Posted in Did You Know ?, Editor's Toolkit, From The Editor's Desk, Writing

Master Outlining & Tracking for your novel

I just finished editing the second novel in the Bayou Talents series for Edward Branley, Trusted Talents.  As I am wont to do after finishing edits, I take stock on how I can help my clients streamline the process and make it smoother.

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Trusted Talents has so *many* characters, I decided to try to create a spreadsheet to keep track of who they are, how they fit in the story, their quirks, their nicknames, and any other details that I think would be important, especially NAME CHANGES in the middle of the story.

Well, that got me down a rabbit hole pulling my hair out and drinking lots of coffee late at night (does no good for me when my HS Sophomore needs to be at zero period at 6:45 am and I get up at 5:15 am).  I am not an Excel expert by any means, I can do basic sum functions and that’s about it. So, cut to the next morning when I was more awake and able to focus. I used my Google-fu powers and found a few different Excel spreadsheets that did what I was looking for already and all I had to do was test them out and see if it worked well for me.

The one I wound up liking and using is from Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll’s “Master Outlining and Tracking Tool for Novels (MOTT) “.

I started with the tab labeled ‘Character List’ and page one of the Trusted Talents novel from Edward.  I input all the characters and the formulas that are built into the pages (Remember that I am NO Excel expert) was a lovely touch to make the spreadsheet fill out faster.

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Screenshot of Character List Tab

A couple things that I really liked was when I sorted by first name, you could see that there are way too many names starting with a certain letter, and how many characters have names that are similar (Davey, David).

I sent what I had worked on to Edward, to see what he thought, and he realized that Brooks Stirling Sumner (Silver)’s grandfather had two names in the novel. Remember up there when I said NAME CHANGES in the middle of the book? He was listed as both Robert Duncan Sumner and Grantland Sumner.

Now, I think of myself as being very attuned to that, but I admit even I missed that name change.  This set-up made it easier to fix and find the mistake with a global search and replace function in the master document.

I have started on Edward’s newest novel, Dragon’s Defiance (Book 3 in the Blood-Bound Series) and from first read, had a new spreadsheet set up to start on page 1. What a difference this will make in my editing, and my clients writings.  I highly recommend this.

I’ve only used the Character List tab at this time, but  I can see how much more you could do with this spreadsheet – from the Character Genealogy Tab  (one of my other passions on the side), to the Word Count Tracker (great for authors trying to hit a certain word count per day or per week to finish their novel), and the Scene List.

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Word Count Tracker courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

In the updated Version 2.0, which I just downloaded, there is the Cards Tab (sort of my old way of writing papers in high school and college with index cards delineating all the scenes/main ideas.) This one is automated, so if you use the Scene List, it pulls the information from that.

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Cards Tab

The Chapters Tab in Version 2.0 will give you a visual graph of how word count length and number of scenes per chapter.

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Chapter Words and Scene Count courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

I’m a firm believer if you have various tools and processes in place, it helps you focus on what you need to do, which is write! (Or in my case, EDIT!) Don’t be afraid to use tools that are already out there to make your process easier. One does not have to reinvent the wheel. You can tweak something that is created to match what you need.

Until next time… Don’t fear the red pen!

Sound is so important to creative writing. Think of the sounds you hear that you include and the similes you use to describe what things sound like. ‘As she walked up the alley, her polyester workout pants sounded like windshield wipers swishing back and forth.’ Cadence, onomatopoeia, the poetry of language are all so important. Learn all that you can about how to bring sound into your work.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

QUOTE: The Poetry of Language by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Posted in Books, From The Editor's Desk, Update

FINAL EDITS complete on Trusted Talents by Edward J. Branley (Survivor of the Red Pen)

Very Happy to announce that the FINAL EDITS on Trusted Talents (Book 2 in the Bayou Talents Series) have been returned to author Edward Branley. Can’t wait for you to read / see what Ren, Mike, and the gang have been up to in New Orleans and the world.

I can’t wait for you to meet all the new characters as well. Please let me know what you think of Kate Farrington, Evelyn Barton, and especially Brooks Stirling Sumner. I don’t want to give too much away, but check out this little snippet…

“Right. I need you to evacuate the courtyard and the shop. I need to burn this place down,” Meg said to Bubba and Ren.
“Huh?” Bubba asked.
“Spider on the counter in the shop,” Ren said.
“That’s not a spider, that’s a radiation-enhanced spider from a bad sixties movie!” Meg exclaimed.
“This is a Spanish-Colonial house that dates back to the 1790s. You can’t burn it down,” Ren said, calmly.
“Watch. Me.” Meg replied.
“How about we go check this thing out?” Bubba asked.
“OK, but only because you have a gun and can shoot it,” Meg agreed.
They went into the carriage house, the part of the house facing Chartres Street. Bubba led the way, followed by Ren. Meg stayed in the courtyard, peeking in the doorway.
A huge spider sat on the glass display case where the cash register was located.
“That’s a big bug,” Bubba observed.
“Shoot it!” Meg urged.
“The wife said she saw a rat the other day and she made a ‘fear-induced butt diamond.’ It didn’t make sense at the time. Now I get what she meant,” Bubba said.
Ren started to chuckle. Meg punched his shoulder.
Kate Farrington walked up on the third punch.
“Why are you beating on the poor guy?” She asked.
“Because he’s laughing at me!” Meg said.
“No, I’m laughing because you want Bubba to shoot the spider—ow!” Ren said, as Meg punched his arm again.
Kate stepped into the shop and stood next to Bubba.
“She’s scared,” Kate observed.
Bubba squeezed her hand and stepped back.
“Hi, there. They’re scared, too. Yes, of you. Do you think you can get down and go in the courtyard?” Kate asked the spider.
Time froze for a moment. The spider circled the counter, then crawled down the side. Ren moved further into the shop, with Meg following him. The spider now had a clear path out of the shop. It crawled through the doorway, headed to the back wall of the courtyard.
“Where did you come from?” Meg asked Kate.
“Soccer practice,” Kate said.
“No, I meant what planet, but—wait, soccer practice? Don’t y’all practice in City Park?” Meg continued.
“Yeah. I ran down here,” Kate replied.
“That’s a nice run,” Ren added.
“Y’all are crazy, all that running,” Meg said, laughing.

Be sure to check out the cover art by the quite Talented (see what I did there?) Elizabeth Person.

If you want to catch up in the story before you get to Book 2, you can find Hidden Talents on Amazon.

Coming soon to your bookshelf! I’ll keep you posted on when it hits.
BONUS note: 

Elizabeth also created the cover art for Edward’s YA novel, Dragon’s Discovery (Book 2 of the Blood Bound series).

 

All material copyright 2018 Edward Branley
Artwork by Elizabeth Person
Posted in From The Editor's Desk

So You Have Decided to hire an Editor … Now What?

Make sure you know what kind of edit you are asking for.

There are differences between a developmental edit (also known as substantive editing or structural editing): “the big picture” feedback on structure, style, pacing, and voice.

“The strongest part/s of the book is when …”
“The weakest part of the book is when…”
“Try to change the opening to highlight …”

are all things your editor will comment on when doing a developmental edit.

 And line editing (or paragraph level editing) – recasting sentences for clarity and flow.  You may see suggestions and comments from your editor on how to fix the following:

“You use too many adjectives…”
“This wording doesn’t fit your intended audience…”
“Change the length of your sentences so they are not all the same length…”

Why vary the length of your sentences? 

The reader will not get bored that way. Short sentences make your manuscript seem childish and/or choppy, and bland. Long sentences are hard to read in a row. Listen out loud to your sentences, use your computer for this, or read it out loud, to hear the rhythm in your sentences.  See where you can combine your shorter sentences into a medium length one, and cut down the descriptiveness in your long sentences by eliminating passive voice (is, was, were, has), and eliminate repetition. Get to the point.
 
Also, be sure to pick an editor that is strong in your genre. A developmental edit for non-fiction is different than fiction, or science fiction.

 Prepare yourself for feedback, criticism, and direction.

I know how it would be easy to let your mom, or your aunt, your coworker, or your best friend read your manuscript and make suggestions, and think “hey, so if they can do that, why hire an editor? They have my best interest at heart.” Yes, they do, I don’t want to take away from your friends, families, and co-workers. However, sometimes those close friends and family members won’t tell you what you need to hear, in fear of hurting your feelings, or won’t look as deeply at your manuscript to find the things that aren’t working, such as tenses and change of hair color of your main character.  Don’t misunderstand me, your family and friends play an important part of your support structure. But hiring an “outsider” is the best thing you could do.

Once you release your darlings into the world, a second pair of eyes sees it from a different perspective. A fresh one. Don’t be upset when your favorite part of your book comes back all “red-penned” to death.  It’s my job to give you a point of view you may not consider, ie: head hopping in your characters. Try to picture your main character with a video camera on his / her forehead, and only pointing in one direction. That’s all your character sees. Not behind the door, down the block, or what’s not in their range of vision or hearing. IF you need to change perspectives, pass the camera.

Speaking of head-hopping, check out my latest blog post, “Choosing the Right Point of View for Your Story. Point of view is part of head-hopping, because it’s putting on the blinders and seeing what is going on just from the character that colors the story. Consider this as you write your characters.

It’s your choice to take the advice or not that I give you, but be willing to consider the changes offered. Feel free to agree there’s a problem, but not how the editor suggests to fix it. Talk it over with me. Brainstorm with me. We may come up with a better solution.

Don’t be afraid to tell your editor what you want your book to accomplish.

“What do you want the reader to take away from this?” is a question I ask all my clients.  What do you want your reader to feel when they turn the last page. If you tell me what you want, I can help craft your manuscript with the right emotion, turn of phrase, and details that will guide you to that end.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Grammar, Writing

Choosing the Right Point of View for Your Story

Point of View

The Narrator’s personality and perspective helps shape the reader’s perspective, and how the story unfolds. The reader sees what the character experiences from their point of view (POV).

Why Point of View?

POV helps us understand motives, desires, and empathize with characters and what they are going through. Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft says, “The technical term for describing who is telling the story and what their relation to the story is” (page 83).

First Person POV

Use of “I”, or, in plural first person, “we”. This is used in both autobiographical writing and narration

Examples: Charles Dickens’ character introduction in the opening of the chapter “I Am Born” in David Copperfield (1850).

‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night’ (page 1).

Second Person POV

Use of word “you”. Sort of a ‘choose your own adventure’. When I think of this, which is a very uncommon type of POV that we see, since it’s hard to write and keep consistent. Why do I say it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ type? Because the reader imagines themselves performing each action. One of my favorite books that showcases second person POV is Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler

Now you are on the bus, standing in the crowd, hanging from a strap by your arm, and you begin undoing the package with your free hand, making movements something like a monkey, a monkey who wants to peel a banana and at the same time cling to the bough.’ (page 7).

 

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Editor’s Note: For an interesting Study in Second Person and Calvino, check out DarWrites

Third Person POV

Use of words he, she, it, they. In today’s world, don’t forget about gender-neutral pronouns as well. Third person POV can stay in one character’s head, or move freely between characters.

Limited POV 

Only see what’s happening through the character that is narrating, very narrow, and only colored through what our character thinks/ feels / believes about the characters and events around him/her.

Omniscient

“Non-involved narrator”. Narrator sees all and knows all, including the character’s private thoughts and feelings.  Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft’s chapter “Point of View and Voice” says, “the narrator knows the whole story, tells it because it is important, and is profoundly involved with all the characters.”

 

BONUS MATERIAL:
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Here’s an extra grammar maven tip that comes from my very good friend and fellow grammarian, Melissa Case about Reflexive Pronouns Me, Myself & I: How and How NOT to Use Reflexive Pronouns on Medium.

 

Featured image courtesy of grammarly
Posted in Architecture, Around Town

Architectural Tour of Paris: Centre Pompidou

 Fun Fact: When I was in Paris during my HS French trip (too many moons ago) I saw Michelle Lee (of Knots Landing fame) in front of the Centre Pompidou. That has always stuck with me, and is probably dating myself if you know how long ago that show was popular. Somewhere, buried deep in a box in my parents attic is the photo of her I took.

The thing that fascinated me about the Centre Pompidou when I saw it was the bright colors and how weird it was to have the air ducts, elevators, escalators, and pipe systems outside. Turns out… it was an architectural choice when it opened in 1977:   Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, and enabled them to create huge uncluttered space inside. You can see why it’s nickname is the “Inside-Out Building”.

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Four strong colours – blue, red, yellow and green – clothe the structure and enliven the façade, their use governed by a code laid down by the architects:

  • blue for circulating air (air conditioning)
  • yellow for circulating electricity
  • green for circulating water
  • red for circulating people (escalators and lifts)[1]

To find out more, see information pack on the architecture of the building.

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Place Georges Pompidou – 75004 Paris
Le Marais – 4e Arrondissement

If you go visit, you should find something else to do on Tuesdays, and May 1st, because Centre Pompidou is closed.

Fun Fact #2: The Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is noted for the presence of street performers, such as mimes and jugglers.

Did You Know? 

  • It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building.
  • A fifth floor room of the building featured as the office of Holly Goodhead in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which in the film was scripted as being part of the space station of the villainous Hugo Drax. 

[1] https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/The-Centre-Pompidou/The-Building
Featured Image by © INSADCO Photography / Alamy
Posted in Architecture, Around Town

Architectural Tour of Paris: Carousel in Montmartre

One of the oldest Carousels in Paris is located on the tiny Place St.-Pierre in Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement on the Rive Droite (Right Bank), near the Eiffel Tower.

When I was in high school, I went on a class trip to France and Switzerland (and drove through the Italian border on the bus so we could say we were in Italy).  I remember vividly the tour of Sacré-Coeur and sitting on the steps of the Basilique. We also rode the Carousel at the foot of Sacré-Coeur.  Imagine my surprise today when I came across this photo of the Carousel in the winter, with snow falling from Pinterest, it transported me right back to Paris, exploring.

Somehow, the snow in the image just makes it so much more magical, and intensifies the beauty. Hard to believe that Paris can be more magical,  but to me, it just is.

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I went searching for more photos of the Carousel, and found the stunning juxtaposition on Flickr of the carousel and Sacré-Coeur by eagle1effi that you can see in the Featured Image up top.

Untapped Cities tells us the history of the Carousel:

Carousels were born from tragedy: A jousting accident killed King Henri II, Catherine de Medici’s husband, in 1559, driving knights to practise a safer alternative to these tournaments, such as spearing suspended rings with their lances. For the birth of the Dauphin, Louis XVI held a carousel festival in 1662 in front of the Tuileries. In true Sun King fashion, it was all pomp and fanfare: 15,000 guests watched knights on their horses participate in jeu de bagues compétitions. The celebration which took three months to organise lasted only three days, but the Sun King did himself proud because the memory of this grandiose fête still lives on: the location where it was held is known today as Place du Carrousel.

Map of Montmartre:

Have you been to Paris? Did you ride the Carousel? Have you visited Sacré-Coeur and sat on the steps of the Basilique? What’s your favorite architecture in Paris?  What other architectural tours would you like me to write about? Tell me in the comments, or on Twitter @bookdoctordara.

For more about other carousels in Paris, check out Carrousels – Merry-go-rounds around Paris by Travel France Online.

Featured Image:
“Auf dem Karussell, on the Carousel: dreaming about : Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur ,”basilique du Sacré-Cœur ” , Amélie auf dem Karussell” by eagle1effi taken May 2008.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/eagle1effi/2465636575

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Science

Bonus: “Maunder Minimum”, Cartography, and Hevelius

Earlier this evening, I blogged about Cartography and the Moon, 1647 and Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687). While doing the research, I came across this image of Hevelius’ earliest drawing of sunspots. Since it wasn’t “Moon” related, my son, Jason ( check out his blog, “Jason’s Blog- Work in Progress”), said I should post it as a bonus feature. So, here it is!

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AN EARLY DRAWING of the Sun and sunspots by Johannes Hevelius. Here Hevelius shows the path and changes in sunspots that crossed the disk of the Sun between May 22 and May 31 in 1643 as they were seen in Danzig. – NASA

So, what is the “Maunder Minimum“? ” The number of sunspots observed on the solar surface varies fairly regularly, with an average period of 11-years. However, if we look at the variation of the sunspot number with time, we find that for a period of about 70 years, from A.D. 1645 to 1715, practically no sunspots have been observed. In other words, during this time the solar cycle has been interrupted. This period of time is called the Maunder Minimum.[1]

Did You Know?

In 1679 the English astronomer Edmond Halley visited Hevelius and compared the use of a sextant having telescopic sights with Hevelius’ sextant with open sights. Hevelius showed that he could determine stellar positions about as accurately without a telescope as Halley could with one.

[1] https://www.cora.nwra.com/~werne/eos/text/maunder.html

 

Editor’s Note: Featured image The Photosphere and Sun-spots is by S.P. Lngley | The Photosphere and Sun-spots | Popular Science Monthly, vol. 5 (September 1874)

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Science

Cartography and the Moon, 1647

This Old Map…

In 1647, Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius published the Selenographia sive Lunae Descriptio (Selenography or the description of the moon). [Ed Note: Selenography is named after the Greek moon goddess Selene[1].]

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Johannes Hevelius – via Encyclopedia Brittanica

Historian of astronomy Albert Van Helden explains:

In Selenographia he presented engravings of every conceivable phase of the Moon as well as three large plates of the full Moon: one of the ways the full Moon actually appeared through the telescope, one the way a maker of terrestrial maps might represent it (using the conventions of geographers), and one a composite map of all lunar features illuminated (impossibly) from the same side.[2]

 

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Hevelius’ lunar map  influences astronomy, cartography, and navigation to this day by introducing us to longitudinal lines, necessary during the Age of Discovery when navigators had to figure out the difference between their local time and a distant reference point (the moon). They needed “a composite view that pictured the Moon in a way it never appeared in reality but was accurate in its placement of individual features,” Van Helden writes.[3]

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Selenographia. Observations of the Moon.

Did you know?

A large crater on the western edge of the Ocean of Storms is named after Hevelius?

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Hevelius Crater – NASA

 

Editor Note: If you enjoyed this Cartography post, check out the first in the series, Cartography and World Building.   Let me know what else you’d like to see…

[1] https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Selene/selene.html

[2] https://cnx.org/contents/t7AGYlN-@4/The-Moon

[3] https://cnx.org/contents/t7AGYlN-@4/The-Moon

Posted in From The Editor's Desk

Vintage Typewriters

I love interesting images that I can use for the featured photo on the blog pages. I love vintage typewriters, as well, if you could not get the connection on all the pages. (This post’s featured image is a play on that by using typewriter keys to spell out “blog”!)

Here’s some more really cool vintage typewriters that may (or may not) wind up as images going forward. I am too stuffed from Thanksgiving Turkey to decide right now. What does everyone think? Let me know what your favorite is…

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Literature

Cartography and World Building

As an early reader, maps always kept me fascinated – especially when I had the image of where things were in my mind, only to be tracing the steps of the characters in Hundred Acre Woods and find that Rabbit’s house is closer than I thought it was. Plus, I always thought it was cool that Christopher Robin got to draw the map… I had many nights tracing the map trying to be in the room with him (hoping it was Me!)… from the note on it  “Drawn By Me And Mr Shepard Helpd.

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There’s the map showing the way to Toad Hall and the surrounding environs in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. How interesting that the same cartographer  (Ernest H. Shepard) did the Hundred Acre Woods map, and the map to The Wind in the Willows.  Now I understand why I loved both of those books so much as a child!  Both maps had the same design style  and it made me feel comfortable  and familiar, as if I was with an old friend by my side as I read the books. There wasn’t a learning curve, I knew how the map would look, even as a young child so it was easier to follow.  Having both the black and white and colored maps1 on the endpapers in the book, it was magical to see the colors come to life before my very eyes.

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The Wind in the Willows map, black and white, by E.H. Shepard
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The Wind in the Willows map, color, by E.H. Shepard

Then there’s the map of Emerald City and the Yellow Brick Road in Baum’s Wizard of Oz. Who didn’t want to take that walk down the road with Dorothy and Toto all the way to the Emerald City, with all the characters along the way. The movie was always on around Thanksgiving, and I had to watch it in my parent’s bedroom. To be fair, the Wicked Witch scared the daylights out of me … but I wanted those ruby slippers more than anything when I was younger.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s maps of Hobbiton and Middle Earth brought Tolkien’s world alive in my mind.

Map of Gondor from The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Kids of all ages know the layout of Hogwarts from the Marauder’s Map in Harry Potter. One realizes how much detail you can get by enhancing the reading with visuals.

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The Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Authors who use maps, engage in world building by placing their characters inside the world and the geography of the area. Maps help readers, even at a young age, orient themselves to time and space and place. The legend of symbols helps them understand what a triangle is and what colors represent what topographical concept (rivers, mountains, roads).

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Simple map legend

“But why are maps so useful when employed in literature, and in particular in children’s books? Much like the novels themselves, maps too tell stories, and so writers increasingly employ them within their books as a way to go beyond the words themselves. Not only do they provide us with further supplementary information to complement the story, but maps also have the potential to provide gateways to the imaginary lands which may otherwise only exist within our imaginations. By showing us the shape of the land, beautiful forests and daunting mountain ranges, they build on our imagination, encouraging us to go beyond the words themselves and inviting us into these fictional lands presented right before our very eyes.”2

Footnotes:

1 Both the black and white and colored maps of The Wind in the Willows by E.H. Shepard come from Shepard’s website. Go take a peek and see what other childhood memories come up when you see all the cartography he has done!

2https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/nov/11/putting-childrens-literature-on-the-map-young-adult

Note: Featured Image of the Marauder’s Map courtesy of littlefallingstar