3 Types of Motivation and 1 Type of Irony

20150616_071256Life with a Little is the busiest I have ever experienced. College got pretty busy, but my homework didn’t wake me up at night unless I had a high-pressure exam the next day. So now that I’m sleeping much less than I would like (thank you, Little’s lower central incisors) I have set some pretty high goals for myself: finish the second draft of my novel. Soon. If I’m going to succeed, I need as much motivation as I can get. Thankfully, I have three types:

Now or Never

One good thing about being so busy is that my mindset is always “work now, or else you’ll never get to it.” There is no room for procrastination. It’s ironic, but I just might get more written now that I don’t have free time.

My goal is to finish editing my first act by New Years (or by Christmas if at all possible) and the next two acts by March. If I don’t work on it every day, I will fall behind. So I can at least take some time during Little’s naps or while he plays happily in the morning. There is time, I just need to find it and steal it away from other tasks like dishes and laundry.

Competition

These goals are also part of a competition. Even though ‘now or never’ gets me going pretty well, my internal motivation isn’t strong enough to withstand sleep deprivation. To battle this, I am competing with a writing group friend. We both set the same two due dates and we’ll trade our works by the end.

Expectant Readers

As if this wasn’t enough, another friend demanded that I let her read the novel at the end. If I didn’t trust her to handle my novel well I wouldn’t even consider sending it to her, but she is a conscientious person who I’m sure will be able to give a thoughtful critique. This also gives me a good excuse to print off the whole manuscript, which is always satisfying. Having few readers will help me meet my deadlines, and their notes will give me clearer direction for draft three.

Though each form of motivation helps keep me going, I still have some serious time restrictions no matter how determined I am to write. So wish me luck! I’m going to need it.

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Recap: Your Complete Editing Strategy

magnifying glass on bookWhen I first started writing, I was a slave to perfectionism. Imagine a 15 year-old Sarah, scribbling all over her ten-page manuscript and perfecting each word before moving the plot forward. I don’t advise that method, but I can say that my fascination with editing started there. In the years since, I’ve enjoyed analyzing when to start self-critique and how to progress efficiently.

With this analysis at hand, I had the privilege of discussing editing with StoryForge Productions. The articles below offer a big-picture view of editing; it’s the best place to start if you want to make it to the end sans mental breakdown. That may be overly dramatic, but editing is a very difficult experience–which is why I also discuss when you should consider hiring an editor (see last article). Take a deep breath and explore the editing process.

3 Steps to a Sustainable and Streamlined Editing Process: “Editing a book is a monstrous process. Many dreamy eyed romantics start their novel with gusto and struggle to the finis, only to realize just how much work it’ll take to make a 50,000 to 90,000-word manuscript readable and enjoyable…”

Strategic Breakdown: The Developmental Edit“Before you get into each detail, you’ve got to step back and grasp the big picture. This is the first step of the editing process: understand your manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses from start to finish. And I’m not thinking about grammar or even prose. I’m thinking big. Plot arc big…”

Strategic Breakdown: The Line Edit“Though the line edit is more detail-oriented than the developmental, it can be just as intense. The next step down from big-picture work is surprisingly steep. You’ll find yourself surrounded by individual scenes, but you can’t forget the overall flow yet. Seemingly small details are more important than you think…”

Strategic Breakdown: The Copy Edit“With developmental edits and line edits taken care of, you’re finally to the point where you don’t have to worry about big-picture plot arcs. All that’s left is detailed prose and grammar work. You’re still not to proofreading level, but considering the toil that you’ve gone through so far, the copy edit is minor. You simply need to clean up the rubble after renovation…”

When is it Time for an Editor?“Every writer comes to a point when he or she grows too close to a story to see its flaws. I remember coming to that point with a few undergrad essays—after many tired stabs at revision, I would print it off and hand it to a sympathetic housemate. And that was only for a ten-pager…”

Crafting a Practicable Plan for the Editing Process

Editing is eternally fascinating. When you approach the second draft of your novel, you’re a lioness crouching in the grass, watching her prey, biding her time, and planning the kill. For a successful hunt, you must analyze the situation thoroughly.

In “3 Steps to a Sustainable and Streamlined Editing Process,” I help you start the process of crafting a practicable plan. And to my nerdy glee, I get to dig into three main editing stages over the next two weeks. The editing process is complex, messy, and exhausting–but completely worthwhile.

Stay tuned, and visit StoryForge Productions to keep up!

Boredom is Surprisingly Useful…

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There’s no denying it. We are dorks 😉

I went on vacation last week to the Sierras. It was a long week of everything and nothing. I ate good food, took hikes, smelled wildflowers, and watched a hottie fisherman (my husband) catch huge rainbow trout. We played games, watched squirrels, and spent a few hours in a local sports bar to watch the world cup final. We then mourned for Argentina.

I can’t stand boredom–those hours of feeling like I could be more useful elsewhere–but it sure did work out well for me. When removed from computers, new home organization, and social obligations (all of which I missed quite sorely) I accomplished a surprising amount on the writing front: Continue reading

Trust and Expectations: Writing Group Essentials for a Manuscript Swap

DSC00663On July 1st, my writing girls came over and we swapped manuscripts. My 88k went to Jen, Liz’s 85k went to me, and Jen’s 27k went to both of us. Jen has been waiting to read the ending of my novel for about five years–so it’s about time!

One of the best attributes of a solid writing group is trust. We are vulnerable with each other in sharing plot points, story ideas, and raw drafts. Each group meeting is full of conversation and laughter, giving us a chance to feel out the dynamic. If we can trust each other in the smaller issues and critique in healthy ways, then bigger projects should be no big deal, right? Continue reading

Get Paid! The Anatomy of a Writer’s Paycheck

13483674021616Today I’m not just talking about the satisfaction of a job well done; I’m talking business. Rates, skills, and time.

Alongside my usual freelance work, I recently edited friends’ grad school portfolios and cover letters. I’m happy to help them out; I’m invested in their success and I want to support them however I can. But far too many people out there don’t realize the pecuniary worth of a writer. Continue reading

Why I Love Editing

Sarah L. Yoon's High School Attempts at Editing

My high school attempts at editing – an incredibly messy training ground.

When I was ten, I discovered the joy of a well crafted sentence. I wrote a three paragraph narrative about a squirrel and its acorn–after raising my hand in class asking how to spell the word squirrel–and I can still feel the magic of storytelling.

Though I’ve always thought that event launched my love for writing, only recently have I realized that it also launched my love of editing. Writing is only the beginning of the process. It’s messy, raw and free. After everything is scribbled and typed, editing sweeps the scenes and the sentences into place.  The prose moves out of an awkward, gargling stage into mature, lyrical prose. While many people dread the editing process–it is scary sometimes, I’ll admit–the feeling of everything coming together is worth the work. 

What launched your love of art and all the hard work that comes with it?

Editing: The 4 Draft Breakdown

How often have you tackled a manuscript draft, only to meet with overwhelming discouragement? No matter how long you spend on that scene, you can’t seem to fix everything. The dialogue won’t pop, and the descriptions still don’t jump off the page. However much you tweak, something always needs fixing. Recently, my perspective on the editing process changed incredibly. The person who changed it is Reyna Grande from a UCLA Writers Faire panel.

Grande’s advice is simple and practical. When approaching a 2nd or 3rd draft, focus on one element. Just one. Don’t try to edit everything at once. First, look at the big picture to check that everything makes sense. Once the essentials are in place, then you can get to the fine tuning. Each of these 4 elements often deserve a draft of their own:

  1. Consistency. Your main character’s blue shirt can’t inexplicably turn plaid by the end of the scene. And where exactly is 12th street? How did it jump locations so quickly? Personally, I find it horribly easy to mix up these details, so my first editing spree will be to double check for consistency.
  2. Character growth. Fine tune your character’s gradual changes. At what point does he or she show maturity? Courage? Loyalty? It shouldn’t just appear with the snap of your fingers. Weave it into the fabric of your story so that the change feels natural and satisfying.
  3. Dialogue. If you had a hard time pinning down your characters’ voices on your first draft, listen closely this time around. How do they talk? Any slang or jargon that they should use? Get to know them on a conversational level.
  4. Descriptions. Once you have the plot and character essentials taken care of, start delving into the background. The atmospheric sights, smells, and sounds. Give texture to your world. Imagery draws your readers in, giving them more ways to connect emotively with the story.

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[Above: My edits from 2008. I put so much work into this page, and it doesn’t even exist in my story anymore! Ah, silly younger Sarah. Was that really just five years ago?]

I’m sure that you’ll need more than 4 drafts, but these are enough to get you started. After each draft, you’re closer to your goal of a perfectly sculpted manuscript without adding the stress of scene-by-scene perfectionism. Any other elements that you think deserve a draft of their own? What does your editing process look like?