Monday, October 24, 2011

Breaking Through That Pesky Writer's Block




You're stuck. You started, you've got that first chapter, maybe you even have a plan. But you sit down at your computer, and all you're doing is staring at the blinking curser on the white screen.
Today I'm sharing two of my favorite methods for blowing up that brick wall.
(1) Get thee a typewriter! (That's my latest beauty above.) Did you know that a number of CURRENT best-selling authors still use typewriters to power through first drafts? Why? It makes it nearly impossible to edit and edit and edit as you write. Sure, you can cross passages out, but they're still there in case you need them later. Instead of a new blank screen appearing when you finish a page, you have a physical piece of paper in front of you, and there's nothing quite as encouraging as that growing stack of paper. Writing on a typewriter forces you to slow down - you can't type too fast or the keys lock up, and this allows you to really think as you write - to let the mind roam as it creates. And really, is there anything more romantic than that clickity clack? Visit mytypewriter.com for inspiration!
(2) Not one for the old fashioned and just need a fire lit under you to keep going?Give Write or Die by Dr. Wicket a try. This is a particularly great tool for those of you doing NANOWRIMO this year. Choose a word count or choose a time goal, choose how strict you want the program to be, and away you go. Stop typing for too long? The program will give you a little warning, then launch an attack - either playing horribly annoying sounds or, much worse, erasing your hard-won words!
Happy writing! Get to work!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Self-Editing Tips and Tricks: Watch Words

Wordle: ME





Welcome to a new series of articles describing tips and tricks for cleaning up and self-editing your own manuscript!

Watch Words. What are they? Any of my clients can tell you – and they’ll most likely do so with a little shiver because I’ve harped on the concept more than a few times!

Watch Words and Watch Phrases! Every author has these – little authorial hiccups that you don’t notice as youre writing, but, when compounded over hundreds of pages, become very distracting to the reader. I’ve seen some funny ones: “harpy,” “zitty (which is not ACTUALLY a word),” and “fake butter” that jump right out at you when used over and over again, but others are sneakier. For instance, the word “know” seems pretty harmless. But when “know” shows up 392 times in a 392 page manuscript, each instance is enough to drive the reader to distraction, effectively pulling us right out of your gripping story – the last thing you want!
When I edit a manuscript, I always circle or highlight the Watch Words and provide the author with a list. But you can get started and purge your manuscript of the most egregious offenders all on your own with a little internet magic!

  1. Open up your manuscript in Word.
  2. Open your favorite word-mapping program. Don’t have a favorite? Use Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/).
  3. Copy and paste your entire manuscript into the mapping interface.
  4. Marvel over the HUGE words.


Don’t have any giant outliers? Good for you! Are your biggest words your characters’ names and “the,” “and,” or “a”? Kudos!

Is your biggest word “potato”? Or “blue”? Or “eyes” or “elbows” or “lips” or any one distinct body part? Is it an adverb of some sort? Well congratulations to you too, because you’ve just found your biggest Watch Words, and you’re ready to self-edit those little buggers right out of your manuscript.

Back in MS Word, turn on track changes. Now, using the search-and-replace function, search for that Watch Word, then tell the program to replace it with the same word but bolded, italicized, or highlighted – whatever is going to pop out at you best. Have a few Watch Words? Highlight them all! Now you have an easy-to-use map, right there in your manuscript. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Client Testimonial!

I highly recommend Lindsay Murdock to any writer looking to take their manuscript to the next level. I worked with Lindsay for close to a year and through her painstaking evaluations of each re-write she helped me to define my writing ability and sharpen my creative thoughts. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? But what fun! The freedom I found in following her road map was exciting and rewarding. I can’t say enough about her knack for not missing the slightest detail and all those “watch” words. Thank you Lindsay!

Jeff Means, Author – Entity of Origin

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thank you!



Thank you to everyone who participated in the website celebration! Winners will receive an e-mail from me by the end of the day. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

IT'S WEBSITE DAY!



The new www.murdockediting.com website is LIVE! Let the celebration and games begin!

WEBSITE DAY Prizes: (1) A free full manuscript evaluation valued up to $1,200 (closed to past or current clients) or (2) A brand new Kindle (open to everyone!)

How to enter! (Updated hourly from 3pm to midnight EST)


(5) The fifth way to win! If you could have written any book that's already been published by another author, what book would it be? My latest is Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan - I swear a member of my family must have written this book - now I just have to figure out who!


Maine
Sullivan, J. Courtney



(4) Tell me in the comments, by e-mail, on Facebook, or by Twitter: How many rejection letters have you received from literary agents?


(3) I've buried 3 errors in the website. Find them! For each error you find and report here or to editor@murdockediting.com, you get an entry into the Kindle raffle!

(2) Never worked with me before and want to win that free Manuscript Evaluation? Send me your query letter before midnight EST to enter!

(1) Share this post on your Facebook News Feed or Twitter and e-mail me the link!

editor@murdockediting.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Website Launch Party This Friday!


At long last, the new Murdock Editing website is set to go live this Friday!

The new website will include:

  • Up-to-date information on Murdock Editing services
  • New bio information for yours truly (including a REAL LIVE PHOTO!)
  • A Frequently Asked Questions page for easy reference
  • A pricing page offering estimated costs
  • Brand new testimonials from my lovely authors
To celebrate, I'll be running contests with prizes including free books, a Kindle, and a COMPLETELY FREE MANUSCRIPT EVALUATION for one lucky writer (valued at up to $1,200). Make sure to stop by and follow me on Twitter (@murdockediting) and Facebook

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy as can be...



Another rainy work day here in Boston, but another review from one of my clients that has me beaming.


Lindsay,

I have been eagerly pouring over the edited manuscript and report.  Thank you! Your services are worth every penny. 

I have  laughed at myself a lot as I discover the overused verbs and watch phrases you pointed out. I do have my favorites. Thanks to your keen eye and word find, I have begun to retrain myself to avoid those traps.

I am excited to work on your suggestions of additional scenes and sub plots. I, of course, have read the manuscript dozens of times and was never able to see these golden opportunities to strengthen and deepen the story. I am brainstorming and working on these ideas, anxious to see the desired tension building results culminating through the story. The story will be infinitely stronger from your edit.

My lists of thanks is endless. But one last gratitude I have to offer is for your straightforward advice. As I have been reworking different chapters I cannot reist the urge to compare. When I do I find a much smoother and more professional read, something I was unable to achieve before your edit. At the risk of using an overused word, THANK YOU!

Thank you (again),
Jodie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

THIS is why I do what I do.



This image pretty much represents how I felt reading the recommendation letter below from one of my dear clients, Chad (whose book, I'm quite sure, will be huge success).

"Making the decision to hire Lindsay was by far the best decision I've made in my writing career. I had spent almost five months editing my first draft on my own, utilizing feedback from friends and family, and thought I had it as close to perfect as I could make it. It makes me laugh just saying that now.

With Lindsay's help and guidance I've woven in sub-plots and additional scenes that have completely transformed my book. I didn't even realize how weak the overall storyline was before. There was no central conflict that was being advanced from chapter to chapter, and very little build up of tension toward the ending. She pointed out several inconsistencies that I had missed where things were either confusing or outright contradicted something that had happened earlier in the book as well.

Lindsay also helped me overcome technical flaws in my writing, such as the overuse of adverbs, repetitive sentence structure, grammatical / formatting issues, etc. and forced me to confront things that I knew were shortcomings going in (the beginning was too rushed, things were far too easy for the main character).

She offers candid, constructive advice with improvement suggestions that go far beyond just marking up a manuscript and is a meticulous fact checker. She will challenge you to make your own writing better, and sometimes that can be frustrating, but if you're open to her suggestions and push yourself the end result will blow you away. She is quick to offer words of encouragement and point out things you are doing well, and unlike a lot of freelance editors, she will continue to work with you long after she has sent across her evaluation.

I truly view her as a partner in the development of my novel and will work with her on all of my future projects, even after I'm published. When I go back and re-read passages now sometimes I have a hard time even believing I actually wrote it. I now have a commercially viable novel and a very strong chance of being published, none of which would have been possible without her.”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Follow the Rules!



Fab agent Jessica from Bookends Agency writes about an author refusing to follow the rules - and losing a valuable contact.

"...after explaining that LinkedIn is a professional networking site and not Facebook and that I use it to solely seek to benefit from others the author said, "While I realize you cannot instill decency into people, it disturbs me to have Marquette's name to continue to be represented in such a poor manner." 

And there you have it. I am nothing but a money-grubbing, self-absorbed, indecent human misusing my alma mater. Dang, I'm a jerk." 


Great agents and editors want to find great talent, but refusing to use their guidelines is cutting of your nose to spite your face. 


Edit: Also, head over to Bookends' blog and take notes on their Workshop Wednesday - a wonderful tool for those of you who are querying!

Good News in the Publishing Industry





A glimmer of hope from the New York Times:


"The publishing industry has expanded in the past three years as Americans increasingly turned to e-books and juvenile and adult fiction, according to a new survey of thousands of publishers, retailers and distributors that challenges the doom and gloom that tends to dominate discussions of the industry’s health."


Read the full article here: Publishing Gives Hints of Revival, Data Show

Monday, August 15, 2011

A blast of a summer



Thanks to everyone for a wonderful summer! I know there are a few weeks left in August, but the last of the summer manuscript evaluation slots are spoken for, so we're on to the Autumn schedule!

Available slots for Fall:

September 15: one slot still available.

October 15: two slots still available.

November 15: four slots still available.



Other news from Murdock Editing!

I'm updating the website! Poor www.murdockediting.com's current design and info is four years old, which I believe is approximately 165 in internet years.

The fiverr charity drive continues! We've raised enough to buy 125 books to put a stack of books on every desk in a classroom, but we're still aiming for the big prize: $1,000 for 500 books to start home libraries for a neighborhood of low-income families. Check it out here: http://fiverr.com/gigs/read-your-query-letter-and-tell-you-if-id-request-your-manuscript-or-not-and-why and here: http://fiverr.com/gigs/read-your-first-five-pages-and-tell-you-if-id-request-your-manuscript-or-not-and-why




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Murdock Editing Website Under Construction


Finally, after many promises, I'll be updating the main, horribly out of date Murdock Editing website over the next few weeks. With Wordpress for Dummies at my side, I'll be *gulp* doing it on my own, at least until I get so frustrated I hire a pro. In the meantime, if (when) the site goes down or for some reason suddenly looks like a disaster zone, please bear with me!

And if you hear the sound of yelling/books flying across the room/computers being smashed coming from the general direction of South Boston, it's okay. We'll get there! Thanks for your patience!

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Which I Brag for Charity: Fiverr Reviews So Far

We're still going full steam ahead on the Fiverr for First Book drive. Give me your first five pages and we'll give a kid a book!


Check it out: http://fiverr.com/gigs/read-your-first-five-pages-and-tell-you-if-id-request-your-manuscript-or-not-and-why



  1. brilliant very constructive as always :) thanks so much
  2. fantastic advise agreed 100% and am in the process of changing my beginning based on her comments...well recommended.
  3. I was amazed at the depth and detail that ME Boston provided me for only five dollars in his detailed critique of the first five pages of my novel. He caught every error in grammar and punctuation and warned me about trying to give too many early details. This was easily worth ten times what I paid.
  4. Thanks for the pro feedback. Although some might find the highlighted passing delicious (like a Beta Reader of mine) others may indeed find it "too much" especially if they're a beleagured agent's assistant "looking for a reason" to reject and move to the next submittal. So I may omit to avoid risk.
  5. Thanks for the advice
  6. This is a good gig, especially if it's your first attempt at writing something, good constructive feedback
  7. Thanks again Lindsay for all your feedback. It was worth way more than 5 dollars! I would definitely use you again as the book goes through rewrites.
  8. Awesome! Would recommend highly!
  9. Thank you so much for your feedback! Great to hear! And it also means I have a lot of tweaking to do!! Julie
  10. Thanks so much for this awesome critique, Lindsay! I appreciate your honesty and great editing. I, too, was worried about her first seeing him at school. I don't want my Ms to resemble Twilight at all. I will try and find another way to introduce her visions. Thanks!
  11. very good feedback, and an excellent help with my novel. Would recommend to anyone needing a little extra help. Thanks again!
  12. Great job! Very happy! Bravo!
  13. WONDERFUL critique. Extremely insightful and helpful. Thank you.
  14. Very helpful, thanks Lindsay!
  15. Thank for the advice - recommended gig.
  16. Great Job. Would definitely recommend!
  17. As usual, the advice was extremely valuable. It made me consider what I was including in my letter and why.
  18. Advice was very helpful - thanks!
  19. Great comments and suggestions for improvement! I will definitely buy from you again.
  20. brilliant feedback, would absolutely work with her again!
  21. I'm very happy with the critique and I definitely recommend this.
  22. Such helpful feedback! Will definitely use MEboston again as I re-tweak my query letter. Thank you!!
  23. amazing!
  24. Thank you for the helpful insight.
  25. Thank you so much for your notes! I got some great feedback from you!
  26. Hands down, this is the best $5 I have ever spent! Super helpful!
  27. Thank you so much for the critique. I am elated that this new query works!
  28. Lindsay was wonderful, helpful and honest. It's what I needed!
  29. The work was professional, timely and most of all helpful! Thank you so much, will definetally recommend and use again.
  30. Editor provided a meaningful critique that I can use to rework my query.
  31. Fast response, outstanding service! Exceeded my expectations.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Why Do You Need to Hire an Editor?

    Straight from the (wonderful) BookEnds's Agent's mouth:


    Your Book Needs Editing

    I will reject any query that tells me your book needs editing and I suspect most agents will agree that this is a red flag. But why? Don't all books need editing? Why is this a red flag?

    For me this shows that you're not ready to query and that your book isn't complete; that you're not sending me a query because you feel your book is ready for editors and readers to see, but because you've done all you can, hit a wall, and want someone else to help you fix the problems. That's not an agent's job; in fact, it's not an editor's job.

    Sure, every book needs editing and an author needs to be willing to edit, but an agent's job or editor's job is to help you reach deeper than you've ever reached before to find ways to take what's already a great book and make it phenomenal. When submitting to an agent you need to look at it, sit back in your chair, and say, "Yes, edits are done. It's ready." Not, "Well, it still needs work, but I'll query anyway."


    Jessica

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Murdock Editing Mid-Summer Update!



    Is it hot where you are? GOOD LORD it is hot here. There are not enough fans or ice cream trucks in the world to make this comfortable. Don't tell my conservation-minded friends, but I'm throwing in the towel and buying an air conditioner. I've lost that battle and I'm okay with that!

    So! Although I live in dread that my computer will overheat anytime I use it while the blazing sun is still up, I come to you with updates! And Questions! And charity reminders! And far, far too many exclamation points.

    *Your loving editor is currently working on a self-editing guide for first time writers. Not to put myself out of business of course, but to help you learn how to produce a cleaner, crisper manuscript less likely to be filled with agent/editor pet peeves that will send you right to the rejection pile. Plus, when working with an outside editor (Me, or any of my lovely and wonderful colleagues.), a cleaner manuscript means your editor will have more time to spend on deeper issues that can take your manuscript from passable to BUY ME NOW!

    Passages from the upcoming guide will be published here over the next several months, so be sure to check back and spread the word!

    *Do you have self-editing questions you'd like addressed here or in the guide? Send 'em my way to editor at murdockediting dot com. If your question is used in the final version, you get a free copy.

    *We're still going full steam ahead on the Fiverr for First Book drive. Give me your first five pages and we'll give a kid a book!


    Check it out: http://fiverr.com/gigs/read-your-first-five-pages-and-tell-you-if-id-request-your-manuscript-or-not-and-why

    Stay cool my friends!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    A Very Special (and Important) Message From Ira Glass





    "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It's only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take a while. it's normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through." 


    -Ira Glass



    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    New Post! Go Read This Edition



    Did you get your taxes done? Has Spring started wherever you are? Are you all caught up on your writing/publishing industry blogs?

    If not:

    • - I don't know, TurboTax?
    • - It's actually warm this week in Boston, so there is hope for you too!
    • - And Go Read This! 
    If you're working on your query letter, make sure you're at least reading (if not submitting to) Evil Editor (look for the Guess the Plot posts) and Query Shark. If you have a whole day to kill and want to snork coffee while learning how to get a query right, read the Miss Snark archives (good lord I miss that woman). Jessica at BookEnds Agency is also doing Workshop Wednesdays. Pay attention! 


    "2. Don’t waste time with the obvious.

    “My books are about the relationships between people and how they react to a murder in their midst.” 
    Doesn’t that apply to most mysteries? If you’re a New York TimesBestselling author, you could get away with this. Then again, your audience would be just as thrilled if you leaned toward them and asked if your mascara had smeared."  



    Kristin at Pub Rants suggests querying while the querying is hot!



    Repost: Dedicated To David

    Dear readers, I promise this will be my last irate post on David. Read to the end though, and you'll understand why it simply had to be posted.


    Those of you who stopped by yesterday will recall our dear friend "David" (that's his actual name, I'm just putting it in quotes because I don't like him). Read the post below for more background on "David."

    Why do people insist on offering misinformation on subjects they know nothing about? And why do I let it bother me so much?

    Today there was another LinkedIn question that caught my eye - an author looking for information on submitting an idea for a For Dummies book. For Dummies is published by John Wiley & Sons. I worked in editorial for Wiley for years, although not on the For Dummies books, so I thought, "Hey! Question I'll know the answer to!"

    And there, waiting for me, was our good friend "David."

    David offered the following advice (this is all paraphrased).

    (1) No one in publishing is buying anything anymore. Especially not self-help books. Don't even try.
    (2) The economy stinks, so books are no longer being published. Don't even try. 
    (3) If you do try, HIRE an agent with an NDA in place so the publishing house DOESN'T STEAL YOUR IDEA.

    I tried to post my response. But, horrors - when I hit send there was an error! I tried again! Another error! I kept trying for another half hour, because I'm apparently in need of a chill pill.

    So, having finally given up, my response to the poor, misinformed author is posted below. I hope, by some miracle, he finds it on the great interwebs.

    "Hi [Author]. Wiley, the For Dummies publisher (and my past employer) won't generally accept unsolicited submissions. For most of the titles, the editors come up with subjects they want to market, then go out and find experts.

    If you are an expert in a certain field and already have a great platform that proves you're the go-to guy for your subject, pitch the idea to an agent with great nonfiction credentials. If an agent thinks Wiley might want it, he or she should be able to get the editors to take a look. The official author guidelines are discussed in the link below.

    And now, to debunk another response posted earlier:

    (1) The Dummies book market is not saturated. There are, in fact, over fifty new titles being printed in this series this year alone. I'd count the 2008 titles, but it's almost lunch time, and it would take too long.

    (2) Almost all publishers are still buying new books from new authors. Larger publishers don't take unsolicited manuscripts, but that has nothing to do with the economy; it's been that way for a very long time. Some small publishers still accept unsolicited manuscripts and are making no changes that indicate they will do otherwise in the future.

    (3) An agent is a good idea, but mention an NDA and they will, at best, have a good laugh. This is not how publishing works. And, despite conspiracy theories, respectable publishers don't steal ideas.

    Good luck [Author], and please feel free to e-mail me off-board if you have any questions.

    http://www.dummies.com/Section/id-323934"

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    REPOST! What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor: Part III

    I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how you should go about picking an editor, so without further ado: What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor: Part III

    Once you've gotten past Part II - How to Find an Editor, it's time to narrow it do to the one, the only - YOUR FREELANCE EDITOR.
    How to Choose an Editor
    There are a lot of things you should consider when hiring an editor, including, but not limited to:
    • Experience/skill level/past successes (How did your editor become an editor? Who has he or she worked with?)
    • Pricing structure/total cost (Make sure you're getting what you're paying for!)
    • Personality (Do you click?)
    • Areas of expertise (Does the editor know your genre? If your book is too close in plot to another book on the market, would the editor notice?)
    • Business philosophy (Can you ask questions after the edit is complete? How accesable is the editor before/during/after the edit or eval is complete? Is this a person you can count on?)
    The process can certainly be confusing, but following the steps below should keep you on the right track.
    1. Go with your gut. For a full-length book, you'll likely be working with an editor for at least a few weeks; I've worked with some of my writers over several years and several books. The editing and evaluation process works best and will be the most valuable to you if you can develop a friendly, easy relationship with your editor. Early conversation - whether by e-mail or phone - should leave you feeling confident that you're working with someone who wants to help you succeed. If you don't feel comfortable with one editor, move on to another.
     2. Get a second opinion. I always recommend that writers ask for references, particularly when they're looking for an editor to perform a good deal of work (line edits, developmental editing, extensive copyediting, manuscript evaluations and critiques, etc.). Go ahead and ask an editor if you can talk to one of his or her previous clients - they'll be able to give you unique insight into the process and the value of the services you're considering. 
    3. Do your research. Google the editor's name and/or business name. Look for any complaints or warnings other writers may have published online. At the very least, ask the editor about any troubling posts. Of course, Google has its limitations - don't worry too much if you find that your editor's name brings up a whole cast of strange characters - there are at least 5 other Lindsay Murdocks that pop up on my GoogleAlerts - one of them actually lives only a few towns over!
    Also, although I've mentioned it before, I have to reiterate - check any editor you're considering hiring against the Preditors and Editors database. Not all freelance editors are listed there - but if an editor does have complaints against him or her, chances are those complaints are documented on this site.
    4. Take a taste. When you order an expensive bottle of wine at a restaurant, the server will have you take a sip before serving the rest of the bottle, just to make sure you like it. An editor should do the the same - offering you a sample edit so you can see precisely what you're getting for your money. I offer a free ten page sample edit or evaluation to ALL potential clients. Most editors I know will do the same.  
    5. Get it in Writing. Some editors use written contracts, some don't. At the very least, get a detailed description of what you're getting for your money, what your options are, what deliverables you can expect when, how much it's going to cost, and when payments are due. Ask questions and get answers. Remember, your editor is a professional who will be working for you.
    BONUS: Be nice, and expect the same from your editor. We're all in this together!

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    What Your Editor is Reading




    From the author of the Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards, comes The Lake of Dreams.

    A Little Writer's Digest Humor (and some good advice)



    This week over on Writer's Digest, bestselling author Karen Slaughter shares her 10 Ways to Stay Sane When Frustrated With Your Writing. My favorite:

    [5] HGTV, THE DIY NETWORK AND FINE LIVING are great because they remind you that your characters live in houses and give you ideas for how to describe these spaces in interesting ways. For instance, in Triptych, it’s said that Will put down tiles in Angie’s bathroom on a 45-degree angle to make the space look larger. In Broken, I talk a lot about different kinds of trees and plant life. Thank you, “Yard Crashers.”





    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Publishing and Dating




    Check out Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas's fun post on why finding that first publisher is a lot like dating. (Which I guess makes me...Patti from the Millionaire Matchmaker? Yeah, let's go with that.)


    "Don’t give up after one failed relationship. Giving up after being rejected by just one editor or agent—however much you thought they were your perfect match—would be like giving up on marriage after you break up with your middle school crush. Allow some time for wallowing, and then figure out what you’ve learned from the rejection and move on."

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Max Barry's Fifteen Ways to Write a Novel





    Another great read for those of you hacking away at first drafts, third drafts, second novels, or eight novels: Max Barry's Fifteen Ways to Write a Novel.


    The funny thing is, as I read through this list, I recognize each and every one of you . Honest to God, by the time I finish reading your manuscript, I know exactly how you wrote it - or at least how you wrote the first draft.


    For instance:


    The Jigsaw
    What: You start writing the scenes (or pieces of scenes) that interest you the most, and don’t worry about connecting them until later.
    Why: You capture the initial energy of ideas. You can avoid becoming derailed by detail. You make sure your novel revolves around your big ideas.
    Why Not: It can be difficult to figure out how to connect the scenes after the fact. You need to rewrite heavily in order to incorporate ideas you had later for earlier sections. Your characters can be shakier because you wrote scenes for them before you knew the journey they’d make to get there.

    Some of my most successful writers are Jigsaw-ers. I know you because I'll tear through pages and pages of brilliance, only to get stopped short on some transition scene that makes no damn sense. You're the ones who have half your pages marked "great!" "perfect imagery!" or "wow!" and the other half marked with "Why would this character do this?" "Why did this happen?" "???" 

    You're a handful Mr. and Ms. Jigsaw, but you sure do produce some excellent work. 

    You each have your own little quirks, of course. The Word Target, if I wanted to, I could figure out your target number, because, oh, perhaps every 1,000 words or so you're just throwing some words at me. Edit! The Coffee Shop - did you know that caffeine jitters infuse your pages with the scent of java and the speed of a runaway cheetah chasing another cheetah chasing a jet plane? It's true! The Headphones - check out page 238. Those are Paul Simon lyrics. Yup, really. 

    You're all a blast to work with, and I love the challenge of figuring out revision plans that work with each and every one of your styles. But I'd like to use Mr. Barry's post as a challenge for all of my clients out there working on revisions, and even to future clients working on first drafts. 

    Revise and self-edit to the point that I cannot tell which category you fit into, because your manuscript is so seamless, well paced, and trimmed that the hallmarks of method are erased by smooth execution. Just another aspect of the craft to perfect!

    The Best Possible Way to Handle a Rejection Letter



    Courtesy of Naseem Rakha, author of the Crying Tree over on Backspace.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    What Your Editor is Reading



    Alice Hoffman's The Red Garden

    Go Read This - Blog Edition



    I know many of you (if not most!) are familiar with the editor/agent/writer blogosphere, but in case you missed them, here are a few to get your brain working this fine morning.


    Jessica over at Book Ends is looking for something new...


    "Steampunk. Please, please send me steampunk of all sorts. Adult, young adult, romance, mystery. I personally love this genre and can’t get enough of it."




    Agent Kristen at Pub Rants provides some very good advice on self-submitting to small publishing houses. 


    "So, resist the temptation and if you are submitting directly, make sure you pick the best editor first time around as you really only have the one shot. And of course, good luck."




    Janet Reid gives you the inside scoop on winning free registration for the Backspace Writers Conference. 




    And finally, if you're in the process of developing your query or synopsis, make sure you're spending plenty of time with your Evil Editor and the Query Shark!







    Another Grand Reopening - Welcome to 2011!


    As those of you who are already my clients know, Murdock Editing has been on a hiatus since November 2010 due to family obligations. Thank you all for your well-wishes, thoughts, and prayers.

     I am so pleased to announce that 2011 is looking up, and I am proud to be flinging the metaphorical doors open - we're back! 

    In the coming weeks I plan to have some great posts up here for you - including my favorite, Reader Questions! If you have anything you want to ask the editor, shoot me an e-mail at editor at murdockediting dot com

    In other news, we reached our goal of $1,000 over at Fiverr - all of which was donated to charity. In 2011, I'm upping the challenge - for every $5 you donate through my Fiverr gigs (go here for more information), I'll match your donation. 

    Last but not least, I've decided to continue with 2010's policy of booking no more than four months in advance, so the books are currently open for March through May. As of this morning, there are six slots available. If you want to secure a spot for summer 2011, feel free to contact me, and I'll put you on the wait list. 


    Happy New Year!