Tag Archives: editing

The Editing Never Really Ends – Does It?

As many of you know, when I wrote The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series, it was the formation of many short parts published over the period of around six months on my blog – around four or five a week.

There were several reasons I was writing and several influences. I think I started writing Annabelle’s story because I had just come back from Australia wondering how it is that you can be on the opposite side of the planet from someone you love. How do you cope? What happens when someone else takes an interest with you and flirts with you? I had been through a lot that year, including a miscarriage, and my great adventure to spend the summer with Goldfinch – lots of mixed feelings, lots of inspirational experiences and lots of love.

It all came out in Annabelle’s story – love, romance, disappointment, humour, grief, major decisions, inspiration from the people around you, frustration with the people around you, warmth and encouragement, self-isolation and feeling lost, putting a brave face on for everyone around you, hiding things that are crushing you from within. It al came out in a fictional character, with a fictional story, with a lot of very real input from real life.

Airports sometimes feel like gateways to another world – another life. I kept on dreaming about being at the airport with Goldfinch – an experience I have had five times now. Annabelle too was going to journey through several airports along her voyage. I think that the 10,100 mile trip I took was why Annabelle ended up travelling so much. It seems a little odd after the Pandemic that she travels with such ease.

It was too intense to give Annabelle my story, it was just too much. But I found myself wanting to bring into her story other things that had happened in my life and the experiences of friends. I have a friend who almost lost her husband when he was in a serious traffic accident. I have a friend who has battled with very dark thoughts towards herself. I have family members who have made mistakes in the past with debt, gambling, alcohol and Class A drugs – and remarkably they have fought those battles and turned their lives around. I found myself weaving in things they have said, conversations we have shared, the experiences they have had with other people, the health service, and their own emotions as they tried to make progress with their battles.

As many other writers will have found, it is incredibly cathartic to weave lessons from life you have picked up yourself or from others, inspiration from real life, real people, real emotions into your fictional story. Writing Annabelle’s story was hugely helpful to me.

However, I sometimes wonder if I deluged Annabelle Riley with too much of an impossible situation at the point we meet her. I have never stopped editing the books I wrote, as far as correcting silly spelling mistakes and typos, and trying to liven up the narrative. However, I have come to a slight dilemma over how much she has been through in a short time. I have read Annabelle’s story several times with a red pen and updated my manuscript with minor amendments to improve the text.

Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

There are some parts of her story which are essential and cannot disappear because otherwise the rest of her story won’t make sense. I cannot tamper with her relationships with her parents and siblings or her ex-boyfriend. They all have to stay. But from the point she met Robin, I keep looking at all that happens in a short space of time – and of course this is all backstory, because we meet Annabelle several years after she meets Robin – him leaving because his contract has ended and his Visa has expired, her pregnancy, her trip to England, the car accident, the post-natal depression, the grief, the nervous breakdown Robin experiences.

I sometimes wonder if it is too much for one person to endure? Why did I give her so many challenges? Then I remember, well, I guess that I was the one doing the writing, and perhaps part of what fueled me was my own experiences, being trolled and slandered by Jack’s fans, being sexually assaulted and violently attacked, moving around to find somewhere I felt safe, settled and could work independently, falling in love, him leaving because his contract had ended, my pregnancy, my miscarriage, my trip to Australia, my sadness that I had to come back to London and carry on without knowing what the future would hold. All that was bottled up inside, and it came out in Annabelle’s story.

Does Annabelle have too many challenges on her plate? I don’t know. But what I do know is that cliches do not solve her challenges. She has journey on through life, learning about herself, making peace where she can with her past, enduring judgmental comments from others, struggling to communicate, feelings of isolation with her challenges, fear and mistrust, being knocked down by her own failings and sensitive to harsh words from others who seem to be judging her harshly, trying to build a life for herself and realizing that things beyond our control can knock us way off track.

I need to do some brutal editing to the first book. I know there are some passages that are repetitive, and I think repeating her challenges over and over can drag a reader down. But at the same time, I know that when I started writing Annabelle’s story, I was in a way at a crossroads in my life, having been through some very traumatic and painful events, and not being sure what the future held. I think I need to preserve the weight of her challenges, and that she is sort of in a state of “limbo” when we meet her. But the brutal editing ahead of me is about not letting the challenges dominate, but finding the right balance of humour and heartwarming characters to carry Annabelle forward as she continues her voyage of a lifetime.

The First Few Chapters

You may know that before I published The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon…I published one part at a time on my very own blog over a period of around seven months.

Now when I was writing the first few chapters, I had an idea in my head I had read a book not long before. The book I read told almost the same story from the differing points of view of seven different people. It was very clever. I was so impressed by this style, I tried to employ it to some extent in Annabelle’s emerging backstory.

First of all Jenna tells Chris what she has overheard of Annabelle’s past (which is all based on malicious gossip). When Chris is trying to learn more about Annabelle, Burt Jennings says very little. Overhearing Chris is asking questions, Pearl tells him what she knows of Annabelle’s story. Eventually, Annabelle and Chris start up a friendship, but Annabelle is careful with what she shares. Annabelle confides in Gina (Chris’ older sister), sharing some of the details she has not dared to share with the older folk in the town of Blackwood. Of course, the different information Chris has heard only makes sense when Annabelle finally chooses to reveal her past to him.

I know what I was trying to do….but for a reader who is new to Annabelle Riley’s story, I think those first few chapters can be confusing. So I have been going over the first half of the first book “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves” with a view to revising the flow. I don’t want readers to find it annoyingly repetitive. I want to edit those chapters so that each character reveals something different about Annabelle, but not identical details.

Editing just never stops, does it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Putting My Editing Cap On

hfsdgggggg I have just over 90,000 words all ready to be published in a new book that is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

However…I noticed two huge blunders in my plot today. They are fixable. This is what happens when you write when you are tired…and when you get so carried away with driving the story you forget to keep track of what you have established about your character.

When I first started writing my story, I wanted to explain why my character is so lost and alone in this world. In thinking up reasons for the isolation she lives within, I must have decided that my main character was from a family with little money. I wrote that they could only afford for her mother to travel to Germany to visit family. But later on I decided that my main character inherited an estate worth $86million when her parents were killed in a car crash. So…I have to fix that.

Image by TanteTati from PixabayI also noticed that earlier on in the book, my main character tries to ring her ex three years after they have split up and discovers that he has changed his number. But later on in the story, she rings him and speaks to him. How on does she obtain his new number? Well…I have fixed that too!

Ugh! I need to make time to read the novel I wrote within a month and check it more carefully to make sure it is coherent and consistent. Editing needs you to be wide awake and on the ball!!!

I want to finish this one off soon though because I have another idea for a novel bursting to get out of me. Jack has started making plans for the two of us…so I want to get my ideas down while he is in quarantine. Once he starts coming over, I don’t think I am going to have chance to write.

I Would Never Say No To A Custard Cream

I am having so much fun developing some of the new minor characters in Book Three of my LEARNERS AT LOVE SERIES. Without giving too much away (well you will know this if you have already read the posts I published last year containing Annabelle’s story), my main character spends some time in North Wales.

lfdhsvbsdfhvbNow when I originally wrote the story, I didn’t have any scenes in Wales, I just skipped that bit. But I have been working on some very crucial developments in Annabelle’s thinking and learning about herself…and to help her along with that process are a handful of Welsh characters.

“I would never say no to a custard cream.”

“I happen to have a partiality for Jason Donovan.”

wasahd“Those sunglasses do make you rather conspicuous. The whole village thinks you are Delta Goodrem. Well you do look a lot like her.”

All week I have been thinking in Welsh, as my characters interact with Annabelle and cause her to see things in a different way than she has before. It’s fun. Book Three has some really hard stuff in it. So I am loving the process of injecting lighter touches and moments of humour to break up the harder passages.

I am nearly finished. I reckon I am 95% there. I have one more chapter featuring a very special character named Maggie (she is a new addition) and I need to write a letter that Annabelle sends to Dean. Then I am ready for it to be published. My wonderful friend has already prepared my book cover and a preliminary manuscript has been loaded. So, it is just down to me to finish off. Soon I will be holding all three books of the complete LEARNERS AT LOVE series. I cannot wait!

The Editing Process

I have started all over again with my pedantic perfectionist style of scrutinising and making corrections to a book I have already published. I know it’s not the right way to go about editing, but I have not sold enough books for anyone to complain about my back-to-front editing style.

One of the sentences I discovered right at the start of Book Two (of the three part LEARNERS AT LOVE series) I hardly remembered writing. Annabelle says of one of the characters closest to her that he is A FRIEND WHO HELPS HER SEE RAINBOWS IN THE WORST OF STORMS. I liked that!

Landscape, Fantasy, Sea, Rainbow, Cliff

Anyway…I read the first two paragraphs of Book Two (WHERE IS THIS PLACE THEY CALL “HOME”?) and I had completely forgotten writing them. It brought back to mind the recollection of an afternoon I spent pondering to myself how to start Book Two and how to introduce Annabelle to new readers who may not have read Book One (WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES). I asked myself, why should anyone care about her story? The first few pages is my answer to that question really.

I read the first two paragraphs in the first chapter, and I felt so pleased. It really whet my appetite to continue.

THE PASSENGER

Sky, Clouds, Landscapes, Blue, NatureIf you are sitting next to one of the small cabin windows on the Swiss Airlines flight from Chicago to Zurich, you’ll find your view either obscured by layers of thick white cloud, or on a clear day, miles of grey blue sea stretch out below. From a height of 35,000 feet the ocean below may seem calm and serene. However, a long-distance view can be deceptive. From so far away, we may fail to recognise that raging waves are crashing against each other as an angry wind whips up more turbulence.

How many of the people we pass each day are successful in maintaining a serene composure, whilst hiding raging emotions that surge within them? If we really knew the battles that others faced, the storms brewing in their lives and the secrets they are terrified to share, perhaps we would prefer to keep a safe distance.

annabelle finaleI guess what I was trying to say is that so many of the people we pass each day might look ok on the surface, but within them, there may be battles waging and turbulent struggles. Annabelle has been hiding for a long time (as revealed in Book One) and now in Book Two, she is trying to feel more settled. But if you have been following her story you will know her journey is a bumpy one, with some amazing highs and some heartbreaking lows. I still find it very moving to consider her story and analyse her and the other characters in my scrutiny of the book.

Editing is grueling as I have discovered with Book One. You can start to become obsessive about perfect grammar and finding the elusive perfect word, when originally you wrote with feeling and flair as the story consumed you.

I am determined to refine and improve my books before I go crazy with promoting and marketing them. It’s an important process and one that I am trying to give my enthusiastic attention to.

 

 

Breathing Life Into Characters

rsughbg Since the first part of my LEARNERS AT LOVE series was published, I have been slowly scrutinising every word. I have painstakingly corrected grammar and punctuation. I have also got to know my characters much better and learnt more about the expressions they would use and their habits of thought and action.

It’s a very enjoyable process, but one that it seems you have to be devoted to (for a time period that is). Perhaps I went about it all the wrong way. I have post-edited. It would have driven me crazy to have to edit like this before ever publishing. I don’t think Annabelle Riley’s story would ever have been published if I had to keep postponing it because of a paranoid perfectionism.

You have a character in your mind, and you have to make them seem real in your story. You have to get to know who they are are what made them that way. It’s really fascinating, especially from a psychological point of view.

rusdjdbjafI’ve started to develop another character recently, Leah Carter. I have already decided she is not going to have her full story published. She is more personal to me and the men I have loved. While there are thousands of miles between Jack and me, Leah is in some ways helping us share what we cannot. After I send a part of Leah’s story to Jack, he reads it and sends something back. Maybe, it’s a bit like cybersex but more personal and way more erotic. We are talking about scenarios we have already shared, reminding each other of intimate moments together.

I have ideas for other characters though. I would like to develop the story of Anna and Natalia, two sisters from the LEARNERS AT LOVE series. I also have a character in my head who is inspired by an amazing colleague of mine. I would love to weave a fictional tale of how she finds love.

Two Books For The Price Of One

Woman, Girl, Female, Lying, TypingI have received some excellent advice regarding my Annabelle Riley series. Amongst which is that my 240,000 word manuscript (yeah I know!) could easily be made into two seperate books.

That made me take a fresh look at everything. I have been trying to weave certain aspects between both the original story and the sequel, yet at the same time making sure each had an appealing introduction, a compelling body and a riveting conclusion.

Oh and…we have also been discussing the title of the book. I had an idea early on. But I changed it because I did not want the story to sound too depressing. But, in the end everyone I have asked seems to like my original idea. I am going to ask you in an opinion post very soon. I have had a few ideas and I would love to have a bit of feedback on which of the titles is most appealing and fitting for Annabelle’s story.

Anyway…it all takes time! Time is something I am desperately short of at the moment. But we believe Book One, which is now 110,000 words is about ready. I cannot tell you how many times I have proof-read it! Every time I read it, I tweak it.

decisionsI still want to cut some of the long conversations between Robin and Annabelle down. She says the same thing about three times. I feel I still need to cut it down! But some days I have to admit that tiredness has beaten me. It is so much easier with a fresh head.

However, I am still enjoying it. I can’t wait to tackle the sequel. I think those latter chapters were more compelling for me to write. So I am really looking forward to editing and proofreading them.

I am not a perfectionist. But I do want to do Annabelle justice!