Round Robin – How do you self-edit your work?

How do you self-edit your books before submitting or publishing? This is the question Rhobin asked us to consider in March.

 

 

 

 

 

Self-editing is a complex process and I’ve taken a few days of thought to work out what I might say here.

I have a degree in English Literature and Language and very good language and editing skills – BUT, I’m not perfect and I HAVE NO ILLUSIONS that I might be.

Without or before outside editorial help, what can one do?

RULE No ONE:

Always, always, leave the work to read again. Short articles or blogs, irritated letters to your publisher – you might get away with an overnight gap. Anything longer, a minimum of a week. The reason for setting a MS aside is that you come back to it with the eye of a reader.

RULE No TWO:

Put into Find and Replace a hair colour or the words green/blue/grey eyes in the hope your inability to remember the hero/heroine’s hair or eye colouring will have remained consistent throughout. In my case, it won’t. While you’re doing Find and Replace check out your word tics. My major one is redundant ‘thats’. Great way to reduce a tight word count.

RULE No THREE:

Write out a timeline for all the major characters and find out whether two of them have slammed a door, fallen off a horse, whatever. Good plot ideas have a tendency to hang about.

In General, I start each day with a read-through. Of a novel, this will be from the top for a while, but eventually the words have piled on and time doesn’t permit. I do benefit from the red spelling warnings, but find the purpley ones hinting at grammar issues less useful.

As regular visitors know I’m in a group called Capital Writers. One of our members, Jane Riddell, has produced this helpful guide – Words’worth 

I wrote the bulk of Bella’s Betrothal during my one stint in Nano-Wri-Mo. The advice was to avoid self-editing in order to get the word count up and the words on the page. It was quite a departure to normal practice for me, but that book is full of energy. It has also been edited by me and by the wonderful Judy Roth.

Fellow Robiners are listed below and perhaps you’d like to pop across and read their thoughts. Tweets and FB shares really appreciated, folks.

I’ve left the household to themsleves on the domestic front and will be at the Scottish Association of Writers weekend school when this post goes up. Apologies if it takes me a while to get back to your wonderful comments – How do you cope with self-editing?

Anne


Skye Taylor

Diane Bator

Beverley Bateman


Connie Vines

A.J. Maguire 


Dr. Bob Rich

Victoria Chatham


Helena Fairfax


Judith Copek


Rhobin L Courtright

 

 

 

Advertisements

Round Robin love, sex and relationships

The topic for this month’s round robin is an opinion on love, sex, and relationships in books. What seems acceptable? Is it necessary in a story? And what goes too far?

 

 

 

 

 

For a variety of reasons, I’m not included in the official list of contributors this month. I have been reading some of the posts and I discovered I wanted to say something – hence these quick few words.

Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors and so is Georgette Heyer. Neither writer majors on sex. They both write about relationships and about love – quite often familial love/loyalty. It would, however, be a great mistake to suggest the sex isn’t there.

One of the sexiest moments in television adaptations has to be the one where Captain Wentworth assists Anne Elliot into his brother-in-law’s open carriage. The pressure of his hand in the small of her back and the reactionary embarrassment from both him and her are moving beyond words.

Who needs a biology lesson?

I don’t think my books make it into the ‘sweet’ romance category, but they contain little to make anyone blush. Mariah Fox might develop a sever dose of hayfever, though, when her would-be husband fills her house with summer blooms as part of his campaign to win her hand. Like many a Heyer heroine, Mariah’s sparring battle with Tobias conceals a blossoming romance that leads to Mariah’s Marriage.

I hope you’ve all been enjoying my City of Discoveries, the Anniversary serial commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of The People’s Friend magazine. Instalment 7 is out on Wednesday.

That’s it, folks,

Anne

 

 

Margaret Fieland Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Marci Baun
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator

 

A Christmas Gift – Capital Stories

From Capital Writers to our readers a free copy of Capital Stories for 5 days over the pre-Christmas period 20 – 24 December inclusive. Enjoy a moment with stories by Kate Blackadder, Jane Riddell, Anne Stenhouse and Jennifer Young. All set in the Scottish capital and varying in style and tone.

The Castle Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Christmas reading,

Anne

Round Robin December – A Christmassy Thought or Two

This month Rhobin asked us to share a bit of writing, a short story, or a piece of Flash Fiction that encapsulates the spirit of the season. As it happens, happenstance, I have a Christmas story in Capital Christmas Stories, published yesterday and available here.

 

 

 

Capital Writers is a group of four Edinburgh based writers who work to support and encourage each other. Writing is a lonely business sometimes and it’s good to know there are friends like Kate, Jane and Jennifer, around.

My contribution to this little book is Christmas Witches and here’s a wee snippet:

Edinburgh 1819

Dropping down the hill from the closes and pends of the heaving Old Town to the braw wide streets of the New, was no easy task in the gathering gloom of Christmas Eve. Jeannie stayed by her side and Liza was grateful for the girl’s silent presence. Strathven’s mansion in Heriot Row would be ablaze with lights and full of his gathered kinsmen and their families. How would she gain access when the lady of the house had come to her secretly and was perhaps already lying-in.

We must go into the lanes around the back, Jeannie, and see if we can work out which entry is Lord Strathven’s.”

Aye, Mistress, the steward’s no going tae open the door tae jist anybuddy, is he?”

He is not, and nor should he. But we have an ally. We can ask for Mistress Gowans who was with Lady Margaret when she came visiting,” Liza said. The voices in her head were little calmed by her tisane and she longed for the support of another practitioner. She wondered if throwing Ragnall MacLeod out without hearing his arguments had been precipitate.

The mews behind Heriot Row were active. Grooms and their families bustled about in the narrow confines. Liza smelled the wood smoke and horse manure, the ordure running in the central gutter and the tang of blood. No doubt the maisters had brought meat from their estates to make a Christmas feast for the workers. Unheeded in their down-at-heel garb, the women moved forward.

So, is it Christmassy? You, the reader, must decide, but I, the writer, wanted a birth, the included and the marginal, the stable and the Grand House. For a limited period Capital Stories, our earlier volume, may be free to download.

In other news, I have a Biggy coming in January, check back for details.

Other Christmas Robins can be found below. Drop by for some wonderful reading. Season’s Greetings to you all, Anne

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1qI
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

 

Round Robin – Tension in a work

Tension or conflict are the major requirements after engaging characters: so we need a HOOK. An opening hook, followed by a chapter ending hook, followed by another…

Sometimes it helps build tension to allow the reader an insight which the heroine isn’t aware of. Why was a character missing-in-action for 5 years? Was it, as he’s told the heroine, because he was doing good works in the Third World, or was it because he was languishing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure?

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is an excellent example of how the heroine can allow herself to be manipulated by a conman. Conmen need to be personable otherwise they’d starve. Austen, however, does ramp up the tension by showing our heroine having to come to another conclusion. The housekeeper believes Mr Darcy is the best of employers. Lydia lets slip he was around in London when her marriage was arranged. Slowly, Lizzie has to admit to having been wrong and take the reader with her.

Foreshadowing – might be described as a technical term, but it’s quite simply the old ABC rule. If the neighbour’s dog is going to catch the burglar in the final paragraph, then it needs to have been seen earlier in the story, and probably twice. Sometimes as a writer, I write something and on re-reading yesterday’s work, think – What is that? Why is that? But, I leave it in. Very often, so often it’s scary, the answer seeps out of the text a hundred pages on. This subliminal clue is one of the things that builds the tension for the reader and keeps them involved with your characters.

Interesting and helpful sub-plots also keep the reader onboard. Does your sub-plot bolster the main theme without over-taking it? Is it peopled by sound, enjoyable characters? Will the reader hate the villains and love the heroines in the sub-plot as much as in the main one?

Forces of nature – I’m not talking here about those insufferable celebs one would truly hate to spend a lift journey with, never mind a long week-end. But is there a storm coming? Will the sea claim the house on the hill? Are the fleas going to jump from the rats and land on the heroine giving her bubonic plague? Does the hero have appendicitis and not a gyppy tummy?

These are a few of the ploys I like. What do you like to read?

To discover what my fellow robins think, go here:

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1ly

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Beverley Bateman

Judith Kopek

Diane Bator



 

 

Round Robin – September – Reading

So, this month we’re considering how one encourages reading in our children – or, indeed – in anyone.

Carrots and Sticks

There are carrots and there are sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve said in other places that I cannot remember a time when I couldn’t read. I know my parents both read and when my mum was blighted by cataract, her very first project after the operation to remove the first one, was a temporary library ticket round the corner here: she stayed with us while she needed drops in her eye. Her mother lived with her in her last three years and was re-reading the Victorian classics in the weeks before she began to fade away.

So, in my own case, example and opportunity were there from the beginning.

Carrots

Like my mum. I read bedtime stories to my children and was gratified when the oldest child used to sit out of sight on the stairs to listen in (too cool to join in by then) and by the middle one telling me in the morning that the house floated away. “I finished the book after you stopped reading, Mum.”

 

 

A – was it a stick was it a carrot ploy? – was that if they wanted to join us in the posh sitting-room at coffee after meals, then they had to bring and read their book.

Sticks

All my children read and frequently ask for books or give books at present times.

 

 

 

 

 

Other groups?

I’m in a book group. I read books I wouldn’t have chosen for myself which is a Good Thing. I take books to parties or supper invitations; and as a weekend guest. I think in the pile of chocolates and bottles of wine, they stand out. I NEVER ask if people read them, however. I always include a book in Christmas Goodie bags. I offer my read and unlikely to be re-read paperbacks to specific places. Occasionally I’ll do a charity coffee morning and ask folk to ‘bring a book, buy a book’ – an idea that has been used again by guests for their own charities.

Christian Aid Scottish Book Sale October

 

I help every year with Edinburgh’s massive Christian Aid book sale. This year, 2018, over one hundred thousand pounds has been raised to help displaced people. The sale offers a huge selection of books at great prices to avid readers and reluctant readers alike. Its next event is the companion Scottish Books; Art; jewellery and coffee sale. Thursday 25th – Saturday 27th October in St Andrew’s and St George’s 13 George Street, Edinburgh.

There you have it. The message in my own case is basically total immersion. Did anyone else walk a three year-old to school who asked whether thiamine was a good thing? He’d seen the word on the corn flakes’ packet!

Courting the Countess is an Edinburgh regency using the beauty and the beast tale in an inversion. Romance, murder and regency mayhem to lift you out of your mundane.

If you prefer contemporary, how about Anne Stormont’s new book, Settlement?

To discover what my fellow robins think, go here:

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1ly

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Scottish Association of ~Writers ~ 50th weekend school

And a secret I’ve been holding close for several weeks now, is out: I’ve been invited to adjudicate the women’s short story category at the Scottish Association of Writers weekend school.

Excited? You bet!

SCOTTISH ASSOCIATION of WRITERS (SAW) is an umbrella organisation for writing groups, clubs, workshops throughout Scotland and has many such affiliated.

Edinburgh Writers’ Club, is a founding member club. So, I’m a member of both.

SAW has recently published the Schedule for its 2019 Fiftieth Anniversary conference, again to be held in the centrally situated, Westerwood Hotel, and you can view or download it at present from their Facebook Files. When it goes up on the website I’ll post a link.

Alex Gray is the keynote speaker and the weekend features adjudications by experienced professionals like Alex Corlett, of People’s Friend Features.

Hope to see you there, ANNE

Research is not always a chore New Town Gardens with Greenyonder tours

One of the huge pleasures of city life is the Walking Tour. Today I went on my second garden tour with the entertaining and knowledgeable Jean of Greenyonder Tours.

0131 558 8240

This garden lies behind Register House and is known as the Archivists’ Garden. I was oblivious to its existence before this afternoon but have walked past the entrance to the court on countless occasions while cutting through from the Wellington Statue to St Andrews Square.

The court is formed of Register House, The Court of the Lord Lyon and The National Archives of Scotland. They’ve been there a long time. Register House being a grand building erected around the time the first New Town was under construction.and finished, after a few hiccups, in late eighteenth century.

The garden, however, dates from 2010 and contains 57 plant species chosen to mark Scottish people, myth, heraldry, overseas links and folklore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next along was the garden in front of Dundas House, or the Royal Bank of Scotland. James Craig had reserved the prime site of his prize-winning scheme for St George’s Church and was out-manoeuvred by Lawrence Dundas. The building is a working branch and anyone can walk in to look at the magnificent banking hall. Outside, Jean drew our attention to these marvellous ‘honeysuckle’ railings.

 

 

 

 

 

Then through the now open to the public St Andrews Square, along to Thistle Court where James Young built the first houses of the New Town. They aren’t grand six story affairs, but good middle-class buildings.

Finally, we arrived in Heriot Row, the second New Town. It wasn’t built by the council, but they had formed stronger planning guidelines by this time and that shows in the greater uniformity. The three Queen Street Gardens were created from farms and, Jean told us, that explains the crescent shape of Abercromby as it followed the boundary of one of them. A question she left with us – Is this the island Robert Louis Stevenson had in his consciousness when writing Treasure Island?

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many more New Town gardens, some private and shut away, some, like Charlotte Square and Princes Street Gardens readily accessible. Sanctuaries for wildlife and human inhabitants, too, they are our own treasure.

 

Round Robin – Beware – Danger – Violence

This month Rhobin asks – How do you handle or use violence or any type of danger in your stories?

While the Regency is attractive in so very many ways, it was a time of huge inequality, injustice, hunger and, yes, violence. The absence of an established and regulated system of investigation, apprehension and conviction had a massive impact on how people led their lives. Duelling was almost on the way out as a re-dress for ‘insults’, but not quite gone and many families were bereft as today’s are by the rising tide of youth with knives. In addition, the head of the family, almost always a man, held sway. This had the effect you could predict. There were good ones and bad ones. There were some who cared passionately, but gave rise to the origins of the patriarchal society that feminism needed to kick against. There were some, Mr Bennet we’re looking at you, who didn’t care at all.

Justice was hit or miss and to our modern sensibilities brutal and cruel. What civilised society hangs children for stealing food? What civilised society hangs anyone for stealing food? Why are its citizens starving in the first place?

One of the underlying themes of my first novel, Mariah’s Marriage, was domestic violence. The villain, short of ready cash and feeling ‘entitled’, is frustrated in his attempt to win a rich bride and takes his rage out on his sister. She covers up for him in classic fashion, but our clever and courageous heroine works him out. She then faces another battle – How do you make a decent man who would never perpetrate such violence, understand it happens?

In Bella’s Betrothal, the heroine finds herself in enormous danger but she isn’t immediately able to work out who the greater villain is. Is it the man who has invaded her room at the inn? Is it, as he claims, another who wants to trade on her damaged reputation to justify trapping her into unwanted sex? Although written, I hope, with humour and warmth, the threat is real.

 

So how do I ‘use’ danger and violence in my fiction? Well, I hope responsibly, without either the need or the wish to glamourize either. They are a part of the fabric of our human experience and as such they have a place.

 

The Castle Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read what my fellow round robiners think about this hugely important topic go here:

Judith Kopek

Dr. Bob Rich

Victoria Chatham

Connie Vines

A.J. Maguire 

Marci Baun  

Skye Taylor

Fiona McGier

Anne de Gruchy

Rhobin L Courtright 

 

Burlesque Dancing and its place in the RNA conference

So what better way to round off three delightful days of sitting on our bums than by joining in a dance class to wiggle, shake and generally celebrate that often generously endowed part of the writer’s anatomy. Ali Adams’ event was innocuously described as a life story – Baby Wipes to the Burlesque Stage. The audience participation wasn’t revealed till later…

 

Leeds Trinity University, Horsforth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no photos of several distinguished and some of us not so distinguished RNA members strutting our stuff and throwing boas, lace thingummies and smouldering looks here, there and everywhere – takes practice does smouldering.

Jennifer Young, Horsforth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Writer, Jennifer Young, was much too sensible to try any smouldering around the Sunday morning Book Stall, but she did bring along some copies of Storm Child for sale.

And me, what else did I enjoy? Found Debbie Taylor’s ‘Writing the Pitch Letter’ particularly useful and also Andrew Cornick’s ‘Emotional Resilience for Writers’. But there were as always endless goodies for the ardent conference attendee covering the art and craft of writing that best selling romance novel and making some life-long friends along the way.

Anne in Leeds Trinity 2018