Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How Do You Edit?


How do you edit, writer? 

This past round of edits, I printed out my manuscript and red-lined it over a 2 week period. This was perfect for traveling—I loved having a tangible thing to pick up and work on when I had a chance.

When I got home, I frantically put it into the computer to make a deadline.

The thing is, I didn’t account for the ADDITIONAL editing that goes into doing this. I hit the deadline, but my head was spinning, and I probably know my manuscript word for word now!

While it wasn’t completely ideal at moments, I still stand by handwritten editing at some point in the process. It truly connects you to your story in a different way than typing does—and gives you a break from screen time!

If you’d like to try handwritten edits, here are some tips:
1. Set aside extra time for the EXTRA editing that goes into transferring to digital (unless you are an expert at turning your internal editor off while you type in the edits—I am not!)

2. Break up the transfer into acts. Paper edit the first act then transfer into the computer. Then go to the next act. This might be less daunting than trying to get them all in as a deadline creeps up.

3. Enjoy the journey. I loved sitting with pen in hand and changing things up. I only got frantic when I realized how much I had changed! Ha! But, the process is life giving, and in the end, you have a thoroughly edited manuscript to send off!
So, do you prefer editing on paper or screen?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Lesson On Subtext from Mary Poppins


Last night, I finally got a chance to see the new Mary Poppins movie-- wow! I loved everything about it. (And all the heart eyes for Ben Whishaw, right? I've been a fangirl since he played John Keats.) But one thing I found particularly interesting about the Mary Poppins story, and this movie particularly, is its ability to pull the subtext out from the behind-the-scenes, straight to the forefront of the storytelling.

What does that focus on subtext mean? In this case, colorful costumes, whimsical songs and dancing, and a plot structure that borders on eccentric. Somehow--amazingly--the movie pulls these elements together without crossing a line into the absurd. Through it, I think we can see not only the value of subtext, but also how we as writers can do it well.

So what can we learn about subtext from Mary Poppins Returns?


  • You have a story within your story. Tell it. Your characters are always moving from Point A to Point B. Your job as a storyteller is to fill that journey with intention. Is your character getting ready at the start of a scene? Then what subtext could you use to either foreshadow, express suspense, or convey characterization?
  • Your readers want your story to resonate. "A cover is nice, but a cover is not the book"--I mean, HELLO--does it get better than this song?! One of the reasons we all love Mary Poppins is because she's full of whimsical idioms... they look charming and colorful from the outside, but man do they pack a punch! Your readers want the same. Give them a moral and someone they can cheer for. It's best if you can use what you're learning in your own life. But be honest. Be vulnerable. Seek the Lord, and whatever you do, never talk down to them.
  • The impossible is possible with fiction. Use this fact to your advantage. Play with POV, order of scenes, etc. to tell the story in the freshest way you can.

What about you? Did you see the movie? Do you have anything else to add to the list?



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Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram at the_handwritten_story. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

#TipfulTuesday - A New Way to Deepen Your Story






#TipfulTuesday New Year topic: A New Way to Deepen Your Story. 

This year, consider deepening your story by adding characters of different cultures. This is not easy and will require a bit of work, but your labor will not be in vain. Trust me. 

Nearly every city across the world has a dominant people group. Among them are men and women from other cultures, skin colors, religions, etc. Therefore, our stories should not solely be built on any one people. We should include in our cast of characters men and women representing others who live in the same community.

The setting for my novel, "Daring to Live", was New York City. Ah, perhaps you understand now. NYC is a potpourri of cultures, races, genders, ages, etc. To make my story strong, my cast of characters included Hispanic (which I drew from experiences on mission trips to Mexico and Honduras), African American (I lived in inner-city Detroit for a time), Cowboy (I lived in Montana and spent time on ranches), military (I have several family members who were in the military), urban, suburban, foster care, and more. All of which have been a part of my life at some time. You probably have had a taste of Americana as well.

Including characters from other people group that are not your own is not easy to write. We must be respectful. Not typecast. A huge key to writing these characters is not to use labels. For example, I should not say, Brian, a white man wearing... These characters deserve the same respect you would want.

So how can this be done? You might be surprised how much you already know. My experiences have helped me include unique local islander language in one story and inner city jargon in another. Think back to your school days. A time you went on vacation. Shopped at a mall (not so much anymore, eh?). 

You have been around other people groups. You know what they might wear. What they might choose to say and how they might say it. Expand your reading to include stories about Middle Eastern characters, Asian, and more. These are fascinating people. Men and women who have also moved to your community.

I play a game of sort with my critique partners and beta readers. I purposefully don't include character descriptions like skin color unless done in a creative way, no name clues either. Instead, I write the character as true as I can to their culture. Then I ask those readers to describe the character for me. No answer is incorrect. Their imagination and background filled in the picture in their mind.

So, what do you say? Will you choose just one novel that has characters representing a group other than your own? Will you include at least one in your current or next WIP to deepen the story? 

~Mary Vee
#amwriting #characters #TheWritersAlley #TipfulTuesday #writing #multiculture
Photo credit: Pixabay


Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

#TipfulTuesday Merry Christmas




#TipfulTuesday

Enjoy the blessing God has given. Merry Christmas from the Writer's Alley

This photo was taken of an alley in Jerusalem. Seemed fitting for today.


Photo by Mary Vee

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter
Mary's new release, Christmas With The Enemy, is available on Amazon.
EBOOK ON SALE FOR  $ 0.99!


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Anticipation and the Writer

Photo by Master Isolated Images
freedigitalphotos.net
The emotions of the writer run the gambit. We get excited about new story ideas. We get frustrated when we get writer's block. We are ecstatic when we get a request for a full manuscript from an agent or editor. We wallow in the depths of despair when we receive a rejection in our email box. Up and down, up and down, our emotions ride the roller coaster.

But there is one emotion in the writing journey that we tend to overlook because it is subtle.

Anticipation.

When I hear the word anticipation, I am reminded of Christmas Eve long ago. While a pregnant woman was being settled by her husband into a stable, heaven awaited with bated breath for the coming of the Messiah on Earth.

Anticipation.

While a baby lay in a manger, shepherds were hurrying to find the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Anticipation.

You know the feeling....it is the hopeful expectation of things to come. The longing for something better. The desire for something new and good to come our way. The hope of having our dreams fulfilled.

Writers await with anticipation on a daily basis. We hope for a completed manuscript. We desire contest wins. We anticipate publication. Anticipation keeps us going.

While we write with the expectation of having our dreams realized, so often we let fear and comparison cloud our view. It is like fog creeping across the land, clouding our path and slowing us down. We must learn to slow down and focus on the path. Just keep writing and enjoy the journey, letting the words flow from the heart. The fog will soon dissipate and the way will grow clear once again.

Kindle the fire of anticipation. Just as we should always anticipate the return of our King Jesus not just at Christmas, but all year long, we must keep the anticipation of our writing dream alive.

There is much to anticipate in the coming year. What are you anticipating?


***This post first appeared on The Writer's Alley in 2013.***

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Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, will release May 2019.

You can connect with her through:

Personal blog: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda
Instagram: @sherrinda

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Finding That Magic


Sometimes - especially in the middle of the holiday season - we put pressure on ourselves in all the wrong places. Have you felt that? The desire to make every moment count? Or maybe the desire to keep up with so-and-so and her Anthropologie dessert plates (because, hello, is there anything cuter than that Antro kitchen stuff)? We put so much of this pressure on ourselves, in fact, that we very quickly grow overwhelmed, and we lose the whole point. Celebrating the birth of our Savior and the abundant life He has brought into the world.

The same thing happens in our writing. Sometimes - especially if we've been doing this writing thing a while - we feel as if every page needs to be bestseller status in its very first draft. And so we become acquainted with the feeling of not-enough. Then pretty soon, our not-enough becomes not-at-all. And what started as a totally normal part of the writing process derails us to such an extent that we can't remember the last time we just sat down and wrote at all.

If you're feeling the tug of the not-enough's this season in your life, be encouraged to know God has said you are more than enough, through the grace He has offered. He has power, skill, breath and life for your story in abundance when you look to Him.

Be encouraged that like Christmas lights, our stories shine in between the dark spaces. Sometimes these are even dark spaces of our own lives - discouragement, rejection, failure, or even writer's block. Being too busy. Just to name a few.

But we must keep writing, friends, for the magic moments to come. We must keep telling stories through the dark spaces - because if we don't tell our stories, who will?



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Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Pitfalls in Story Layering




#TipfulTuesday
Today's topic is Pitfalls in Story Layering

Quality stories have layers. That is just a fact. Readers want to know more than just the thin line leading MC from the first page to the last. We thicken that line with layers.

In today's example, I will not only provide an epic story with layers but also point out how the layering benefited the MC's journey. Within this discussion, you will see what must be included when layering to avoid pitfalls. 

Here is the story:

Scene
A very pregnant young woman, ready to give birth at any time, and her husband set out on a journey forced upon them by the King. They climb over mountains and through valleys sixty miles to the south of their home to a small village. When they reach the village, the husband stops at every inn, begging for a place to stay. He informs them of his wife's condition. Late that night, an innkeeper takes pity on them and allows them to stay in the stable. It was all he had. 

Scene
Far to the east, a group of scholars, very wise men, become intrigued by a certain star. Their studies reveal something special was happening to the west. Upon further examination, they determine the star points the way to a king. This is no ordinary king, but a special one. To visit such a king would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Without a moment's hesitation, they pack for a great journey, including valuable gifts to honor the special king. 

Scene
On a hill overlooking a small village, shepherds tend to the care of their sheep. Typically, these shepherds are not allowed in any village because, well, the truth is they smell terrible. At night they make a fire to keep warm and ensure all the sheep have a safe place for the night. While sitting around their campfire, an angel suddenly appears. The shepherds leap and back away, afraid at what might happen. The angel tells them not to be afraid. They would be privy to a special message. A grand announcement of an event taking place in the village that no one knows about. A Savior which is Christ the Lord is born. A host of angels join in the message, praising God for the grand event. After hearing the news, the shepherds could not contain themselves. They ran to the village to see the baby, telling everyone they met the great news. 

Here we have three distinct layers on one epic story, the birth of Christ the Savior. All three layers point to the one message, each filling in a grad story with deep colors, information, and details, giving us, the readers, a fuller sense of understanding.

You may know even more layers in this story. The wise men's visit with Herod, and etc.

The point here is that although each scene appears to have its own story they are all distinctly and completely related to the overarching story. God demonstrates not only a powerful message but also the perfect means to communicate that message.

From this, we can learn not only the Spiritual message but also principles of writing with layers.

~Mary Vee
#TipfulTuesday #Layers #amwriting #writing 


Photo by Mary Vee. How many layers do you see in the photo?


Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter
Mary's new release, Christmas With The Enemy, is available on Amazon.
EBOOK ON SALE FOR  $ 0.99!