Hi, all!  As many of you know, my goal for MayNoWriMo is to finish editing one of my SciFi novels, and I have to admit that in my experience, editing (even simple copy-editing and proofreading) is a longer and harder slog than writing 80,000-200,000 words.  This is, in large part, an issue of motivation.  The actual story grabs me by the neck and drags me head-first through a roller coaster of multi-layered plots and subplots, intrigue, character development, world-building, and snark laid on with a trowel (in any case, that last bit happens to me 7 times out of 10.  Please don’t go looking for mortar-thick snark in the Kinlea Keeper world system O_o;).  When I’m writing, I’m often so addicted to the story and the people in it that I can’t wait to get back to my notebook or keyboard.  It’s a lot like my novel reading habit but  with more emotional investment.  The problem lies in the fact that once I finish writing a story, I feel like I’ve finished reading the novel and don’t always feel any intense need to read it again… ten or twenty times… with a fine-toothed-comb and a red pen.  So, today I would like to offer up to the MayNoWriMo reading public the process I have developed to force myself to actually (and occasionally effectively) edit the insane number of novels that I’ve written over the years and subsequently left in notebooks and hard drives to collect dust.

1) Find beta-readers you trust to tell you the grim truth.

I have learned that brutally honest beta readers are the best friends a novel writer can have, and indeed most of my best friends are on my beta-reading team.  So is my mother.  Good beta-readers not only spot problems at an alarming rate, but they remind you how much better the story can be if you work on it.  They also remind you how much fun and worthwhile your stories are, and they keep the story fresh long after it would grow stale if you kept the editing process to yourself.

2) Find an audience and read the entire book out loud.

I know this seems extreme, but I have discovered more spelling/grammar errors and awkward passages while reading my books out loud to groups of friends than I have through any other method.

3) When in doubt, wait a year.

Going back to a novel a year or more after you write it can give you an amazingly fresh and uncluttered prospective.  I notice that I am less apt to cling to awkward and cluttered wording (and trust me, my diction in early drafts can be horrifyingly thick) with a little bit of time-distance.  I finished writing the novel I’m editing for MayNoWriMo back in 2007.  I am in a much better position to hack and slash now.

4) Use other projects as edit-goal rewards.

This doesn’t always work for me, actually.  Sometimes the unfinished third book in a series starts doing that neck-dragging thing (mentioned in the above intro) while I’m editing the first book… as in, I have the first book open in the window in front of me and my mind (erm… figurative neck?) is racing so fast through third-book plots and pitfalls that I don’t even see the words in front of me.  BUT, sometimes it does work.  Sometimes I can tell myself that I’m not allowed to write the rest of Horror Novel A before I finish editing Fantasy Novel B, and that can be a good motivator.  When it works.  Which it often doesn’t.

5) Actually USE the spelling and grammar check options in your word processing program.

Seems obvious, I know, but a lot of us are reluctant to wade through our mushy-slushy-mud-oceans of fantasy words, myth names, and foreign language references.  The bajillion clicks on “add to dictionary” are worthwhile, though, for even a hand-full of good fixes.

6) Set an edit goal for MayNoWriMo.

When all else fails, pledging an edit goal to a nice mass-project like MayNoWriMo can boost one’s motivation.  Deadlines that the world can see are better than deadlines you set for yourself and frequently break… by years… sometimes decades… heheh.  Yeah.

So, there you have it!  The Elisa Grace Diehl method for editing novels.  It’s not a foolproof method, but through its application I have managed to publish a couple of decently good novels.  That’s approximately a 10% success rate so far, and that’s better than the 0% rate I was running until the summer of 2008.  With that, I wish you all the best of luck with your goals for the month, and I feel as though I really ought to get back to editing An Exercise in Bad to Worse.  Only one week left!  Wish me luck! -EGD

Well, I do!  And it’s May 1! (See links and mini-rant in the post below).  It is time for me to declare my goals:

By the end of this month, I pledge to TOTALLY EDIT the first book in my Exercise in Bad to Worse sci-fi series and submit it to AT LEAST 5 publishers/literary agencies.  (no small task, I can promise you)

There you have it!  I’m going to go for it!  And *still* try to pass my finals and finish writing all those research papers.  So ha.  Good luck to all you others participating- EGD

I just saw this shiny, shiny thing on my publisher’s website:

Isn’t that cool?  It’s like Nano, only it’s in May!  It looks like at least ten different kinds of fun/useful, and if I can manage to get all those graduate school papers done by then, I’m totally going to participate ^_^.  Also, it’s attached to a virtual writer’s conference that’s running all of May.  I’m sure I’ll be there at least some of the time.  Anyhoo, I think you should all check it out, because it is likely to be awesome.  Wheeeee- EGD

Sooo, Drollerie Press finally released Curse.  It happened without my noticing it (in part because I actually wasn’t informed 0_o) and there are a couple of odd formatting errors in the final copy, but hey, it’s a seriously long book, so a couple extra spaces between lines in places won’t kill the experience.  Curse is one of my favorite books I’ve ever written, incidentally, and probably the most syntactically sound.  I highly recommend you wander over and read the excerpt, but then, I’m biased ^_^.  Hugs to all- EGD

White Snake is over!  Wow.  What a roller-coaster of a process.  It was a darn good show, it was well received, and in the end I don’t think the teachers from China were dissatisfied with my work.  Anyhow, I was interviewed by a journalist who’d flown all the way from China to see the show, and he assures me that I’ll “be famous in China” though he may have been joking about that.  Also, one of my teachers insists I need to go study in Nanjing, though I can’t really wrap my head around that idea at this point.  Right now what’s actually going through my head is that I’m now halfway through my MFA and really, really need to get my butt in gear with the paperwork for my first committee review.  Erm… I should probably go do that now.  hugs to all- EGD

Um.  Yeah.  The third semester of my graduate-student career has struck.  Rehearsals.  Classes, too, but oh the rehearsals!  So, y’all are going to come to see this show I’m more or less killing myself for, right?  Right…?

Sooooo, did y’all know that Drollerie is giving away spiffy free short stories for 12 days starting with Christmas (meaning they’re on day 9)?  You can even download all the previous days’ stuff, so long as you’re logged into the site.  I contributed two very short pieces that were posted on the first and seventh days.  The super-awesomely-spiffy part of this is that with every free download you are entered to win a free e-book-reader!  Tell me, people, what is not to love about this promotion?!??  I know *I* am having a blast reading everyone’s stuff, and I’m sure you will, too, if you pop ’round and download the titles you think might interest you.  To one and all, HAPPY NEW YEAR and happy 12 days of Christmas- EGD