Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And I'd Like to Thank Ask the Editor Free-For-All


Most books never make it to the big screen, while others transition into popular movies, like True Grit, Up in the Air, All Quiet On the Western Front, and No Country for Old Men.

What gives certain books star power over others? In some cases, it might be author connections, but for the majority, it's got to be a great story line. Still, if a tremendous manuscript is overshadowed by author errors, that story will go unnoticed. Readers are great at spotting what's wrong with a book, and gleefully latch onto inconsistencies. Industry higher ups are even more picky. It's a writer's job to keep such slipups from happening. To accomplish this, it may be necessary to ask for help.

That's where our monthly Ask the Editor Free-For-All comes in. For those unacquainted with this feature, it goes like this: Today, and every first Tuesday of the month, The Blood-Red Pencil offers the Ask the Editor Free-For-All. I send e-mails to e-groups, Facebook, other social networks, blogs, and everywhere I can think of,  inviting members to come over and ask questions.This feature is designed to provide valuable tips about the basics of writing, submitting manuscripts to publishers and agents, and self-publishing, be it by print on demand, Kindle or other formats. 


Don't be bashful about asking a question. Nothing is too silly or dumb. We're all here to learn. Also, if one of our Editors can't supply an answer, we'll gladly recommend someone who does.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Simple Steps:
Leave a comment in the comment section below. Include your name and blog url or website, not only because it's great for promo, but also to distinguish you as a real person. (One link only, please!) It also helps to go back and check to make sure your comment goes through. At times, Blogger tests people to make sure they're not robots, so you may need to repeat keystrokes to get your comment to stick.

Our Editors will be dropping by today and answering questions in the comment section. If your question could use a detailed explanation, one of our Editors may decide to devote an entire blog post on that topic. When that happens, you'll receive extra promotion, along with the possibility of forwarding jpegs of your profile photo and cover, along with a buy link.

It's not required, but helpful if you leave an e-mail address along with your comment. Also, if you wish, let us know where you've heard about our Ask the Editor Free-For-All.

Since others will be asking questions, you might want to double back later to read what happens to show up. Some of our participants use e-group Digests, so questions and answers could carry over through Wednesday or Thursday.

We can't guarantee your book will be adapted into a famous movie, but stranger things have happened. Imagine saying something like this at the Oscars: "And I'd like to thank Ask the Editor Free-For-All for making this award possible."
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Morgan Mandel




http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
Killer Career now 99 cents on
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31 comments :

  1. I love this feature. Even when I don't ask a question, I read what others are asking and the answers.

    I find it hard to write from a third-person omniscient POV. When I think I am writing that way, the feedback from my critique group often says, you're switching POVs--meaning they thought I was writing from one character's POV and switched to another.

    Or like in my current WIP that has two children and a grandfather, I opened with one of the kids, and when I mentioned the grandfather I referred to him as Mr. Henry (except in the cases where the children are talking to him). One person asked why I would call him Mr. Henry instead of Grandpa, but if I am in third-person omni, isn't that how the third person would see him?

    Any help on how I can make this POV clearer would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Cheryl

    http://ccmalandrinos.com

    cg20pmoo(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Cheryl,

    Third-person omniscient used to be popular many years ago, but most bestselling novels today are written in close third-person, which makes keeps the reader in the head of the POV character for that scene and helps us identify with and bond with that character. We see the surroundings and other people through his head, so we feel like we're there with him.

    So in your story where you're in the POV of one of the kids, describe anything and anyone around him from his point of view, and use "Grandpa," not "Mr. Henry." If you switch to Grandpa's POV, don't refer to his wife as "Mrs. Henry" - use Bertha or whatever her first name is.

    Also, when your POV character walks into a room or bar or whatever that we haven't seen before, filter your description of the room through his eyes and ears, etc. A society lady would describe a room or bar much differently than a truck driver would. Stay in their point of view for that scene. And while you're in their point of view, don't describe something that's going on away from the room or bar, that they couldn't possible see or be aware of.

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  3. I wish I'd known about the differernce betten older and newer types of writing, like you explained, when I first started. It would have saved me so much time. I know you'll help many.

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  4. June, there are a lot of great books out there on writing effective fiction that sells in today's market. A few that I often recommend to my aspiring author clients are Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy (Not for dummies at all! A great resource); Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell (just excellent!); Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyons; James N. Frey's How to Write a Damn Good Novel/Mystery/Thriller, etc.; On Writing Romance, by Leigh Michaels, and more. For a longer list, go to amazon.com or check the Resources page of my website at www.jodierennerediting.com.

    Also, check the archives here at Blood-Red Pencil for info on specific topics, or my blog at http:jodierennerediting.blogspot.com.

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  5. Cheryl, just to add to what Jodie said. I think in mainstream fiction you can switch POV in a scene. It just has to be done smoothly so the reader isn't jarred out of the story. Sometimes writers cling tenaciously to a rule. LOL

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  6. Cheryl, I agree that close third-person is best. It makes it so much easier for the reader to identify with your character, to experience the five senses and all of his/her emotions right along with her. Usually, it's easier to stick with the rule of thumb: only switch POVs in a separate scene or chapter. Good luck with your WIP!

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  7. Randy Ingermanson's book is good - I also recommend his electronic newsletter. Don't let his tone put you off - he has some great advice and information to share.

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  8. Thanks so much everyone. I appreciate all your comments. They are very helpful.

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  9. Regarding short stories, should the number of main characters be limited to two or three?

    Also, my WIP (again a s.s.) has a woman stranded in a ditch in the middle of the Prairies,with only her dog to talk to. The other main characters are in the back stories and future stories. How much do I accentuate them?

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  10. Della, short stories need to be written a lot tighter than novels or novellas. They're just a slice of life. One main character is best, as you don't have time or space to do justice to more than one in this format. I would also stick to just telling the story from the main character's point of view. You also need to get into the action quickly, without a lot of lead-up.

    As for your woman stranded with her dog, it sounds like she has lots of time to contemplate her life and past mistakes, etc., so you could describe the other important characters in her life and her relationship with them through her thoughts, regrets, hopes for the future, etc.

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  11. By the way, on the subject of SHORT STORIES, the recent issue of Writer's Digest (March/April 2011) has three excellent articles on crafting short stories, by John Dufresne, Noelle Sterne, and Elizabeth Sims.

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  12. Thanks, Jodie. A new writer, like me, needs all the resources she can get.

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  13. I am very curious about the self-publishing world. I have been doing some research and am finding that is super important to have someone convert your file. Can you suggest what I should be looking for when contacting someone or can you suggest someone to me?
    I am not close to publishing yet, still need a lot more editing (never ending battle :)) but would like to start preparing so any other bits of information would be a blessing! Thank you!

    Michelle
    http://flickspicks1.blogspot.com/
    mf060784@gmail.com

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  14. Hi, I learned about your website from Cheryl. We're in the same critique group. I have two picture books coming out very soon.

    I'm writing MY FIRST YA Historical fiction based on the life of my mother during WWII as an English war bride. I know that I need about 3,000 words per chapter. I'm struggling with what a chapter should consist of.

    The first two chapters introduce the main character, Winnie, her family and the problem.

    My third chapter that I'm woking on now, involves Winnie's 18th birthday party, and her decision to sign up for the Women's Land Army as well as her interview and training for this group. It's her coming of age chapter. I didn't quite hit the 3,000 words needed.

    The forth chapter will be her experiences in the land army and her progress in solving her problem.

    Do these chapter breaks sound right?

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  15. Oops, forgot. My question is above.

    Thanks,
    kathy stemke

    http://educationtipster.blogspot.com
    dancekam1(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Kathy,

    Regarding the number of words per chapter, I haven't heard of that guideline. If you look at bestselling books, the length of the chapters varies widely, both within one book and also among authors. James Patterson, for example, a huge bestselling author, often has chapters of only two or three pages, sometimes only a page or half a page.

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  17. That's good news! I won't get hung up on word count. thanks.

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  18. I finished James Patterson's book, Tick Tock, recently and liked the short chapter style very much. Also loved the book!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  19. I also love this feature.

    --Brenda

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  20. Kathy, I agree with Jodie that you do not have to stick to an exact word count for your chapters. I would, however, suggest you read some YA novels that may be similar to yours and see how chapter length is handled. Also, trust your instincts as to when it is time for a chapter break. I think every story has natural breaks built in.

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  21. Michelle, there are a number of people offering conversion services for e-books and digital publishing. The legitimate ones will offer references, and rates start at about $100 per book up to 5 or 6 hundred. When you are ready to hire someone, e-mail me and I can give you a name of someone who I plan to use.

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  22. Get referrals if you can on e-book conversion. There are lots of services if you google the keywords and here's an example of pretty standard pricing:



    Thanks to everyone for popping in. I just got off the phone with conference calls all day long!

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  23. Does anyone know what the deal is with pseudonyms and the details on the copyright page? I had a look at a few books I knew were written under pseudonyms and, as expected, found the author's real name on the copyright page. But then I came across one or two where the pseudonym occurred on the copyright page. The only thing I can think of is that the author registered the pseudonym as a business and registered the copyright under the business name?

    Elle
    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

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  24. Thank you Maryann. I appreciate your help.

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  25. Elle:
    What I've heard is that the only people who need to know your real name are your bank, the state department of revenue, the social security administration, and the IRS.

    Some pseudonyms are meant to hide true identities; those authors would copyright under the pseudonym. Other pseudonyms are thin disguises meant to distinguish brand, like Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. Those authors might choose to copyright under their original names.

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  26. Della:
    I think it's fun when an author takes a problem and turns it into an asset. If your character is stranded in the prairie with only a dog and is looking for wisdom as to how to get out of her predicament, she might attribute to her dog the personalities of her various people characters.

    "No, Spot, I want to turn left here." Spot continued right. I turned to follow. "Dang if you aren't acting just like Julia. Well guess what Julia, I don't care that you were born first, I got a mind too." I huffed and puffed—Spot had chosen the harder route. Soon we came to the top of a rise, where I could see for miles. All my choices laid right out before me, but I wasn't about to admit this to a dog. There was a tree at the top of this rise, and Spot laid down beneath it, panting in the breeze. "That's right, you rest up Spot. Cause next time we're turning my way. Or you can just head on alone."

    That kind of thing. Many authors, Ann Patchett among them, limit themselves with some sort of problem before beginning a book. Before she wrote her bestselling BEL CANTO, Patchett challenged herself by needing people to solve a problem--but no one in the room spoke the same language. The interpreter who could connect the dots between a few of them became her version of a superhero.

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  27. Kathy: Stay tuned. I'll put up a post about the art of chaptering later this month.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you Maryann I will be sure to get ahold of you!

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  29. Thanks, Kathryn.
    I've been getting bogged down with a little too much seriousness in my WIP. Your ideas are a breath of fresh air. Keeping it light (my attitude and my writing of this particular piece) will help in moving on past the writer's block. Which is more like writer's slugge that (I now see) needs flushing with fresh attitude.

    p.s. I have four short stories completed, two of which are in the hands of literary magazines. I await they're response. I'm new to the world of blogs and websites, and I'm thouroughly enjoying B-RP. You set a great example of what blogs should be about: informative,inspiring,interactive and even fun. Thanks!

    dellabarrett@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oops.
    It's late.
    In the morning, after the first coffee, I do know the difference between they're, their and there.
    Almost always. Usually. Forever.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oops.
    It's late.
    In the morning, after the first coffee, I do know the difference between they're, their and there.
    Almost always. Usually. Forever.

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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