Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:32 am

I was visiting my sweet daughter's family for the past week, and didn't have time to write a completely new lesson. But I'll be home tomorrow night, and I'll have plenty of time to answer questions. So here's a reprise of the occasional "ask me anything" post.

Here's a list of the various things you might want to ask me about:

1. I'm a freelance editor--is there anything you'd like to ask me about the editing process, or about writer/editor collaboration?

2. I've been a frequent judge of the Writing Challenge--is there anything you'd like to ask me about the judges' ratings or the judging criteria?

3. I entered the Writing Challenge for many years, and I usually did pretty well. Do you have questions about the Writing Challenge--what works, what doesn't, how to get noticed...

4. I've blogged, with a focus on writing VERY tiny, tight fiction. Questions about self-editing?

5. General writing questions? Spelling, grammar, mechanics, vocabulary, usage, genre-specific questions, etc?

6. Although I've been with FaithWriters for more than ten years, a lot of you who are newish don't really know me. Questions about my life, my family, my faith, my cat?

Also, since the Writing Challenge topic this week is "Autobiography," I thought I'd point you toward this fairly recent lesson on Memoir and 1st person Nonfiction:

http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 67&t=38594

I'm happy to answer questions on that topic, either here or on the thread that's already started.

As I said--I'll be home Sunday evening, and should be able to respond to your questions then (and all next week). A new lesson on a totally different topic will be posted Saturday--as always, I welcome ideas for new lessons.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by Milly Born » Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:20 am

Hi Jan,

I actually have two questions I would like your opinion on.

1. To indicate leaps in time in my challenge articles, I normally use centered asterisks. The article I'm currently writing has backward leaps in time. Would it be acceptable to put those flashbacks in italics to take the readers back in time?

2. How does the label "fiction" or "non-fiction" affect the judges' rating?

Thanks for your time!

Blessings from Italy,
Milly Born
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:31 am

Milly Born wrote: 1. To indicate leaps in time in my challenge articles, I normally use centered asterisks. The article I'm currently writing has backward leaps in time. Would it be acceptable to put those flashbacks in italics to take the readers back in time?
Either the asterisks or the italics would work just fine. The idea is to cue your reader that something significant in the setting has changed, and either of those visual cues will do.
Milly Born wrote: 2. How does the label "fiction" or "non-fiction" affect the judges' rating?
Those labels don't affect the judging at all. There are nine judging criteria, and each of those criteria apply to both fiction and nonfiction alike.

Here's a link to a thread that discusses the judges' rating categories:

http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 54&t=31273

Let me know if you have any further questions!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by Vonnie » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:44 pm

I know very little about the process of publishing a book, so I have lots of questions. I'll just ask a couple right now since you opened it up for discussion.

If I were to hire you to edit my book, would you prefer the finished product or one chapter at a time? Also, do you just edit it for grammar and punctuation errors or do you give suggestion on writing content?

Blessing, LaVonne

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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:14 pm

Vonnie wrote:
If I were to hire you to edit my book, would you prefer the finished product or one chapter at a time? Also, do you just edit it for grammar and punctuation errors or do you give suggestion on writing content?

I can only answer this one for myself, but before I do, I want to mention that FaithWriters has several professional and freelance editors, and that you can find them here:

http://www.faithwriters.com/publishers-tour.php

You have to scroll down a bit to get to the "Hire a Professional Editor" section. I know most of these editors personally, and will tell you that any one of them will do an excellent job with your MS (manuscript).

With that said...I ask my clients to send me the entire MS, not a chapter at a time. I usually skim it through before I start the editing process, so that I get an idea of the plot, the genre, the expected audience, and the like.

The second part of your question taps into the different degrees of editing that are possible. Editing for just grammar and punctuation errors is proofreading or copy editing, and most MSs require much more than that. In fact, for me, that is the last step of the process. I've had people ask to hire me before for this type of work, and I typically don't do it. I could, theoretically, just go through an MS and remove typos and grammar and punctuation errors...but just because a book is error-free doesn't mean it's a good book. And I find myself literally incapable of just fixing the writing mechanics when I see major issues in the content of the MS.

Instead, I prefer to do developmental editing (some editors call this substantive editing). With this type of editing, I look at plot development, characterization, point of view, pacing, inconsistencies and plot holes...that sort of thing. It's the big picture of the whole book. And while I'm doing that, I'm also looking at writing mechanics--all of the things that a copy editor or proofreader would look for. It's a laborious process, and I typically have read a MS at least 3 or 4 times by the time I'm done.

After developmental editing is line editing--that's where an editor looks at the smaller picture: sentence structure, flow, paragraph structure. AND still the grammar and mechanics.

Usually once I've done substantive editing, I send the MS back to the writer for revisions. THEN I get it back again and do the whole shebang one more time. Only then is the MS ready for a proofreader, and sometimes that's a different person altogether (to counteract the problem of reader fatigue, where a reader reads what she thinks is there, rather than what actually is).

I hope that answered your questions! Let me know if you need anything clarified.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by Vonnie » Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:57 pm

Yes, that is exactly what I was looking for. I would want to be able to work with an editor to help me get my point of view expressed in a way that my readers will understand. I write mostly non-fiction, as I am not good with plot and characterization.

I have looked at the list of editors you mentioned here on Faith Writers and am trying to decide which one is best for me. You helped a lot with these comments. I'm only beginning my book, so have some time to decide. Thanks, LaVonne

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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:40 pm

Vonnie, I should add that other editors may well work in different ways. The process I've described works best for me, but other sequences are also entirely possible. I'd imagine that all editors collaborate with the writers to a certain degree, and that all writers and editors work out a process and a timeline that's agreeable to both parties.

And as you could tell from my previous post, I'm primarily a fiction editor. Since I'm not a person who particularly enjoys reading nonfiction (just personal preference), the thought of being intimately involved with a nonfiction MS for weeks or months and several readings fills me with anxiety. So it many well be that nonfiction editors have a different process; I'm just not sure.

I'm sure you'll be able to find a good editor for your MS, and I look forward to hearing about your road to publication!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by oursilverstrands » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:15 pm

Jan, was the following issue dealt with somewhere else? If so, please give me the link.

"Whose minding the store?"
"Who is minding the store?"

Non-Christian
or
non-Christian

Thanks,

Lillian
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:20 pm

lish1936 wrote:
"Whose minding the store?"
"Who is minding the store?"
You could write "Who is minding the store?" or "Who's minding the store?" Never "Whose minding the store?"
lish1936 wrote:Non-Christian
or
non-Christian
Unless it's the first word of a sentence, use "non-Christian."
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by oursilverstrands » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:46 pm

Thanks, Jan. Somehow, I knew "Whose" didn't look right, but I wasn't sure and never thought "Who's" was an acceptable form.

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by Caleb Cheong » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:30 am

Hi Jan!

Thank you very much for your very helpful comments about editing. I've been asked to do copyediting,and ghost writing for a non-fiction book even I don't have the experience. Since he believes/trusts me I'll do my best to help fulfill his dream about writing his own book. Can you give me some clue where in the forum you might have discuss such matters? Are there any other tips you would like to impart to me? Interestingly, as a beginning writer, I try to do copyediting or developmental editing,as you mentioned, to my work too.


As my wife is recovering from a recent aneurysm rupture, I am thinking about capturing the goodness of God during the journey of seeing her gradual healing since 1 Dec last year. I would like to put my experiences-from fear to faith,pain to joy, mental and spiritual fatigue to renewal, using diary as a genre. Could you give some advice? Would it be a mixed genres of factual,narrative and recount?


Regards

Caleb Cheong



With

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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:31 am

Caleb Cheong wrote:Hi Jan!

Thank you very much for your very helpful comments about editing. I've been asked to do copyediting,and ghost writing for a non-fiction book even I don't have the experience. Since he believes/trusts me I'll do my best to help fulfill his dream about writing his own book. Can you give me some clue where in the forum you might have discuss such matters? Are there any other tips you would like to impart to me? Interestingly, as a beginning writer, I try to do copyediting or developmental editing,as you mentioned, to my work too.
Caleb, I don't have any lessons specifically about ghost writing--sorry. The only thing I can suggest is that you look through past lessons on topics that would apply to non-fiction writing: avoiding common errors, gender neutral writing, tight writing, commas, sentence structures, etc.

And definitely find a good editor before this book is published, even if (or especially if) it is self-published. I'm not saying that to get your business--I don't edit nonfiction. I'm just a firm believer in editing, having seem far too many unedited (or poorly edited) books out there.

Caleb Cheong wrote:As my wife is recovering from a recent aneurysm rupture, I am thinking about capturing the goodness of God during the journey of seeing her gradual healing since 1 Dec last year. I would like to put my experiences-from fear to faith,pain to joy, mental and spiritual fatigue to renewal, using diary as a genre. Could you give some advice? Would it be a mixed genres of factual,narrative and recount?

What a wonderful idea, and I'm happy that your wife is recovering. Your diary idea is a good one--that would be considered a memoir, which is a specific kind of autobiography. My only advice would be to use the same sorts of writing skills that make for compelling fiction--good word choices, varied sentence structure, lots of action and even dialogue--that sort of thing.

And again, find a good editor before you publish.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by zacdfox » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:25 pm

Jan,

A few things.

First, I read in the judging standards for the weekly challenge, that how you start your piece is important. I try to give this great consideration, but I'm wondering if there are some hard and fast rules for what makes a good opening.

Second, have you written a book? I'd be very interested in reading it if you have.

Lastly, do you have any interest in one-on-one mentoring?

Hope you have fun at your daughters,
Zac

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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by glorybee » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:35 pm

zacdfox wrote:Jan,

A few things.

First, I read in the judging standards for the weekly challenge, that how you start your piece is important. I try to give this great consideration, but I'm wondering if there are some hard and fast rules for what makes a good opening.
I've written a few lessons about good beginnings. Here's one:

http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 67&t=37921

There are others in the archives of this particular forum--I think on the third page.
zacdfox wrote:Second, have you written a book? I'd be very interested in reading it if you have.
No--although there may be something in the works for fall of this year. Stay tuned, and thank you.
zacdfox wrote: Lastly, do you have any interest in one-on-one mentoring?

Hope you have fun at your daughters,
Zac
Sorry, but no. I retired a few years ago, and I now supplement my retirement income by editing. That keeps me busy enough, and even if I was to do mentoring, I'd definitely have to charge for it, as doing it for free would be unfair to my editing clients, for whom I have a "mentoring" sort of relationship.

The first post in this thread was over a year ago when I was at my daughter's house--I won't be headed back there until February!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--Ask Me Anything (Again)

Post by Caleb Cheong » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:01 pm

HI Jan!


Thank you for your valuable input. I shall bear all these in mind.


Regards

Caleb

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