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Archive for the ‘revision’ Category

cartoon lady with pencil and notepadEvery fiction writer knows the frustration of plotting their story. Especially with a mystery, such as I create, the plot not only needs to proceed logically toward the climax, but the characters, dialogue, and actions within each scene need to be believable to the reader as the clues are subtly inserted into the story.

Such is the case with ‘Wedding Interrupted’, the 4th story in my Gwen Andrews series. My writers group commented that one of my secondary characters was leaving the story too early and suggested expanding his role to heighten the tension, releasing him only after he’d served his purpose in the plot.

And so for the past few days, I’ve been wrestling with Fred. He has finally surrendered to my vision of his role in the conflict and I have sent him on his way.

 

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book club at tableAs I settle into my third year of snow-birding in Florida, I continue to work with my writing group back in Massachusetts by emailing chapters back and forth, soliciting comments and suggestions. Our system seems to work very well, and in fact, I think we’re more productive!

The comedic light bulb above my head blinked on that I shouldn’t sacrifice face to face critiquing sessions simply because I’m 1500 miles from home, and so I googled writing groups in Pinellas County. I was pleasantly surprised to learn several exist within a few miles of me:

Pinellas Writers, Largo … Saturday mornings

Gulf Beaches Library Writers Group, Madeira Beach … Monday mornings

Clearwater Writers Meet-up Group, Clearwater … Monday evenings

Now that I’m penning the 4th story in my mystery series, other pairs of eyes reading my words would ensure that this story can stand alone if a reader delves into the adventures of my amateur sleuth out of sequence.

And so, I need to choose one of these groups and make the commitment to close down my tablet, walk out my door, get into the SUV, and drive to a meeting!

 

 

 

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A_Woman_Reading_Papers_At_Her_DeskWhenever the members of our writers group are unavailable for a face-to-face meeting at alternating houses or libraries located between us, we have found that emailing our chapters for critique works very well.

Over the years, we’ve developed a system that provides suggestions to add, delete, or adjust wording.

Yellow Highlighted … suggests words or phrases that could be eliminated without losing the gist of the story.

Black Bolded … provides either alternate wording or phrasing for the yellow highlighted section or suggests additional words or phrases that will clarify the story.

Green Bolded … this indicates words or phrases that have been moved to another paragraph, scene, or chapter to re-sequence the timing for cause and effect.

RED BOLDED CAPS … questions to the author about the story.

If your writers group has developed a system of critiquing clues, I’d love to hear about it!

Writers groups are precious… treat them with care!

 

 

 

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BB&B front cover croppedSo excited to open my inbox yesterday and find an email from my editor/publisher Stephanie Blackman, owner of Riverhaven Books in Whitman, MA! As scheduled in our contract, yesterday was the due date for her to provide me with suggestions to fine-tune ‘Bed, Breakfast,  & Blackmail’.

So far, her suggestions have been small adjustments, with no major changes to plot, characters, or basic writing technique. My plan is to continue the review process through the weekend, and zip this file back to her bright and early on Monday morning.

After she finalizes the adjustments, she’ll request the galley copy which I will need to review with the proverbial fine-toothed comb before advising any final changes. Steph will then upload to Amazon and order printed copies from the local print shop on my behalf.

Looking forward to the day when I hold the actual book in my hands… nothing more satisfying for an author!

And then the marketing efforts begin!

 

 

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Wordcounter logoAs I approached the final edit of ‘Bed, Bath, & Blackmail’, I loaded my manuscript into a website called ‘Wordcounter.com’, a most useful tool.
This website came back with a list of my most-used words, along with their quantity. Imagine my surprise to see how often I used ‘when’, ‘about’, ‘back’, ‘down’, and ‘time’.
This tendency to use the same words over and over is a trap that writers groups won’t catch, because they see only a chapter or two at each meeting.
Most often, these redundant words … and the phrase that goes with them … can simply be eliminated. On occasion, another word brings more clarity to the context. My total word count for the story has been reduced by 3,000 words, resulting in a tighter story.
For the writers reading this post, I encourage you to give wordcounter.com a try. You’ll be amazed at the result!

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aus books - smallThere is nothing more satisfying than to walk into a bookstore and see both of my mysteries displayed on the shelf in the local author section.

I’m referring to An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Massachusetts. Children’s book author Jeff Kinney of Wimpy Kid story  fame, built his unique bookstore on the site of the historic Falk’s Market at the intersection of Rt.106 and Rt.1A. Some of the shelving and stairs to the second floor were built using the floor boards from the old market… truly a nod to the past.

When my debut mystery ‘The Uninvited Guest’ was published,  the Strong Women Book Group at An Unlikely Story chose it as their book of the month. I joined them at their follow-up discussion for an enjoyable question and answer session. I’ll be suggesting the second story titled ‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Trouble’ and ask them to choose it as an upcoming monthly selection.

And it’s time to contact the venues located in the area around Largo, Florida. Last year, when I arrived in January as a first-time snow-birder, I was too late to be included in their calendars. Many suggested I touch base this fall as they’re preparing the calendar for 2019, promising they’d do their best to assign a date for my Author Talk.

About the daily writing efforts … re-sequencing is the word of every day as I continue to create story #3. ‘Bed, Breakfast, & Blackmail’ takes place during the days leading up to Christmas. After attending a 3-day forensics class at the Cape Cod Writers Conference last month, and then discussing the nitty-gritty details with my local police detective, I found I had to re-shuffle many activities one day earlier than I’d written them. Doing this is not as simple as it sounds. By moving a key piece of the investigation to the previous day, it impacts conversations between characters, where they go, and what they do. My opening chapters are now interspersed with green text to signify it’s been moved, and red text to signify re-writing is required. Chapter numbers are also changing as the quantity of pages in each ebbs and flows.

And so, I chug along each morning, knowing that one day, I will type ‘The End’ … and mean it!

 

 

 

 

 

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audience-clipart-lecturer-3For the past two years, I’ve been presenting my Author Talk centered around how I learned to write a mystery. I was thrilled recently to receive an invitation from the Friends group for my local senior center to speak to them again this April with an update on my writing career and my work in progress.

Obviously, my original outline will not be appropriate for this return engagement, so I need to re-create my notes, adjusting the various aspects of writing as it now relates to a series.  Some of the topics will remain the same, but the content will be adjusted to move past the first story and into the next.

For instance, I will talk about choosing names for the characters, but for the second story, when some first story characters remain, and others drop off, I had to create new characters to support the new plot, being mindful of beginnings and endings, number of syllables. etc.

When speaking about the plot, this second talk will share that although the fictional town and main character will remain the same, the location within Harbor Falls will change, along with the season.

I need to be sure nothing from the first presentation is duplicated. Don’t want to bore audience members who attended my original Author Talk!

 

 

 

 

 

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