December 13th, 2015

Burp

Writing Excuses 10.47: Q&A on Revision

Writing Excuses 10.47: Q&A on Revision

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/11/22/writing-excuses-10-47-qa-on-revision-with/

Q&A Summary:
Q: During revision, when do you think it's acceptable to throw the whole story out?
A: Don't submit something you don't like, but do save the file. Give it to beta readers.
Q: How do you fit the whole structure in your head?
A: You don't. Use a spreadsheet, an outline. Try a rolling synopsis! How about navigating by landmarks?
Q: What do you most often need to revise or add? Description, senses, blocking, dialogue, timing, format, etc.
A: Punchlines. Blocking and trimming. Clarity. Word choice. And all of that.
Q: What do you do when you suspect your revision passes are actually making certain things worse?
A: Snapshot and rollback. Take a break. Articulate what is wrong before trying to fix it.
Q: How long do you typically wait between finishing a first draft and revising?
A: As long as possible, which often is not as long as I would like. A month to two months. After the beta readers -- about a month. The day after the script is written.
Q: How do you avoid overwriting while doing revisions?
A: Watch for the purple prose first paragraph! Get into the character's POV. Read it aloud.
Q: When revising, do you do a pass through for theme, then character arcs, etc., and then a line edit? What comes first?
A: Goal-based, deal with the big known changes first, then smaller ones. Structure, then fine tune. Revise as I go. Figure out what kind of story it is, then do that editing pass first.
Q: What you think about taking the sound of words and sentences into account with your story? Do you think sound is not fundamentally part of the prose?
A: Sound is fundamental to prose. Readings and cadence are key. Writing conveys spoken language. Read it out loud!
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[Brandon] So, Mary, how does this turn into a writing exercise?
[Mary] All right. So, the thing you should remember is that writing was developed to convey the spoken language. So this is absolutely tied in. What I want you to do is I want you to read your piece aloud. Yes. Even if it's a novel. Because you've spent an entire year working on this, in theory. You've been doing this week by week. Taking three days to read it, out loud, 3 to 4 days... And I'm a professional audiobook narrator, I know how long it takes to read a book out loud.
[Brandon] Mine might take a little longer.
[Laughter]
[Mary] Brandon's take nine days to read out loud. But still, proportionately speaking, that's not very much time compared to how long you spent doing it. The thing about reading out loud is that it forces you to interact with the words in a different way. It forces you to hear the way that... You'll find redundancies, repetitions, you'll be reading aloud and you go, "Gosh. This is really... This section goes on really long." Because you can't skim. That's the big thing. You cannot skim when you're reading aloud. If you can find someone who is willing to let you read it aloud to them, that is even better. Because when you are reading for someone, your telling them a story, and it forces you to interact with your story in a different way. So your homework assignment is to read the thing out loud.
[Brandon] All right. We are almost done with the season. One month left. You are out of excuses. Now go write.
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Fireworks Delight

Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil's Only Friend

Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil's Only Friend

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/11/29/writing-excuses-10-48-project-in-depth-the-devils-only-friend/

Key Points: Let's put Dan and John Cleaver on the chopping block today! (Was that a pun, Dan?) The Devil's Only Friend is book four, but think of it as book one of the second John Cleaver trilogy! The second trilogy is about John Cleaver finding out that having emotions hurts. John Cleaver is only about a year older, which helps readers because he is so different emotionally. In this book, John has a team from the FBI, but he is still lonely and isolated. Next of Kin and The Devil's Only Friend are concurrent, but told from a demon's POV and from John Cleaver's POV. Dan did not pull a Buffy with Elijah. Death of a favorite character means something to the readers. The focus of this book was intended to be disassociative identity disorder, but with Elijah and memories, it became a book about Alzheimer's. When John gets a pet, most readers are scared.
[Mary] Season 10, Episode 48.
[Brandon] This is Writing Excuses, Project in Depth, The Devil's Only Friend.
[Mary] 15 minutes long.
[Howard] Because you're in a hurry.
[Dan] And I'm not that smart.
[Brandon] I'm Brandon.
[Mary] I'm Mary.
[Howard] I'm Howard.
[Dan] And I'm on the chopping block today.
[Howard] Mwahahahaha.
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[Brandon] But I'm going to give you a writing prompt. Not you, Dan. But the audience. Because we are actually still on the boat. We don't have the audience with us for this one, but we are on the Writing Excuses cruise. So I was thinking about how environment shapes stories. I wanted to give you a writing prompt to take a story that doesn't really belong on a boat and set it on a boat. Or even one that you'd never considered and see what kind of... I should say ship because this is a ship.
[Howard] You should say ship.
[Brandon] You set it on a ship, and you see how that environment tweaks your story. I've found this a very useful way of conceptualizing stories that I'm working on. So, this has been Writing Excuses. Dan, thank you for being in the hot seat.
[Dan] Thank you very much for spending the whole episode talking about how great I am.
[Brandon] You listeners, you're out of excuses. Now go write a book as good as Dan's.
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