All posts filed under: Editing

Lifebook 6 | Francis Coppola and I

Strolling down Memory Lane, somehow I forgot the significance of this detail, that my name is, after all these years, still associated with one Francis Ford Coppola. I was a two-time Guest Editor for one of his literary publications, in which I dutifully selected one of my favorite short stories ever, “The Junkie Muse” by Isabelle Carruthers (a pseudonym) for publication in Zoetrope: All-Story Extra’s 23rd issue in May 2000. All these years later I’m still in love with the story and reflect on its publication with pride. And my association with Mr. Coppola on the now defunct publication’s masthead is something of minor bragging rights, I suppose. History lesson: Zoetrope: All-Story Extra (ASE) was an on-line supplement to Mr. Coppola’s fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story (ZAS). Each month, All-Story Extra featured two new stories submitted by writers via Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site. The stories were chosen and edited by guest editors—also members of Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site—with assistance from the New York editorial staff of ZAS. ASE was created by Mr. Coppola and five members …

Six Ways To Self-Edit & Polish Your Prose

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:
Whether you are new to writing or an old pro, brushing up on the basics is always helpful. Because no matter how GOOD the story is? If the reader is busy stumbling over this stuff, it ruins the fictive dream and she will never GET to the story. So today we are going to cover six ways to self-edit your fiction. Though this stuff might seem like a no-brainer, I see these blunders ALL the time. ….unfortunately even in (legacy) published books. When I worked as an editor, I found it frustrating when I couldn’t even GET to the story because I was too distracted by these all too common oopses. There are many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing oopses you could’ve easily repaired yourself? You’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the MEAT of your novel. This means you will spend less money and get far higher value. #1 The Brutal Truth about Adverbs,…

Quote: Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

#6 Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

“You are such a jerk,” she laughed.

A character can’t “laugh” something. They can’t “snip” “spit” “snarl” “grouse” words. They can SAY and ever so often they can ASK. Said becomes white noise. Readers don’t “see” it. It keeps them in the story and cooking along. If we want to add things like laughing, griping, complaining, then fine. It just shouldn’t be the tag.

“You are such a jerk.” She laughed as she flicked brownie batter onto Fabio’s white shirt.

There you go, SIX easy tips for self-editing. We all make these mistakes and that’s why God invented revision (that and to punish the unfaithful). If you can get rid of these common offenders on your own, then good editors can focus on the deeper aspects of your fiction.

Guest Blog – Fifty Shades of Error: Chuck Palahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU

Originally posted on Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia:
  Fifty Shades of Error in chuckpalahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU by Dr. Joseph Suglia 1.) “Even as Penny was attacked, the judge merely stared” [1]. Never begin a novel with a sentence written in the passive voice. This sentence, in particular, sounds as if it were transliterated from Estonian or spoken by Grimace. It contains a clumsy adverb (“merely”). It is fatiguing to read. 2.) “The court reporter continued to dutifully keyboard, transcribing Penny’s words” [1]. Careful novelists avoid verbs such as “to continue,” “to start,” “to try,” “to remain,” and “to begin.” Such verbs weaken sentences. 3.) “It would’ve been different if there had been other women in the courtroom, but there were none” [1]. “None” is a singular indefinite pronoun; therefore, the second independent clause should read: “there was none.” 4.) “The public sphere was devoid of women” [1]. If I wrote this sentence, I would die inside. 5.) “Otherwise, only Penny moved” [1]. Otherwise, what? chuckpalahniuk means: “Only Penny moved.” 6.) “Their professional…

Update: Selection & Rejection

In addition to finalizing the Local Heroes manuscript in prepartion of it going to press soon for an August release, I am also in the selecton and rejecton process for the next issue of Liquid Imagination Online (issue #10 goes live August 31st). I have to select six pieces of flash fiction for that particular feature of the webzine. With that small number of stories to feature, I have to reject far more stories than I accept (duh). This is the most regretable part of the entire editing and publishing process. Rejection. Any editor who is also a writer knows all about the sting of rejection from being on the other side of the process. It’s a necessary yet dreadful part of the process. Even if I had an assistant who did all the dirty work of rejection for me, I’d still be affected by it. So far I’ve selected 4 of the 6 and I am happy to report that they contain elements of either the surreal, the fantastic, the bizarre or the anthropomorphic. I sense a …

Quick Combo Update: What’s Happening

Item 1 – Silver Pen Midwest Summitt Gotta boogie today as I have a bunch of things to do before I traverse the interstate to northern-central Illinois for the first ever Silver Pen Writers’ Associaion Midwest Summitt. Essentially we’re just getting started and we’ve got ton of things to get to on our agenda list, so plenty of talking and planning…and camping? Yeah. Been seven years since I last camped. At least there’s very little risk of a cold morning this time. Item 2 – Like Frozen Statues of Flesh The lastest anthology to feature my fiction (two pieces, actually), Like Frozen Statues of Flesh, a bizarro anthology published by Static Movement, is now available at the Pill Hill Press Shoppe. It was compiled and edited by jumpin’ Joe Jablonski. He was kind enough to accept both my stories “All In a Days Work” and “The Underneath” (funds have been deposited into your Swiss bank account, Joe, as agreed). The book should be available at Amazon soon as well.  Item 3 – Local Heroes …

One Editor’s Opinion #2: Edit As You Write

Something else that comes to mind as I’m editing ( I mean truly editing) a portion of the the last story I accepted for my Local Heroes anthology, is that some writers do not write with the reader in mind at all. They just write the story however it comes out of them with little regard for how that might read to the outside reader. That’s what I consider casual writing, writing that the writer has done merely for himself. It’s not what I call “performance writing” where a writer is writing with a would-be audience in mind. Again, that points to what I’ve said earlier about being a deliberate storyteller. If you’re writing merely to amuse yourself, then why submit to an editor in an attempt to get published? The story I’m editing at the moment is marred by the writer’s disregard for the reader. Many sentences meander and put-off the reader with a plethora of extraneous words and details that get in the way of what the reader is truly after. When there’s …

One Writer’s Opinion #1: Storytelling vs Writing or Planning vs Winging It

The following opinion piece was written yesterday in one of the private offices (writer’s forum) at the Zoetrope Virtual Studio. Being someone who is constantly evaluating things, I find myself compelled to respond to other people’s ideas when they get me thinking. Yesterday it was fellow writer Bonnie ZoeBell’s article over at Flash Fiction Chronicles in which she wrote: “…you don’t have to know where you’re going when you begin a story. There simply has to be something, however small, that makes you feel like writing—an image, an overheard piece of dialogue, a situation.” I agree with this, but to a point. I think if you’re writing just to be ‘writing’ and just to be a ‘writer’ (because, hey writers write, right?), then this is spot-on. That’s the passive approach (for lack of a far better term). However, if you’re writing as a deliberate ‘storyteller’ first, then I think a lot more thought and ‘knowing’ needs to go into the process (active, or proactive; again for lack of better terms). Deliberate storytellers are loathe to …

Update: Big Ass List o’ Things To Do

Figured posting it publicly will help keep my ass honest and accountable for the work that I need to be doing. In no particular order: Finish editing final two stories (well, three counting my own) for Local Heroes antho Finish putting together the LH book manuscript in Word, making sure it’s in at least near-perfect form before sending it off to Ms. Bartholomew for finalization and publishing. Redesign this blog Set up all kinds of web shit for my pen names, including blogs, Twitter, Good Reads (and down the road Facebook accts) Attend Silver Pen Writers Association Midwest Summit in northern Illinois next weekend (4-hour drive) Finish up “Cult Storm” and get it off to One Hour antho editor, Dorothy Davies. Publish short story e-books under assorted pen names on Smashwords, after a thorough spot-checking of the stockpiled works to be presented. Design e-book covers (fun, necessary, but tedious, time-consumng and I’m a hack at it) Select, edit and accept flash fiction stories for issue #9 (Aug) of Liquid Imagination Continue/finish reading the assorted stack of books on my desk that …

One Editor’s Opinion #1

All too often beginning and inexperienced writers want to dictate every minutiae of what you are reading and are suppose to be comprehending. In other words they leave little room for interpretation, and they don’t allow you, the reader, to engage your sense of imagination and interact with the story they’re reading. I think this weakens the writing and the overall story and is insulting to one’s intelligence. Personally I feel that style of writing completely takes me out of the story, and the story fails because the writer won’t get out of the way of the story. A few pet peeves that get this editor’s goat? – Overuse of adjectives, adverbs, gerunds and passive voice – A lack of strong verbs (he adivsed) in favor of weak gerunds (he was advising) – Over-reliance on complex sentences (why are so many newbie writers so afraid to use a period?) – Overuse of patois. It’s a French word that means a regional form of a language that differs from the standard, literary form of the language. In other …