Pssst, you there. Yes, you. Thanks for travelling to my corner of the internet, I hope it's cozy enough and that you enjoy your stay :)
A few days ago YA Fanatic posted that she'd finished the first draft of her novel. In this post she asked if anyone had tips on editing. I responded in the comments but then realised the comment was going to be ginormous and so I ended up saying that I'd make a post instead.
What follows is my own personal method for editing. After a decade+ of editing my own work and digging around for advice from other writers, I think most can agree that many of these steps are necessary. You don't have to follow all of them and you should find your own order. I'm still working on perfecting this system and that process will probably never end. If you are a writer, please leave your own methods and experience down in the comments. :)
I'm adding a short description below because this post is HUGE. I've run out of time and, as hilarious as it is with this being about editing, I don't have time to edit this post before I leave on Monday. Such is life! Also, apologies for how 'know-it-all' this post might come off as. I spent so many years writing technical FAQs for websites (and working tech support) that I developed an odd voice I'm not quite fond of.
There are three major steps in editing. Developmental, structural and professional. Revising can take twice as long as it took you to write your first draft. Hang in there. Good luck!
Which is why there are so many challenges to books in libraries and schools. Banning a book, removing it from the shelves, means a voice silenced that makes someone uncomfortable.
Libraries and schools, like newspapers, should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Extra credit: Who spoke the original of that quote?
As my shelves might have clued you in, I'm a serial-reader of Diana Wynne Jones' books, I've made it a personal mission to slowly work my way through her world(s) and I'm loving every single minute of it. ;)
So on a school trip to London - all the way from France, so you have some context - while everyone else was busy shopping for clothes by day and getting drunk by night, I holed myself up inside Foyles and proceeded to worship the whole collection of DWJ books quietly in the kids' section like the happy creepy nerd I am, thinking I must be in heaven because we don't have these in France unless we either specifically order them online or make puppy eyes at the bookseller so that they get them in stock.
My boyfriend, which we'll creatively refer to as Boyfriend, is pretty accustomed to my bookish antics and that's the understatement of the year.
When I asked him the fateful question ' But which ones do I pick ? ' with a very real pout of misery, Boyfriend stoically answered :
' All of them. '
A terrible enabler, that one.
I feel both proud and spectacularly stupid to announce that I settled for only five of these beauties, namely : The Lives Of Christopher Chant, The Ogre Downstairs, Fire & Hemlock, Year Of The Griffin and Power Of Three.
And such was the story of my first (but not last) trip to Foyles. A bloody good thing too, what with the :
1. Extremely Crappy Hostel Room. I honest to god cried like a baby, wanted to puke, wanted to get drunk, all repeatedly and in no particular order, and I don't even drink alcohol ever, for god's sake (don't look at me, it smells yucky). In fact...yeah :
I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT, ROMANTICISM AND ITS QUAINT SETTING = OVERRATED.
2. Sharing a room with six (6) strangers (French and from the same group), and Boyfriend. Boyfriend not a problem, I tolerate Boyfriend on a daily basis, I do. The other French people like me with whom I was sharing the room shouldn't have been a problem either, but that's anxiety for you. People, yucky.
3. Walking all day because museum visits and cultural stuff (which is good), and being stuck outside the hostel room because one key for eight people is a mathematical hazard.
I needed all the reading I could get.
But I couldn't just stop without having given in to the guilty pleasure of capitalism, aaaaaaand Waterstone happened. Eight Days Of Luke and Enchanted Glass, welcome to the family !
Random other highlights of my London trip :
- I have a thing for bricks and rows of identical houses don't ask me I don't know okay.
- I saw the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens !!!!!!
- I found the Neverwhere Floating Market. They call it Camden Market these days, pass it on.
- Double Berry Muffins.
- 'Mind the gap' they say. I forgot to mind the gap every single time.
Were the books worth the romantically-decrepit-room-sharing-of-doom ? Yes. Absolutely. A million times yes even though I made a grand total of 0 friend. With DWJ's Reflections and her thoughts on her different books that I read beforehand, handpicking the books from the shelves and discovering through them what this glorious woman was all about...That's priceless.
I'm a dirty, dirty liar, and I'm not done fangirling. Hello everyone, remember that post about Amanda Palmer's book The Art Of Asking ? I was going to try my hand at an introduction, but on second thought I'll just let her book's description do that for me and try to pass it off as my totally intentional excuse to give you the link to the signed edition.
Also have a link to all the info about the pre-order
And another one to her TED talk because that can't hurt.
Now that I'm done with the pesky publicity.
Me wanted book.
I let the boyfriend know of this new devlopment like "caaaaarpe, caaaaaaarpe dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeem". In other words :
And he pre-ordered me the signed edition OMGGGGGG HERE'S TO HOPING I GET ONE WITH A DICK DOODLE IN IT.
The Harry and Hermione ones have been bothering me for ages !
NEED THIS BOOK.
I swear I'm going to write a less capslock-y, hysterical post about it later but but but
One of my favorite human beings in the world wrote it.
*Goes off to fangirl aggressively*
(Hi Book Likes, how are you ?)
This has nothing to do with books, nothing. But there are dragons, so maybe someone is going to be interested ?
The adoptable game Flight Rising is opening a registration window on June 3rd till June 4th, and I just wanted to pass the word around. (edit : At 5:00, server time, for both the opening and the closing of the window)
SO ! And let's make that a resolute so. I'm bored of drama taking over the place, let's speak of something nice and moderately smart from now on. I come bearing delightfulness for you guys and gals !
Let me explain : I haven't read any of Catherynne M. Valente's books yet, but for those of you who did, and enjoyed it, and for other curious people (I know you're out there, peeking), I have a nice little something to share, because I'm such a nice person in a generous mood today.
That was a joke, just in case you couldn't tell. Hi joke.
Okay, no, serious.
Now, who knows SJ Tucker? Whoever does, you're my friend already. Hi ! SJ Tucker is a totally nice, fun, brilliant, terrific, groovy singer, as well as a bewitching storyteller. Booklikes is giving me trouble with the goodness sharing thing, but google her, in fact : here
The first link is her music cd of stuff she wrote and sings, inspired by and dedicated to the Fairyland series. The other links are audio she made with both readings and songs for The Orpan's Tales.
Give the readings a try even (especially !) if you're not into that audio book kind of thing. Her voice is chocolate, velvet and spice. I wouldn't put that together in a recipe, but you get the picture, yeah ?
Here's to hoping SJ puts a smile on your lips.
I think writers will find that they need this. You're welcome.
I would probably have liked this one better if I'd read it when I was younger. There are a few things that I really appreciate in a story, but overall I'm a little disappointed with it. Too high expectations, I guess.
This is the fourth book by Neil Gaiman I read and I'm seeing a pattern in his books more and more. Which is good, because it's the first book of his I'm reviewing*.
The Graveyard Book starts with a very evocative first scene, of the murder by the man Jack of an unsuspecting family. The description gave me goosebumps of pleasure, and it was a murder scene, for a children's story, for heaven's sake.
"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."
"The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of night-time mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door."
The story is not about the man Jack, though, it is about the baby who escaped death by luck (I feel a urge to snort at the déjà-vu of this) and by some sense of adventure that involved stairs and a dirty nappy. Somehow the baby finds his way to a graveyard, with a murderer on his trail as soon as the man Jack realises his target has gone taking a midnight stroll.
In the graveyard, the baby boy meets ghosts. Long story short, they take a liking to the toddler, and there's a debate all night long between the ghost community to decide if they are going to keep him or not, while to Mrs Owens, the honorable dead lady who found him, it's already quite clear that she's going to be a mother, and Mr Owens a father, to the living baby.
Then there's Silas. Mysterious, taciturn, composed Silas, who is not a ghost and is able to leave the graveyard, and to trick a man Jack.
He did not expect what he actually heard, a voice, silky, smooth, saying :
'Can I help you ?'
The man Jack was tall. This man was taller. The man Jack wore dark clothes. This man's clothes were darker. People who noticed the man Jack when he went about his business - and he did not like to be noticed - were troubled, or made uncomfortable, or found themselves unaccountably scared. The man Jack looked at the stranger, and it was the man Jack who was troubled.
If the Owenses are to be the baby's surrogate parents, Silas is going to be his guardian.
And so it is that Nobody 'Bod' Owens' strange life begins.
The development in this one is slow. Following the prologue, my assumption was that we'd meet Bod all grown up into his teens, same as he looks on the cover. Wrong. The summary doesn't hint at this detail, so I thought I should make it clear to anyone expecting a fast pace. You get it, but not till the last third of the book.
The same thing happened for me with Stardust and had me wrong-footed. This time on the contrary, I was familiar enough with the idea that it might happen to enjoy my read anyway.
So what happens instead ? We share Bod's life from childhood to his fifteens, with experiences that don't always look like they contribute to the plot at first, while they actually do, as you discover later on. See, the boy isn't allowed to leave the graveyard, for there are bad things out there, bad things like his family's murderer, who would be able to find him if he ventured out. Being the only living person in a place full of the dead and of Silas (who is neither dead nor living, and not that much of an exuberant man anyway) can be quite lonely for a little boy, so Bod basically asks questions, tries to make friends, and occasionnaly gets in trouble.
Meanwhile, time is ticking, and a man Jack is getting impatient.
Here's for the plot. Let's keep it there and have a look at some good and bad points instead.
The setting is both good and bad to me. Good, because of the originality of making the graveyard the core of a children's story and because I happen to like the creepy factor (I'm a Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline type of person, I like creepy elements delivering a mildly happy message. Mindless gore on the other hand ? Not my thing). Bad, because there isn't enough creepiness for my taste. The ghosts are relatively harmless busybodies, when they're not doing some haunting, and more often than not their mood-swings could do with a therapist.
This leads me to two other good points : Firstly, some of the characters. This is mostly subjective on my part, but I find some characters hold more depht than others. I particularly like Silas, the witch Liza Hempstock, Scarlett, and Jay Frost. Frost's stumbling and stammering is fun to read and something I can relate with. Silas...hnn, Silas, he's a good example of an authority figure who is both stern and friendly. I love Silas.
Secondly, the haunting hobbies, which, and this is the good part, are not solely limited to the ghosts. Thanks to his rather peculiar status, Bod gets to learn the Fade, the Fear, and whatnot. They are as much fun as they sound, and they get in handy (see the getting in trouble part).
I actually quite like Bod in the last part of the book, when he sounds less like a child throwing a tantrum and more like a groying boy - teen, whatever - who is starting to use his brain and even shows a nasty streak,but it's toward baddies and they're no better themselves, so that evens things out.
But. There's a but, yes. See...the backstory is very sloppy. Too sloppy, and I expected more from an established author like Neil Gaiman. I don't know how to say this without spoilers. Okay, so side-characters get up to a battle/hunt/something against the baddies which feels like it's somehow very important and should be the moment when the hero normally save the day but, nope. They do all the work, may or may be an organization of Good Guys fighting the Bad Guys since way too many centuries for it to be decent anymore, may or may not die in the process, but we don't know what actually happens because what little we glimpse of the action is screened off. And we don't know who half these guys are. It involves a winged Assyrian-mummy carrying a pig around somehow. I don't know, okay.
It being a kids' book doesn't excuse the huge plot hole. Mr. Gaiman knows this, Coraline is an all-around quite decent story in that regard. So, why does this happen here ? I don't know. But that's why I can say that I appreciated the book despite the slow pace, but that it isn't a great story, not for me.
So, creative, whimsy story, some good character development, some less good characther development, slow-paced, could be scarier, sloppy backstory.
One last thing : Poets are crap at giving advice. If a poet advises you do something, keep calm and do the opposite.
* Little white lie : I reviewed Stardust on GR a few months ago when I'd just discovered you could do this, and back then I wasn't sure how to review at all. I gave my opinion on the book, but there were several things I could have analysed or pointed out that I did not.
Oh yes so nice whimsy - uh. I'm getting the weirdest déjà-vu vibes for some -
My only regret is that there wasn't more of these two !
Also, I'm not sure why but I kept picturing Selendrile as Ghibli's version of wizard Howl. The charming and smirking and insufferable personality might have something to do with it. The long golden hair, too.
1. Getting a character-crush on a random stranger I keep glimpsing waiting for the same bus in the same too-big red sweatshirt (figuring out a fictional life for her)
2. Looking up blood's boiling point.
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen (and scoundrels). For those of you who can understand French, German or Dutch, and have a soft spot for either fairy tales, beautiful artworks or graphic novels, there's a series I must recommend.
Warning : Keep in mind my tags. However beautiful and smart, this graphic novel is definitely not suitable for everyone, especially not children. Warning for explicit sexual content, explicit violence, rape, murder...
Who is the monster, and who is the man ?
Everything starts with a wedding. Or I could be accurate, and say that actually, everything starts with a war. Humans and Beasts have been opposed in a barbaric feud for an immemorial time. To put an end to its disasters, fair Aube is promised to Loup De Feu (Wolf Of Fire) to seal the truce between her father, Seigneur Maitre d'Arcan, and the powerful Beast leader, Loup De Traille (father of Loup De Feu). Only treason strikes, the celebrative night goes terribly wrong, and Aube must flee for sanctuary to the Bois des Vierges (Virgins' Woods) to avoid death for her crime.
This is a story of loss, of love, of grief, and consuming hate. This is a story about accepting yourself in order to accept the other.
The original plates are hand-drawn and painted. Béatrice Tillier's colours set each mood nicely.