Tuesday, January 31, 2017

TMI

Let's get back to editing, and this one's an easy one. To start, every paragraph, every sentence, every WORD in your story needs to serve a purpose. One as grand as revealing a pivotal plot point, as lovely as describing a room, or as simple as giving a reader pause.

Everything else? Delete.

This is one reason agents, editors, most people are so anti-adverb. They're like the carbs of the writing world. Sure, they taste great. But they're empty calories. Filler.

Case in point.
He eyed them circumspectly.
What does that mean? Can you tell me what that looks like? And if you can, do that instead of copping out with an adverb.

He violently attacked her. 
Really? Because when I attack people, I usually do it passively.

In addition to adverbs, we also have unnecessary prepositional phrases. Sure, you might need to know the cat was in the closet. Or the laundry was on the stairs.

But do you need to know...
Her heart thrummed in her chest.
Really? Not her elbow?

They dug the grave in the ground.
Oh, thanks for clearing that up. Most people dig graves in the middle of their living rooms.

He inhaled through his nose.
A tricky one, because yes, he could inhale through his mouth. We have two orifices for that just in case one gets blocked. But do we really need to know that? Is it integral to your story, or the character that we know, without a doubt he took that breath through his nose?

I don't need to read your work to say, "no."

I'm not trying to shame anyone for this. We all do it. The point is, before your draft goes out on submission or even worse, to print, you should give it one last read to delete all of the unnecessary amplifiers. It's also a super-easy way to cut down word count if you're running high.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So far, 2017 has mixed reviews.

The Good.
I heard back from new agent regarding rewrites. She said, and I quote, "You did an amazing job with revisions!" Amazing. Next up, a submission plan and hopefully, a book deal. I'm always optimistic.

The Bad. 
My identity was stolen. At first I thought it was just my debit card, but then the thieves used my debit card to buy prepaid Visa cards that required my address and SSN. I had to cancel those cards when they showed up at my house. Then I had to file a fraud alert with the credit company, and after three calls to LifeLock, they say there is nothing they can do for me.

So uh, what am I paying them for?

I'm also still waiting for the bank to refund the stolen charges because every time I see them on my transaction history, I get angry. I might not be as bothered by this if we hadn't been robbed a little over a year ago. The thieves broke into my house, almost lost my cat, and stole my wedding rings.

My husband and I have enough, not a ton. We're not flashy, (my wedding ring was from Sam's club,) and we're always willing to share what we have. So I'm having trouble renewing my faith in humanity. Especially considering the beliefs of the man currently in the White House and knowing the majority of Americans put him there. They chose hate over love. They chose discrimination over acceptance. Money over science.

I'm doing my best to fight the good fight, both personally and politically, without turning to the Dark Side myself...but it's getting really hard.

The Ugly
My anxiety has worsened. Present situation is partly responsible. I already take medication, but I've started to see new bad habits forming. For one, I get really angry when I get anxious, often lashing out at my family or forcing them to change plans. I totally freaked from the crowds on Halloween. I can't take my son to those places like Gymboree or Monkey Joe's because all of the kids running around screaming send me into a panic attack. I couldn't go to the women's march because of the thought of the crowds. I had to cancel a meeting downtown because the thought of parking made me sweat.

I don't make phone calls, or at least I try not to. If I have to, I prefer to be the one making the call, because that way I can plan out what I'm going to say. Sometimes I'll spend an entire day planning out a script for a conference call so I don't sound like an idiot. I'll review my conversation at least ten minutes before I order a pizza. If I have to meet new people, I prefer to do it at a place where I can have at least one drink. I'll even get there early to make sure I can have that drink before they arrive.

One of my goals for 2017 is to get into better shape, (which is why I'm hesitant to up my medication. It makes me gain weight.) I decided to take advantage of the YMCA pool and swim laps. Only I had nightmares about going to the pool! I worried it would be too crowded, or I'd look like an idiot, (considering I haven't lap swam in ages.)

Nightmares, people. About going to a pool.

For people who don't have anxiety, this is what it's like. I know I'm overreacting. Like what are they going to do if I doggie paddle my laps? Kick me out? I have a panic attack every time I go to the grocery store, and the funny thing is, to everyone else, I look so obscenely organized and put together. Because to avoid accidents or mishaps, I plan everything.

My grocery list is written in the order things appear in the store, so I can get out as quickly as possible. I match coupons to sales, and have those select coupons already out so I don't have to dig for them in my purse. If the store looks crowded, I make sure to get a cart from the parking lot. In case there aren't any available inside.

If I have to drive somewhere new, I memorize the map before I go, and usually leave the directions running on my phone. But I like to know what they are ahead of time in case the GPS directions lag so I can be prepared for the turn. For the pool situation, the first time I went, it was too crowded! They were swimming three to a lane, which I couldn't handle. So I waited a half hour for a lane to open up.

And all this planning, avoiding crowds, rehearsing scripts for phone calls, (or making my husband order the pizza) works for me. Most of the time. Until an unplanned situation comes up. Like getting my identity stolen, and then I just feel like crawling into bed and hiding until it goes away. Like I can deal with life as long as it's going smoothly, but as soon as there's a bump in the road I don't have a contingency plan for, I'm done.

I'm not trying to whine about it, or poor me! Going to the grocery store makes my heart race! At least I have money to go to the grocery store, right? I'm just saying it's tough, and it sucks, and hopefully, by month two of 2017, I'll have it under control. Until then, there's wine.