Today’s Brew: All the tea in China. I’ve been nursing a serious tea addiction lately. I hardly even drink coffee anymore.
Hi! I haven’t posted anything here in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been around. As you know, we are pretty much snowbound in Massachusetts, with 8 feet of snow falling in something like 3 weeks. Public transit is crippled, giant snow drifts make driving dangerous, and my downstairs neighbors now live in an igloo.
So I’ve been behind the screen, typing madly away during my slow season at the day job. I mean, what production in their right mind would want to try film under these conditions? (There are a couple happening in town right now, but all my jobs have been inside lately. Thank GOD.)
I’ve completed two new projects! Yes! The next book in The Night Songs Collection, and a new novella in Colorado Shifters. I’m currently working on a sexy shifter short (say that five times fast) for box set.
But enough about me, I want to talk about you.
After a busy fall, I took some time to catch up on social media to see what ya’ll are up to. Yeah, I stalked you. Get over it. It’s awesome to see the books that I remember you guys outlining coming out in the world! It’s like watching people’s kids grow up.
But I also see some people who are faithfully revising the same manuscript they were working on when I met them a couple years ago. You guys are the ones I want to talk to today. Or maybe you’re a new writer, and you’re nervous about showing other people your work.
I want to encourage you to take the next step. Let’s get some eyes on this puppy. I don’t mean your friends, I mean critique partners and developmental editors. Yes, I know your heart might stop beating for a minute when you hit send, and you’ll freak out like Julie and I used to when we were working on Because the Night and Running Home. But dooooo eeet.
Some of you might be published for the very first time when you submit to Julie’s Flash Fiction Showcase next month. Fuck yeah. Julie and I are very proud to be your first. That didn’t sound creepy at all. We’ve been the home of many first timers, like Beau Barnett and Zoey Derrick, who is now a publishing rock star! I want to be Zoey when I grow up. For real.
Everyone says keep writing! More words will make you better! That’s true, but more editing is where you’re really going to grow.
Getting edited made me a better writer.
You might know that I write a lot. The word machine has been thrown around once or twice. So how do I do it? Yes, butt in chair, of course. Now that I’ve had ten books (full length and novellas) edited, I am aware of my weaknesses. I love to put a comma after dialog when there’s no dialog tag. For example: “Kristen sucks at grammar,” She sipped her tea. I want an app that will give me an electric shock every time I do that. I love, love, love the word just. I used it four times in two sentences once. Call Guinness, please. I used to have my characters make their way places instead of walk or enter or simply (I almost typed just) go.
These are all things my editors have had to break me of like a wild mare.
Now, I don’t do them anymore. Well, I still love just. Me and just are BFFs. What does that really mean for my manuscripts? My editors can concentrate on things that really matter, like character development, plot, and flow.
When those notes come back, I work on strengthening those things. The next story, I’m aware of what I did wrong last time, and I can correct it in the first couple of drafts. Now, my editors can go even deeper.
I can say with absolute certainty that the first draft of the story I’m working on now is light years better than the first draft of Because the Night. (God, that thing. I found the print out of it when I was cleaning my office, and I wanted to die of embarrassment reading it to myself.)
Another thing that will make you a better writer is critiquing your peers’ work. Everyone’s got their own personal just and making their way. Seeing other people’s work in this raw stage was so helpful for me. Helping other people weed out passive wording or repetitiveness made me aware of when I was slipping that shiz into my own work. I was able to obliterate it in draft one. I learn more from doing this than I do from reading masterpieces.
You might not think you’re ready for editing, but what do you have to lose? A fresh, honest set of eyes are going to help you get ready for the next step. You write alone, but you publish with a team. If you’re thinking of submitting to the March Madness Flash Fiction Showcase, do it. Let’s get these stories out in the world.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got lion smut to write and zumba to do.