Self-Editing and Critiquing #4

I’ve been reading some friends beginning pages and finding them not to my taste. I wondered what agents were looking for, particularly in the first pages of a novel, and the novel as a whole as well. The results of research were helpful in giving my friends feedback.

Three things that will make an agent discard a manuscript:

1) Starting with a dream.

2) Starting with a person going through their daily routine.

3) Starting with the weather.

Three things that will make an agent keep reading:

1) Starting with action.

2) Consistent pacing.

3) A satisfying ending.

One of many good resources on the subject:


Eight Sentence Sunday #3

Here we are with Eight Sentence Sunday, a blog hop hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. My intent is to post as many Sunday’s as possible this year. Eight sentences from the novel I am currently editing; Moon Murder.

“It’s the closest translation in your language. Overall it’s fairly accurate as an occupation which transcends cultures.”

I nodded, interesting. “What is your religion exactly?”

“That’s not my department.”

“What, aren’t you a religious missionary? Wouldn’t that make your job informing and converting people?”

Genie chimed in, “Or are you just the missionary that looks for virgins to sacrifice?”

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Self-Editing and Critiquing #3

This week I have been attacking three things in my novel.

1)      Repetitious use of the same word too soon.

2)      Character word choice consistency.

3)      Telling instead of showing.

Repetitious use of the same word too quickly, or in the same sentence location, bothers me. It always has, from the days of ‘see spot run’ I thought that the novel would be more interesting with different words. I try to hold my novel to the same standards as any other book I read, and that means differentiating my expressions. There is a particular focus on starting three paragraphs in a row with the same word, starting three sentences in a row with the same word, or just plain overuse.

This needs to be balanced with what a characters natural word choice would be. There is an alien in my novel and he doesn’t have a full grasp of the English language. It would not be unnatural for him to start sentences with ‘I’ or to use incorrect grammar. My hard core detective keeps to short sentences full of observations while shying away from personal feelings. Keeping my word choices and sentence structure straight between my characters is hard, but I believe it will take my novel to the next level of immersion for the reader.

Lastly I’ve been keeping an eye out for telling instead of showing. This was a particular problem for me while doing NaNoWriMo because I wanted to skip over a less interesting scene for the next one I had pictured. Yet this takes away from both the plot development, and more importantly the character development. I’ve started to highlight these so that I can expand them to their proper length at a later date.

Eight Sentence Sunday #2

Here we are with Eight Sentence Sunday, a blog hop hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. My intent is to post as many Sunday’s as possible this year. Eight sentences from the novel I am currently editing; Moon Murder.

She was setting down our meals. I have never seen something less appetizing in my life. The plated had a high pile of mushy gray goop. I am fairly sure the same thing would come out of a slug if squished.

“What exactly are we eating here?” I poked at the gray matter. It jiggled like jello.

“It’s the basic nutrients you need for the day all in one.”

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Self-Editing and Critiquing #2

This week I have been focusing on list making.

1)      Missing scenes.

2)      Good scenes or ideas, as specified by myself or my beta reader.

3)      Forgotten subplots.

These lists have already been useful in determining what scenes need to be added, and what content they should have. I am already seeing places where my forgotten subplots will fit into a missing scene nicely to show character and plot development. The good scenes/ideas help direct where these new scenes should go. For example many of the good scenes involve my main characters talking arm implant being sarcastic. Because of this I plan to add more scenes with him.

How do I determine missing scenes?

The easiest is when I type in big bold letters FINISH THIS SCENE. Or ADD HOW THEY FOUND THE BODY HERE. If I was writing leisurely I probably wouldn’t have these outbursts, but this novel was written during NaNoWriMo, and with time being word count the novel had to go on.

My novel has two main characters, the detective mother and her daughter. I try to have every scene switch between their points of view. If I have a long chapter staring one without the other I am probably missing a scene.

If I’m reading and something seems to have come out of the blue. This is tricky because I wrote this novel out of order and it’s not completely in order yet. Therefore I might have just put a scene where it is not supposed to be instead of missing scene. In this case I write down what I think is the missing scene but with a question mark next to it, so that I know to look into it more after reader further into my novel.

Eight Sentence Sunday #1

Here we are with Eight Sentence Sunday, a blog hop hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. My intent is to post as many Sunday’s as possible this year. I started off the year with a bang by missing one. That’s ok, it gets rid of my need to be perfect at this goal. A majority will suffice. Onto my post, the first eight sentences of Moon Murder.

“How did you manage to get the money for this hunk of junk anyways?”

“I am a highly intelligent implant named Genie, thank you!” If he was a human the sentence would have ended with a huff. Being a machine he got something inside of him to crackle instead, which gave much of the same effect.

“They gave me a pretty big discount if I was willing to give them feedback on how the personality and system worked.”

“But it wasn’t free?” I would never have gotten anything like that if it wasn’t free. Not if it involved surgery to install.

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Self-Editing and Critiquing #1

This week I have been attacking three things in my novel.

1)      Words which are not capitalized but should be.

2)      Two spaces after a period instead of one.

3)      Extensive unnecessary use of the words ‘that’ and ‘certainly’.

I thought these problems would be easy to fix. Capitalization and two spaces after the period are basically typos. I tried to go through my novel and take care of all of these problems before printing because I knew looking for them would annoy me. I did not do a good job, it’s still annoying me. To be fair it is hard to see if there are one or two spaces after a period while looking at a computer screen. On the printed page it is much easier. I have no reason for not seeing the lack of capitalization though. I hope to not have to deal with these problems again after this go through of the novel.

I’ve been getting rid of ‘that’ and ‘certainly’ during this read through of my novel. I had noticed they were being used to often in my writing when they weren’t needed. I decided to focus on getting rid of them since they can almost always be deleted outright to create a stronger sentence. No need to spend time rewriting or formatting the sentence, just delete the word and move on. It’s my kind of simple editing.