Monday, January 25, 2021

Types of Editors

 Most new writers hear the word “editor” and think of the acquiring editor of a traditional publisher who will call you with the news that the publisher wants to buy your book, send you the legal documents to sign, then lead you through the process of rewrites until the book is ready for prime time.  

Editors, however, are diverse in skills and roles in both traditional and self-publishing.  If you want someone outside of the traditional publisher to help you create a publishable book for either traditional publishing or self-publishing, you need to look for different types of editors. 

First, you need a developmental editor who will look at big picture things like plot, structure, characters, facts, etc. of the entire novel.  Here’s where those pages of rewrite suggestions appear.  

Once you and the developmental editor think your work is sound, you will need a line editor or proofreader who will do a close edit for grammar, spelling, and clarity.  Some fact checking may be added to that mix.  At this point, the book may be ready to send to a traditional publisher.

For a more in-depth look at this part of the process, read Sandra Wendel’s article on the subject.

For self-pubs who will publish to places like Amazon Kindle, a format editor may be worth the cost so your manuscript doesn’t have unexpected format issues as it’s translated.

NOTE: Good writing teachers will help you perfect the small elements, critique partners will help with the bigger picture as you work, and beta readers are your manuscript’s final look, but it’s the professional editor who can help you polish your work to a pro standard so don’t skimp on paying the pros.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Career Paths

 Author career paths aren’t always the same.  Over the years, I've watched too many friends and authors I enjoy have their career, through no fault of their own, crash and burn over the idiocies within Big Publishing. (Dirty Big Publishing secret:  Everything is the author's fault even if the author had nothing to do with it.  A bad cover, a literal train wreck which wipes out most of the West Coast book deliveries for that month so sale numbers tank, a failed within-house promotion--all the author's fault.  Toss that author out.)   

Most authors get back up, reinvent themselves with a new name, and start a new series, a new genre, or a new publisher.  I traded updates with a best-selling, award-winning friend at Christmas.  She's reinvented herself or started a new mystery series four times, and her newest very successful series has been cancelled because her publisher has decided to stop publishing fiction.  She's got her rights back so the next book will be self-published because she’s tired of publishers who can't get their own sh*t together.  

Other friends sold that first book that was their first book and blazed ahead like the golden children they were to finally hit a minor roadblock.  They got pissy and promptly quit writing.  

Sometimes, authors stagger up after yet another career hit because of bad luck or a publisher's ineptitude and walk away.  After over 30 years of being hit and yet another publisher destroying any chance for my new book’s success through their ineptitude, I walked away, and I'm okay with that. I decided I was too burned out to bother with self-publishing so I'm watching my publishers die, two in the last year, and my books disappear off the virtual shelves. I'm fine with that, too.  

Publishing isn't for sissies, and it's okay to whine or walk away for your own sanity.   

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Woman as Warrior

 Movie and TV heroines have a lot to answer for in action/adventure scenes. Some writers see these women as realistic female fighters, and they aren’t even remotely realistic either as women or human beings in fighting methods, stamina, and strength.

Maybe your warrior princess or action babe in leather and overpriced stilettos is as tough as any man, but she will have certain physical limitations. Use those limitations to be creative in fight scenes.

During a TV showing of one of the AVENGERS movies, the fight coordinator who trained Scarlett Johansson talked about Black Widow’s fighting style.  Johannson is 5 ft, 3, so the director wanted her fighting to be as realistic as any superhero movie is for such a tiny woman.  That’s why she used her legs to kick and scissor choke big men.  With her much shorter reach with her arms, a punch or martial arts move would be easily avoided or blocked by a man with a much longer reach.  

The strongest woman is rarely as strong as the strongest man, but she may be faster, smarter, or more supple.  She may be trained in combat when he isn’t. Use her realistic strengths rather than using unrealistic strengths.

Many women are pragmatists, as well. The rule that both parties must use the same weapons for the fight to be “fair” has nothing to do with reality, and pragmatists know this. If a huge man with a knife charges toward your action babe, she should shoot him and not feel bad about it later.

In CAPTAIN MARVEL, this attitude is shown perfectly in the last showdown between Carol Danvers and the Jude Law character.  He tries to sucker her into a physical fight where he has all the advantages, but she blasts him into a mountain instead.  That’s not cheating, that’s smart.  That’s a woman fighting.  

Monday, January 4, 2021

Formatting Telepathic Dialogue

 QUESTION: I have a character who is a telepath. Should I italicize what she picks up from others' minds?

If the characters are "speaking" mentally, I've often seen authors italicize the conversation.

Mary thought to Matt, What happened to my son?

He fell into the river but grabbed a log.

If, however, Mary is picking up the images from Matt's head, I'd do something like this--

Mary tilted her head and concentrated harder on what Matt was trying to show her with his thoughts.

Darkness. A river surging past. A hand reaching out of the water and grasping a log. Then her son's head coming up out of the water as he pulls himself up onto the floating log.

"He's not dead," Mary sobbed and rubbed away her tears. "Billy's not dead."

I’ve also seen writers use colons for mental dialogue in the same way as you would use quotation marks. 

Mary thought to Matt, :What happened to my son?:

:He fell into the river but grabbed a log.:

The advantage of using the colon is that there will be no confusion about when speakers change.

Pick any of these methods and stick with it through your whole work.