Behind The Rewrite With Justin Doyle: 5 Major Changes To YA Space Opera @JustinD_n_Space

Behind The Rewrite With Justin Doyle: 5 Major Changes To YA Space Opera @JustinD_n_Space

YA space opera

Welcome to Justin Doyle who gave us a sneak peek behind the rewrite of his YA space opera, Embargo on Hope. Here are five areas that Justin focused on while editing his science fiction book.  

Embargo on Hope took me over fifteen years from first words on paper to publish. I worked on it sporadically until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I knew it was time to finally meet that lifelong goal of getting published.

I had never had anyone other than friends and family read it and provide feedback, so my line editor had some work to do. The manuscript was greatly improved by the changes below, and even better, now I know to look out for these things in my future novels (like the sequel, Assassination of Hope, coming this summer!)

 

Change #1: Adding Before-the-Chapter Background Blurbs

This change was a major change suggested by my editor, but it made a huge difference. I had some stilted conversations where I was trying to expose details of the world that added depth and foreshadowed conflict. That included some of the “butler-and-maid” dialogue where characters were sharing things they already knew.

I was also limited by my 16-year-old protagonist’s first person perspective. There were simply things he just didn’t know or understand, so there wasn’t an easy way to introduce it into the narrative.

Finally, this allowed me to keep the story moving along. There were places where the main character was in the middle of something, but I spent a paragraph or two detracting from that thing before getting back. It really broke the flow of the novel.

Change #2: Breaking Up Action With Introspection

I had a lot of go-go-go, where one action scene would lead directly into another. My editor encouraged me to add scenes where the POV character reflected on what happened, how it affected him, and how it affected his goals. The introspection scenes not only gave the reader a chance to “take a breath,” but it helped each action scene mean more while adding depth to my character. Without the introspection, the action scenes seemed to be there more just for the sake of action.

 

Change #3: Several Chapters or Chapter Breaks Began With the POV Character Waking Up

When I was first writing, I was getting too hung up on “this happened, then this happened, then this happened,” even if the “this” in the middle wasn’t relevant or interesting. A  great example of this is I had several chapters or chapter breaks where the character would start by waking up. It’s unnecessary and honestly a little boring. Just start your chapters a little later where things started happening. I think it was Dan Brown’s Masterclass where he said “start chapters as late as possible.” He was talking specifically about writing thrillers, but honestly I think it applies to most kinds of modern writing.

 

Change #4: Added Some Light-hearted/Bonding Scenes

Related to #2, I had so many action/fight scenes, which made each a little less meaningful and didn’t allow the characters to build relationships (except in the heat of battle). Adding light-hearted scenes allowed me to show different facets of all of the characters’ personalities while allowing them to build rapport, and even a love interest relationship. I was also able to use these scenes to write different settings and build some depth in the world.

 

Change #5: Making Sure Other Main Characters Had Their Own Goals

I think authors fall into a common trap of the character serving one or more plotlines or just the main character’s interests. My editor encouraged me to make sure not only did the other main characters have their own goals, but that I made them clear in the text. That can be difficult in a first person novel, but it can be used as a growth point for your main character, e.g. realizing the world doesn’t revolve around them. It helps explain their motivations and makes them feel more authentic. It can also help with twists – at first, something may seem “out of character” but when the reader examines their goals more closely, they realize that it made perfect sense.

More About the Book

 

Embargo on Hope

Buy it on Amazon

5 Stars – This action-packed adventure will fully immerse the reader… any fan of science fiction or action-adventure would enjoy this book.” – Reader’s Favorite
“…a gifted story that is exceptionally compelling.” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Even gods have secrets…

On planet Vastire, worth is set by the sins of one’s ancestors. Good families rise to the elite and the wicked fall into poverty. Unfortunately for sixteen-year-old Darynn Mark, his father incited a revolution. Now, Darynn scrounges his way through life in the slums. When Vastire is surrounded by an embargo, it gets even harder to survive.

That all changes when an alien ship slips through the embargo, seeking Darynn with an offer: finish the revolution and the embargo ends. He might have a chance thanks to mysterious magic powers, and his two companions: clairvoyant crush Fyra and soldierly alien Kaylaa. Cutthroat killers, mystical beasts, Vampires, power-hungry priests and lords, and self-serving spies stand in their way. If the three of them can crack his father’s secret, maybe they can end the embargo and save the poor. If not, another poor orphan will be added to the growing piles of dead.

More About Justin

Justin was born in Galveston, TX and raised in the Houston area. In middle school, he fell in love with two life-long pursuits: space and writing. He knew he wanted to work at NASA and write science fiction/fantasy on the side, and lo and behold, that’s exactly what he ended up doing. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, and an M.S. in Systems Engineering. He now works for Barrios Technology as a project engineer on the Gateway program. He lives in the Houston area with his wife, daughter, and various small mammals.

Check out his website starmarked.mailchimpsites.com for more information on him, bonus material in the Star Marked universe, and upcoming releases.

Instagram 

Facebook

Twitter

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable, Time Management Blueprint for Writers, and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

Take On The Grammar Habit With These Simple Steps

Take On The Grammar Habit With These Simple Steps

grammar habit

If grammar is your nemesis as a writer, then let me introduce you to Ellen Sue Feld, the creator/instructor of online grammar refresher courses at grammar-lion.com and the author of Comma Sense: Your Guide to Grammar Victory. Below, Ellen offers valuable advice on building a good grammar habit.

Because I teach grammar, people assume I believe good grammar is the key to good writing. But I don’t believe that, not for one second. Here’s what I do believe: Your creative process is the most important part of your writing. Checking for good grammar comes later. Good grammar doesn’t make good writing, but good writing demands good grammar.

So how do we make good grammar a natural part of our writing process? By developing good grammar habits!

Recently, I listened to a podcast about the new science of habit building. (The good news is that we don’t have to harness anything magical or elusive, like willpower.) We can build good grammar habits using the same strategies that work for building any new habit.

Here’s the current thinking:

  • Desire the habit.
  • Start small.
  • Attach the new habit to an existing habit.
  • Make it fun.
  • Do it with consistency.
  • Create accountability and/or support.

Whew! That may sound like a lot. But don’t worry. While developing good grammar habits, you don’t need to employ all the strategies above. Sometimes just a few will do the trick.

I’m going to add a couple of my own that have proved true in my experience as an instructor and writer:

  • Expand what you know (i.e., remain open to learning).
  • Listen selectively to what others have to say; be discerning in your research.
  • Commit to reviewing your work before sharing or submitting it.

Let’s make this real with some common grammar problems you’ll want to consider:

  • run-on sentences
  • lack of subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement
  • homophones
  • random commas and lack of commas
  • ambiguous pronouns
  • wordiness
  • shifts in person and tense
  • dangling and misplaced modifiers
  • punctuation with quotation marks
  • punctuation with conjunctive adverbs
  • capitalization

We all come to grammar at our own starting place. Cross off what you don’t need to work on, and add more topics as you think of them.

Building Good Grammar Habits

Now let’s use habit building to turn around these grammar problems in our writing. For our example, we’ll use homophones as our target good grammar habit.

  • Desire the habit. If the desire isn’t there, you’re unlikely to develop a good new habit. So what might motivate you as a writer? Consider this: Your writing is a reflection of who you are, and you want the best possible reflection. In other words, you don’t want anything to detract from the overall picture of the wonderful writer you are. Good grammar will enhance your writer’s image.

Resolve: I want my writing to be polished and professional. And I want to have confidence in my writing whenever I share it with someone else.

  • Start small. You don’t have to know everything. Begin with one, two, or three points of grammar to master. You can always challenge yourself later with additional topics.

Resolve: I want to be sure I’m using the right homophone. I’m aware I sometimes mix up their, there, and they’re even though I know the differences. I’ll pay more attention to this.

  • Attach the new habit to an existing habit. You’re already set because you’ve attached the habit of using good grammar to your existing habit of writing and editing. One of the great things about grammar is that you get to practice your skills every time you write. Practice is naturally built in to the process!

Resolve: When I’ve finished writing, I’ll review my work and look for their/there/they’re to make sure I’ve used them correctly. I’m also going to start a list of homophones I mix up. I’ll check my writing against that list.

  • Make it fun. Reward yourself. Use what’s positive for you. Here are a few ideas for adding pleasure to your grammar-check process: Eat a jellybean when you catch an error. Play your own special grammar-check music in the background. Compile a list of the errors you catch so that your pride in recognition will grow as your list grows.

Resolve: I love numbers and puzzles as much as I love words, so I’ll enjoy solving a sudoku after I do a grammar check. 

  • Do it with consistency. This may feel hard. We’re often pressed for time. But try your best to factor in time for a grammar check. It’s a vital part of your writing process.

Resolve: I’ll look for homophone errors in all my writing, including emails and texts.

  • Create accountability. If you thrive on community support, go ahead and tell someone about your new plan to build good grammar habits. Keep them updated on your progress. And if you like to work solo, that’s fine, too. You can be accountable to yourself.

Resolve: This is a pact I’m making with myself.

  • Be open to ongoing learning. You’re learning every time you look up something online, go to a dictionary, take a course, or ask another writer a question. Every little bit you learn and put to use contributes to big changes in your writing.

Resolve: A writer friend just mentioned whet/wet to me in the expression “whet your appetite.” I always thought it was “wet your appetite”! Though I’m aware of a few other homophones I misuse, I’m going to have some fun perusing lists.

  •  Be discerning. There’s a lot of information out there. You know not all of it is legit. Some well-meaning people can inadvertently spread misinformation. Vet your sources. For example, if a grammar information site is connected to a university, it’s more likely than a random site to be trustworthy.

Resolve: I just found a comprehensive online grammar resource. It’s a writing lab that’s part of a public university, and it’s available to everyone. It’s easy to use, and I can trust what I learn there.

  • Review your work before submitting. When you’ve finished writing, take a break. Walk away. Distance will help you spot errors when you come back. Then read through your work in an unhurried way. Because we get accustomed to our own words, it’s easy to overlook errors. Reading aloud can help. Another useful technique is reading your work from the bottom up, paragraph by paragraph. If you can, read from a print version instead of on the screen.

Resolve: I’m going to factor in a few minutes of grammar review time for every thousand words. This will allow me be methodical and relaxed.

You may be wondering how long it takes to build a new habit. It depends on how complex the habit is and how often and how much you get to practice. The more consistent you are—as in doing a grammar check and making corrections every time you write—the quicker you’ll develop the habit. But this isn’t a race. Good grammar habits are for the long term, for as long as you are a writer.

Come join us at Grammar Lion of Facebook (@grammarlion). We’re a diverse, international, nonjudgmental group of learners who aim to let no grammar question go unanswered. Everyone is welcome!

(Thank you to Hidden Brain for producing and sharing the podcast “Creatures of Habit.” You can find it here: https://hiddenbrain.org/podcast/creatures-of-habit/ )

 

More About Ellen’s Grammar Book

 

national grammar day

Comma Sense: Your Guide to Grammar VictoryLearn the rules of adverbs, punctuation, abbreviations, prepositions, and much more. Ellen covers topics such as em dashes, parentheticals and parallelism, diction and logic, run-on sentences and sentence fragments, and more. Become a master of capitalization and punctuation, subjects and predicates, and contractions and possessives. After every chapter, take a quiz to practice your new grammatical skills in this great grammar workbook. At the end of the book, a comprehensive test allows you to utilize all you have learned. At 512 pages, there is lots of content in this book! Readers who enjoyed The Elements of StyleActually, the Comma Goes HereThe Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation; or The Perfect English Grammar Workbook will love Comma Sense: A Guide to Grammar Victory

“In her new book, Comma Sense, Ellen Sue Feld demystifies grammar with clarity, conciseness, and empathy.”
—Anu Garg, author and founder of Wordsmith.org

“If you really want to go deep into the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of grammar, then Comma Sense is for you. Ellen covers the basics like a pro and delivers practical examples to help you learn. You’ll never mess up ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ again!”
—Lisa Lepki, CMO at ProWritingAid

Buy it on:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble 

Bookshop 

Mango 

International via Book Depository

Learn more about Ellen here.

About The Grammar Refresher Course

Ellen also offers a self-paced online course, I recommend the course for those who struggle with issues such as:

  • Parts of speech
  • Contractions and possessives
  • Subjects and predicates
  • Sentence fragments
  • Run-on sentences
  • Agreement
  • Shifts in person, tense, and structure
  • Capitalization and punctuation

 Enroll here!

Behind The Rewrite With C.E Flores: Revisions Inspired By Free Editing Class

Behind The Rewrite With C.E Flores: Revisions Inspired By Free Editing Class

Free editing course

Today’s Behind the Rewrite meant a lot to me as author C.E. Flores made her revisions after taking my free editing class, Line Editing Made Simple: 5 Days to More Polished Pages. If you haven’t gone through the course, be sure to sign up. And if you took it a long time ago, sign up again as it now has an online classroom component and interactive quiz. But first, read this informative post from C.E. Flores as she gives a behind the scenes glimpse into polishing up her nonfiction book on herbal remedies.

Recently I published Volume 2 in my Mexican Herbal Remedy series. Since I needed to update the back matter to include information about the second book, I decided to use this opportunity to make some changes to Volume 1. Stacy Juba’s free course, Line Editing Made Simple: 5 Days to More Polished Pages, helped my editing processes tremendously.

First, I searched through my writing for crutch words as instructed in Lesson 1. Since my non-fiction book focuses on the medicinal uses of certain herbs, would you be surprised to learn that the word “use” was entirely overused? I found it in various forms (used, use, using, useful), at least five to ten times per chapter. I rewrote almost all of those sentences using synonyms such as remedy, treatment, therapy, and so on.

Then, from Lesson 3, I went through the book again, looking for the five common offenders (some, that, very, as, just). I found entirely too many instances of “some,” “that,” and “just” plus my personal nemesis “so.” Those sentences received a little tightening up. Additionally, I took a leaf out of Lesson 5’s book and checked my prepositions. “In order to” was there almost as many times as “use” had been. Wordy phrases–be gone!

Lesson 4 had me go back through for dangling modifiers that disrupt the meaning of the sentence. I was guilty there as well. Some of the sentences needed complete rewrites. I took this opportunity to reduce passive voice use as well. I most certainly want to say what I mean and mean what I say when writing about these fascinating herbs and be clear about it.

I took to heart Stacy’s comment, “Your job is to finish your manuscript and to make it your best work, a professional book that will stand out from the competition and attract positive attention.”

Since I was on a roll, I made a few additional changes. The herb book was initially designed to record my own experiences with Mexican remedies. After completing Volume 2, I felt like I had a better idea of what I wanted to accomplish and what would appeal more to my readers. So, in my editing process for Volume 1, I took out several personal anecdotes about the herbs and added a bit more history in some cases and scientific support in others.

Then I switched out most of the images with better quality ones. After all, part of learning about the traditional use of these herbs was proper plant identification. A higher resolution image will aid herbalists interested in foraging their own supply. I also changed the cover so that it was more similar to other herb books on the market. With a much-improved manuscript, I republished Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico: An Introduction to Natural Healing. Thanks for your guidance, Stacy!

 

More About The Book

free editing course

Curanderos (healers) in Mexico still practice traditional herbal remedies learned centuries ago. It is only recently that scientists have begun to take these healing practices seriously. Study after study has validated the medicinal use of plants native to North America and those brought by the Spanish after the conquest. It’s time to reexamine the basic healing power in 34 common remedies used by traditional Mexican healers.

In Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico: An Introduction to Natural Healing, you’ll discover:

  • 34 traditional Mexican remedies
  • Effective herbal treatments for common ailments
  • Well-researched scientific support for herbal use
  • Accurate botanical identification of native Mexican plants

Buy it on Amazon.

More About C.E. Flores

C.E. Flores was born in the Eastern United States and currently lives in central Mexico. She received her Bachelor’s in Education at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and picked up her husband while attending there. She writes about her wild and crazy off-grid life in rural Mexico as well as references books for ex-pats, writers, bloggers, preppers, and herbalists.

Website: Surviving Mexico: Adventures and Disasters OR Content Creative 

Facebook 

Twitter 

Instagram 

Take Stacy’s Free Line Editing Course

Does the thought of editing your book seem overwhelming? If your manuscript could use trimming and polishing, sign up for this free mini email course. It features bite-sized concepts and assignments to help you kick-start your line editing.

  • Lesson 1: The one thing that will jump-start your editing.
  • Lesson 2: Three mistakes you may be making and what to do instead.
  • Lesson 3: Five little words you need to start cutting now.
  • Lesson 4: The truth about editing.
  • Lesson 5: Struggling with wordy sentences? This will help.

Enroll here.

 

 

Improve Your Skills With These Free Grammar Resources

Improve Your Skills With These Free Grammar Resources

 

 

Grammar Resources

I’ve found some wonderful free grammar resources to share from my friend Ellen at Grammar Lion, which you’ll find listed below. As a freelance developmental editor and line editor, I work with a lot of writers. Many of them have problems with grammar and punctuation and I explain that they will definitely need to hire a copyeditor and proofreader for their final draft.

Some of my clients have grammar struggles due to learning disabilities, or maybe English isn’t their first language. For others, grammar doesn’t come as naturally to them as the creative part of writing a book. They might have errors in every line of the manuscript, or they may just need to brush up on certain rules such as when to use a comma and how to punctuate dialogue. For many of them, high school English class was a long time ago.

While I do light copyediting on my clients’ manuscripts, my focus is on developmental and line editing. There’s no sense fixing all the commas and run-on sentences when the manuscript needs structural rewrites as all those little changes will become obsolete. I will never specialize in copyediting or proofreading as in all honesty, I don’t like it. I find it tedious, and while I have a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style on my bookshelf, that is one monster of a book. It’s huge with small print, and I don’t enjoy hunting through it, trying to find the answer to small stylistic questions. I’d much rather brainstorm with the author on how to flesh out a character, or tinker with a sentence to make it more active and engaging.

When I work with a client who struggles with grammar and punctuation, my job as the developmental editor isn’t to fix the mistakes. Instead, my role is to point out the problems to make sure the writer is aware of it. I’ll give a few examples of how to make a sentence grammatically correct and point the client toward resources to help with their weaknesses.

First, I recommend purchasing ProWritingAid, a grammar checker and style editor. You can watch my YouTube demo of ProWritingAid here and get my special discount code and bonus offer.

Second, I recommend that these writers visit my friend Ellen Feld at Grammar Lion, the creator/instructor of online grammar refresher courses that have served over 44,000 students. She’s worn a variety of editorial hats, including newspaper reporter and copy chief, personal essayist, website reviewer, writing coach, and developmental editor. Ellen has a master’s degree in writing from the Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the children’s storybook Paragon and Jubilee.

You can find out more about her free grammar resources and paid grammar course below. While copyeditors and proofreaders may always be necessary for some authors, the more you can improve your grammar skills on your own, the better off you’ll be. Some copyeditors charge by the hour, so if you turn in a cleaner manuscript, it will lower your cost. Even if they charge a flat fee, that might be for one round of copyediting. I’ve seen manuscripts so riddled with errors that it would take multiple rounds of copyediting and proofreading to get it ready for publication. If you submit a more polished draft, you can reduce your expenses. Ellen’s courses are a great investment for writers who need to do a deep dive into grammar and punctuation or refresh their skills.

Free Grammar Resources


Grammar lion

Grammar Lion: Comma Mini-Course (Free) – Master the comma and write more effectively starting today with this free mini-course. Don’t let this little punctuation mark slow you down. Stop random comma use and say goodbye to wasting time on comma decisions. In approximately thirty minutes, you’ll know when to say yes to a comma. You’ll also learn when to say no.

Grammar Lion Pretest (Free) – Grammar can be fun when you know the rules! Try the pretest to gauge your grammar know-how. Challenge yourself with thirty-three grammar questions.

Grammar Lion: A Grammar Refresher(Paid) This comprehensive online course will help you navigate the linguistic twists and turns of American English grammar. Take your time and enjoy twelve weeks of learning. I have gone through the course myself, and love how Ellen includes quizzes to assess your skills and determine whether you need to continue reviewing a topic. She gives lots of examples and makes the intimidating world of grammar much easier to navigate.

If you need to review your grammar skills, start with the free comma mini-course and the pretest. You’ll be on your way to mastering grammar and punctuation in no time.

Please note that affiliate links are included in this post, so I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase, however, I’m only an affiliate for products that I recommend.

 

Self-Editing Tips For The Indie Author Podcast Interview @lkhillbooks

Self-Editing Tips For The Indie Author Podcast Interview @lkhillbooks

Self-editing tips

Do you know you need editing, but are worried about how you’re going to afford it? Would you love to do a lot of it yourself, but know you have blinders on when it comes to your own work and that self-editing may not be your strong suit? Never fear! Recently, my friend Liesel Hill interviewed me on The Prolific Author Podcast. The topic was self-editing tips for the indie author. You can also find the interview at the bottom of this post.

I’m an author herself, and as someone who also does a lot of editing for other indie authors and has created a self-editing online course, I have a unique perspective. Give the interview a listen to learn some self-editing tips and find out how you can improve your revision and rewriting skills. You just might save yourself tons of time and expense on editing!

If you haven’t listened to The Prolific Author Podcast before, you’re in for a treat. Liesel is a USA bestselling author and Story Clarity Coach, and her podcast is a wealth of information on everything from story craft to book marketing tips. Here is her description of the podcast:

Do you dream of making your living writing fiction, but don’t know where to start? Believe me, I understand. I worried and struggled over my writing for years, afraid it was cheesy and amateurish, and not TRULY resonating with readers. Meanwhile, at every turn, I was told I couldn’t make money this way. It takes too much time and hard work. It’s not a “real” job. I bet you can relate, right?

Well, I’m gonna let you in on a secret the traditional publishing industry—and let’s face it—most of society at large, don’t want you to know: it’s VERY possible to become a career author. To make your living writing stories full emotion, passion and morality.

With all the upheaval and negativity in our world, people NEED your stories more than ever before. Stories only you can bring to them. I created this podcast to show you how. And I promise it will take less time than you think. So, join the revolution of authors following their passion and changing lives, both their own, and those of their readers. WE…are prolific authors!

Listen to our interview below.

My Latest Interviews: 3 Podcasts To Listen To While Driving

My Latest Interviews: 3 Podcasts To Listen To While Driving

I love guesting on podcasts. It’s always so much fun chatting with the host about topics I love. Below are three recent interviews where I discussed everything from online course creation to writing and editing books to turning my hobby into a business. Check out their past episodes also. These are great podcasts to listen to while driving or working around the house.

The Course Creator’s MBA Podcast

Guesting on this podcast was a thrill for me as I’m such a fan girl. I found the podcast invaluable when I was developing my first online course, and I still listen to it regularly. On this episode, Destini Copp interviewed me about expanding my business from writing and editing books to creating online courses for writers. The episode is part of  a series where Destini chats with course creators about their journey in their online course business, how they got started, the challenges they’ve experienced, and how they overcame them. My signature course, Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable, empowers fiction writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money.

Destini and I chatted about how I educated herself on marketing, website development, and sales funnels which has led to success in my online course business.

Undercurrent Stories

I stumbled onto a new podcast favorite in Undercover Stories hosted by Bob Welles. The show explores the interests that people have and seeks to discover more on a wide variety of subjects. Each episode features a guest telling all about their interest, why they do it, and Bob uncovers some fascinating stories in the process.

At some point in their lives many people have thought about writing a book. This desire is sadly often thwarted due to fears about time, commitment, and the technical aspects of editing and publishing. Since I’ve faced all these challenges, I shared with Bob and his listeners how by breaking the writing process into steps, it is possible to both enjoy the creativity of writing and produce a publishable book.

Hustle Like Hannah Podcast

podcasts

I also enjoyed talking with host Hannah Lockwood on another new favorite, the Hustle Like Hannah Podcast, your “how-to” guide and inspiration for turning your creative side into a business opportunity. Hannah, the owner of Hannah Danielle Dance, chats with inspiring people who have turned their creative hobby into a business, sharing their stories and tips to help listeners realize their potential.

Since the second novel in my Storybook Valley chick lit series, Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty, features a dance teacher who dreams of opening her own studio, it was fun talking with Hannah, someone who has accomplished that goal. I shared about my passions for writing and publishing books, editing, and developing online courses for writers, and we discussed my journey toward making those dreams come true.

Behind The Rewrite With @DGDriverAuthor: Turning A Script Into A Book

Behind The Rewrite With @DGDriverAuthor: Turning A Script Into A Book

revising a script into a book

I’m always fascinated by how authors approach the rewrite process, but there’s one type of project I’ve never considered before: turning a script into a book. When I was researching SEO tags for this post, I discovered that lots of people search for phrases like “how to turn a script into a novel.” Well, author D.G. Driver has valuable tips for you and she shares them in the below Behind the Rewrite. D.G. will take you behind the scenes of revising her script for Songwriter Night: A Musical Romance into book form. That’s right. It wasn’t just any script. It was a script for a musical! I’m sure you’ll find this post as intriguing as I did.

In addition to being a writer, I’m also an actress and theater director here in Nashville. Last year, when all the theaters in town closed, lots of theater types were creating virtual ways to do shows. I got a crazy idea to combine my novel writing skills with my love of musical theater and decided to write a story that featured songs, hire a cast to record it, and release it as a full cast audiobook called Songwriter Night: A Musical Romance.

Only there was a hitch. In order to have it available on Audible, there had to be a corresponding book. Well, even though the narration in the book is novelesque, I wrote Songwriter Night in script format. I had to revise and reformat the whole manuscript. The narration and dialogue remain 95 percent the same, but there were some definite snags that I want to share with you that makes up that other 5 percent. Here’s how I handled them and what I learned.

how to turn a script into a book

How To Write The Song Lyrics

There are twelve songs in Songwriter Night. Most of these have the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure typical of Country music. It felt tedious to have so much repetition of lyrics in the book version. Also, the reader can’t hear the songs like in the audiobook version, so I had to figure out how to help the reader imagine what the songs sound like. Here is an example of how I did this for one of the songs.

In this scene, Aiden, a former member of the group who’s hit the big time, has come back to show off one of his new songs, and he’s brought backup singers to sing it with him.

The three of them sing the chorus again. Instead of a bridge, the song repeats the last half of the verse, similar to the way Lyle had written his song.

“You took her on one date, and I took her to prom.”
She didn’t stick with either of us very long.
What do you say to finally letting that rest?
Clink my beer and let’s reminisce.”

A slightly longer hold on the chord builds up to the final chorus, where Aiden embellishes the notes. Trish wonders if a key change might have been effective here, but she doesn’t think it’s her place to suggest it. Aiden repeats the final line of the chorus with a nice run on ‘old days’ and a chord change to emphasize it. The girls end the song with some pretty ‘oohs’ that remind her of songs from another era. Nice choice.

Action In Narration Versus Dialogue Tags

One real plus to writing a script is that I don’t have to write “He said/she said” dialogue tags at all. With this being a full cast recording, all the actors are played by different people with distinct voices. I didn’t need to write who said what. Personally, I love books where instead of using tags, the author uses action from the character to denote who is speaking. I did this a lot more for this project than my other works. It needed a little revision from the way it looked in a script to what it needed to be for a book, though.

Here’s an example from the audiobook script:

NARRATOR: Maybe she should sing a cappella. Does anyone do that here?
TRISH: Is there anything to drink?
LYLE: Yeah. What do you want?
NARRATOR: Lyle leaps out of his chair before Trish even thinks about standing and getting the drink for herself. She looks past him at the assortment on the counter.
TRISH: Water will be fine. Thank you.
LYLE: Happy to be of service.
NARRATOR: He hands her the water, and their fingers overlap for a moment. His fingertips are callused from playing guitar, and they scratch her knuckles ever so slightly as he whisks his hand away. She opens the bottle and puts it to her mouth, hoping he won’t see her blushing.

Now, here’s the same scene reformatted for the book.

Maybe she should sing a cappella. Does anyone do that here?
“Is there anything to drink?” she asks.
“Yeah. What do you want?” Lyle leaps out of his chair before Trish even thinks about standing and getting the drink for herself. She looks past him at the assortment on the counter.
“Water will be fine. Thank you.”
“Happy to be of service.”
He hands her the water, and their fingers overlap for a moment. His fingertips are callused from playing guitar, and they scratch her knuckles ever so slightly as he whisks his hand away. She opens the bottle and puts it to her mouth, hoping he won’t see her blushing.

Adding Dialogue Tags

So, I couldn’t get away completely with narration guiding the reader toward who is speaking, especially in scenes where there are more than two people having a conversation. I definitely had to use dialogue tags. I will tell you, when your main job is to go through your manuscript and tag dialogue, it gets awfully repetitive writing “he says” and “she says” over and over. You become intensely aware of how often you’re writing that. On the other, hand, you don’t want your tags to be too all over the place or filled with unnecessary adverbs. Then it gets annoying.

Here’s a group scene from the original script:

NARRATOR: Tammy huffs instead of answers. George raises an eyebrow to acknowledge that he won that round. The rest of the group is frozen in uncomfortable silence.
NEIL: So, uh, are we continuing or not?
GEORGE: Yeah, let’s go on.
NARRATOR: George strums his guitar, and Neil begins to play.
TAMMY: You’re all going to sit here and let him embarrass me like this.
ROY: It sounds like a good song. A real tears in my beer heartbreaker.
ODETTA: I’m interested to hear how the rest of it goes. Sad songs are the clay that Country music builds with.
NARRATOR: George looks at Lyle who gives him an approving nod.
TAMMY: I’d like to point out that the middle part – the chorus? That’s mine. I wrote that.
GEORGE: You did not.
TAMMY: I did.

And here’s the novelized version. Note the variety in the tags:

After a moment, Neil asks cautiously, “So, uh, are we continuing or not?”
“Yeah, let’s go on.” George strums his guitar, and Neil begins to play.
Tammy says to the group, “You’re all going to sit here and let him embarrass me like this?”
The music stops again.
“It sounds like a good song,” Roy responds. “A real tears-in-my-beer heartbreaker.”
Odetta agrees, “I’m interested to hear how the rest of it goes. Sad songs are the clay that Country music builds with.”
George looks at Lyle who gives him an approving nod.
Tammy’s not done yet.
“I’d like to point out that the middle part – the chorus? That’s mine. I wrote that.”
“You did not,” George says.
“I did.” She sings a cappella to a tune very similar to the chorus of George’s song.
When I write first drafts, it is sometimes the dialogue tags that cause me to trip up or hit a block. I want to keep going with the action and dialogue and not waste time figuring out how to show who is saying what. Writing in script format first and then going back through the manuscript to adapt it to book format helped make this a more streamlined process. I may try this again with other projects.

More About Songwriter Night: A Musical Romance

turning a script into a book

In this sweet romantic comedy, Lyle and Trish are two aspiring Country music songwriters that meet at a Nashville coffee house. With Trish being new in town, Lyle invites her to his monthly gathering of songwriters to get to know her better. The evening of quirky characters and light-hearted singing is interrupted by the arrival of Aiden Bronson. He’s got a hit song on the radio, and he’s back to show off, stirring up some rivalry while he’s at it. How will Lyle compete against Aiden’s charisma and talent in order to win Trish’s heart?

Buy it in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon. It’s also available as a full cast audiobook recording wherever you like to get your audiobooks and podcasts. Find all those links, hear samples, and meet the cast on D.G.’s website.

More About D.G. Driver

D.G. Driver is a multi-award-winning author of young adult and middle grade books. She primarily writes contemporary fantasy, but she also loves writing realistic fiction and has even dabbled in romance. D.G. lives near Nashville, TN and is a teacher in an inclusive classroom of typically developing and special needs children in an early Intervention program. Visit her on the web at:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

Behind The Rewrite With Liesel K Hill: Making Sentences Less Passive

Behind The Rewrite With Liesel K Hill: Making Sentences Less Passive

making sentences less passiveI see a lot of writers who need to learn the logistics of making sentences less passive. In this Behind the Rewrite, Liesel K Hill explains why limiting passive voice is important and how she approached line editing her fantasy novel Dragon Magic. Since Liesel is both a writing coach and an author, you’re in for an insightful lesson.

As a writing coach, one of the main problems I see is authors failing to edit passive voice out of their manuscripts. Most of us, especially after our first book or two, know what it is, but I don’t think enough emphasis is put on the importance of learning this skill.

If readers cannot connect deeply with your words, which passive voice keeps them from doing, you’ll never create megafans. One of my secret sauce editing techniques is what I call editing for crutch words. Crutch words are words used too often by you, the author. They’re also red flags for passive voice. So, if you edit out the crutch word, you also edit out ninety percent of passive voice.

Some of the crutch words I edit for are ‘was,’ ‘but,’ ‘had,’ and ‘that.’ There are plenty of others as well, but these are some of the biggest culprits for me personally.

I edit for these intentionally, not just reading through my manuscript and hoping I catch them, but actually using the Find feature in my writing software to look at each, individual case.

Unedited Version

I’ve highlighted the crutch words and other issues in the passage below, which comes from my WIP, a medieval high fantasy novel.

     “You cannot beat me!” He practically shrieked. He stalked forward and thrust his face toward Borilad’s. “You are merely a soldier! I am fierce! I am formidable! I have powers you cannot wield or even comprehend. I will kill you, General. You know I can do it. You know I will.”

     Borilad noted that Malicroft did not even attempt to take the egg, thought it was within his grasp. The man knew better. Borilad had to give him credit for that, at least.

     He merely nodded. “I know you have powers I do not possess. I know you are willing and capable of killing me. I’ve always believed you a formidable enemy, Malcroft.”

     Leaning forward, Borilad peered into the man’s eyes. “But do not insult me by leaving me out of the equation. I’ve killed more men on battlefields than you’ve met in your entire life. I wield plenty of power, after my own fashion.”

Most of these words can be edited many ways, depending on how they’re used in the sentence. It generally boils down to the word being filler, meaning you can cut it without changing the meaning of the sentence. (And you should.) Or, it’s a vague word and you can come up with something much stronger and more specific. (Which again, you should.)

1. ‘Was’ is a lazy and vague word. Switch it out with something more specific. I chose the word ‘lay.”

2.  That can often simply be edited out. Unless you’re using it for emphasis, which I did with my second instance, it can simply be cut.

3. Had can often be cut without changing the sentence as well. In this case, this phrase is more a matter of far too many words to say the same thing. had to give became gave. I often see this with the word could as well. Something like, could hear can becomes simply, heard. The past tense, single word is much tighter and stronger than its more progressive counterpart.

4.  It also occurred to me that this is a medieval fantasy and “credit” is too contemporary a term. I changed the core word to ‘recognition’ and Borilad “recognized him for that, at least.”

5.  There are many instances where ‘but’ must be kept in a sentence, especially if you’re making a comparison. BUT, I use it far too often, as many authors do. ;D Go through each instance, read the sentence, and if you can cut it, do. That’s what I did here. If you make too many comparison sentences, consider splitting them into two separate ones. For example, “He wanted to go to the store but couldn’t find his wallet” can become, “He wanted to go to the store. He couldn’t find his wallet.” Depending on your prose, that may sound clunky, so you’ll have to see if it works for each instance, but you’ll find that often this works to cut down on overuse of the word.

Edited Version

Here is the edited passage. You’ll note a few other typos and issues that I’ve also fixed.

     “You cannot beat me,” he practically shrieked. He stalked forward and thrust his face toward Borilad’s. “You are merely a soldier! I am fierce! I am formidable! I have powers you cannot imagine. I will kill you, General. You know I can do it! You know I will.”

     Borilad noted Malcroft did not attempt to take the egg, though it lay within his grasp. The man knew better. Borilad recognized him for that, at least.

     He merely nodded. “I know you have powers I do not possess. I know you are willing and capable of killing me. I’ve always believed you a formidable enemy, Malcroft.” Leaning forward, Borilad peered into the man’s eyes. “Do not insult me by leaving me out of the equation. I’ve killed more men on battlefields than you’ve met in your entire life. I wield plenty of power, after my own fashion.”

This story, book 1 of my Dragon Magic series, won’t debut until early 2021. Until then, you can read the prequel, The Hatching. Get it on most major retailers, or download it free here.

limiting passive voice

More About The Hatching

What if a dragon looked into your eyes…and saw into your soul? Wenlyn dreams of seeing one of the legendary Harpy’s Servants up close. As a poor village boy, he can’t help but dream of the adventures the dragon-riding protectors of the Six Realms must have. Now one of them has come to Tranquil village.

With the Servant’s arrival, Wenlyn’s entire world falls away. He’s about to embark on an adventure of his own that even his wildest dreams couldn’t have conjured up.

Soar the skies with Wenlyn in this short prequel to Dragon Magic, an epic fantasy series.

More About Liesel

Liesel K Hill is a novelist who writes across three genres. Her scifi and fantasy are written under her full name, Liesel K. Hill.
She loved to read and write at a young age, and her earliest memories consist of her father sitting in the doorway of her room at night, relating stories of Frodo, Gandalf, and the One Ring. Her mother also read to her every afternoon as a child, sometimes for several hours a day. Today she is an award-winning author and a Story Clarity Coach. She plans to keep writing until they nail her coffin shut. Or the Second Coming happens. Whichever comes first. ;D

Website
IG Links: @l.k.hillbooks (for readers)
@theprolificauthor (for authors)

Watch Liesel’s workshop on marketing tips for writers, originally streamed live in the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

 

varied words

When I read Judy Penz Sheluk’s Behind the Rewrite post, I chuckled as boy, does it ring true! We all have crutch words and phrases that we rely on when we’re talking to others. It drives me crazy when I listen to myself in a podcast interview and hear myself say “you know.” Writers also have to worry about using crutch words in their books. One of my favorite, (okay, overused) words in my own fiction is “as.”  As a developmental editor, I’ve discovered that EVERY writer has their favorite overused words. Judy’s post is a great lesson for beginner writers and a terrific reminder for seasoned authors.

It was while golfing this past summer that I first noticed it. Every time one of my foursome hit an errant shot—and there were many—she’d say, “Are you kidding me?” At first, I found it amusing. After a while, I started counting the number of times she’d say it. I stopped at seventeen.

I remember thinking, at the time, that I could never get away with that in a novel. True, characters have quirks, and dialogue needs to be authentic, but too many “Are you kidding me’s” and the reader is going to find it distracting at best, and annoying at worst. 

That thought was firmly in my mind when I was rereading Where There’s A Will, the third and final book in my Glass Dolphin cozy mystery series, before sending out ARCs and getting the manuscript ready for my proofreader. 

Because I’d already read the book more times than I cared to remember, and because it had gone through four beta readers, I didn’t expect to find any instances of “Are you kidding me?” and I didn’t. What I did find was an inordinate number of “given this or that…” And when I say inordinate I mean twenty-nine. How had I missed those? How had everyone else?

Since the “givens” were scattered throughout the book, I’m going to share six examples, before and after. 

Example #1

Before: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life, given that she had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

After: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life. She had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

Example #2

Before: Emily had hesitated at first, given what she knew about the property’s history. How many people wanted to buy a house where the owner had been murdered, especially since the case had never been solved?

After: Didn’t change a word. Some “givens” are okay, and I thought it worked well in this instance.

Example #3

Before: Emily didn’t believe him, given that he was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

After: Emily didn’t believe him. He was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

Example #4

Before: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, given that she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

After: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, since she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

Example #5

Before: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, given enough time and perspective.

After: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, with enough time and perspective.

Example #6

Before: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence given this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

After: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence with this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

overused words

Want To Read The Book?

Emily Garland is getting married and looking for the perfect forever home. When the old, and some say haunted, Hadley house comes up for sale, she’s convinced it’s “the one.” The house is also perfect for reality TV star Miles Pemberton and his new series, House Haunters. Emily will fight for her dream home, but Pemberton’s pockets are deeper than Emily’s, and he’ll stretch the rules to get what he wants.

While Pemberton racks up enemies all around Lount’s Landing, Arabella Carpenter, Emily’s partner at the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, has been hired to appraise the contents of the estate, along with her ex-husband, Levon. Could the feuding beneficiaries decide there’s a conflict of interest? Could Pemberton?

Things get even more complicated when Arabella and Levon discover another will hidden inside the house, and with it, a decades-old secret. Can the property stay on the market? And if so, who will make the winning offer: Emily or Miles Pemberton?

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Judy

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreaks & Half-truths, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. 

Visit her around the web:

Website/Blog

Facebook 

Twitter 

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Behind The Rewrite: Solving Boring Sentence Structure With Brenda Whiteside

Behind The Rewrite: Solving Boring Sentence Structure With Brenda Whiteside

In today’s Behind the Rewrite, Brenda Whiteside talks about one of the last—but most important—aspects of the editing process: varying boring sentence structure. She shares a before-and-after excerpt from her novel Southwest of Love and Murder, book two in a five-book series. Read Brenda’s line editing insights below.

When I write a scene, the first concern is to get it out of my head and onto the page. I “see” all of the pieces and parts simultaneously: the setting, action, and dialogue. There will be several passes at the scene in the editing process because although I can clearly see all those pieces and parts, translating to the page takes some prodding.

One of the most common edits I make, and one of the last, is sentence structure. The easiest way to get it written is a flow of character-does-this and then-character-does-that. Stagnant sentence structure can bore a reader even with the best plot line.

Take a look at the paragraph below. Of the fourteen sentences making up the paragraph, I began nine of the sentences with a character pronoun and an action. FYI—there are no names because the POV character is spying and doesn’t know the names. POV character is a not too smart, not too educated villain.

Original Paragraph 

He started his car but turned the engine off when a light came on over the front door as it opened. He scrunched lower, although he didn’t need to. His black car made him part of the dark prairie. Good thing he painted it black. See how things work out? He peeked through the steering wheel. A man and a woman stepped out onto the porch. A tiny, dark haired woman gave the older man a kiss. She descended the steps, and the old guy followed but stopped at the bottom. Looked like she waved him off and continued on to the edge of the front drive, where a horse stood tied to a rail like in a TV western. She swung up onto the horse like damned Calamity Jane. She waved and rode into the night, toward a light. Looked like maybe another house in the distance. The old guy watched until the night ate her up. Interesting.

Rewritten Paragraph

Mixing up the sentence structure by combining sentences and beginning the sentence with the action instead of the subject makes it a much more enjoyable read.

He started his car but turned the engine off when a light came on over the front door as it opened, then scrunched lower although he didn’t need to. His black car made him part of the dark prairie. Good thing he’d painted it black. See how things work out? Peeking through the steering wheel gave him the view of a man and a woman stepping out onto the porch. The tiny, dark haired woman kissed the old man. She descended the steps, and the old guy followed. Her hand went up, stopping him at the bottom, and she continued on to the edge of the front drive where a horse stood tied to a rail like in a TV western. Her leg swung up onto the horse as if she was damned Calamity Jane. With a wave, she rode into the night toward a light. Looked like maybe another house in the distance. The old guy watched until the night ate her up.

Interesting.

varying sentence structure

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

Writing murder mysteries is all in a day’s work until an obsessed fan brings Phoebe’s stories to life. Successful mystery writer, Phoebe Anderson, killed her first husband on paper seventeen years earlier. Now, someone has actually done it. Mason Meadowlark is happy with his wild cowboy ways, avoiding love since the death of his baby and his marriage twenty years ago until Phoebe shows up. With an obsessed fan close on her heels, Phoebe is thrown into her own murder mystery…and the next target on his list is Mason.

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Brenda

Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure romance. Mostly. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have decided they are gypsies at heart, splitting their time between Northern Arizona and the RV life. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense.

Visit Brenda at:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Behind The Rewrite With Alice Renaud: Fleshing Out With Line Editing Example

Behind The Rewrite With Alice Renaud: Fleshing Out With Line Editing Example

line editing

In this Behind the Rewrite installment, author Alice Renaud shows how to flesh out and improve the flow of a scene through line editing, using an excerpt from her fantasy romance novel, Music for a Merman.

Alice Renaud’s Behind The Rewrite

The hero, Rob, a shape-shifting merman working as a cop, is falling in love with a human woman, Charlie, in defiance of the laws of his people. In this passage, Rob has just had breakfast with his sergeant, Jack, in the police station. As he leaves the station to go back to his flat, he composes a merman love song for Charlie.

In the first version, we jump straight from Jack’s line of dialogue to Rob composing the song, without any transition, which is jarring. Then Rob hums the song before thinking that the song comes from the deepest place in his heart. It doesn’t seem to be the right order.

The revised version shows Rob saying goodbye to his boss, leaving the station, and reaching the sidewalk. There’s a song on the radio, he whistles along to it, then he gets the inspiration for a new song—a merman’s song. The edits aim to improve the flow of the scene and highlight Rob’s musical talent, as well as his forbidden love for the human woman. I also added a bit more about his brother, who unlike Rob fell in love with a mermaid, so he was able to marry her and have children.

Unedited Version

“Course you can.” Jack pulled the local paper towards him and turned to the crossword page. “I’m here, and Frank will be along, as soon as he’s taken his youngest to her scuba-diving class. Take the rest of the day off. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The song came to Rob as he walked up the street towards his rented flat. He hummed it to himself, the clicks and whistles bouncing around the whitewashed walls and glistening cobblestones. It came out of the deepest place in his heart, fluid and passionate. His eldest brother Rhodri had composed a similar tune once, when he was courting the mermaid who had become his mate.

line editing example

Edited Version

“Course you can.” Jack pulled the local newspaper towards him and turned to the crossword page. “I’m here, and Frank will be along, as soon as he’s taken his youngest to her scuba-diving class. Take the rest of the day off.” A folk song came on the radio, and he hummed along with it, tapping his pencil against the paper.

Rob grabbed his jacket from the back of a chair. “Thanks! I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The catchy melody followed him along the corridor, and he could still hear it as he left the police station. He stood on the sidewalk and whistled a few bars. Inside him, from the deepest place in his heart, another song began to grow. A merman’s song, richer and more passionate than anything on the human radio. But he couldn’t sing aloud in the middle of the street. He began to walk towards his flat, humming to himself. The clicks and whistles bounced around the whitewashed walls and glistening cobblestones.

His brother Rhodri had sung a lot, when he was courting the mermaid who had become his mate. But his tunes had been happier. He’d had the sense to fall for a girl that his father approved of, a good mermaid of the Regor Clan. There’d never been any doubt that they would marry, and their first merbaby was already on the way. Rhodri would never know what it was like to long for an unsuitable mate, someone he couldn’t keep.

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

Music for a Merman, a Sea of Love novel – Rob Regor knew that humans were trouble. All the shape shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands knew it. And human women were double trouble… especially when they were lying on the road in front of a digger. Rob has a mission. Go to the mainland. Work as a policeman. Spy on humans. Report back to his father, the head of the Regor Merman Clan. It should be easy. Until he has to arrest Charlie. Rob can’t fight his attraction to the sexy eco-warrior, and it puts him on one hell of a collision course with his family and his Clan. Will he break the rules – or break her heart, and his? Love ‘em and leave ‘em, that was Charlie’s motto. It had served her well until now. But Rob is different… Can she open up her heart to Rob—when a secret buried in her past surfaces and changes her completely? Books in the Sea of Love series can be read independently.

More About Alice Renaud

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, A Merman’s Choice, was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, Music for a Merman, is out now and the third, Mermaids Marry in Green will be released later this year. Alice has also written a short story, The Sweetest Magic of All, included in the BVS Mystic Desire anthology, out now. Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Behind The Rewrite With J. Arlene Culiner: Tackling Wordiness @JArleneCuliner

Behind The Rewrite With J. Arlene Culiner: Tackling Wordiness @JArleneCuliner

Do you ever grapple with wordiness in your manuscripts? Below, J. Arlene Culiner shows you a before-and-after from her romantic mystery book, The Turkish Affair, demonstrating the importance of tightening your manuscript.

 

J. Arlene Culiner’s Behind The Rewrite

The section I’ve chosen to present is from my romantic mystery, The Turkish Affair, published in January, 2020, by The Wild Rose Press. The earlier version needed tightening—it was too wordy. I knew I could cut and the story would be more interesting, especially since the phrases I wanted to eliminate had already been said in previous chapters.

Also, I knew it was better to imply certain things, not hammer them home. I changed words as well, using others I considered more effective .

 Earlier Version

“Okay then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into your past, do I have the right to ask one question?”

Her sigh was one of resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. Despite the rumors that had destroyed her life. She nodded. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared at him helplessly, at his strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun.

“That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.”

He slipped a finger under her chin, forced her to meet his gaze. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

***

“I’m telling you everything I know,” he began.

She nodded in assent, but her reluctance was almost palpable. Still, he needed to push on. Confide in her, for some crazy reason he couldn’t yet understand. If only he didn’t enjoy being with her so much, he thought. If only he didn’t admire her fierce independence. Or the sight of her, sitting forward, lips slightly parted, elbows on her knees, listening to his every word. It gave him the strange feeling they were, in some strange way, a matched pair. And allowing in emotions like that, left him vulnerable. He knew that. And he just didn’t care. Not anymore—not for the moment, anyway.

wordiness

Edited Version

Here is the same version with the things I decided to cut or words I wanted to change, or words I added because they were better (where I made changes is in bold)

“Okay then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into your past, do I have the right to ask one question?”

Her sigh was one of resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. Despite the rumors that had destroyed her life. She nodded. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His (word added) smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared at him helplessly, at his strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun.

“That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.” (line change)

He slipped a finger under her chin, forced her to meet his gaze. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

***

“I’m telling you everything I know,” he began.

She nodded in assent, but her reluctance was almost palpable. Still, he needed to push on. Confide in her, for some crazy reason he couldn’t yet understand. If only he didn’t enjoy being with her so much, he thought. If only he didn’t admire her fierce independence. Or the sight of her, sitting forward, lips slightly parted, elbows on her knees, listening to his every word. It gave him the strange feeling they were, in some strange way, a matched pair. And allowing in emotions like that, left him vulnerable. He knew that. And he just didn’t care. Not anymore — not for the moment, anyway.

I decided to eliminate this last paragraph entirely because it was boring, repetitive, and wordy. I also wanted to change the point of view, and do it more effectively than I did in the early version—just putting in the three star separation wasn’t good at all. Something more obvious was needed, so I wrote in a change of scene. Doing so, gave me the opportunity to add to the atmosphere and deepen the sense of place.

Final Version

“Okay, then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into secrets, do I have the right to ask one question?”

She nodded with resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His returning smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared helplessly at the strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun. “That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.”

He leaned forward, cupped her chin in his hand, and met her gaze evenly. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”

***

An hour later, the sky was a gleaming dome white with heat, and only the deeply indented coast with its myriad inlets promised respite. Renaud rowed steadily toward a cove where waves were gentle and a few pines had secured a toehold in the inhospitable terrain. Slinging the rowboat’s line over a sharp boulder, he held out his hand to Anne, then kept her fingers coiled around his for as long as he could. If only he didn’t enjoy being with her so much. If only he didn’t admire her fierce independence, or the sight of her, now settled comfortably between abundant shrubs of fragrant myrtle, her lips slightly parted, elbows on her knees.

Yes, I think this final version really does work. I hope you think so, too. Thanks for letting me present these edits. It’s a fun subject!

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

The Turkish Affair by J. Arlene Culiner – Love and danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu. Priceless artifacts are disappearing from the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu in Turkey, and the site director has vanished. Called in to solve the mystery, archaeologist Renaud Townsend is hindered by both his inability to speak the language and the knowledge that the local police are corrupt. His attraction to translator Anne Pierson is immediate, although he is troubled by her refusal to talk about the past and her fear of public scandal. But when murder enters the picture, both Anne and Renaud realize that the risk of falling in love is not the only danger.

More About J. Arlene Culiner

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.)

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Pin It on Pinterest