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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Letting the MS sit a while

I try to build some time into each project to let it sit for a while -- because I, too, find that after a week or two, things jump out at me. Not always small things like typos and a hero's eye color changing, either, but major plot problems and loose ends and holes. Places where I say, "What in heaven's name was I thinking when I wrote that?" If I don't get it when I reread my own words, the reader never will understand the point I was trying to make. (One of my classics is an engagement ring which I described as "a cluster of solitaire stones." Eh, what exactly would that be?Happily, it didn't get published that way.)

But sometimes there just isn't time -- the deadline is hanging too closely overhead. And I do find that no matter how long I take in revisions, after I send a book off, there's always one more thing I think of that should have been done.

This morning, I was talking to a proofreader about a non-fiction book my husband and I have just finished (it's a history of our hometown, illustrated with vintage postcards), and was my face red when she pointed out that I'd spelled the name of one building three different ways. All because I *didn't* let that manuscript rest a while and read it over again before submitting.

On the other hand, hurrying to get it in to the editor meant it'll come out six weeks earlier than originally planned, so perhaps it wasn't so awful after all. :smileyhappy:

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: checking messages


lavenderlass wrote:
I've sent finished but not left alone for a while manuscripts to the NWS before and regretted it because my (excellent) reader had to comment and explain things to me that I ought to have already known. I do that less now especially since Leigh's course because I know where my weak points are and can correct them myself.

Lynne.



Thank you, Lynne -- I saw great improvement in your writing in the ten weeks you were in the Gotham class, so I'm glad to know you did as well.

One problem with sending things off before they're truly finished is that we look unprofessional -- careless. That's hardly the image we want to cultivate with editors, so it makes sense to take a little longer and be sure everything's in the best shape we can make it.

Also, if there are typos and grammar questions, it's tempting for someone to focus on those and never get to the meat of the writing -- things like "Does the conflict make sense?" and "Are the characters motivated to act in this way?" and "Do I like the heroine?"-- so sending off a careless manuscript can mean not getting a proper critique.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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sophieweston
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Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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too soon, too soon



LeighMichaels wrote:

Also, if there are typos and grammar questions, it's tempting for someone to focus on those and never get to the meat of the writing -- things like "Does the conflict make sense?" and "Are the characters motivated to act in this way?" and "Do I like the heroine?"-- so sending off a careless manuscript can mean not getting a proper critique.

Happy writing,
Leigh




Well, I've certainly sent off a manuscript too soon to an agent. As you say, Leigh, I hadn't properly thought through the conflict. Only I was just so in love with my characters, I didn't see it. The agent came back with a very encouraging reply on the partial, asking for the complete mss and just added the caveat "but it may sag a bit in the middle". I completely froze! It took me months to sort it out, far more than if I had found the problem for myself before I sent off the partial in the first place, and sorted it out then. So, sometimes, sitting on some work for a cooling off period really does save time in the end.

When is your local history book coming out and what's it called? I love these vignettes of particular places. They are so full of people's real lives.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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cariann92
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Letting the MS sit a while


LeighMichaels wrote:


This morning, I was talking to a proofreader about a non-fiction book my husband and I have just finished (it's a history of our hometown, illustrated with vintage postcards), and was my face red when she pointed out that I'd spelled the name of one building three different ways. All because I *didn't* let that manuscript rest a while and read it over again before submitting.



Happy writing,
Leigh



As I read this comment, I thought about how great that you have someone to edit for you. Getting someone else's opinion before you send the book in is good. Then let it sit awhile before going over it again yourself.

Cariann
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LeighMichaels
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Local History

Thanks for asking about the local history book, Jenny. It's called "Ottumwa" (creative title, that, seeing as how it's the name of the town...)

Actually there are two of them -- my husband, Michael Lemberger, wrote the first one last year, and we're following it up together this year. For anybody who's interested in taking a peek, the easiest way to get there is to go to BN's home page and type "Ottumwa" into the search field. The top listing which comes up is the book he did last year, the second is the one coming out in August. Both are from Arcadia Publishing, which is the premier publisher of local history books in the US.

They're both heavily illustrated, with a total of about 14,000 to 18,000 words of captions. Some of the hardest writing I've ever done was to create a description of a photograph is less than 70 words!

Best,
Leigh
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Typescript

Hi Jenny,

When I type the first line of chapter one (and the first line of subsequent chapters) should I indent or not? I haven't been indenting because the published books don't, but the other day someone told me I should. I'd love to know what's correct for HM&B submissions

Janet
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sophieweston
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Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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writing about landscape



LeighMichaels wrote:
Some of the hardest writing I've ever done was to create a description of a photograph is less than 70 words!

Best,
Leigh




That sounds fabulous, Leigh. I'll be getting my copy as soon as possible. I'm not surprised that you found it difficult, though, The fewer words, the tougher the writing. On the other hand, you've already cracked that one, I think! I always know exactly where I am in your books AND the season and the weather too. That is part of what makes your books so three dimensional.

Personally, I feel there's something missing if there's no sense of place in a book and always try to include it. Within the constraints of an HMB, you have to make sure that any big description of place carries an emotional charge that reflects the romantic narrative, though. I try to do that. I'll dig out an example of what I mean from my own writing, if you're interested.

Although, of course, many writers in other genres try to make the landscape of the novels reflect the emotional impact of the story: think of Dickens on Paris in 'A Tale of Two Cities' or London in just about any of his novels; Daphne du Maurier on Cornwall; Mary Stewart on the woods of western France in 'Nine Coaches Waiting' or on Greece.

By the way, Hodder are reprinting all of Mary Stewart's books. For anyone who hasn't read them, you have a real treat in store. They are as fresh today as when they were first published - when she regularly went to the top of the New York Times best seller list and stayed there for half the year. And she is a master class in romantic suspense, too.

best
Jenny

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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sophieweston
Posts: 42
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: Typescript



Ch-Janet wrote:
Hi Jenny,

When I type the first line of chapter one (and the first line of subsequent chapters) should I indent or not? I haven't been indenting because the published books don't, but the other day someone told me I should. I'd love to know what's correct for HM&B submissions

Janet




That's really good question, Janet. I couldn't remember what I did, and had to go and check the mss in my files. Alas, alas, I'm not consistent from book to book. Some mss I start each new chapter hard up against the left hand margin, some I indent. All I can say is, no one has ever mentioned it.

But one advantage of doing what you do, and starting hard against the left is that, if you have a mid chapter break, where you want to signal the passage of time, you can double-double space (because the book is already double saved, right?) and then start against the left hand margin again. That's really a helpful bit of reinforcement if your passage of time/big space happens to fall at the end of a manuscript page.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: writing about landscape/setting

I've loved Mary Stewart since the day at age 13 or so I found "Nine Coaches Waiting." Wonderful book. I'm glad Hodder is republishing her, but I won't be buying them because I still have my original set. :smileyhappy:

And yes, Jenny, please do look up a bit from your own books where you use the place in a way that heightens the emotional tension -- and share it with us! (Personally, I like the Caribbean island where Jemima Dare finds herself...)


An example of mine that comes to mind is from TEMPORARY MEASURES. I'm going to quote the first couple of paragraphs from page 1, and then a bit from the last chapter. I used the pair of setting comments to show the enormous change in the heroine throughout the story.

Okay, here's how the book starts:


CHICAGO'S Magnificent Mile -- the mad bustle of pedestrians surging in waves down the sidewalks, the constant roar of traffic on North Michigan Avenue, the distant wail of a dozen sirens scurrying in all directions -- she had missed it all.

Coming home to Chicago was by far the best part of her frequent business trips, Deborah Ainsley thought as she made her way with the ease of long practice through the rivers of people on the sidewalk...


And here's the graf from toward the end:


CHICAGO'S Magnificent Mile -- the mad bustle of pedestrians surging in waves down the sidewalks, the constant roar of traffic on North Michigan Avenue, the distant wail of a dozen sirens scurrying in all directions. Once not so very long ago the city's busy roar had been Deborah's lifeblood. Now the packs of pedestrians gave her claustrophobia, and the noxious fumes of the cars and buses choked her, and the sirens made her head ache.


It's 150 words total, and it's there not only to help the reader see the Magnificent Mile but to understand Deborah.

It's a very important point Jenny makes there, by the way -- description for the sake of description is padding, but using description to illustrate character can be done with surgical precision and add much more than 150 words' worth to the reader's experience.

Happy writing!
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Typescript

Janet, just to put my two cents' worth in here (and note how cleverly I used that apostrophe, since it's TWO cents... it only took three tries to get it, and I do hope Jenny agrees it's right!)... I have never fussed about how to handle opening paragraphs. I always just indent.

But Jenny's got a good point about the scene breaks -- it's important to mark them somehow, because when the point comes that you're submitting on a disk or by email rather than in hard copy, the publisher's print-out may not match your own, and the scene breaks may get lost.

I usually leave an extra line and put a few crosshatches or asterisks on it, so it can't be missed -- but putting the first line of a scene hard left would work too.

More importantly, however, think about this hypothetical conversation:

1st editor: "I just read this MAGNIFICENT book, but I can't buy it."

2nd editor: "Why on earth not?"

1st editor: "Because the author indented the first paragraph of her chapters!"

2nd editor: "Oh! The horror! Throw the bitch out!"

NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

Yes, we want to present a clean, professional manuscript. But if the story's terrific, the editor's going to overlook minor stuff -- particularly if (1) the author's consistent and (2) it's a matter of style rather than a total obliviousness to the standards.

In fact, she may phone up to say, "I want to buy this book, and by the way next time will you...." -- and there you'll have it, right from the expert's mouth.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Typescript

Thomas Hardy used settings constantly in his books. I was once obsessed by them and read all of them. It does add to atmosphere to have Tess finally caught on an ancient stone 'altar' than just caught anywhere. I sometimes used to feel it was a bit contrived though.

I'm going to look for your book on Ottumwa Leigh, but only briefly as I really need to use my few spare minutes for writing at the moment.

I meant to ask about chapter indents too Janet - glad I don't have to now!

Lynne
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sophieweston
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Re: writing about landscape/setting

[ Edited ]
That contrast is really cool, Leigh. Same picture, diametrically different reaction. This is someone who's gone through a sea change; which, of course, is what love does to you, dammit.

The interesting thing too is that WE know it, because we're analyzing the book. But the ordinary reader probably won't realize how it's done at all. But she will feel satisfied because it picks up a thread she's already got in her head, even without being conscious of it.


Leigh Michaels wrote: (Personally, I like the Caribbean island where Jemima Dare finds herself...)


Okay, Jemima it is, Leigh. That's 'The Duke's Proposal', the last of my Wedding Challenge trilogy. The example is not as neat as yours, I'm afraid.

Jemima is a top model who goes into hiding. On her first night on her own at the Caribbean resort, she meets a guy she thinks is a professional gambler, too sexy and too astute, and anyway she's off men, for very good reasons. But she still has dinner with him and then ...

'It didn't take long to leave the lanterns behind. Soon even the Casino was no more than a glimmer of lights on the horizon. And then they rounded an outcrop, and even that was gone.

At once, all the noises of the night seemed to come closer. The metallic rustle of the breeze in the palm trees. The gurgle of a stream falling down the hillside to their right somewhere close. The pulse beat of the sea, like a patient animal to their left. Jemima swallowed.

"All very elemental," she said brightly.

Or tried to. The breeze tossed her words up and threaded them like paper. It was as if she had no substance at all. At least, not compared with all this breathing, murmuring life out there in the darkness. She didn't want Niall to hold her hand but even so ... She stepped closer to him and stayed there.'


Yes, it's about the place. But it's equally about Jemima's state of mind, her heightened senses and her instinctive response, to the night and to the man. So it does three things at the same time: 1) shows us the place where the story happens, so we can empahtise with the characters; 2) deepens our understanding of Jemima; 3) moves the romantic story forward.

At least, I hope it does!

best
Jenny

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net

Message Edited by sophieweston on 05-13-200710:45 AM

Message Edited by sophieweston on 05-13-200710:46 AM

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sophieweston
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Re: writing about landscape/setting

A new writer who makes tremendous use of landscape as part of story is Anna Louise Lucia, whose first book 'Run Among Thorns' will be out in June 2008, she tells me, but (sady for us in the UK) only in the US through Barnes and Noble and similar outlets. Make a note to check her out.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: writing about landscape/setting

Jenny, what an excellent excerpt! That was very moving and it explains exactly how weather works in literature. I will look out for ALL Jenny, perhaps we'll get in the uk after it's us debut? Is that usually how publising works?

Is no-one else here going to take the punctuation challenge? It's all very quiet over on the other threads. What is everyone writing now?

Lynne.
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Thank you, Jenny!

Jenny, thank you for a great couple of weeks! Your visit has been wonderful, and I've loved the wide range of topics and conversations you've sparked. I also very much appreciate your willingness to be the initial guest author and your patience as we worked out the kinks in the system.

Even though your official visit is now coming to an end, I hope that you'll remain a part of the BN group and continue to drop in to chat whenever it's convenient. I know I'm speaking for everyone here when I say that you're wonderful, and we'd love to have the benefit of your continuing input and observations.

Good luck with your current writing projects!--

Best,
Leigh
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sophieweston
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Re: Thank you, Jenny!

Thank you for having me, Leigh. It's been a great fun - and has really made me think about my own work in progress, too. Thank you all for being such stimulating company.

I shall certainly be visiting with interest from now on. If I think I have a good wheeze that might help, I'll post a message.

Good luck and happy writing!

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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lavenderlass
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Re: Thank you, Jenny!

You've been fab to have on here Jenny! Thank goodness I don't have to say goodbye as I'll see you on the UK RNA list, but it has been great to have you here and thanks loads for your help.

Lynne.
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