Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Concision and Cutting Your Manuscript

I first learned the value of concision from one of my Anthropology professors in college.  I don't always use what he taught me, but the rules he taught me came in handy when it came to cutting my manuscript down for submission to publishers.  I went from 116K to 98K and you can too!

Here are seven simple rules to help you do the same!

1.  Cut out as many modifiers and adverbs as possible.  These are the"ly" words and fluff that make you think you sound like a writer, but they hurt more than help.

2.  According to Stephen King, you should cut out "so," "just," "really," "quite," "perhaps," and "that."  I agree with him.  I also agree with his 10% rule.

3.  Learn to say it as simply as possible.  Wordiness is only useful if you need to add more words to your manuscript.  Instead of saying, "He was the type of man that wasn't like anybody else," say "He was a man like no other," OR "He was unique."

4.  Instead of describing how the characters feel and what they are thinking, put as much dialogue and physical reaction as possible.  This not only makes the scene move faster, but it usually shortens it as well.  Don't talk about how pissed of Sally is, make her stamp her foot, scream, and slap Jack.  It's more exciting that way anyway.

5.  Start at the real beginning.  It often takes a writer a little while to get into the characters and the story.  Find where the heart of your story begins and cut everything before that out.  If there is important information that you need to relay from what you've removed find a way to insert tid-bits of it throughout the story.  DO NOT INFO DUMP.

6.  Don't make a mountain out of a mole-hill.  In other words, don't use "utilize" when "use" works just as well.  There are exceptions to this rule, but remember literary genius is not in the word itself, but in how the word is used by the author.  The simplest tools are often the most worthy.

7.  Learn to say goodbye.  We know you love that scene where Sally gets her hair stuck in the hair-drier, but it isn't necessary to the story.  Cut it out and put it in a special file folder for all those wonderful scenes that just don't advance the romance between Jack and Sally.

Does that help?  Hope so!  What do you do?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


A lot of my Twitter followers have been messaging me and asking me what revisionism is.  Specifically, they want to know why I call myself a revisionist author.  Sounds like I'm some kind of political activist doesn't it?  That's not really what I'm going for... So, I thought I might enlighten the masses. :)

What is revisionism?
On a grand scale, revisionism is just retelling or reinterpreting something.

What I deal with:
Specifically, most of my work falls under a combination of historical and fictional revisionism.

What's historical revisionism?
Well, "it is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event."  That's from Wikipedia and I like such a concise explanation.  Now, while I don't consider my work historical fiction, I do work with some "historical" figures and events.  Mainly, my interests are in religious figures.  I know, I know, sticky ground to work in, but simply looking at it in a scholarly way, religious figures are either fiction or historical fact depending on who you talk to.  I'm not going to talk about what I believe, because that's irrelevant.  Nor am I going to say that I am altering the words of historical texts (because I try not to step on toes).  Instead, I like to either twist or give a 'shadow history' to what pieces like the Bible say.  There are many things that are mentioned once or glossed over in the Bible.  People make inferences about them and assume they understand what these statements mean, but I'm an anthropologist and I know that people are greatly shaped by the culture they live in.  Just because a book says that someone has a "worm-tongue" doesn't necessarily mean that they speak bad things.  It could mean they literally have a tongue like a worm, or maybe they ate worms when they were a kid.  You simply never know.  I like to write the 'what if' and the in-between; gently confusing what you know to be true with what could be true and thus, altering the way you see something.  I like to make people question what could be true.

What's fictional revisionism?
Believe it or not, a large amount of revisionist authors exist and never even know it!  Why?  Because in literature, revisionism is simply a retelling of a story with alterations to characters and plot so that the old story is in many ways different than the first.  Sound familiar?  Think about all of the re-tellings of fairy tales that have been coming out lately.  Beastly, Gnomeo and Juliet, Red Riding Hood, Thor...need I say more?  Besides the ambiguous biblical figures that I use in my work (which may or may not be fairy tales in themselves) I also like to retell fairy tales.  I am currently working on two re-tellings of fairy tales, so I guess that makes me a revisionist doesn't it?

Does that answer you questions?  I hope so!

Next Week:  Why fairy tales have once again become prominent and why people are re-telling them!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Circle of Muses

What's your Muse?

You often hear artists of all types talking about their "Muse."  In ancient Greek mythology there were, at one point, up to nine Muses who ruled over everything from poetry to astronomy.  These days few people mean these gods and goddesses when they talk about their muses.  Never-the-less, today's muses serve the same purpose as the muses of yesteryear.  They inspire within us a desire to see, to create, and to think beyond our daily tasks.  And, while today's version of the muse may not hover over our shoulder like a  guardian angel, we can still feel their weight pressing us to create.

So when do you feel that creative urge?

For me, like with many other authors, I find my artistic inspiration in the work of other artists.  Some authors need to read to find inspiration.  Some need only look upon a piece of art and feel the need to put it into words.  Others hear a song and feel the story behind that melody clamoring to the tips of their fingers.  Even another artist's passion makes me want to sit down and write something.

Is it possible that we've become muses to each other?  And if so, why wait?  If we want a muse, then let's go out and find it!
I'm not saying to go out and write a bunch of re-tellings and do a bunch of cover songs.  I'm saying that there are roots to the human experience in every form of art we experience and we shouldn't look over such an important resource.  So, if you're feeling a little stumped as to how to write an action scene, throw on a little Beethoven; if you don't know how your female character should react to a walking on her brother and best friend making out on the couch go watch a soap; if you want to know true joy watch a little girl laugh; and if you want to know what true cover art looks like do some research on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Most importantly, never be afraid to play the muse for someone else. :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two Weeks Notice

The edits on my two shorts for Tease should be coming along in mid-July.  My cover for The Alchemist's Perfect Instrument is done.  It's lovely!

Also... My agent likes the edits on Scar-Crossed!

She's meeting with one more editor on on the 19th and then we're going to start sending out the manuscript for Scar-Crossed.  I'm so excited it's finally happening!  Now all I have to do is come up with a clear idea for the sequel o.O

I have a couple of ideas, but then I've had sequel ideas for the past year and none of them seem to thrill me when I write them out.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to deal!

On top of figuring all that out, I have a couple of little projects that I can work on.  I think I'm going to take her up on the short for a Chicken-Soup spoof and I'll put the erotica on hold.  Erotica isn't really my thing and I'd rather work on the things I'm passionate least until this becomes something I do as a full-time professional.  She wants me to put Tamrin and Fawning on the back-burner and work on something that's in another genre so she can show it to an E- or an Indie-Publisher.  That way I can get my foot in multiple doors.  So, I'm going to try re-vamping (no pun intended) Will of the Fallen and finishing The Great White Light.

Everyone wish me luck!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Next Step

So, I met up with my agent at RWA on Tuesday and I think I'm going back into the city on Thursday to see her again.

We're both chomping at the bit to get Scar-Crossed out, so as long as she likes these new edits (which I'm sending tonight -- with or without my beta feedback) then we can move on to the next step.  I'm not 100% sure what the next step is (we're talking about that on Thursday).  I know we're pitching editors, but I don't know what kind of preparation I'm going to have to do for that.

So, what we're talking about on Thursday is the future of Scar-Crossed, my career as a whole, and we're going to decide on what the most beneficial project would be for me to work on next.  As you know, I've been working on The Great White Light, which is my Steampunk.  However, Distopians and Steampunks are not selling all that well right now cause the market just got flooded with them, so perhaps something else.  We could pitch The Great White Light as a fantasy because it's set in an alternative world, but that requires me finishing it. >.<  

She asked about my urban fantasy and I was like, "It's so not something you'd like."  And I was right.  I went back and looked at Will of the Fallen yesterday, just to make sure I was telling the truth...yeah, my own writing as changed so much that I can't even deal with looking at it anymore.  I suppose I'm going to have to re-write it. *sigh*  Which means that's not going to be something we work on for a while. *sigh again*  Sorry Lilith.

I've got plenty of other projects that I hope she'll be enthusiastic about, so I'm not too worried.  I just want Scar-Crossed to sell so I can actually take some time off of work to finish something else.

Fingers Crossed for Scar-Crossed!

In other news, I met some really great new people, got to hang out with Stella, and did the grunt work for my shorts this week.  The Alchemist's Perfect Instrument has been fluffed up and I've compiled a crud-load of images for Stella to use on the cover.  I should be getting at least one more beta feedback tonight, so I'm going to be editing after I go out and have human social time with my buds.