Tag Archives: Editing

12.28: Trimming and Expanding

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

Revision: it’s when you make a too-short piece longer, or a too-long piece shorter. (It’s also a great many other things, suggesting that this description is a too-short piece in need of revision.)

Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered deep beneath [REDACTED] by Alex Jackson

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Identify the key concepts in a scene you need to shorten. Your budget is one sentence per concept. Rewrite the scene using exactly that many sentences.

Plea,” by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?

The microphones again find us aboard the Independence of the Seas*, to talk about how terribly ugly this manuscript is, and what we can do to make it pretty. In this episode we drill down on line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph revisions. This stage of the revision process is where our prose gets wordsmithed. This episode runs long, touching on:

  • Punching up the pacing
  • Turning things upside down
  • Parallelisms
  • Adverbial compression,
  • The pyramid of abstraction
  • Free and direct thought
  • Replacing negative-information descriptions
  • extreme editing exercises like “one sentence per concept.”

Obviously if you want more than just the bullet points you’ll need to have a listen…

*NOTE: Registration is now open for the 2016 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat!

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered ashore in a volcanic caldera by Alex Jackson.

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Here’s a tough one: Make an editing pass in which you cut 10% of the words on each page.

Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood

Dan and Howard are joined by Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood for an anything-goes Q&A at the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium. We had reached the end of our two-hour block, but the audience hungered for the chance to ask their questions of these guests, so the Symposium gave us an extra half hour in the room. The audience had already been in this room for 120 minutes, but they wanted more more more, so we ran a bit long.

  • Can you advise us about Writing the Other especially regarding avoiding cultural appropriation? (yes, this question deserves an entire symposium all by itself. We answered as best we could.)
  • If you were trying to break in right now, what would you do, and how would you do it?
  • How do you best handle slithering out of making a commitment to help someone with their writing, and how do you deliver bad news to those writers if you end up committing to help anyway.
  • How soon do you telegraph a plot twist?
  • How do you, as a non-writer, be a good resource to the writers in your life?
  • Do you know your title at the beginning of the writing process, or does it come to you later?
  • How do you know when you need another revision pass, vs. when you need to simply rewrite the whole thing again?

*NOTE: Back in July we attempted to record an episode on cultural appropriation with several guests hailing from marginalized and commonly misappropriated cultures, races, and backgrounds. The discussion was wonderful, but the recording itself was unusable due to an equipment failure. We wanted to share it with you, but even our brilliant mastering engineer Alex couldn’t make it listenable. We promise to address this topic in the future, and we’ve purchased all new recording gear to ensure that we capture the discussion correctly.

This episode was recorded and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take a piece of real world astronomical phenomenon, something recently discovered if possible, and make it part of your story.

The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga, by Kameron Hurley, narrated by Liza Ross

Writing Excuses 10.44: How Do I Fix What is Broken?

November is “Revision” month here in the Writing Excuses Season 10 Master Class, so while many of you may be tempted by NaNoWriMo, there’s a different kind of work to be done… Delia Sherman joins us again, this time for a frank talk about the tools and techniques we use during our revisions.

 

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a cloud fortress above Lake Michigan by Alex Jackson.

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Print your manuscript, and with six colors of highlighter, mark it up. Assign one color to each of the five senses, and assign a sixth color to movement.

Off To Be The Wizard, by Scott Meyer, narrated by Luke Daniels

Writing Excuses 9.33: Microcasting

Microcasting!

It’s our Q&A format, in which each answer is like its own, tiny little podcast, only without its own unique URL, intro, writing prompt, or any of the other trappings that would actually make it different from a Q&A session.

Right. So, it’s basically just a Q&A.

Listen to the podcast for the answers… Here are the questions:

  • Are there biases against non-English writers submitting manuscripts in English?
  • What is the most difficult thing Howard experienced when first creating Schlock Mercenary?
  • Are you ever too old to try to get published?
  • What are some pointers for keeping a milieu story focused on the setting?
  • No, you can’t have a sample of our DNA. None of you.
  • If you were to rewrite your early work, what would you change?
  • How do you improve your proofreading and copy editing?
  • How much time do you spend writing each day? Does it matter WHAT you write during that time?
  • Do you add foreshadowing in the editing stage, or are you just that good?
  • How do you improve your craft as a writer?
  • I don’t have time to ask a question, I’m washing my dog.
  • Do you have any writing exercises that you do regularly?
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Introduce a random element–dice, coin-tosses, the i ching–and write a story in which you (the writer) commit to letting the random element make the decisions.

Attack the Geek, by Michael R. Underwood, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Excuses 9.31: Critiquing “An Honest Death”

SPOILER ALERT!

This is our fourth and final SHADOWS BENEATH story critique episode. This episode’s story, “An Honest Death,” by Howard Tayler, is available as part of the aforementioned Writing Excuses anthology, pictured there on the right, which includes the the draft we critiqued in this episode along with the final version.

We still have a few of the first-printing hardcovers left, and if you purchase the hardcover, we’ll send you the electronic edition at no additional charge.

This week we find Howard in trouble. He is, in a word, stuck.

Can our heroes help him? Can special guest Eric James Stone lend enough of his special guest expertise to complete the rescue?

We start with a discussion of what was working, so that Howard doesn’t accidentally “fix” something that isn’t broken. Then we wade into the weeds and go hunting for the pieces he needs in order to finish the story. And when we say “the weeds,” we’re talking serious wandering. The episode runs a full half-hour long…

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You have, with actual paint, painted yourself into an actual corner. But the paint and the corner are in a world in which there is magic, and “you painted yourself into a corner” may very well be some sort of a spell.

The Firebird, by Susanna Kearsley, narrated by Katherine Kellgren