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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This time I have valid reasons!

I know, I know, I've been neglecting ye olde blogge again. But this time for good reason! The Edge of the Sphere is almost completely edited - I just have to make a few more changes in this last round, and then go through every word one final time before shipping it off to be put in the "cover design, then release" queue. Yay! I'm super-excited about this book. (And yes, I'll be giving away some free copies once it comes out!)

Somehow, I have also been writing like a DEMON. I don't want to start my next book just yet (more on that in a moment), so I've been doing some freebies for some gaming sites. I figure that it's a pretty good way to 1) stay in the writing groove and try to keep to a schedule and 2) potentially build my audience. I was never really one to be all "I MUST write x number of words a day!", but it has been a good exercise to try to churn out a certain amount on a regular basis.

I sort of wonder where this burst of energy is coming from, but I'm trying not to question the mojo too much and just ride it as long as it lasts. In a bit of personal news, my husband and I are waiting to close on a house, so we hope to be moving sometime during the month of July. We're also trying to squeeze a family vacation in there somewhere, so maybe the subconscious part of my brain somehow knows that time is going to be limited soon and I must wriiiiiiiiiiiiiiite for as long as I can before things get crazy.

I'll try to be better about keeping up here. After I'm finished with my current project and we're settled in the new house, I hope to start the new book and I'd love to ramble about ideas here. And besides - once we're settled in there, we're going to be DIRT POOR for a while, and I'm going to need the free entertainment....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Dimensions of My Learning Curve

Editing for The Edge of the Sphere is officially underway. For the most part, I was able to take what I had learned from the editing process with Searching the Skies and apply it in order to deliver a cleaner manuscript the first time around. It's a longer book, but there didn't seem to be as much red e-ink from my wonderful editor on it, so to speak.

That said, it appears that the majority of the stuff I need to fix falls into one of two categories: repeated words/phrases and adverb abuse. I guess I really haven't learned much. Maybe having blog posts about those things for the world to see will hold me accountable for such grievous errors in the future. (There were a couple of places where the number of adverbs was cringe-worthy. I'd like to know what I was smoking when 1) I wrote it, and 2) all the times I proofread it. I think I need an adverb support group.)

In addition to having to hack 'n' slash at least three quarters of my adverbs, I have a new word to add to my list of repeated words from my previous post: "still". I used it waaaaaaaay too much, and now I'm noticing it my current writings. Super. At least I cut down on the number of "but"s!

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever really get this writing thing down. Probably not. Then again, if we all got things done perfectly on the first try, editors would be out of work. I'll just look at my "still"s and "but"s and "-ly" words as stimulating the economy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition

Repeated words are usually considered a big no-no. I like to think I catch most of them, but every now and then, I'll proof/edit something and find the same word written a million times in two pages. (I may be exaggerating just a little bit.) Last night, I was going over a very short chapter, only about 1000 words or so, and in that 1000 words, I'd used the word "hope/hoped" at least four times. Good job, Thea. Good job.

That, at least, was pretty easy to fix. I was able to quickly swap in some other words that didn't sound awkward at all. Other times, I don't get so lucky. When writing The Edge of the Sphere, one of my problems was coming up with different ways to talk about water. "Water" itself doesn't have a whole lot of synonyms. Sometimes I was able to describe the form of the water, like "pond", "waves", etc., but other times, water just had to be plain old water.

The two other troublesome words that immediately spring to mind are "smile" and "eyes". Granted, maybe it should be a hint to me that my characters spend too much time grinning like idiots, but sometimes "grin" and "smirk" and the like have connotations that I just don't want. While I'll admit to occasionally using them, the frequently-used metaphors for "eyes", such as "orbs", usually make me roll my...sightballs. Eyes it is, then.

I've seen similar discussions come up with regard to using characters' names and how much repetition is acceptable. While I'm confessing things, I'll also admit to swapping in descriptors like "the blonde seductress" and "the rugged commander" when I'm getting tired of names and pronouns in the past. A lot of writers seem to feel that repetition of characters' names is just fine. After giving it some thought, I'm inclined to agree. Especially when there are a lot of people of the same gender in a scene. Oof, those pronouns can get crazy in there.

Lastly, I'll throw in a callback to my post about adverbs. Sometimes I'll take the time to go back and look over some of my older writings and see what worked well and where I really need to improve. This exercise has made me cringe at times, because not only was I abusing the adverbs, I was using a lot of the same ones over and over and over again. Ouch. Those have been eliminated completely.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

He's a Real Character

Characters. Without them, plot is meaningless. There would be no way to forge an emotional connection to what's going on. Not to mention no one would be talking to each other, and I don't think I can function in a world without dialogue.

The reasons for creating characters were easy enough to find. Actually creating them, forming people with histories and hobbies and feelings and flaws, is more difficult. They have to be compelling, they have to be realistic, they usually have to exhibit some sort of growth, and I suppose most of them should be somewhat likable.

So you've created a character, you've given him years of history that takes up several pages of your outlines, you know what he looks like right down to the last freckle on his chin, and you know how he'll react to every set of circumstances you're going to fling at him. Now what? We've reached a tricky spot again. We want our readers to form a bond with him, but we don't want to fall into the dreaded "info dump" trap. There are also cliches and tropes and stereotypes to avoid. Oh, and we have to work in some plot and conflict somewhere along the line. It's a wonder anything gets done!

If your hero is super strong and brave and seemingly invincible, readers will get annoyed if there's not something there to balance it out. If your heroine is whiny and sniveling and sitting around waiting to be rescued, readers will get annoyed if there's not something to balance it out. If whatever you choose to balance them out isn't convincing (like, you reveal 75% of the way through the book that your unsympathetic unwilling partner is always cranky because when he was two years old, he watched his mother get mauled to death by a bear, or something like that), what happens then? You guessed it! Readers will get annoyed! (And really, it seems like it doesn't take a whole lot to annoy readers. They're a picky lot.)

The really pesky thing is that there doesn't seem to be a formula for creating great characters. Or if there is, no one's discovered it yet. (Note to self: put that on the list of potential ways to make millions.) I think one of the most important things we can do is to take a step back and try to look at our creations objectively. I know, I know, I've heard it before - our characters are our children, we grow attached, blah blah blah. But just because we love them doesn't mean the rest of the world is going to automatically love them as well. We have to EARN that love!

(scampers off to figure out how....)

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Congratulations to Susan, Chris, and Nicole! The email with the link to your free e-book should be arriving at any moment!

Also, a big thank you to everyone who entered! Keep checking back for future giveaways! In addition to more books, I've got some other events tentatively planned.

For those of you who are curious about the responses to the question (Which character "type" sparks your interest more - charming/outgoing or dark/broody?), dark/broody won by a pretty big margin. Hmm. No wonder vampires are so popular. I may have to rethink things....

(Just kidding. I do not have any current plans to write about vampires. However, I'll try to make sure that my future heroes have a good dose of torture in their souls. ;) )