A Different Point of View

I’m sure you can write from different points of view. Can you read your work from different points of view? Can you put yourself in a place where your work is a stranger, and you’re seeing it through a specific person’s eyes?

And I need to say upfront that when I use the word “read” below, I actually mean a combination of reading, writing, and editing, all put together.

First, I read it as me, as a woman. I imagine my lonelier moments, particularly when I was sick and lonely in my twenties, because I always hope my characters can be friends to those who are having a rough time of things.

Then I try to read it as someone who has zero attention span. This is also easy for me, as I have the shortest attention span in the universe. Okay, not the shortest. But it’s pretty bad. And anytime my attention wanders or I start skimming, I cut and edit and re-write.

Somewhere in there, I try to read it as a copyeditor. I think copyeditors are the coolest, so I invariably end up reading half of the Chicago Manual just for fun, just to double check nit-picky things. Even though I tend not to use the serial comma that it suggests.

I read as both my target readers and my fringe readers. Pseudonym gets mostly middle-aged women, but also quite a few in their twenties, with a sprinkling of men. I think of what they want to get out of my story, and I read to see if I’m giving them that. For my NaNo novel, I’m imagining teenagers to college-aged reading it.

And then I imagine someone who reads my first sentence and hates my voice. Passionately. In fact, even before they get to the first sentence, they are prejudiced against me. They don’t want to like my story. In fact, they can’t wait to hate it and point out all of its flaws. They approach my story with reluctance; my world-building with skepticism.

For them, it’s personal. They don’t like me. If I’m writing in first person, they hate first person on principle. In fact, for them, it’s a pet peeve.

That’s when I make sure hooks are planted, questions are unanswered, and suspense is willing the reader forward. I trim every sentence. I try to make it so that reader can’t help but keep reading.

When my imaginary readers fail me, I beg for real readers, LOL.

Lately, I’ve also been visualizing my story as a graphic novel. I don’t know why. But when I do that, it’s very clear when the pacing falls flat, when I’m thinking aloud too much.

So how do you read your story? Which “skins” do you put on when reading your story? Whose eyes do you read with? How do you edit? How do you decide what goes and what stays?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Editing,Writing Craft | Tags: , ,

How I Do Edits

I have a strictly professional crush on my editor. I think she’s fantastic. Since my adventure has gotten blissfully boring to talk about (although I did lose a cat all day today), I thought I’d talk about the way I go through my edits. Not saying it’s interesting, but I’m supposed to be talking about writing once in awhile, no?

There was no letter this time, just a bunch of comments in the essay. Those are easier edits than the overall ones, anyway. I wrote and re-wrote this thing about three or four times. (There are a total of eleven documents to do with this one essay, if that gives you any indicator.) I wrestled with this one, let me tell you. I think if there had been fundamental issues, I would’ve screamed and cried and thrown in the towel.

When I get edits, I do them in passes:

The Easy-Peasy Pass: I tackle the easiest ones first. This is mostly going through, right-clicking, and accepting changes by my editor. Maybe changing a word or deleting a sentence. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it gets rid of a lot of red in one fell swoop.

Ahhh! Much better. Looks like I made a lot of progress.

The Sure! No Problem! Pass: Then there are the little changes, the ones that pretty much make no difference to me. Swap the order of this sentence? Sure! Delete this bit? Gone! Tweak this idea? Easy!

After that, finding the easy edits is hard.

The Procrastination Pass: Nothing actually gets done during this phase, and I keep looking at all the comments I’d rather procrastinate. These are the edits that are going to take some work. I might, um, actually have to write a WORD. Or maybe even a SENTENCE. In a few cases, it might even call for MULTIPLE SENTENCES. And worst of all, sometimes I have to go and LOOK SOMETHING UP. I go through at least once or twice and do nothing, in the hopes that another “easy-peasy” or “sure! no problem!” fix will appear.

After I’ve blogged about doing my edits, after I’ve played with my cats a bit, taken a walk, poured a glass of wine, vacuumed the carpet, fed the cats, and taken a nap, it’s on to…

The Grind Pass: These involve swapping the order of things, adding whole new paragraphs, fleshing out ideas, etc. Ugh. I mean, I have to THINK. I have to drink some coffee. In fact, these can wait until tomorrow morning, right? It’s ten p.m., and I can’t very well drink coffee now, right?

Besides, I had a traumatic day: I thought my cat had gone missing. The squirt was hiding all day. It’s ONLY a twenty-foot camper, and she still managed to curl up in a spot I couldn’t find. She didn’t come out for breakfast!!! I thought she’d escaped through a screen, so I was wandering the campground and crying, trying to find her.

It’s time for wine, not edits!

The Final Smooth: After all the work is done, I have to go through to smooth out the changes. Swapping the order of two sections means I’ll have to see what no longer makes sense. When you start changing words, you suddenly have the same word two times in a paragraph. Ick. Stuff like that. When you change one sentence, the rhythm tends not to fit in the whole paragraph. All has to be smoothed out.

And then it’ll be done!

It’s funny, as I was packing for this adventure, I came across a stack of my essays for my German lit minor. Wow! I was not a natural writer. You wouldn’t believe the stupid mistakes I made! (Of course, most of my essays were written the night before.) I’m astonished the professors gave me A’s. A few of the A’s were presented thus: “Nevertheless, A-”

After this, I have an endless bunch of fiction to write. Ahhh. Nothing like an essay to remind you how much you LOVE fiction.

So how do you do edits? You don’t go in ORDER, do you? LOL! ;-)

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Editing | Tags: , ,

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