May 22, 2013 by Kiersi
I had an amazing time at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Oregon conference this past weekend. I learned craft from Laini Taylor (author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone), middle-grade humor from Bruce Hale (the very prolific middle-grade author of the Chet Gecko series), and attended a special session on story and character arcs by HarperCollins editor Andrew Harwell.
The main lesson I came home with was in regards to character. Of course, I picked up a lot about writing for a middle-grade audience, which is invaluable to the point that I can’t express myself in words, and writing as a reader experience. But mostly, I started thinking long and hard about character. (more…)
Category How-to | Tags: Andrew Harwell,Bruce Hale,character arc,editing,Laini Taylor,revising,SCBWI,story arc | 14 Comments
January 8, 2013 by Kiersi
"Crazy Frog" by moffoys - Who even cares what it is, it is perfect
There are some superstar authors who don’t hate editing or revising. I spend a lot of my revision time envying them, instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing, because that’s how I roll. And that’s probably also why I still haven’t finished a revision of my middle-grade book, Gryphon. Because I hate revising.
I do love writing, though.
So, over time I’ve been building up my resolve, and packing it together like a mud pie from lots of little shredded pieces of sanity (they fall off now and again, and must be collected in a handmade wicker basket). The following bullet points have occurred to me:
-Print it all out, to stop the ever-present I must change this word right now, this isn’t right, and now I am so hung up on this one stupid line that I am so frustrated with myself and I wish this had all never happened at all goodbye world. (more…)
Category In Progress | Tags: editing,fantasy,first drafts,Gryphon,middle-grade,revising | 5 Comments
October 16, 2012 by Kiersi
Part 3: The Nitty-Gritties of Book Editing
Urban Textures at Dawn by Steve A Johnson (Flickr)
Yesterday’s post was about spicing up your manuscript to be more engaging. Today’s post is about discovering your goals and fine-tuning your manuscript to achieve those goals (no more, no less). This is about using structure and science to streamline your story; to get that final polish agents and editors want to see.
Every scene you write should accomplish something specific in your story. Let me repeat that in different words: Have clear story goals for every single scene in your manuscript.
First drafts are full of stuff that doesn’t fit this criteria. HEY SHE HAS A COOL BATHROOM LETS SHOW HER IN IT. A LOT. And you know what? That is okay. That’s more than okay. That’s great. That’s how first drafts are.
But once you reach the revision stage–the second, third, fourth drafts–you want to narrow the focus. Go into each chapter and each scene with a clear goal in mind. Know the starting point (e.g., Sophie and Leon are fighting about something) and an ending point (Sophie and Leon make up and decide on a mutual course of action). Let your characters’ emotions guide you. We want to see change. (more…)
Category How-to | Tags: editing,literary agents,revising | 11 Comments
July 12, 2012 by Kiersi
A Treatise on Not Getting Yourself Down, and How To Be a Professional
I am hyper-critical of my work–as in, critical to the point that I actually burst into tears during a revision of Fire & Brimstone. Not even joking. First came the tears, then the heart-wrenching sobs, then the boyfriend going slack-jawed as I began to thrash and scream. Okay. Well, I’m more emotional than some.
But rewriting can be hard. Editing your own work is, by its very nature, an emotional experience. (I’m looking at you, @RebeccaTomorrow.) Especially if you are editing a work you first wrote (a) 6 months ago, (b) one year ago, or (c) so long ago it doesn’t even matter anymore. Pretty much everything past (a), if you write regularly, will look like a third grader went at it with a crayon and some slobber. Trust me. I’m there with you. My threshold is about four months now–the beginning of The Aeronauts, which I started back in February, reads like some mutant crossbreed of a high school English essay and Tolkien.
But there are things you can do to lessen the impact: and that is to realize that self-editing is not editing. (more…)
Category How-to, Industry | Tags: critique,editing,editors,literary agents,self-publishing,writer's group | 9 Comments
March 11, 2012 by Kiersi
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’ve just signed a contract with an independent Portland publisher called RainTown Press for a series of paranormal YA books called The Devil’s Throne. The first book will be worked over from now until June or so, aiming for a Spring 2013 release date. The second book in the series is scheduled for Fall 2013, and the final installment in Fall 2014.
This is my debut novel–and to have the publisher take it on as a three-book series, well, I’m a pretty lucky girl. I’ll have the opportunity to sketch out an epic, an opera of unexpected twists, turns, and big reveals. That will be awesome. But in some ways, it’s also totally terrifying. I’m glad to have an editor to help me keep track of all the threads, and make sure they tie up neatly at the end. (more…)
Category Publishing | Tags: editing,publishing,The Devil's Throne series,YA | 10 Comments
January 27, 2012 by Kiersi
Things have been rocky lately with development on my YA series, The Devil’s Throne, causing these sporadic updates. Titles are being thrown around for the first book–my boyfriend insists on Girl Burning. My mother is still adamant that Fire and Brimstone is the most memorable, but to me it seems to give away too much. I’ve been working with the title Burn, because it’s simple and powerful, but that could also make it less visible.
At least something good has come out of it. I’ve changed the title of the second book, Demonology, to something a little more elegant: Creatures, because the story revolves less around the girl, and more around the monsters. (Shoot, maybe Monsters should be the title?)
On to the point of this post: Today I want to tackle the curse of the speech indicators–mainly because I used to be a hardened criminal when it came to littering good work with silly verbs like remarked and muttered and beseeched. (Today I even found grunted, growled, and snarled, all in one paragraph. Blech!) (more…)
Category How-to | Tags: dialogue,editing,how-to,speech indicators,the art of writing | 8 Comments
December 8, 2011 by Kiersi
How Do You Write?
Jen Fejta holds a BA in English and French Studies from Lewis & Clark College. She works at Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon, where she directs Delve: Readers’ Seminars, a program that engages readers with discussion-based seminars led by professional writers and scholars on classic and contemporary literature.
She is also my friend and cohort in the writing and editing process.
Jen: So let’s start with your day. What time do you wake up? Is writing the very first thing you do, or is it the last thing? Now that you’re working at home, how is your day structured?
Kiersi: I’m freshest in the morning. A lot of my stories are based on dreams. I find that when I wake up in the morning, sometimes I am exhausted and lazy. Those times, I have to take a long shower and cook a big breakfast for myself to feel ready for the day. Most of the time, though, I wake up rejuvenated, with the energy that I need to write.
I like to start early if I can. The other morning I woke up at 5 a.m. My neighbor was making some noise, and I’d gotten to bed early, so I just jumped out of bed and I was ready to rock and roll for about four hours until I stopped for breakfast. (more…)
Category Commentary, How-to, In Progress | Tags: blogging,editing,interview,the art of writing,The Devil's Throne series,The Mirror | No Comments
November 25, 2011 by Kiersi
Every writer worth her salt has heard this phrase. Often times we, as artists of the written word, prolong what does not need prolonging; we spell out for a reader (sometimes in painful detail) what we could accomplish with barely a hint. While your description of the landscape may be poetic or your dialogue clever and crisp, an equally clever editor will probably tell you: “Delete it.”
Today I want to assure you that you can trust the reader to imagine things for himself. It sounds scary, I know. I’ve been there. I’ve imagined interactions and situations so complex I feel I must tell my reader everything.
But often times a reader’s imagination can do more for you and your story than the writing can. (more…)
Category How-to | Tags: editing,how-to,the art of writing,The Mirror,works in progress | 2 Comments