Monday, September 6, 2010

Teeth and Bones Editing Contest

Novel Matters is excited to bring a new contest to our readers! Over the next two weeks, we will be discussing various aspects of editing fiction. All six Novel Matters authors will be exploring levels of editing, the editing process, working with editors, and self editing.

This contest is for writers who are looking for a "real to life" editing experience with their manuscript. Keep in mind, this isn't a warm fuzzy contest (it is called Teeth and Bones, after all!). Entering means you're ready to have your work bit into, maybe even ripped into - with the goal of making the manuscript the best it can be. Sound like something you are up for? Here's how it will work:
How to enter: Comment on the Novel Matters blog anytime between Monday, September 6th, and Friday September 17th. At the bottom of your comment type TABEC (short for Teeth and Bones Editing Contest). Only comments with these letters at the bottom will be eligible to win (we understand that not all our readers are interested in this level of editing, but would still want to be free to comment and discuss editing - that's the reason we require interested people to please use the TABEC letters at the bottom of their comments)

You many enter as many times as you like over the two weeks. Each comment counts as an entry (but don't forget to type TABEC at the bottom of each comment).
Winner: One winner will be announced on Friday, September 17th at 5:00 PM pacific time.
The prize: A teeth and bones edit of your first chapter and synopsis by Bonnie Grove. The edit will be on the substantive level (the overall concepts, characters, and themes, etc. of the novel). It will be Bonnie's teeth on the bones of your manuscript.

The winner will work one on one with Bonnie Grove via e-mail. The winner will consent to having the first paragraph of the work posted on Novel Matters in a before and after comparison. This means the winner will agree to have the first paragraph of your WIP appear on the blog, first as it was originally written, then in its edited form.


***

I know this announcement will generate plenty of excitement and thought for one day, but you are going to have to comment in order to win, so lets cook up a discussion.
I'm thinking of a woodworker friend of mine, a member of an artists' co-op that my husband joined some months ago. John's contribution to the gallery is tables, lap desks, even cutting boards - that sort of thing. Simple, elegant lines. Locally grown hardwood. But not the sort of thing you normally associate with an artist's gallery.
The thing that gives his tables and lap desks a place among the paintings and sculptures is the finish he gives to his work. People can't help touching it, because it feels like silk. And the fragrance - the whole gallery smells of oils that lend the wood its rich, almost jewel-like glow.
I don't know, but I imagine the finish process gives John real pleasure.
Just as editing ought to give a writer pleasure. It's the final reward for all that went before, the moment when your work goes from something good - a story - to something that glows, something silky smooth to the touch. Something we can call art.
I say editing ought to give pleasure, and for me, it often does, but not always. The smoothing process calls for hard decisions: wonderful passages I must cut away. Whole chapters, even characters sometimes, that must be sacrificed for the greater good of the whole. Not quite children on the altar, but yes, it can feel that way.
How does it feel to you? Tell us. We love to read what you have to say.

35 comments:

Sharon K. Souza said...

Katy, I can smell the wood and the oil. I want that lap desk! I'll have to come for a visit one of these days to visit the gallery. Maybe I won't come home with the lap desk, but I'll love the experience!

This is going to be an exciting couple of weeks on NM. I look forward to reading all of our editing posts and all the comments from the friends who visit here.

Patti Hill said...

Let me speak to the power of having another set of eyes look at your work. I have a critique partner who reads everything I write. She's fussy. She uncovers my lapses in logic and cites The Chicago Book of Style when I stray from the norm. I LOVE her. Love, love, love.

My publishers think I'm pretty smart because I hand in clean manuscripts. All the credit goes to Muriel.

On my present project, she was unable to keep up with my editing schedule due to other responsibilities. I plugged on without her, making changes and enriching as I went. I figured her notes--when they finally reached me--wouldn't give me much to do. HA! I missed tons of stuff!

It was a humbling experience.

I hope you all have a Muriel. If you don't, there's Bonnie. She'll make you look great.

Don't be shy.

Steena Holmes said...

Editing is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It wasn't until I discovered the benefits to critique partners that I 'got it' about editing. I'm excited about this editing series you are doing - with and without the contest - it will probably make the difference for me.

I've had a lot of partial requests and only a few full's off of those ... it's easy to focus on perfecting the query and first few chapters of your novel and forget that every single page in your novel has to be as good as the first.

TABEC

megs said...

Editing is tough work, but I love it. Much as writing is hard work that pays off in the end, the reward of a polished product makes editing well worth the effort.
TABEC

Katie Ganshert said...

Editing is one of my favorite parts of the process. I feel so out of sorts when I write the 1st draft. I plow through without letting myself look back. Editing is my chance to take a deep breath, slow down, and dive deep. It's not always easy though.

TABEC

Bonnie Grove said...

I'm so pleased to see these comments! It's good to know there are writers who love the editing process.

I can't help wonder though, if you will still love it after I've finished with you? I am using a large file to sharpen my teeth. . . . .

I think you are all VERY brave entering this contest!

Bwah-ha-ha!

Jan Cline said...

Most writers I follow have a love hate relationship with editing and I suspect when I get a substancial edit going, it will be the same for me. I'm excited to be learning this part of the biz. This looks to be a great contest - does the MS have to be completely finished?
TABEC

Bonnie Grove said...

Jan, as long as the synopsis is complete, and the first chapter, that's what matters for this contest. The winner will work with me to ensure his/her story is as strong as it can be using the power of the synopsis and the strength of the writing in the first chapter.

Taking some extra time now with your synopsis will be a benefit if you win the contest.

Marcia said...

I enjoy the editing process too, and working with a good editor is wonderful. I'm in the process of finishing off my sequel to One Smooth Stone so would love some feedback, even if those teeth are sharp!

TABEC

christa said...

Editing is to my manuscript like weeding is to my garden.

I'm feeling very SAT-ish today. And, how could I resist entering a contest that makes it seem as if I'll be boarding a pirate ship?


TABEC

Buffy Andrews said...

I love editing. It's easier to edit other's copy than my own. (Smiles) But I love making a beautiful dress and then going back to trim a bit here, a little there. Sew a sequin on here. Perhaps a pearl there. Add a ruffle. Don't that doesn't work. Ah, some netting. Working and working to make the dress one-of-a-kind and oh so beautiful. Good luck to everyone who enters your contest. What a neat idea and a great way to give back:)

Catherine said...

My hand trembles as I write this. I've seen your very sharp teeth in person, Bonnie. Nevertheless, the best early advice I received on my six year writing journey (so far) came from Karen Ball who admonished us writer wannabees at Mount Hermon that "Sometimes you have to kill your darlings."

During the first draft, I repeatedly wonder why I started writing this stupid story anyway. It's hard work, inching ahead and then having my critique partners not understand my brilliant creation. It is the editing, the paring, the critiquing that shapes and hones the paragraphs. Maybe that's the most creative part.

Working with a good editor is essential. Patti, you have Muriel, I have Susanne Lakin and Loretta Boyett. What brilliant minds! Their visions are always bigger and more exciting than mine. Not that I understand how brilliant editing suggestions are when I first read them. First I talk to my computer. "What?" "How dare you?" "You have no clue what I want to do." Maybe I shut the computer off and throw a real tantrum. Then I wait. The next day, the brilliance slowly becomes apparent. I see the glaring holes in my plot. Fixing them is like working a puzzle. Humbling, but thrilling when suddenly a surprising new path grows from their suggestions. Collaboration in writing is essential.
TABEC

Karen Schravemade said...

Catherine, I've found the same thing when I've forced myself to make changes that I don't see the point of or even outright disagree with, simply because the suggestion has come from someone whose opinion I respect. It's only afterward that I've been able to see how much stronger the manuscript has become as a result. Good lesson in humility.

Bonnie, you're one such person whose opinion I respect, because I know and admire your work. Would love this opportunity.

TABEC

coffeelvnmom said...

"Something we can call art" is a wonderful description.

There's nothing better than polishing something you've worked really hard on, and seeing the difference between the first draft and the final one!

TABEC

Karen Foster said...

Writing a story is an act of love as the ideas flow from my mind to my fingertips and spill out on the page. But I love the editing process because it allows me the opportunity to apply all the lessons I've learned about the writing craft. It's not unlike a chef,adding "a pinch of this and a dash of that" to perfect their recipe. The end result is satisfaction.
TABEC

Kathleen Popa said...

Such wonderful responses here. I'm thrilled that so many will compete for the "pirate ship" experience of Bonnie's teeth on the bones of their manuscript. Have you read Bonnie's work? Some lucky writer will be richly rewarded, my mateys.

Yarr!!

Kathleen Popa said...

Such wonderful responses here. I'm thrilled that so many will compete for the "pirate ship" experience of Bonnie's teeth on the bones of their manuscript. Have you read Bonnie's work? Some lucky writer will be richly rewarded, my mateys.

Yarr!!

Emma Connolly said...

I thought my ms was finished. That is, until I read Elizabeth Lyon's editing book, the best book on editing I've read lately because it truly gets to the heart of the page. Now I've cut over 5000 words (so far), I'm seeing the awkward phrases and superfluous words, and I'm actually loving the process. Like anything else, the more I learn the more I love this craft. I've had "other eyes" look at it but they missed so much. I think they were trying to "be nice". I'd love to have more eyes look.
TABEC

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh this excites me so much!! I am dealing with some edits now and it is really hard to take sometimes but it grows me as a writer.




TABEC

Bonnie Grove said...

It's wonderful to see so many writers racing to the edit chopping block!

I have to say, it's a sign of being a real writer if you're actually looking forward to someone sinking their teeth right to the bone of your work.

Let me reiterate, this will be a "true to life" edit of your work - on the substantive level - the most difficult level of editing for a writer to go through.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see so many of you ready - EAGER - for this painful step.

Doesn't it sound like I'm some maniacal, blood-thirsty tyrant who has picked up her furious red pen?

Bwah-ha-ha!

(we could use some Phantom of the Opera music here. Maybe the theme from Jaws?)

MandyB said...

This opportunity could not have come at a better time for me. As a moderately newbie to the whole writing process, I will be reading each and every comment for advice and insight.

TABEC

gargimehra said...

I infinitely prefer editing to writing. Revamping your existing words doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as filling a fresh new page with original thoughts and ideas.
TABEC

Marian said...

I need all the help I can get.

TABEC

vonildawrites said...

I've always said I'm not so much a writer as a re-writer. My Mom was the editor of a national denominational magazine, then our statewide newspaper. I've also always said it's thanks to her that I have red ink flowing in my veins. But for some reason, I'm hesitating on my novel. There are such time issues and logic issues etc.! So I'll be grateful if I win, and if not, to use the promised editing blogs on novelmatters.

Blessings,
Voni

TABEC

vonildawrites said...

I've always said I'm not so much a writer as a re-writer. My Mom was the editor of a national denominational magazine, then our statewide newspaper. I've also always said it's thanks to her that I have red ink flowing in my veins. But for some reason, I'm hesitating on my novel. There are such time issues and logic issues etc.! So I'll be grateful if I win, and if not, to use the promised editing blogs on novelmatters.

Blessings,
Voni

TEBAC

vonildawrites said...

Thanks for the inspirational comments about the shiny sheen on the wood furniture. I LOVE wood!

Voni

TABEC

Megan Sayer said...

Oh...oh..OH...PLEASE...could this be an annual competition? What an amazing opportunity. Bonnie, thanks for offering your time and skills; the winner will be a very lucky person indeed.

I'm not entering, much as I would love to. My WIP just aint far enough advanced (this year...hint hint...see above) to make it worthwhile.

A friend of mine recently paid a few hundred dollars to the State Writer's Centre for a similar process, and found it incredibly helpful. She really struggled though with how the editor would take the Christian world view in her book (it's a self-help book). This post made me wonder, are there Christian editors out there on the internet who charge for this kind of teeth and bones editing? I'm sure there'll be a lot of people entering this comp who would gladly pay!

Bonnie Grove said...

Megan: I see that subtle hint. ;)
Yes, there are Christian editors a writer can hire. I know of at least two on staff at The Editorial Department (http://www.editorialdepartment.com)
We have a post with from an editor at TED on file here at Novel Matters:http://novelmatters.blogspot.com/2010/05/editorial-department-interview-with.html

Marcia said...

Hey, just when I get busy and slip up on reading my e-mail, a contest happens!
Hopefully I'm not too late to enter.

I've always loved sanding wood, so I guess it's no surprise that I like to edit, too. To me the process of editing has been akin to tinkering, playing around, rearranging. Since poking is what I do best, editing has typically seemed like a pleasurable activity.

Then, as a result of this blog, I wondered onto Eric Wilson's website and at his recommendation purchased "Self Editing for Fiction Writers," by Renni Browne and Dave King. Wow, what an eye opener. Talk about the chopping block! I cut the first chapter by more than half.

I would love, love, love the oppotunity to be edited by you, Bonnie. Despite your maniacal laughter;-).

TABEC

Ellen Staley said...

Bonnie, I am revealing just how green I am. What length synopsis do you desire? I'm guessing two to five pages?

I look forward to all the blogs on the self-editing process.

TABEC

Jamie said...

Editing scares the mess outta me! Having the chance to work one-on-one with a pro is great!

TABEC

stopeka said...

Editing to me is liking putting the flesh on the bones of a story, molding it, shaping it, and bringing it to life.

TABEC

JosephDMMiller said...

Editing for me is about discovering the little (and big) details that transform a first draft into a living, breathing story. It might be tough work, but it's worth every minute of anguish over putting the best words in the best order.

TABEC

Natasha Wing said...

When you make it a game, for instance, tell yourself you have to cut 200 words from a chapter, then it's like playing seek and destroy - eliminate that passive word! Drop the he said. Clarify the sentence! After you're done, it's the feeling you get after you've cleaned your closet.

TABEC

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Love the topic and the discussion. I've been over my WIP many times and find that with each rewrite the story is so much better. I've had a request for a full ms from an agent. I'd love to have yet another pair of eyes go over my story. Thanks for the opportunity.
TABEC