Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Should I have it professionally edited?

I've written a book, and now I need feedback. Editors are expensive, so I ask some people to read it and tell me what they think.

"That's so amazing!" said Mom. Translation: I think everything you do is wonderful, Sweetheart.

"I really enjoyed it. Great job!" said Coworker. Translation: I didn't know you could do this.

"That's good. It reminds me of ____ (fill in the blank with another title)____. I'd like to see more action," said Crit Partner. Translation: There might be some glaring deficits in this, but I can't say anything since we will get together again next week, and I don't want to offend you.

But when you ask a professional editor, the feedback is like:
  • I like the humorous…
  • This part will appeal to _________ audiences.
  • Things I find likable about  ___(name of character)___ is…
  • This section lacks conflict. Opportunities for more conflict could be…
  • This part of your story is overpowering that part of your story. You might want to consider…
  • You could strengthen the romantic plot by exploring…
  • There is some discontinuity in…
  • ___(name of character___ needs more character growth.
  • I wondered if you need to keep this section. 
Should I have it professionally edited?
But I'm self-publishing.
Still YES!
But I'm sending it to an agent.
Still YES!
But my publisher will do that.
Um…guess my answer.
Still YES!

Don't get me wrong--the feedback from those other people will still inform your revisions, but to get unbiased feedback relative to marketability, working with an editor is a good idea.

Deanna and I use Eschler Editing (Yes, this is a shameless plug, but since I don't get a kickback, my conscience is clear.) and appreciate the candid feedback.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trilogies that Fail to Deliver

I love a good trilogy. There's nothing like finding a book that resonates with me. And then to discover that there at two more? It's totally awesome.

We typically get hooked with the first book. That's a given.
Unfortunately, the second book often seems like a bridge to the third.
And then the third either satisfies or makes us totally mad.

The first trilogy that failed to deliver for me was the Hunger Games trilogy. Loved the first book and found the second okay only to be totally put-off by the third, Mocking Jay. It ruined the series for me.

Then came Divergent. I loved this book so much that I sought out the author when she came to Salt Lake last year and waited in line to meet her. It was fun to hear her talk and to get my pic with her. She signed my books, too. I couldn't wait for the third to come out. And, since I listen to most of my books, (I also buy print books of those I love) I waited up until midnight to start the book then. However, it wasn't available at midnight, so I went to bed and got up at six to download it and start it.

About eight a.m. I got an email from a friend saying that she couldn't believe what was happening to Veronica Roth. I checked the Amazon's Allegiant page and saw that 90% of the reviews were ones and twos. What? I had a decision to make. would I continue to read the book and possibly come to dislike the series and author or would I go ahead and stop listening? You can guess what I did. Seriously, how could I not finish it.

What did she do wrong? She didn't satisfy her readers. Even though I'm not a fan of the negative character arc, I can handle that type of book if I believe there was no other way for the series to end. With Allegiant-it didn't have to end the way it did.

Typically, an editor will guide an author who is going way off track. The question is, did Roth dig in her heels or did the editor love how the series ended? Roth must have really been having a heart attack going from the most loved author and having the most loved books for two years straight, to one that was being bashed all over the internet. Roth even felt the need to write a post defending how she ended it. That, and having heard her speak about how dark the book was when she originally wrote it, lead me to believe that she was the one that fought for the ending.

At least for Allegiant, as it was for Mocking Jay, the reviews have about evened out---half are 3+ and half are 2 and under.

On sale for our readers today, only $6.99 
As an author, my love of reading has helped me see what to do and what not to do with trilogies. I want my readers to trust that I know what to do with my characters to create a satisfying ending.

I know what makes readers mad. 

As writers, we want readers to come back and want to read what we produce next. I'm not sure I can return to whatever Veronica Roth produces next. I don't want to be let down.

The time I have to read is precious and I can't waste it on that which doesn't satisfy.

 So, as I wrote the Watched trilogy, I tried to make sure that my middle, with Protected, was not just a bridge to Created, the end. And that the end, with Created was satisfying.

What other trilogies have you read that failed to satisfy? 
Which ones have you read that did satisfy?

By Cindy M. Hogan

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We Get It, Already ...

The other night, I watched "While You Were Sleeping" on Netflix streaming. I've seen it once before, when it first came out, and I enjoyed seeing it again. My favorite part was watching Bill Pullman's eyes when he looked at Sandra Bullock. Or rather, Jack when he looked at Lucy. His eyes got all squishy soft and you could tell that he just adored her. That, to me, is real romance.

But I digress ... that's not the point of this blog post.

This is the point.

The movie comes to a conclusion, with everyone having their happily ever after. Lucy does a voiceover telling how things ended up, and how she finally got to go to Florence on her honeymoon.

Then she finishes up by saying, "Peter once asked me when I fell in love with Jack. I said, 'It was while you were sleeping.'"

You may be wondering why this bothered me.

I will tell you.

This was the screenwriter's deliberate attempt to make the title fit the movie. And it wasn't needed. Not even in the slightest. We already figured out that the fact that Peter was in a coma (hence "sleeping") and that things took place in the meantime (hence "while you were") gave us the title "While You Were Sleeping." (We are rocket scientists, you know.) It felt like the screenwriter was going, "Hey, did you catch that? Did you notice it? How cool, huh?"

The other problem is that Peter never would have asked Lucy that question.

1. Jack and Lucy don't know each other.
2. Peter goes into a coma.
3. Jack and Lucy meet and fall in love.
4. Peter wakes up from a coma.

Therefore, of course they fell in love while he was sleeping because there was no other possible time for it to have occurred. This reinforces my supposition that the screenwriter did not need to tack on that last sentence to the monologue.

And now you're wondering what that has to do with the price of tea in China.

When you're writing a book, it's not necessary to wave flags in your readers' faces to make them realize stuff. In fact, I blogged about this very thing not too long ago - read it here. In that post, I was talking about how silly it is to make sure your readers get all your jokes. In this post, my point is that it's silly to make sure they get all your casual references. They're not idiots.

Send your story past some betas, and if they don't get it, then change it. But don't stand on your head to point it out. As with all the aspects of your writing, the more natural, the better.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

iWN Retreat Menu

Nums! Thanks for our meal planners and chefs, Canda and Deanna! For those of you attending the retreat and you have special dietary needs, please plan accordingly.

Menu (some snacks provided, anything not listed that you want, please bring it with you)

Thursday Dinner
            Turkey cutlets
            Steamed Broccoli
            Grilled street corn
            Dessert: Cinnamon Rolls

Friday Breakfast choices
            Veggie Frittata
            Juice or milk

Friday Lunch
            Soup choices
                        Wisconsin Cheddar
                        Chicken Noodle

Friday Dinner
            Pork Roulade
            Seasoned spring veggies
            Dessert: Strawberry or Chocolate Trifle

Saturday Breakfast choices
            French Toast (overnight)
            Yogurt and fruit
            Fried egg
            Juice or milk

Saturday Lunch
            Hot or cold sandwiches
            Pasta salad

Saturday Dinner
            Chicken Saute’ with snap peas and asparagus
            Wedge salad
            Spaghetti squash alfredo
            Hard Rolls
            Dessert: Party cake (white cake with strawberries and cream)

Sunday Breakfast choices
            Breakfast bundles
           Juice or milk