That Excite You.
Today I'm doing another Mail Bag installment where I answer questions that have been sitting in my inbox for a really sad amount of time.
What's it like to be an editor?
Ciel said, "I've been noticing my writing is super choppy. It seems like all that happens is "I did this" and "I did that" and it prevents my story from moving forward. I've just started my 1st rewrite, and I don't know what to do."
I recognized this in my own writing when I was still getting the hang of writing complete drafts but still hadn't learned how to edit a manuscript. I felt like I handled dialogue pretty well, but the flow of everything else seemed off. Here are a few thoughts on how you can start to fix it:
- Reevaluate your content. One of the reasons I used to struggle with prose was that I hadn't yet learned how to balance action and thought and description and weave them through paragraphs. That often left me with several sentences in a row that were action sentences, then a paragraph describing where we were, then a few lines for inner monologue, and so forth. As I learned to edit these different elements into better flowing sentences and paragraphs, I also learned to just write with a better flow as well.
- Focus on sentence structure. Falling into a habit of writing our sentences with similar structures is a very easy thing to do. Something you could try is taking a page of your manuscript and diagramming your sentences like you learned to do in elementary school. Seeing it laid out like that could help you see ways to rearrange sentences so that they mesh in a more interesting way.
- Be kind to yourself. While it probably doesn't feel this way, just being able to look at a paragraph and think, "This is choppy" is a great step to fixing the issue. Learning how to edit your writing so that it reads smoothly takes time, so try to be patient with yourself as you learn.
Hosanna asked, "I am editing my first novella. But I have had some questions about copyright that I've had trouble finding answers to! Do you know if I would be allowed to reference "Google Earth" in my novella? I wouldn't be including anything else that might have copyright, just the words "Google Earth." And is it okay to mention Nancy Drew and a scene from one of her books?"
Absolutely. Brand names and characters from other stories are totally on the table. Your character can drive a Honda Odyssey (if she's cool like me, that is), wear Cover Girl, and enjoy taking pictures with her iPhone.
What you wouldn't want to do is imply bad things about those brands. She should not, for example, think, "This Cover Girl makeup is really giving me a rash. Next time I'm going with L'Oreal." Not only does that just sound like it would be terrible and boring pacing for your story, but portraying a company in poor light like that could get you into some trouble.
Have a question? Leave it in the comments below or email me!