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Category Archives: Rewriting Fiction

Clearing the decks to write your fiction

Clearing the decks to write your fiction

This may be a case of do as I say, not what I do. But the past month and a half I have been inundated with unnecessary crap getting in the way of my fiction writing. A lot of it comes from what I refer to as “outside” – things like house repairs, computer problems, friends and others interrupting during my work time.. Then there are health issues and some things that I have something to do with happening.

Last Thursday Shane, the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) came over for us to practice our authors’ skit for the Urban Folk Art Festival (Our skit went very well there and when Shane emails me some of the photos someone else took of us, I’ can post them). We also had a heart-to-heart talk about my third Beyond fiction book, which seems to be in a perpetual state of rewrite (see above paragraph for why). He is definitely interested in publishing it and is thinking of next fall (2017). We also discussed the book’s content and even a next book in the series. He also gave me a deadline.

This talk, particularly hope for publication and when, as well as a submission deadline has kick-started me into action. And so I am making changes in my life and some things will be no-nos during writing time, some things will go in the Pending file for at least a month, some things I just won’t do (yesterday I said “no” to something and it felt good); other things are getting the boot.

Am still fine-tuning the whole business as I go, but so far I am trying to do these:

  1. Specific time-frame to work on my fiction with flexibility for writing meetings and book promo events that come up. Like Shane is doing with his fiction writing, I am assigning two days a week for just that – rewriting my novel. And for flexibility, yesterday afternoon is flipped to this afternoon because of a writing group meeting yesterday. I did get some writing done on the novel yesterday morning.NOTE: I do write other things and have editing clients and teach writing. That is for other days and workshops sometimes evenings, but again for days, I try to be flexible. It is all writing and writing-related business
  2. Book PR is limited to one thing a weekday. Public readings and the like are on top of this.
  3. I set a timer for half an hour mornings to do business email .Personal email is for outside my business hours (except for my son) which are roughly 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
  4. Make more of an effort to get started at 9.30 a.m.Sometimes difficult with chronic health issues and house repairs.
  5. Get more sleep at night. Can’ control the insomnia but have to make an effort to get to bed earlier.
  6. I’m letting my friends know what has been on my voice mail for ages but some don’t seem to get it, i.e., personal calls evenings and weekends only.
  7. This one I’ve been doing for some time and it’s outside of business hours too – don’t pick up the phone for possible telemarketers and if I get someone trying to sell me something I just yell out “Not interested” or if they ask for “Mr. or Mrs. Crawford” I reply – no one here by that name (true. I’m divorced) and you have the wrong number.” If I’m really angry I then yell “And get me off your bloody list.: Then I hang up.
  8. Try to keep the house maintenance/repairs out of my business hours and that one is hard when someone has to come to clear out your damn eavestroughs at least three times because of all the leaves falling and clogging it up.
  9. Keep getting back to utilities and the like for their screw-ups, problems, etc. to after my business hours if possible.
  10. The garden fall clean-up winter prep kept outside of business hours, although it is okay to do a bit at lunchtime, especially with Eastern Standard time returning this weekend.
  11. And this one – some of you might think I’m being mean here. But I’m putting on hold so-called friends who are unreliable and don’t show up (and don’t let me know that they can’t make it for dinners and the like we plan to meet up for – we all have things that crop up, but let me know before the meet-up that you can’t make it.

Hopefully ,I will now have my time to finish rewriting my novel. Up to now this week, I have been making some progress.  I know it is because I’m starting to get some control of my life – at least some of it. Now, if the computer problems and issues would stop, that would give me more time too.

How do you make time for your writing? Everyone’s circumstances are different. I am lucky in that I work mostly from my home office.

Cheers.

Sharon

I am taking part in the Toronto Heliconian Club Literature Section Salon (dinner and readings) next Tuesday afternoon. I am a member and will be reading an excerpt form a short story in Beyond the Tripping Point. More details in my Gigs and Blog Tours Page here.

Again, click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top to get to one place where print and e-copies are available.

And this, updating events on my website and the Gigs and Blogs Page (and the other social media links) constitute my book PR for today.

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Rewriting Novels Using Both Sides of the Brain

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Rewriting a novel can be daunting, especially with the many, many rewrites that are necessary. I find there is no right way to do it, but with all the rewrites with my third Beyond book, I discovered by accident a way to be both creative and practical.

Use both sides of your brain – the right side for creativity and the left side for the logical and practical. Let me explain.

Without giving away the plot, let’s just say, like most of my story lines, it is complicated. That means the characters, like real people are complicated.

So I brainstorm outside of writing time for what I could change. When I sit down at the computer, I re-read all the novel and make a few notes. Then I tackle it from the beginning, dealing with it in parts. As I write more ideas come into my brain. But each idea leads to something that will have to be added or changed later on in the novel. So how do I keep track. Sure, I can make a few notes in another file, but mainly I use the Word comment for this with some suggestions.Then I can go back and update later. However, often the creative spirit married to the logical spirit moves me to do so right away. So I follow the thread to the next part that needs changing and do so.

I’ll give you one example which won’t give the story away. My Beyond novels, as well as four stories in Beyond the Tripping Point, feature fraternal twin private investigators, Dana Bowman and Bast Overture. While they partner in their business, they do split up the investigation a lot of the time. One of the things with this is the twins have to keep each other updated with what they find. So that has to go in somehow somewhere or else later on I will be writing from say Bast’s point of view as if he already knows what Dana found out – but nowhere does it say this.The reader can’t assume Dana told him. But I don’t always want a long dialogue between the two unless it can move the plot forward and/or develop the characters.

So, I sometimes use the phrase “Bast brought Dana up to speed about….” or “Dana brought Bast up to speed about…” Sometimes I don’t even do that but just have Bast in his next investigative action think “Dana had told him that… ” and very briefly mention it. I  do the same with Dana and do so when what one twin told the other is relevant to the other twin’s current detecting.

But with all this to-ing and fro-ing something else different has come up – what would happen if one twin didn’t tell the other twin what he or she found out?

Yes, it can be a somewhat constant shifting to different parts of the brain and I find that one feeds the other. And often you are rewriting on the creative side during most of that day’s writing time.

Now if I can just follow through with my rewrite of Beyond….  Nope, not even giving away the title.

Meantime, you can check out Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Link to all that can be found in the usual spot – the book cover at the top.

And later this month I will be back on the PR road for the Beyond books, so next week will be updating both the Gigs and Blog Tours part of this blog (a fiction writing workshop I’m teaching in October is already listed) and also the book page of my website. And yes, Dana will be doing another comedy skit gig in late October – this time with a really big twist. Stay tuned.

Cheers.

Sharon. A. Crawford

 

 

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Recharging you novel’s rewrite

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

This week I finally got back to rewriting the next novel in my Beyond mystery series. The plan had been to spend a good part of June, July and August doing this. But for a change I had a lot of client work. That I’m not complaining about. Neither am I complaining about spending time gardening. As well as writing, gardening is a passion of mine.

However, I am complaining about all the health issues I’ve had to deal with lately, some caused by others’ negligence. (See my post this week on my personal blog Only Child Writes.).

Still doing one client’s work – but no complaints. Client confidentially doesn’t allow me to discuss the client’s work, but sufficient to say it is interesting and challenging and when it arrives I switch over from the novel rewrite to the client work.

Getting back to the big novel rewrite is also a challenge. Having ideas percolating inside my head while I was doing other things and also some suggestions from the editor at Blue Denim Press (my publisher) have been big helps. So has one of my writer friends and colleagues – Rosemary McCracken – just publishing the third in her Pat Tierney mystery series.And having a wacky main character like PI Dana Bowman is good. At least I think so, although she does get inside my head a lot and likes to have her way in her stories. All inspiration to do more than put the seat of my pants to the chair.

How did I actually get back into the rewriting?

First, I reread the novel and comments I had made for changes and also noted what I had changed. Then I got in and made some changes in the beginning and continued on until I got stuck. But I had ideas for other parts, including the ending which needed a big change, so those are the places I focused on next. I feel better that I made changes in the ending even though I know that some of it will be changed as more changes in parts coming before will be made. That’s okay. Often just doing something that is a change is a good start.

Writing the ending before some of the rest, you may ask? I am following the advice given by another author Ken McGoogan who said when he gets tired of writing in chapter order, he will go the end. Mind you he writes narrative non-fiction. But I think it can be done with fiction as long as you realize it is not written in granite. Well, some writers think their prose, and even their punctuation, should be left exactly as they write it.

That is arrogance and maybe a little worry that the editor will mess up your prose so it isn’t really yours when it’s done. And yes, being an editor myself, and a former journalist who worked with several editors, it does happen. However, there is one thing we writers need to remember.

Writers work in isolation. Writers see their creations with tunnel vision. Another pair of eyes will find flaws and better ways to express something than the author.

So keep up the rewriting. Although you can get carried away with that. Another author colleague is still making changes in his novels after they are published. And yes he does have a trade publisher, so not being self-published he can’t exactly make changes in the print book for sale. But he can do so for his author readings.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the Beyond Blood book icon a the top it will take you to my amazon author profile and books.

 

 

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Using deadlines to write

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Writing deadlines are something journalists, editors, and authors with publishers have to deal with all the time. So does any writer who is writing a piece to enter in a writers’ contest.

But what if you are writing that novel, that short story and at this point have no publishing deadlines? You might think “hey, I have the freedom to take my time writing this story.”

You know how that can go if you are not disciplined. You might write when the  muse hits. You might write if you don’t have something else to do in a certain time. The underlying theme here is “I have all the time in the world to finish this novel, this short story.”

All the time in the world might expand to never finishing.

Why not set a deadline or if a novel, several deadlines, such as “I will finish so many pages, so many chapters by such and such a date.” If  you have an editorial deadline from a magazine editor or book publisher, or a contest, entry, wouldn’t you be working to the deadline? Wouldn’t that include setting up a writing time-line? Allow some flexibility for glitches such as what I’ve been encountering with my latest Beyond mystery book. Research replies. I finally had to go elsewhere for one (books and another police source) and in the case of the government agency with no email reply, I phoned.

Writing they say is1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. I have sometimes seen that equation as 10 per cent and 90 per cent. Either way you can get the picture.

Why not use deadlines for the perspiration part? I find doing that has an added benefit than just getting the writing done.

Often when you sit down at your computer in a specified time and write, the inspiration and creativity just kick in and off you go, oblivious to whatever else is going on around you. I’ve been unaware of night creeping in until I realize that it is only the computer screen and the desk lamp lighting everything up. (That’s excluding the creativity going on as I write.)

Speaking of deadlines. Please excuse me while I get back to rewriting my latest Beyond book. My publisher is waiting.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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More tales from the novel rewriting trenches

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Still working furiously to make changes in my current Beyond book to meet my publisher’s deadline. Making progress, despite distractions and glitches from others.

The research mentioned last week hit some more glitches. The social issue in the new novel (not telling what it is – no spoilers here) ran into the same roadblock with the Ontario government department as the police query with the local police services corporate communications department. No reply.

So, my journalist background came into play here. Journalists don’t give up on their research, despite roadblocks and twists and turns.

The two library books I had looked at in the Toronto Reference Library? Sure, I had made some notes but that wasn’t enough. So I bought the out-of-print one on Canadian Law (it fits the novel’s time period) secondhand from amazon.ca .Counting the day I put in the order online, it took three business days to arrive in my mailbox. The other Canadian Law book – a q and a type with questions for civilians I found out from an editing client that over 20 copies are circulating in Toronto library branches. I put a hold on it and if there are still some other copies not on hold, I should be able to renew my copy three times.

I phoned Service Ontario and after being shunted around three times got a very knowledgeable person in the specific department who answered my questions.

For that one nagging police procedure question that the two books couldn’t answer, I emailed a retired police colleague via Linked In. He replied immediately, answered part of my question and said he would contact one of his police connections to get more of an answer. I gave him my email address to avoid the Linked In quirks in email and he has replied again this week, apologizing for the delay and why (that is his business) and that he would be contacting his colleague that evening.

Meantime, I’m rewriting to get around anything that wasn’t true with the social issue and police procedure back in 1999. And also rewriting to deal with any plot threads left dangling. Some will get deleted as irrelevant.

Also there is the matter of my two main characters, fraternal twin private investigators Dana Bowman and Bast Overture trying to take over the plot. I have to listen to them because they can have good ideas.

And it is their story. Always listen to your characters.

As for the other distractions, I’m trying to rein them in. Personal calls that come during my writing time (which pretty much follows a business weekday give or take a few hours at either end), I will now let them go to voice mail. My dentist appointment will have to be moved to February 29 after my deadline. I have a big problem with medical people who don’t have some evening and weekend hours .I may ‘not be working outside my home, but what about those who do? Why should they have to take time off for dental and other medical appointments, Hey medical professionals. Get with the times. Yes, some professionals (like police, transit drivers, etc.) have work hours all over the map. But many people still work regular business hours (excluding email and social media). Medical clinics understand this and even my optometrist works one evening a week and some Saturdays. My eye specialist doesn’t. My dentist doesn’t. So, unless a medical emergency, I work their times around mine.

I have also worked in editing clients after the end of February and any new inquiries re work, they are being told I am booked up until … Two current clients have been scheduled in after the end of February – it is set up to work for both of us.

Now, back to the novel rewriting. Bast and Dana are waiting impatiently for me to get to it.

Cheers.

Sharon A.Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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Crunch time for publisher’s deadline for novel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I am in the last month to finish the rewrite of the third book in my mystery Beyond series before submitting in to my publisher.. Of course, it won’t be the final rewrite. Once a publisher decides to publish a book, the author always has more rewrites.

I have limited my email time – I set a timer and when it rings I finish the current email and the rest can wait for another day. And I am particular which events I go to .

Some of the latter has been railroaded because I also just got yet another sinus infection over the weekend. So the two writing-related workshops I planned to go to, I had to cancel.

And with all my health issues, I am trying to keep medical appointments to one health issue a month. Last summer and fall when all these health issues kept coming and coming, often overlapping, I tried to deal with them all at once, including medical appointments. That caused way too much worry and anxiety and I might have had to add “shrink” to the list.  So, I’m trying the one-at-a-time approach and hope it works. Some of the medical people aren’t too happy about it. Too bad. I am trying to get more sleep to help heal.

But I like to rewrite what I have written. Sometimes the most creative twists in plots and character development occurs here. It is also a time to fix plot and character inconsistencies, get rid of excess and not necessary scenes and even chapters, smooth out the telling – get rid of awkward phrases and sentences, polish it all up. .And do final fact checking on your research.

It is the latter that is driving me crazy. A few new police procedure questions and also questions on the social issue in this novel have come up. And I’m having trouble getting the experts to reply to my emails and phone calls to get some answers.

My police consultant just retired and has moved out of the country. I am grateful for all his help with my other two books and this third book as well. So, I’ve been doing what most authors without police connections do – contact the corporate communications media department of the police services. I have emailed and phoned there and have received no response. It has been a week and a half.

Meantime I visited the Toronto Reference Library and looked at criminal code books from the shelves and stacks. Made notes as those books are not for lending. My book is set in late 1999, which is an added glitch. And did more Internet search.

Also emailed a government department’s service questions part. That was done two days ago and so can’t complain yet about that

I am also rewriting to change parts of the plot to fit in with what my research (at the library and online) has revealed, even to the point where I have a few options for a couple of areas.

But I need some answers.

So, I will try some contacts via Linked In and see where that gets me.

For those of you writing fiction, how do you deal with this type of non-response to your research questions? How do you get your rewriting done to meet your deadlines?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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Don’t rush your writing

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

We writers all seem to have deadlines with writing our novels or short stories. Sometimes it is the publisher’s deadline, sometimes our own. So we fret and hurry through writes and rewrites and maybe don’t write our best.

Last Saturday I had a heart-to-heart talk with the acquisitions editor at Blue Denim Press (publisher of my Beyond mystery books). Shane had a big piece of advice – Don’t rush the writing.

If you rush it, you’ll miss things, make errors and your writing will come across as hurried. This is mostly me speaking, but including some of what Shane and I discussed. Note: Shane is also a published fiction author. Both of us have missed things because of writing in too much of a hurry. His error is his business, but it was caught in time before all print copies of his new novel In the Shadow of the Conquistador were done for the book launch, etc.

I’ll tell you my stupid error – it is in the current Beyond book (third in the series), I am writing – apparently too fast because of time constraints (too much else going on in my life – the writing, editing and instructing business, health, house, social, etc.) Anyway for  those familiar with my Beyond books, they are set in the late 1990s, although this third one gets my fraternal twin PIs, Dana Bowman and Bast Overture into the beginning or 2000.

Which is neither here nor there with my writing error. In one scene Bast goes to the Toronto Reference Library to look up old addresses in the Toronto Might Street Directory. So, I had him go to the library’s former address – now the University of Toronto Bookstore. Why? I had done research there and for some reason the decade  that I did so got lost in my brain, so hence my date mixup.

I had gone there in the early 1970s. Bast went to the Toronto Reference Library in late 1999. This newer (and current) TRL location opened in 1977. My error arrived in my brain weeks after writing it, as often happens when not actually writing. You can bet I made the change next time I turned on the computer.

That is only one of the many things that can suffer if you write too fast. Try to pace yourself and make more time for your writing – either in the time spent each day/week or the whole time (months/years) spent.

If you do that, when your publisher accepts your manuscript and you sign that contract, you won’t have to worry so much when the publisher suggests some changes.

And often publishers have tight deadlines.

I am constantly trying to prioritize my life – including dumping things, saying “no” more often and putting some people and things on hold.  Still an uphill battle, but I try. And I need to try to relax more.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on the Beyond Blood cover at the top to find out where copies are available

 

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