Embrace Your Red Pen

by Fae Rowen

The joke in here at WITS is that I sit in my living room waiting for an editor to knock on my front door and ask, “Do you have a book I can buy?”  Yep, pretty passive.  Lots of backstory on why I haven’t sent out requested manuscripts, but here’s what’s going on now.

I’m fired up, busy editing my Sci Fi romance—finally.  Why?  Because I have ideas how to pump up the book and make it the best it can be.

Have you gotten feedback that your WIP is “technically perfect,” fast-paced, and—from multi-published best sellers–“Why isn’t this book in print?”  I had high hopes when I sent the book to the first editor I pitched to.  He asked for a re-write and I did it.  Then he didn’t want it.  Another editor asked for it and sent it back saying, “It just didn’t grab me like I’d hoped.”

So I sit on my book and hope it will hatch like an egg.

How do you fix what nobody can pinpoint as broken?

I spent a week-end at Margie Lawson’s with four other writers and learned deep editing techniques, rhetorical devices, and how to write visceral hooks that will keep an editor turning my pages at three a.m.

I’m going through this book that’s been line-edited forty-two thousand times.  (Well, it feels like it!)  I didn’t think I had that much work to do on it.

Heh, I’m hoping I’ll be done in three months.  But I’m fired up because I finally have tools to use and can recognize places I can infuse emotion and I know how to put the words together to move the reader on the emotional journey my characters are taking.

Funny thing is, I joined OCC-RWA years ago to learn how to write emotion.  I knew my Sci Fi characters needed to have feelings and I didn’t know how to get those feelings on the page.  I’ve learned a lot over years of writing after the day job and dealing with the necessities of life.  Enough to win contests and get heart-breakingly close to selling this book.

For me, what it took was the right class to get that adrenaline pumping and the brain rolling out new ideas to make those “perfect” scenes sizzle and sell.

I’m not a shopper, but I think it must be a little like buying that new outfit that makes you look amazing.  When that happens, I’m ready to get out there and enjoy life.

Well, I’m enjoying editing.  Really enjoying it.

Ever seen an old dog with a new toy?  Yeah.  Happy like that.

I suspect that if you take a class in what is keeping you from producing your best work, you’ll get fired up, too.  There are lots of great classes out there—online, writing chapter courses and workshops, and conferences.  You may find that new technique that not only makes writing fun again, but sells your work.

Now, where’s that red pen?

Do you have no-fail techniques that you use before submitting your manuscript? What kinds of things make you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall in your work? What helps you climb over the wall?

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2 Responses to Embrace Your Red Pen

  1. I know what you mean about classes. I took a class by Margie Lawson online and it was very helpful and allowed me to make changes in my ms that I wouldn’t have made and it’s a better book because of it. She’s full of super info!

  2. Hi! I’m in OCC-RWA too. I haven’t yet matured as a writer enough to have the problems you mention (I hope to finally arrive there!), but I’ve learned in classes to model successful books – how to read a book and see what that best selling author has done to enhance the action, the emotion, the introspection, and the down-time, to create a roller-coaster book that holds a readers attention without being over the top.

    You didn’t mention the actual techniques you’d discovered to enhance emotion, but I can guess at some of them – including finding the places in the narrative where expressive action can be included without words at all!

    Good luck with you sci-fi. I’ll be looking for it out there!

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