Editing is hard work…

Editing is really hard work. I know this because I’ve had to edit many things by now. Most recently, Enthralled with Visions, and my God how I winced at what I’d written before. I needed a better editor back then.

My first ‘real’ edit, by which I mean someone under the gun from an actual publishing company and not just a median-price proofreader I hired, taught me more about writing well than anything else before or since. I will forever be grateful to her because her critique and requests and the tears I shed, helped me progress to the next level in my writing.

The experience was awful, wrenching…then I saw one author’s post (and I was really dumb back then and never made a note of who, so I can’t give proper credit). She saved my sanity, so I’m passing on her advice:

 

editors dont know

 

You’re hearing a hallelujah chorus right now, aren’t you? I did too, when I read that. They will often suggest changes, and as time goes by, I find that more helpful. (Previously, I did not) They will tell you something is awkward, impossible, weird, overwritten, underwritten, etc. But you are the writer…so write something to fix it. In that vein, there were very few changes I resisted in that first edit, or since.

NOTE: this next section does not apply to Beta Readers or Critique Partners! That is a more personal relationship and you’ve got to work out between you how you’d like information to be conveyed. Me and mine write directly into the text, but highlight it, and I have no problem with that even though…

I once had an editor decided a word needed capitalization, and so she did a Find/Replace for that word that wasn’t meant to be capitalized which led to utter chaos, including strange uppercase letters in the middle of other words. Over 300 instances where I had to fix what someone else wrote into my novel. She probably thought she was being helpful, but a note at the beginning asking me to change it would have been better, right?

A certain level of vagueness is, in fact, the mark of an excellent editor. If you find someone who tells you something’s funky but doesn’t try to tell you how to fix it, you might be paying the right person.

gaiman quote

 

Remember, you are the writer. Your creativity did not, hopefully, exhaust itself in the writing of your story, so dig a little more, fall out of love with your own words, and change what needs to be changed in a manner your heart can bear. When you first write your story, you will be ridiculously resistant to cutting out words or rearranging sentences, etc. You want to keep them so badly, you know you just NEED them. If you’re like me, you’ve always got an eye on word count, too, right? You need to stretch a little, make that quota you set for yourself…

That was my problem with Enthralled. I had a difficult time getting that one in shape. I remember rushing to get it out in time for Halloween when I wrote it, and I apparently thought it was in competition with Tempted by Nightmares in terms of word count.

Thankfully, a couple of years really gives you a bit of space to see your mistakes. Plus, I’ve learned so much. I was able to cut out a lot, and add in necessary explanations I failed to include the first go-round. It is now streamlined, more cohesive. If I’d had a better editor before, I wouldn’t have had to go through this now.

Look, editors are expensive, and maybe it’s hard to tell the difference between proofreading and content development by someone’s profile…but try. Use that free sample, and know the difference between an editor preserving your voice and just doing a lazy edit. And when you get your first round back and feel like giving it all up, dry your tears and remember…by the time you finish doing all that’s necessary, not only will you have a better book, but you’ll be a better writer.

Buck up. It really is worth it.

 

You want to write a Romance?

I’m not going to lie. This is about a post I saw giving some ‘basic concepts’ to writing Romance. Except what the author of the post wrote is backwards. It holds just fine if someone is writing a different story and there HAPPENS to be a romance in it, but not if you’re actually writing a romance novel. I’m not going to rehash the points made in the other post, I’m just going to offer a little wisdom on the Romance genre for those who wish to write an actual romance.

romance

The ROMANCE is the story. This is, apparently, quite a hang-up for those who don’t read or write romance. It’s nice to add outside plot elements, those can really spice your story up…but the focus is the relationship. Romance is not used to set the mood or describe the customs of your time or place. It is not there simply to raise the stakes so the hero has to rescue the heroine and the heroine can then rescue the world. Nope—the ups and downs of the relationship are the core of your story, it is the world, it is the suspense, the conflict and the resolution all wrapped into one.

Follow the tropes, and a few clichés aren’t bad either. It’s one of the few places where ‘expected outcome’ is a necessary, though you may feel free to twist other things however you please. Try not to be overly dramatic, but that’s still much better than being too subtle to feel the chemistry between the characters. If you begin with insta-love, make sure the characters FEEL it all the way through—they can have doubts about the direction of the relationship, what they truly feel and even if things can work out (etc.), but their mind should be occupied with this other person, they should agonize a bit over things. Love at first sight isn’t all that common, so if they feel it, make it special.

Erotica and romance aren’t the same thing. There is a bit of cross-over. They can be connected. They can both be present in the same story. But for the love of God, please stop confusing the two.

Finally, I will add, as so many others have, that romance and its authors take shots to the chin a lot. On the flip side, every time some author from a different genre sits down to write a romance they feel the need to then blog about how difficult it was. Yes, prepare yourself, it is difficult finding the proper balance of things, but if you keep looking at the events of your story through the prism of falling in love, you’ll stay on the right track.

Cliché

Destiny…perhaps the most common fantasy cliché in the biz. As is in The Chosen One and the Task They Must Undertake To Save The World. A lot of people hate that crap.

My goal for Beloved Priestess was to take the feel of an epic fantasy and condense it into a quick, sexy fun read that captivated your imagination and got you hot and bothered, too. But yes, there is a Chosen One, and her name is Dahlene.

Obviously, this is not the tale of some poor, orphaned boy who now must struggle against his own fate. He doesn’t spend chapters resisting, only to fall in line with destiny and ride to the rescue. Uh-uh, Dahlene has had a pretty good idea of what’s expected of her since childhood.

And, you know, she’s a woman.

I never say if she’s orphaned or not, but the prince of the Wasted Kingdom, Valeran, found her in the slave market when he was young and threw a royal fit until his father bought her for him. She wasn’t obtained as a harem girl, though, but as an acolyte to the rain goddess because Dahlene has white hair in a land where pale hair is uncommon, to say the least. It was a Sign.

Yeah, yeah, I know…but she’s got be visibly special somehow. Unlike a lot Chosen One/Destiny themed stories, Dahlene can’t bring rain to the Wasted Kingdom on her own. Also, her white hair doesn’t necessarily make her pure and shiningly perfect. In fact, she’s been carrying on a secret and forbidden affair with Valeran for years.

Then Valeran has to get married. Dahlene’s jealous, but dutiful in her determination to let him go…and a little hesitant when Valeran asks her to vet his intended bride. Carani of the Riverlands is a gentle soul who is a little scared of men, but has always been attracted to women.

So yeah, I used some clichés, but I also tried to make them mine, unique in my story (though nothing in this world is truly original). I’ll even list them for you: destiny, The Chosen One, fated mates/soulmates, forbidden love, maybe even PI considering Dahlene and Valeran grew up together, a jealous brother and greed. Whew, I crammed a lot in there, didn’t I?

*Did any of them interest you? Just perhaps?*

Hmm, I could tell you to take my word for it, winking and smiling as I promise you’ll like it, trust me… Or, you could go to Amazon and read the sample and see for yourself. Right now, it’s only 99 cents, priced so it won’t break the bank while you decide if this is a world you’re interested in reading more of. Beloved Priestess is even free on Kindle Unlimited, if that’s an option for you.

If you’ve read it, let me know if you want to read more set in this world. Or feel free to leave a comment here telling me what fantasy and romance clichés you love, or hate, or wish would never see the light of day again… We’ll call it Interactive Readership, shall we?

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:

bp pic_800Beloved Priestess—Her duty, their pleasure

Travel to a whole new land, where fantasy meets fated love…

The Wasted Kingdom is perched on the edge of a desert that creeps closer every year. Dahlene has been chosen by the rain goddess to save her people, but she can’t do it alone. When her lover, Prince Valeran, must choose a wife, Dahlene helps him find a woman that suits them both and their triangle turns out to be exactly what the drought-stricken kingdom needs…

So long as Valeran’s jealous brother doesn’t destroy everything before the new union can be consummated.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PJZRM8/