Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My New Campaign - I'd Rather Go Naked Than Edit

We’ve all seen the ads for PETA – I’d rather go naked than wear fur. Well, I’m here to say I’d rather go naked than edit.

When I’m sitting in front of my computer and I get an exciting new idea for a book, I can run off of that energy for weeks. I’ve been known to write a novella in less than a week, and a full-length book in 8 days flat. I’ve written forty-six pages in one day, and 60,000 words in a week. However, when it comes time to edit that bitch, I break out in a cold sweat and come to the decision that the laundry needs my utmost attention. Even if it’s all done. Something needs to be ironed, folded or stitched. Socks need to be matched.

There’s something magical about writing a book. I can sit down for what seems twenty minutes, typing away, trying desperately to ignore my kids and whatever that last noise was, and in reality hours have gone by. When I edit, it’s a different story altogether.

For my first manuscript, I had a lot of exclamation points. “They’re right on our tail!” “Run!” “They have grenades!” “I baked an apple pie today!” Yeah, I went the distance when it came to exclamation points. My editor, God bless her, didn’t make a huge deal about it. She said a lot of newbies used exclamation points instead of showing the emotion through word choice, or italicizing power words. I went a little too far when I edited my second book. She actually had to put a few exclamation points in.

Okay! So I learned my lesson on exclamation points! Moving on to the unnecessary words!

For example: He sat down in the chair and ran a hand through his hair. Well, how else is he going to sit? Up? He sat DOWN is redundant. He sat in the chair. Period. Oh, and while we are on redundant words, how about off of. “I snatched the brush off of the dresser.” No hooker, you snatched the brush off the dresser. No need to use the word of.

Another thing I tended to do in my early manuscripts that can really make editors grit their teeth is blatant overuse of certain words. I used some words so often that I had to delete that about that a quarter that of them. Wow. You’re really alert. Yes, I once overused the word that. I’ll save the word was for another article. I once had a crit partner point out that I had the word was over 40 times on one page. I shit you not. I still have a problem with THAT word. *Sigh*

And speaking of teeth grinding, I recently discovered this is a no-no. He grit his teeth when the bullet made impact. BONG! Incorrect. The correct form would be as follows – He gritted his teeth when the bullet made impact.

Ah, sharing all of my face-plants when it comes to writing is giving me the warm fuzzies. Let’s go on, shall we?

“Alright,” you say. Well, no. That’s not the way you spell it. It’s all right. Two words. Now, to be fair here, an editor once told me you could shorten it to alright in dialogue, but never in narrative. Confused much? Alrighty then, moving on.

Dialogue. READ IT OUTLOUD. Please don’t have your hero say, “It is nine O’clock in the evening. Is there any chance that you are you ready to go to bed?” Well, there’s nothing wrong with that sentence, you say. No, technically there isn’t. But do you talk that way? I didn’t think so. How about this – “Christ, it’s nine already. I’m going to bed.”

Such small, nit-picky things we tend to do in our first draft that must be weeded out when we edit. Suddenly the creative process is over, and you're forced to invite your internal editor back. You edit your manuscript once, twice, maybe even three times. Your crit partner edits your manuscript. You edit your manuscript again. You get a contract - YAY! And then you get your first round of edits, and then a second round of edits. Then you get your galleys, or final line edit.

Are you ready to join my campaign yet? T-shirts coming soon - I'd Rather Go Naked Than Edit.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Urban Fantasy and Breaking The Rules

So I'm biting the bullet and going with my daughters to see the new Twilight movie. One is on Team Edward, and the other is all for Team Jacob. I'm a big fan of vamps, but I think I'm leaning toward Team Jacob, even though he looks like a child to me. Yeah. Feeling kinda dirty here, and not in a good cougar way.

So many people have blogged about how crappy the movies/books are, and that Bella whines too much, blah blah blah. Listen, Stephanie Meyer is laughing her ass off all the way to the bank, so I'm not jumping on the 'this sucks' bandwagon. I am, however, going to focus on the drama of a love triangle. Something I've never put into my books until recently.

While I was writing my last book, I had a slight problemo. By the end of the book there were two heroes, and I'm still not sure which one to go with. I can still remember reading the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and being shocked to my core when Sookie and Bill broke it off and she had sex with Eric. A die-hard romance fan at the time, I hadn't yet read a book where the main romance was questioned. Sure there were 'misunderstandings.' The heroine might think the hero was sleeping with someone else, but it just so happened he was rescuing his sister from the prostitution ring and got caught by the heroine while untangling himself from two naked prostitutes. However, he wasn't there to score. LOL And once the 'misunderstanding' is resolved, you have your HEA. But with the Stackhouse series, Sookie actually WENT there. And that HEA was destroyed (for me, anyway). But like a trooper I read on, and then I was hooked on Eric as the hero. How easily I am led.

So I went on to edit my WIP, and my heroine has now slept with both men in the book. I know, right?? I'm not supposed to do that. My creative side is just going with the story as it unfolds, while my 'you-can't-do-this-in-a-HEA-romance' side cringes. So I guess I'm writing an urban fantasy. At least that's what my crit partner said.

I think authors can get stuck in that 'rule' side, and they write their stories accordingly. Then you have other authors who shout, screw the rules!, and they write best sellers. (Um, not saying this WIP is going to be a best seller, just saying I threw away the rules lol) Take JR Ward, for example. M/M books are hot in the e-book rounds. But she took the M/M subplot in her book to New York, and holy hell are readers gobbling it up. I'm all for Team Blay/Qhuinn. I had never read a M/M book before, but I'm all for reading theirs.

So, back to my problemo. Originally I had decided to pick one hero and stick with him. Then I sat back and asked myself - why? Why can't the heroine be torn between two heroes? Hell, that's a pretty awesome place to be - having two alphas fight over you. Isn't that what all the tweens are drooling over in the Twilight saga? Team Edward VS Team Jacob. Of course, Bella doesn't sleep with them both. This is a YA. Instead of sex, we get angst. Which works when you're dealing with tweens.

So why am I fighting the funk? If I throw away the 'rules' I have endless possibilities. She could go with what's behind door #1 - the first hero. Door #2 - the second hero. Or door #3 - Not a HEA, but an urban fantasy.

Urban fantasy is centered around the female protagonists. UF's are normally told in first person, but not always. I went to a panel comprised of urban fantasy authors at RT, and they all had different elements in their books. Some heroines had only one hero, and each book followed them through another conflict. Another UF author had a few heroes thrown in her books, just like the Stackhouse series. Hell, Jessa Slade has a kick-ass UF series out, and each book has a different H/H.

UF...let me count thy ways...

So, I'm not so freaked out about my problemo. I'm going to go with it and see where the heroes take me...er, the heroine. I meant heroine.