No More Free Rides: Cut Unnecessary Words From Your Manuscript

by Dave Pasquantonio

Congratulations—you finished your novel! You crafted nail-biting tension and perfect character arcs. You killed darlings and kept reader promises. And that ending? It sings. You’re done!

But wait—93,827 words? Uh-oh. You really wanted to come in under 90K. And that last editing pass was thorough. You killed off three secondary characters, consolidated scenes, and took out those boring pages where Wilhelm and Gene talked about that time they saw the moose. There’s nothing left to cut!

Or is there? Continue reading

The Art of Freewriting…With A Purpose

by Deborah Sosin

Write about your feet. Go. Ten minutes. Hairy toe knuckles, fallen arches, that painful bunion. Ugly, smelly, too big, too small. The pedicure gone wrong. The foot-fetishist boyfriend. Whatever comes to mind. Just keep the pen moving.

That’s freewriting in a nutshell. Writing without stopping—no censoring, editing, or judging. No need to fix spelling, punctuation, or grammar. No need for perfection. Simply putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is a great way to bypass resistance, procrastination, and self-criticism. Continue reading

Under The Skylight: Maintaining Persistence During Revision

by Erin Dionne

Last month, I blogged about cultivating objectivity during the revision process. Another crucial element to effectively revising any piece of writing is persistence.

Finishing a novel or short story or poem requires persistence, so you already have that quality. But revising one…well, that is a whole new level of commitment. Taking a closer look at our work, finding flaws and fixing them, can be discouraging. Continue reading

Under The Skylight: Cultivating Objectivity In Revision

by Erin Dionne

MY FIRST BLOG POST (you can find it here) detailed the three major elements I feel are crucial for approaching a successful revision. The first one I want to discuss in more depth is objectivity.

Being able to see our work with fresh eyes is a necessary part of the writing process. In a perfect world, we’d take time away from every draft and let it simmer until reading it felt like reading the work of someone else. But what if you’re on a deadline, or planning to submit to a contest, or there’s some other reason why you need to rush through that revision process? Here are a few ways to artificially cultivate the objectivity that occurs when we leave our manuscript alone: Continue reading

Under The Skylight: Revision

by Erin Dionne

I FULL WELL ADMIT IT: I’m not a great writer. I’m an okay one.

But I’m a great reviser.

Having the ability to revise, to not be precious about your words so that you can clearly execute your book’s idea, is one of the single best skills you can cultivate as an author. Strong revision skills make your writing go from good to great, and so on.

Being a strong reviser requires three things: objectivity, persistence, and desire to create the best story you can. Let’s take a closer look at each: Continue reading

Couch to 30K

by Laura Woollett, PMP

NOVELISTS ARE OFTEN TOLD that the way to get the job done is through many hours of “butt in chair.” There’s truth to this. You can’t write a novel without writing one word at a time. But where to start? And how to gain momentum, especially when you’re just beginning a new project?

Try thinking about the process of writing a novel in a different way—like a runner. Novice runners sometimes follow a plan called the “couch to 5K,” which allows for someone who is pretty sedentary to work their way up to running a 5K race. Writing is similar in many ways to running. It’s REALLY hard to run a race only days after deciding to do it, especially if you’ve never run any farther than from your car to Dunkin’ Donuts on a cold morning. (Guilty!) In the same way, it’s REALLY hard to write a novel without building your writing muscles and stamina over time.

Continue reading