Five-Minute Writing Tip
How About an Editor Appreciation Day?
Did you know that March has almost eighty national, religious, or just plain wacky holidays? March 28 is Weed Appreciation Day, so I decided to use it to introduce this month's Five-Minute Writing Tip.
What do weeds have to do with writing? Not much literally, but a lot figuratively. A good editor finds your "weeds" (mistakes) and polishes your writing. Even though March 30 is I Am in Control Day, chances are your manuscript, even on this day, could benefit from some "weeding." I have a writer friend who, early in his career, professed not to need an editor. To him, "editor" was a dirty word-sole purpose of such a person being to reword and remove his voice and replace it with theirs. Luckily, he had a complete change of mind and his writing improved.
So, the good news is that a good editor can dig out the weeds and allow the buds of your writing to blossom. (Pardon the analogy.) The bad news is that you might need more than one editor because not all editors are the same. There's more to editing than correcting grammatical and punctuation errors.
Here are five types of editors you should consider:
If you have a great idea, but aren't sure how to bring it to fruition, a developmental editor can help you draft your idea and craft an outline. This person might also do research and rewriting. In short, a developmental editor acts as an advisor or consultant.
A substantive editor focuses on structure and development to make sure your organization and content are the best they can be. She ties up all the loose ends and ensures your timeline is accurate.
A line editor checks to see if your sentences flow and if their meanings are clear. She makes suggestions on wording and vocabulary.
A copy editor corrects grammar, punctuation, and spelling. She looks for inconsistencies in style and format.
Finally, a proofreader is the last editor to read your manuscript before it goes to print. She looks for textual errors and visual elements. (Is there the right amount of white space on the pages?)
There are all sorts of special days in March, why not an Editor Appreciation Day? Maybe it could be on March 15 and share some calendar space with the Ides of March, Dumbstruck Day, and Everything You Think is Wrong Day.
Five-Minute Writing Tip
You should be kissed and often and by a man who knows how.
That line from Gone With the Wind came to mind when I walked into our local pharmacy the day after New Year's and ran smack into a huge display of red and pink hearts hanging from streamers, boxes of chocolate candy stacked almost to the ceiling, and glittered greeting cards proclaiming love and devotion. The employees must have worked through the night removing Christmas and replacing it with Valentine's Day.
Knowing I'd have to look at all this romantic paraphernalia for the next six weeks made me dread that lovers' holiday. I needed a change of attitude. For better or worse, and with Valentine's Day still on my mind, I decided I would offer a few basic guidelines for writing romance novels. I don't write romances, nor do I read them, so I had to do some research. But it's always good to learn new things. I discovered that writing romance is not as easy as it sounds-but what writing is?
Here are a few tips to get you started. I've used some classic romance novels and one of my favorite movies as examples.
1. Use the basic formula. Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl. The reason Anna Karenina, though romantic, is a tragedy rather than a romance novel is because it doesn't follow this formula. Boy meets girl-check: Count Vronksy and Anna meet and fall in love. Boy loses girl-check: Problems abound; they fight; they part. But boy does not get girl because (Spoiler Alert!) Anna, distressed and emotionally unstable, commits suicide by throwing herself under a train.
2. The ending must be happy. That doesn't necessarily mean a garden wedding and all problems solved, but there must be a desired commitment to make the relationship work. In the movie An Affair to Remember, Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McCay (Deborah Kerr) are reunited and proclaim their love for one another while recognizing the problem they face-Terry's recovery from an accident that left her paralyzed and unable to walk.
3. Since the plot options are simple: friends become lovers; soulmates are fated to meet; characters give love a second chance, the story must have strong, memorable characters. Romance readers expect to love the hero -who is always far from perfect-but intriguing, and sympathize with the heroine. Your readers also need to sense that your hero and heroine are attracted to one another, and know they will eventually declare their love despite roadblocks and problems thrown their way. Who doesn't love feisty Scarlett O'Hara and arrogant Rhett Butler, and feel their attraction the moment they meet? Who doesn't sincerely believe a happy tomorrow is in their future? Whether you do or don't, check out this video clip: You Tube
4. There must be a considerable amount of conflict and tension. Don't make it easy for your hero and heroine to get together. Look how long it took Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester to admit their love for one another and marry.
5. Finally, the most important tip doesn't just apply to writing romances, but to writing in any genre. Read books in your desired genre, and take pleasure in that type of writing, otherwise your own feelings will not show through.
After Cissy and I discussed the topic for this month's newsletter, I encouraged her to try a hand at writing a romance story. Hope you enjoy The German to Remember.