Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tips from the Tops: after hearing from First Readers

I haven't heard from my first readers yet. I mean - a bit from my sis, Jude, and my Dad gave me praise for The Rock Walker manuscript I gave him for his birthday but not the hard feed-back yet. Hard is the wrong word - I have heard murmurings of approval and love and they are completely utterly appreciated AND I haven't heard the stuff I need to hear to make my manuscripts better. But I will- I know that. And then I have to know what to do next. Since this is on my horizon, dear readers, I thought I would put it on yours. I'm going diving into my books on writing to find out what the tops(sorry all you people who linked here thinking I'm going to talk sex - I'm not - or I don't think so)  think about this.

Tip: time for a polish.
Top: James Scott Bell in Revision & Self Editing
What he says: He says lots about this - about chapter beginnings and endings, about dialogue, and big moments - but I'm going to take just one - Word Search - using whatever means possible look for your overused phrases - mine might be 'So' and 'Very' and 'Suddenly' - not sure but I know how to figure it out - and get rid of them. Find out your writerly tics and clean them up one way or the other.

Tip: ideal readers can help you with your pacing and clarity
Top: Stephen King in On Writing
What he says: ask your 'ideal reader' (his is his wife, Tabitha) or notice if you around them as they read - when they put the book down.

"Your Ideal Reader can be of tremendous help when it comes to figuring out how well you did with the back story and how much you should add or subtract on your next draft. You need to listen very carefully to the things I.R. didn't understand, and then ask yourself if you understand them. If you do and just didn't put those parts across, your job on the second draft is to clarify. If you don't - if the parts of the back story your Ideal Reader queried are hazy to you, as well - then you need to think a lot more carefully about the past events that cast a light on your characters' present behaviour."

Tip: 'Lavishly indulge your impulse to polish'
Top: Stephen Koch in The Modern Library Writer's Workshop
What he says: " The final draft is also called a polishing draft, and yes - now at last you should lavishly indulge your impulse to polish. Lots and lots of out-loud editing should be going on. Every clumsy, inexact phrase, every cliche, every dried stick of prose with its brown cluster of rustling dead words must be cut away and disposed of now.  The time has come at last for your perfectionism."

There now! I think that's it for today - I will ready myself for a vigorous attack on the polishing drafts of two novels. Yikes!
What do you all do when you get ready for that final draft/polish???


Hart Johnson said...

Ha! I am about at 2/3 through Rock Walker and I have SO MUCH of it I adore... I have been taking notes as I go... hopefully you will have my take on the matter by Friday...

And you've just reminded me well... I need to do a word cloud or something to figure out what I am overusing for my excerpt for ABNA... I've edited, but this post, and Elizabeth's today have given me a few polishing modes to make it stronger... so THANK YOU!

Liza said...

Thank you for the suggestions and good luck with your feedback.

Clarissa Draper said...

Some great tips. I know I have some over used words - just, looked. I'm in the process of changing them.

BTW, loved Rock Walker. Can't wait until it comes out.

ninidee said...

Hmm *finger rubs chin* I let a few trusted people rip apart my manuscript before I begin to polish. It's funny how others can see easily what we cannot. Once I get their feedback I dive back in and begin polishing.
I also have a friend who I can call and read aloud my works in progress. This helps me because many times as I am reading to her I discover missing data or overused words. I am reading to her, talking to myself and editing at the same time. When I am done rambling she will say, "Okay, my turn what about this?" It's always good to have those extra set of eyes and ears, it makes the polishing part a tad bit easier.
Thanks for the info.


Jan Morrison said...

Tartlette - ah, music to these ears!
Yes, the wonderful word clouds. Poifect.
Liza - thank you! I'm looking forward to hearing what folks have to say.
Clarissa - it is SO hard to hear our own ticks! And thank you so much for your wonderful strokes.
Maribeth - yep, even if I just read out loud I start to hear the hackneyed phrases or the plot holes.

Carol Kilgore said...

All wonderful tips. I'm editing,too, and slowly approaching this point.

I have a little something for you over at my blog :)

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Very important question, actually, because that final polishing matters. I usually put it aside for a few days beforehand so I can look at it with fresh eyes.

Katie Anderson said...

Some really interesting advice here. Looks like you're going to be kept busy!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Final polishing does matter, that's for sure. The hard part is knowing when to stop and declare a book finished.