Nods, Shrugs and Glances

December 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , )

 

This has been a week of ups and downs. The ups have included the publication of Shear Terror as a novelette e-book by May December Publishing, and the offer to be a guest author at Hal-Con in November 2011. The downs have included another rejection by means of form letter and having to tackle the monstrous task of editing my first manuscript, Magic University, yet again.  This time, however, I’m editing with purpose. May December is interested in seeing the completed manuscripts I have for my Masters and Renegades series, and despite six prior edits

I was aware that the first in the series still needed major tweaking, and some serious chopping, but I had not touched it in months. While I find this revision process horribly painful, it is certainly a good thing, in measured doses, and I benefitted from setting it aside for so long, in three significant ways. In the interim, I did some editing for some friends. Working on technical elements and suggestions to improve flow, add tension to the plot and strengthen character development on a piece in which I have no personal investment has allowed me to see my own work with new perspective. Also during this time, while I continued to write furiously, my writing style matured as the result of practice and experience. Lastly, I made a point of researching technique as much as possible. I don’t choose to follow all of the “guidelines”, but just knowing what methods some proven writers have deemed preferable is useful in itself. This in turn allowed me to see my manuscript in a new light.

I’m still struggling with this task, hoping that it will be complete by early January. I’ve already cut 4,000 of the 15,000 to 20,000 words, and I’m seeing problems I had never noticed before – scenes that now seem unnecessary for story progression or character development, plot inconsistencies, dialogue with excessive dialogue tags, or word repetition. I had read one article that said that the most commonly overused words included “nodded” and “shrugged”. Magic University was flush with them, as well as “turned,” “realized,” “seemed,” and “glanced”. I’d say that 20% of my chopping alone has been surrounding those words. The manuscript is definitely cleaner and much more balanced, and when I’m done, I’ll have something I’ll be willing to hand over to May December to review. I’m convinced the story is still worthwhile, even if I wrote it when I had only just started learning how to write.

Time to sign off until after the holidays. If you like zombies and find the idea of zombie sheep intriguing, check out a free excerpt of my e-book novelette “Shear Terror” at Smashwords, or at my Scribd account, at http://www.scribd.com/chantal_boudreau.

Best wishes for the new year!

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