Tag Archives: Manuscript

Buy Now!

12 Aug

Cover.jpg

Humans In My House is NOW AVAILABLE on Kindle and in paperback via CreateSpace and Amazon.

Thanks so much to everyone who has watched my journey and cheered me on. You rock.

Next up, final revisions of Acephalous, which I aim to publish in early 2017.

Save

Chugging Along

22 Apr

I got my copyright!

The goal is to have Humans In My House, a chapter book for readers ages 7 to 11, for sale by the end of the year. Now, I’m working on securing an illustrator for my little black cat character.

Join me on Facebook for more updates, discussion, and writing resources.

 

Pro-Tip: Testing

14 Apr

Every novel goes through a test-phase. If it doesn’t, well, I think it should.

A test run of your manuscript means that you’ve pried your hands away from the keyboard, clamped down on your desire to continue editing and rearranging, and actually allowed others to read it.

I know it’s tough. You’ll want positive feedback, but the negative will be more useful.

This necessary step in the revision process affords you some time away from the text. When you come back, you’ll read with fresh eyes and new opinions. While it’s nail-bitingly nerve wracking to give something that you consider unfinished to others for the sole purpose of judging it, the feedback you’ll receive will be that last push you need to move toward completing the project. Finally.

Personally, this stage, which I’m about to embark upon myself, is exciting because I’ll get to hear from outsiders, both within and without my target audience, and who know nothing about the story, whether it’s as slow, redundant, cliche, or lame as I worry it is in certain parts. I’ll learn whether my jokes hit the right note, if my characters are relatable, and if I’ve classified the genre and age range correctly.

Help your test readers out by giving them a reader’s note along with the manuscript. Include your log-line and jacket summary. If they know what you intend to get across with the story, they’ll be able to tell you if you did or didn’t accomplish that. If they don’t know your intentions, they’ll find their own meaning along the way and assume you did a nice job. Include a bulleted list of concerns you have–things you want them to consider and report back on specifically. Include your prospective genre and age range to make sure you’re on target regarding content complexity and appropriateness. And DEFINITELY include a big thank you. Your friends and family have just agreed to do for free what editors charge enough to make a living doing.

And remember that no matter what kind of feedback you fear getting ahead of time, you will get to edit again because nothing in a manuscript is permanent.

Happy writing, happier re-writing!

 

Drained.

29 Feb

It’s the author’s task to adopt each life, event, and feeling in the story as his or her own in order to write evocative, realistic, and compelling prose.

Some days, the task is a fun escape from the rain outside, the dishes in the sink, and the reruns seen so frequently they’re quotable. Sometimes, it can feel like too much to take on–the problems of a character on top of the stresses of daily reality, no matter how mundane.

In either instance, it can be hard to focus, whether that’s because there are chores and errands on the brain or because putting yourself through a fictional trauma feels too real. But, at least in the case of the latter, that’s how you know you’re doing a good job.

Writing is emotionally exhausting, but that level of psychological and emotive design is how you bring a reader into your created world as a participant, not just an observer. It’s easy for me to say, “Power through; it’s worth the effort.” It’s not always easy for me to take my own advice, though it’s true advice. There are times when my writing ruins my mood for the rest of the day. As awful as it might sound, those are the days I know I wrote something really important, or at least true to the human experience.

On those days, I take a lot of breaks and read books I really love. Oddly, becoming a participant in other stories doesn’t feel nearly as taxing, even when they are equally as serious, emotional, or tense as what I’m writing. This is perhaps because becoming emotionally invested in a story of someone else’s creation provides the mental escape of writing one’s own fiction minus the heightened sense of scrutiny, attachment, and truth that accompanies authorship.

With this in mind, I’d like to know what YOU do when the story starts to weigh on you as if it wasn’t fiction. Join the conversation in the comments below, or visit my Facebook page.

As always, thank you for reading. Happy (or maybe not-so-happy) writing!

Amanda Marsico–Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast™

Self-Editing Tip #17–Writing Character’s Private Thoughts

20 Aug

Yesterday I posted an excerpt from chapter 3 of my novel Acephalous. In a private email, a reader questioned why a portion of the text was underlined. Here is that text:

“She had to give him a definitive explanation of her hesitations, now. As if I could really tell him… As she turned her car off, Jordan let his foot fall down from the tire he had it propped on.”

The underlined text above indicates the main character’s private thoughts—what she’s saying in her head in that moment. Normally, I would write this type of text in italics. That’s generally how I prefer to set apart character thought. However, when preparing a manuscript for submission, sources generally recommend removing italics from the submission-ready manuscript and replacing them with underlined text. In the publishing process, all of those underlined areas will be converted to italics upon printing. This is the reason I chose underlining versus italicizing.

There are other ways to set apart inner speech in writing. It’s really a personal and stylistic choice.

Start a new paragraph for the thought and change the font beyond just italics, underlines, or bolded text. Maybe choose a font that looks like handwriting, or one that reflects the character’s personality—prissy, stoic, fancy, sloppy, you get it.

Ex.

I wish I could tell you what Molly told me yesterday.

Start a new line and use asterisks above and below the thought.

Ex.

**********

It’s not like I have anything better to do right now…

**********

This method is better for large portions of thought like dreams, flashbacks, and letter-writing because having ********** every few lines will get very annoying visually.

Save inner musings for designated sections of the text, and then treat them like chapters and use the chapter title to indicate whose thoughts are to follow. Another similar option is the epistle form—letters, diary/journal entries, or blog/vlog posts written by the character (or any other method of self-recording).

Ex.—Journal

Chapter 11—Chris

It wasn’t like I really needed that job. More than anything, I just needed a place to go during the day where I would be around other people. People that I didn’t know. Staying in this building full of other guys my age is stifling. You’d think it would be cool living with your friends, going to school with those people, coming back home knowing they’re all still there. I thought it would be one huge party at first—like a frat house! Not so. There is no privacy. Boarding school sucks.

Ex.

May 5, 2013

I can’t believe senior year is almost over. It’s sad. Those statistics they read in class today say we’ll never see each other again in all likelihood. You grow up with these people, act like you care about them, then poof. Separate ways.

Yadda, yadda, yadda… you get the picture.

The last note I’ll leave you to consider is that these variations on setting apart character thought can be used for stories written in any point of view. Even if the plot unfolds in first person (where your main character says, “I,”) you can still have moments where that person thinks or talks to herself. Just because they say, “I,” this, and, “I,” that aloud doesn’t mean that they don’t have “I” thoughts they don’t want to say publicly. This is a way to help your reader get to know that character better by taking a look at their personal feelings. It’s also a way for you to write more realistically human characters. For creating characters that are two-faced, shy, lying, conflicted, or keeping any type of secret, this is a method of defining private and public for that character, just as we do in real life.

If I’ve left anything out, let me know! How do YOU designate private thoughts in your writing? Have you run across any point of view scenario where these ideas would not work well?

I appreciate your readership and your input! Read and write on!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

Self-Editing Tip #16- The Hook

16 Aug

The Short and Sweet of First Sentences and First Pages of Fiction

Today, we’re going to move away from grammar and focus on content. Specifically, I’d like to pass on a few short, but easier said than done, points that I’ve learned from a combination of professors, writing guides, and poorly written novels. Consider these while writing the beginning to any longer piece of fiction. (Let’s call a “longer” piece of fiction 5,000 words or more—anything you would hesitate to call flash fiction—or something with chapters.)

  • Chaos and confusion are not the same as mystery and suspense. You generally want to avoid beginning your text by throwing your readers into the midst of action/tragedy/horror and expect them to be intrigued enough to keep reading purely from the shock of what’s going on.
  • A reader’s choice to begin reading does not signify that reader already cares about a character, setting, or event. Beginning a story with intimate thoughts from a character or with a character in a compromised state isn’t always the best choice. Though the thoughts can give good insight into that character, they may be better placed further within the storyline once your reader cares about the character. This is because the thoughts a character expresses, though revealing, don’t matter until the reader knows how they feel about the person—are they supposed to root for or against this character? Do they love to hate this person? Are they sympathetic to what the character is going through or are they unable to relate? Introduce characters in a way that not only shows readers who they are, but also shows them why they should care. The same goes for introducing your character by way of some big event. If you go this route, make sure you’ve given readers a reason to care. They don’t know that person yet, so you’ve got some convincing to do.

In my experience, the beginning is the hardest part. By keeping these points in mind, I’ve been able to create introductions that not only familiarize readers with the setting and main character, but intrigue them into caring. Shed the notion that readers already care simply because they began to read. Remember, just because someone is curious enough to read your writing doesn’t mean you’ve gotten them to care about what you’ve written. That takes something extra—practice, for one, but also some element within the character that the reader can latch onto as important to them. This hook will be different for each reader, so creating well-rounded, realistically human-acting characters is a good place to start. Even if your characters aren’t humans, there are innate human truths and qualities that will show through because the characters have been created by you, a human.

Tell me what you think about introductions and character crafting. It’s a tricky topic. If your opinions differ or you have some strategies you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading.

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

CONTEST and GIVEAWAY

3 Aug

The time for the first contest and giveaway has arrived. No entry fee!

Enter your fiction of 5,000 words or less for a chance to win one free editing/proofreading package for your choice of writing project (30,000 words or less).

Package includes: initial project meeting by virtual media of your preference (email, instant message, Skype, in person only if in the Metro-Richmond, VA area); editing/proofreading of text no longer than 30,000 words; and final project write-up with editing summary and suggestions. This is a prize worth $1,500* awarded to the contestant with the most engaging piece of fiction.

This is an open contest, meaning there is no theme. Your only restriction is that it must be fiction 5,000 words or less. I will score from 1-4 in each of 4 categories: engaging introduction (catch my attention, make me curious about what’s coming next), continuous forward momentum (includes climax–does your story peak too soon? too late?), lifelike characters (even if they are imaginary or not human), and well-crafted conclusion (wraps up the story or suspends the moment in an inventive, pleasing, or surprising way).

To submit, email your attached text in word document or PDF form to marsicoam@gmail.com with FICTION CONTEST in the subject line by SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013. Entries without the proper subject line will not be opened and will likely go to the spam folder. Please also put your email address in the header of each page of your text so that I may contact the winner via the email address used to submit. If you would like to submit a cover letter with your story, that is fine, but it is by no means a requirement. I will not accept entries from those with whom I am personally acquainted.

Thanks for reading! It keeps this blog alive. Now, it’s my turn to give back 🙂

Happy writing and good luck.

 

*No cash given for prize. Value of prize based on price charged to clients for identical editing package.

%d bloggers like this: