Tag Archives: editing

Brain Bashing Sedation – It’s All the Rage

When it comes to writing, there are numerous variables that must be adhered to. MRIMargins, line spacing, font, font size, indent, storyline, protagonists, antagonist, POV (point of view), length of sentences, length of paragraphs, grammar, punctuation, use of adverbs, transitions, pronouns, word repetition, passive verbs, participles, and clichés; just to name a few.  If we take each of these points in the order in which I have placed them and apply a little judicious thought, I find that I have become proficient in none, sorely lacking in most, and downright spectacular when it comes to recognizing my literary ignorance.

Now, that’s not exactly what an author wants to hear or discover. So what does one who finds himself in this predicament do?  Firstly, you don’t fret about it and never consider giving up. It’s just another part of the writing experience (albeit the least exciting) that you must conquer on your way to literary stardom.

Comparatively speaking, the author’s nemesis and a MRI (by my way of thinking) have a great deal in common.  The former being described earlier in this post, I believe the latter deserves equal billing.

Have you ever had an MRI?  If not, allow me to explain some of the pleasant details involved with the procedure.

My very first experience with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) went something like this:

Check in at desk, sit, and wait. I had heard of patient problems associated with the procedure, but not being extremely claustrophobic I barely gave it a second thought.

I was finally called back. Oh joy, oh bliss…oh no… Ain’t no way I’m gonna fit in there!

I was instructed to remove my belt, which I did, and then climb up onto the sliding table that would pack me into that teeny, tiny hole.  I was given earplugs, a panic button, and told to remain still for forty-five minutes.

Forty-five minutes, I thought. You might want to crank that machine up a few dozen notches and get me out of there a tad faster than that. Too concerned with other matters at the time, I received my earplugs. I pushed them into my ear canals without question.  The next thing I heard was, “Here we go.”

As I slid into the cylinder, the next hint I gleaned that the situation was beginning to lean further in the wrong direction was my shoulders dragging against the sides of the tube.  I finally came to rest somewhere in the belly of the beast. I pray on a regular basis, but you can bet I had thrown it into overdrive.

Then, a strange thing happened. There were beeps, buzzes, pauses and then, no less than fifteen men commenced to beating on that tube with steel pipes, jackhammers, sledgehammers, and the like.  Alas, the earplugs now made sense.

If forty-five minutes could be stretched into six hours, this was the perfect time, in fact that’s exactly what happened, at least in my mind.

Finally, the beating stopped and the tray with my beleaguered body slid from the hole of despair into an enormous room. I do believe this room was the largest room I had ever seen and it actually contained breathable air.

I was once again a free man. The technician reunited my pants with my belt and sent me happily on my way.

As you can see the MRI experience is very similar to the first time author attempting to polish their manuscript…mainly, the terrifying anxiety and confusion.

“What must I do to overcome this mind-numbing conundrum called a manuscript?” you ask.

Fear not, you have come to the right place. No brag, just fact. You simply need to learn how to copy/edit line by line or hire an editor. If you decide to pursue becoming a copy editor it really is a piece of cake.  One minor requirement is being a literary savant, after that  everything will fall into place.

And I’m even going to throw in a bone free of charge, that bone being how to survive an MRI.  30mgs. of Valium.

You won’t be able to walk. You’ll barely be able to talk. In fact, they could dunk you into a toilet, flush for forty-five minutes and you wouldn’t know the difference.

So there you have it… Use as necessary.

Oh, and best ask your doc before you commence to cramming sedatives down your neck.

Post script: This year I’m gonna ask Santa for a clean manuscript and a gross of Valium. You never know when an MRI may sneak up on you. If not they’ll always come in handy consoling my bitterness from the mounting list of rejections.

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One more time and that’s it… Well maybe two… No more than ten, I promise!… We’ll just leave it open.

Well it’s that time again. Rewrites, rewrites, rewrites!torn jeans I’m in the process of finishing my latest novel so, now it’s time to go back to the beginning and start all over again rewriting what I have already written.

After the first wave of rewrites, revisions and edits are complete, I get to do it all over again. In fact, my second novel took four months to write and three years to rewrite. Each time I would go through the book, I wasn’t happy when I finished. This in turn set the stage for another revamping of the manuscript… Just between you and me, I’m still not satisfied with good ole number two… Guess that means another set of rewrites. Please don’t tell anyone or they’ll kick me out of the “I got my second novel right in less than four years” club; at which point, I will be automatically inducted into the “perhaps you should consider another vocation” club.

How strange we are as human beings that some things must be perfect and then again other things are okay just as they are or we even go to great lengths to turn what is satisfactory into what most would consider substandard.

Case in point:

It seems that in this day and age, advertisers feel that we should whiten our teeth to the point of needing sunglasses whenever we open our mouth. By the same token, we are encouraged to purchase designer jeans, mangled with holes and slits. Thankfully, there’s enough material left to cover our naughty bits.

Of course, these same effects may be achieved at a substantially reduced cost to the consumer.  There’s every reason to practice good dental hygiene and achieve a nice bright smile while avoiding the “supernova mouth.” Brush and floss daily, see your dentist regularly, and stop eating charcoal and other things that stain your teeth.

As far as denim fashion statements go, this one is easy and requires nothing more than normal blue jean maintenance. I can remember embracing the notion that jeans never wear out. I would purchase my favorite brand of jeans. From that point on it was a simple cycle of wash and wear. The first to go were the knees. No surprise there; this was always expected. As the years passed, chinks in the armor would develop in the form of small holes between the pockets and knees. Here was my first experience with the breakaway belt loop where at least one belt loop would become detached, but only on one end.

The knee or what used to be referred to as such, had by now morphed into an irregular shaped cavern with a small flap. After an undetermined amount of time had passed, the holes along what I like to call the quadriceptual vortex would begin to connect forming larger rips, tears, and holes in the space time conjeanuim.  This signaled preselected cotton strands to snap eventually causing a catastrophic failure. The unsuspecting wearer (that being me) oblivious to the true appearance of the most comfortable jeans in the world usually would not come to terms with this life-changing enigma until marriage opened his (once again me) eyes to what truly remained of his (yeah, it’s me) favorite pair of jeans.

As I sink into the depths of despair, I suddenly realized, this isn’t the end. My damage denim is primed for resale.

Ah, but alas, it’s back to the real world… Rewrite….Rewrite…… Rewrite.

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Don’t Even Blink

What did you see today? Your wife, your husband, a broken coffee cup, grass, a flattened bottle cap, co-workers? You get the idea. There’s no way you can take in or retain everything you see, although some of what you observe can be quite useful. One of the first things I saw  this morning  was something that God loves dearly…I looked in the mirror. A bit rough but it was me. (I got that from Max Lucado.)

Now, let’s dig a little deeper.  As an author when I look around I try to take things that I see at more than face value.There is a story or a character in many of the things we casually dismiss.  I remember several years ago the oak trees around my house had put out their leaves a little differently that year.  The lower branches looked like (at least to me) green, flying, shaggy baboons. So I immediately backlogged them into my brain until such time I could bring them into the story I was writing at that time.

The animal kingdom is full of beasts that can be restructured into  entirely different creatures.  One such creature I saw in my mind’s eye was similar to a meer cat with yellow eyes that wrapped around it’s head starting in front and ending on the sides so the creature effectively had one hundred and eighty degree  vision in both directions. This friendly beast ended up in a book also.

Check your yard especially during the summer.  The sights, sounds, smells and heat can all trigger fodder for your next story to consume.  The winter brings its own sinister side with the appearance of death in the local flora and fauna. And spring brings waves of yellow and green stuff that makes me sneeze a lot and my eyes leak. Regardless of the genre you tend to dabble in, the choices we have outside of that amazing organ we call a brain to inspire is practically limitless. Put environment and gray matter together and WOW! What an unbeatable combination. So go stick your head out of a window and write a bestseller!


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Beware the Black Hole

“A black hole,” you jokingly ask? What does a gravity dense vacuum cleaner based in outer space have to do with earth bound rows of letter shaped ink plops spread on sheets of cheap cellulose? Ah, since you asked, I believe I may be able to answer this all important question.

You see, as much as I hate to admit it, I have been sucked into this dark abyss of no return destined to reside there for all of bookish eternity.* As I floated in limbo not fully realizing my predicament a saving hand of reason reached in and snatched me from the jaws of the unmercifully mundane paragraphs of purgatory.

It’s something akin to writing three chapters about a warrior slashing his way through dragons and ogres down a mountain pass. The next three chapters the same warrior has made his way through the mountain pass and into a sunny meadow. In detail his exploits are chronicled. The exciting daisy plucking adventure, followed by a three paragraph nap. A daring dinner that was unmercifully hunted down and consumed raw, known as the ravenous wild blackberry. A rousing round of toenail clipping before an early night to bed complete with melodic snoring loud enough to vibrate earth worms from the ground.

My own journey into this realm went something like this: My cast of characters had just finished two hundred pages of adventure, near death experiences, physical and mental change, both good and evil. Just an all around good time battle with the supernatural. And then they sat around, made sandwiches, and talked about what might just as well have been about the weather for the next forty pages.

Needless to say that type of writing is a big, huge, large, No, No!  Talk about an instant death sentence and not your ordinary everyday run of the mill death sentence but one that can turn a possibly great selling novel to one destined for the fast track to the shredding pile.

You desire your readers to not want to put your book down being so enthralled with its content–not throw it down in order to use both hands to stifle a yawn. Simply remember, keep it interesting…oh and that hand that snatched me from the jaws of literary death…my editor.


*When the novel is complete

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