National Novel Editing Month update, week 3

March 21, 2011

Total time logged so far: 32 hours, 14 minutes

I’ll have to put in quite a bit of time this coming weekend to get to fifty, but I really do think that I can make it. Since I last updated, I have…

finished the critters crit that I started last weekend, sent it in – and got a very nice thank-you note from the author for my feedback!
Finished proof-reading and spell-checking ‘The Angel’s Charlie’ – and grammar-checked it as well.
Participated in the ‘Hone your skills’ blogfest – yes, I counted the time I spent reviewing and sending feedback to other blogfesters as Edmo time, for the same reason as doing any other critiques, and I still didn’t have time to read everybody’s work, because of all the Wizard World craziness.
Began doing basic spell-checking, proof-reading, and grammar checking on a Roswell raggedy edge fanfic I finished last year, “Roswell Calling” – I’ve finished the spell-checking up to part 3 of 18, while the other stages are lagging a bit behind that point.
And I spent a lot more time reviewing notes for “The Long Way Home” and coming up with my own thoughts about what still needs editing in that manuscript.

Grammar checking with Microsoft Word is a process that I have to be careful with, I think, because while the automated tests can sometimes flag truly atrocious sentences that I never seem to notice when I’m reading the manuscript myself, and that sometimes slip by other readers – if I follow all of the suggestions about avoiding fragments and so on, I definitely I lose some of the unique voices of the characters. At some points I actually found myself growling ‘That’s voice!’ to the laptop while clicking on the ‘Ignore this rule violation’ button.

I’m not quite sure where to go next with “The Long Way Home” at this point… I might try to just pick something from the list that I’ve made that would be a fairly substantial rewrite of a scene or multiple scenes, and just start writing, in the hopes that I can get in touch with my creative side again, because my Inner Editor is all over the place and doesn’t seem to have a regimented plan for whipping the manuscript into shape. (Not that it’s in such terrible shape at the moment, but I know that it can be better, though I’m unsure about how to get there.)

One thing that was oddly fun about writing my Long-way-home list of things to fix, was getting into the possibility of powering-down my heroine’s magik arsenal, since it stands to reason that if things generally go too smoothly for your hero, taking away some of their resources or abilities and seeing them flounder a little and have to be clever about doing more with less sounds like a good tack to take. It works quite well in the Robert Asprin Myth-adventures series, actually, where for most of the books the Great Magician Skeeve has really only a few basic tricks down pat – but they’re also reasonably versatile tricks, and he’s smart about using them in fresh new ways.

Wish me luck for the final ten days of EdMo.


I’m feeling so very off-topic tonight…

December 16, 2010

So let’s see what I can come up with to tell you about. I ran some more recent projects through ‘I write like’, just for the fun of it:

“Dragon’s Prey”, a Roswell/Dragonriders of Pern crossover that I started back in June I think, is written like: Arthur Clarke

The new draft of “Landing”: William Gibson

“The Onus of Grace”, the challenge story that I turned into my Nano novel for this year: Jack London

The new draft of “The Wolves of Wyoming”: Annie Rice!  I think that this is supposed to be Anne Rice and they mistyped it into their database. Even the Amazon sales box is confused, offering a mix of Anne Rice, Annie Tremmel, Annie Johnston, and Annie Russel.

The ‘Father Ismay’ Blogisodes: Ursula K. Le Guin

The first writing exercise that I did for the Brian Henry ‘Writing with Style’ workshop in September: David Foster Wallace

Style exercise 2: Neil Gaiman
When I submit both style exercises together, David Foster Wallace wins.

The latest episode of the Roswell/Doctor Who crossover that I was working on in JulNoWriMo, Children of the Molecule 23: J. K. Rowling! (The JulNoWriMo chapters came out as Dan Brown.)

The Angel’s Charlie, my Nanowrimo novel: Dan Brown

Harry and Mars: Arthur Clarke (I think that seems to be the default reply for anything science fiction.)

Alien in Metropolis chapter 3 (the Roswell/Smallville crossover): Stephen King

The Artifact: Arthur Clarke

The start of the ‘Conspiracy’ Nano idea: William Gibson

The two Sunday ‘Star Patrol’ Blogisodes so far: Arthur Clarke

What else? I’ve been playing around with a few little things regarding technology and writing – one is an MSword VBA macro that I’ve worked out to convert a kind of a rough ‘markup language’ into Microsoft Word comments. I really like them as a way of sending back feedback to other authors, but sometimes I’d like to read or make notes on a device that doesn’t have MSword available – including the eeePC netbook. OpenOffice is great at many things, but its ‘add comment’ feature doesn’t compare to Word’s – particularly because you can’t tie a comment back to a word or a phrase, only to a point between two characters. So, with this new macro, I could start with something like:

Jack fell down and broke his <<by which we mean, his head||crown>>,

and get:

It’s working pretty well, although there’s one thing about the MSoffice VBA that confuses me – after I’ve finished making one substitution, which involved using a ‘find’ command twice, (once for the comment text and once for the body text to anchor it to,) the ‘find’ command stops working. When I enter the code to reset the range and start a new find command, that works perfectly, although I think it might be slower for really long documents full of these custom comments. Guess I’ll have to see how that goes.

The other technology item is one that I haven’t really started on yet, but I’m considering upgrading the eeePC’s Ubuntu version over the Christmas holidays. It’s been on Hardy Heron eeeXubuntu for about two years now, and that’s been fairly good, by the Heron is getting towards the end of its Ubuntu lifespan, and apparently the Lucid Lynx is a really great upgrade, and it’ll let me install some great software that isn’t available for the Heron. So wish me luck there – or if you’ve had horrible experiences with Lucid Lynx and want to tell me I’d be making a horrible mistake: just comment! Thanks.

Feedback Swap update

September 16, 2010

Well, I’ve finally gotten myself in a better position with my critiquing swaps by now – I’ve finished the first Nano manuscript, ‘Duty’, and one screenplay. I’ve also half finished reading another Nanowrimo novel.

It’s strange, but it does seem that with a work of this size, how much I can bring on contribute to critiquing tends to depend on how well I can relate to it. ‘Duty’ was a sort of a medieval historical romance that I really liked, and once I got into it I was giving the author all kinds of scribbled comments in the margin of the Word document. I also made a point of going back and reviewing the chapters once I’d finished the first pass, grouping the chapters in terms of the major arcs of the story as I understood them, suggesting what she was doing well, what elements I thought weren’t working well, and how to improve the things that I could see she was trying to do, but that weren’t quite working yet.

The screenplay was a romantic comedy about wrestling fans, which isn’t something I immediately identify with, but the characters and the setup was charming, and I got into the spirit of it by the end, making notes on which jokes I liked and which bits didn’t seem so funny, and what I thought of the character arcs. I also took a stab at guessing what the theme was.

The second novel, though it has promise, also has a few issues in terms of the point of view and the voice, and in the actual layout and format with the way the author has chosen to work with dialog. (Here’s a hint, there aren’t conventional quote marks.) Though I’m doing my best to follow along, a long of my marginal notes so far are either fairly incidental nitpicks, or pointing out bits that I do particularly like. I guess I’m hoping that by the time I’m finished, I’ll be able to put together some notes that will address the deeper issues I see in this draft, more than just ‘you really need to rewrite this to make it easier to tell when somebody’s talking versus something is being described.’)

That’s pretty much all for tonight, except…

I’ve contacted my first winner for the OLB and VB awards – AP Roberts! Big surprise, hehe, as AP’s livejournal has been the only entry in my blogroll for months now.

I’m going to be changing a few things about this blog in the upcoming weeks, and hopefully updating a bit more frequently, so watch this space.

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