• Hetal Avanee

#Manuscript tips


Some mentors were lucky enough to read through their mentee's full manuscript prior to the start of the editing period.

I was not one of the mentors with the foresight to ask for the full. Oh well. Will have to keep it mind for next year's FicFest if Tiffany accepts my "be a 2017 mentor" entry ;)

However, I did finish Christina's full MS before I had to rejoin the real world last week, and OMG: I was not disappointed. And I expect I'll be even more in awe of her words once I get through her revised full.

Can't wait for that book baby to be shared with the world.

We still have a couple of more rounds to go - and we've only skimmed the Query and Synopsis - but here's what I've learned about myself through this Mentor-Mentee process:

  • Though I am not yet published, people believe I have valuable-ish advice to give. ;) I offered to critique querys-which people actually took me up on. I've been asked in asides to look over a few pages/chapters-which of course I will! But most satisfying for me is that I picked up two other novel babies-that I'm not *totally* sure I can improve-which I've been loving alongside my mentee's words.

  • While I probably forget to compliment my author(s) as often as I should on the actual pages, I am not mean about my suggestions and DO gush behind the scenes and all over twitter.

  • I've found some love again for some old tools/apps that I've neglected (some specifics below) which help me organize and manage all of these novel babies in my nursery.

  • Time management is NOT my strongest skill-but I'm figuring it out and I hope I'm doing my fellow authors justice in the process.

Editing advice from those "in the know"

Some FicFest mentors have been providing suggestions off and on ever since the submission window opened, but have you checked out some other hashtags? #PubTip, #WriteTip, and #EditTip come to mind, but also, start following agents and editors if you haven't already because they provide golden nuggets of knowledge on the regular.

  • Filter overused words - The link will take you to a great site that talks about overused words, but there are also tools that can help identify them for you. Specifics below.

  • First rule of CP/Beta feedback: Read all suggestions, digest them, but ultimately apply the changes you can agree with. You know what's best for your MC(s), story arcs, plots, and subplots, so you have free reign to choose what changes you want to apply. But there is a caveat: those CPs/Betas might not be trying to "critique" your work, per se. As is my case, I'm looking at your story as a regular reader, and as a regular reader I ask a lot of questions, so if I'm asking others might too. Now wouldn't you want to clear up the confusion before sending your words off to an agent/publisher?

  • Remove unnecessary scenes/chapters/parts. All of your words should move your story forward towards that Happy Ever After or Happy For Now resolution. As much as you adore that one introspective scene where your MC finds the meaning of life in the not-quite-curly enough curly fry...you should probably accept that you need to lose it.

Things I do myself

Along with the above, I've even been applying some of this knowledge myself over the years and I promise it's invaluable. My mentee might even tell you the same since she's already heard some of this from me. :D

  • When editing my MS I look for the *unnecessarily* long sentences and make the effort to break them up. The occasional long sentence is fine, but I've found that some really short sentences pack more of a punch. Reading tip: Find a long sentence in your own piece and try to say it out loud in one breath. If you're fighting for air, your lungs nearly collapsing in on themselves, by the end, it's too long.

  • Make your first 250 (essentially the first page) as strong as you possibly can. That first page needs to establish the world, the MC, and hopefully their goal. No need to be overt about any of this, subtly still works, but make sure you're not keeping secrets for secret's sake. No one likes a tease ;)

  • Also in the first 250? Show tension. This is not the same as action. As a UF writer I struggled with this. I thought they were one and the same. My original Chapter 1 had a killer opening line that propelled the MC into a fight-action galore! However, readers didn't understand my world, weren't sure if they should root for the MC, or what the hell the point of the fight was since it was tertiary and not about my MC. Don't make my mistake: make it about your MC.

  • End chapters and scenes on cliffhangers. I'm a big cheerleader of this one myself, often executed by a short punchy sentence :) A cliffhanger will entice the reader to turn the page and keep reading. Our ultimate writer goal.

  • Remember those editing tools I mentioned above? Well, I'm a big fan of the AutoCrit application and ProWritingAid is a cost-affordable option. You paste some text in a box, hit a button, and it will analyze your words for you. Definitely run the "passive voice" and "overused words" reports.

  • After many trials and errors, I found a couple of non-writer betas whom I adore. They are my true test for what works and what doesn't because they are first and foremost #readers. They are invaluable folks, so find a couple if you don't have any already.

Other News

I'm almost at 1000 twitter followers. What the whaaatttt? I don't know how I'll celebrate this. Probably offer another critique-or three-of some sort. Guess I'll think about that if I hit the lucky number.

Going to Washington D.C. this weekend to show my kids around the capital. They've both gotten really interested in outer space, the history of Earth, and our government, so Air & Space and Natural History museums here we come!

I got a new job...at my old job...umm...it's an internal transfer really to another group but a change I'm really excited for.

Sent 25 queries in May bringing total sent to 69 (don't laugh...ok, you can laugh a little). 34 Rejections or Closed No Responses. This might be my last batch of agent queries. Will have to research some more.

In the meantime, I find myself giving more and more time to my writing community, and I'm so happy to be doing it. I've been signing up for "new book" blog hops, signing myself a stop on contest blog tours, offering to beta read in my genres (or for certain Tweeps), and reading for contests whenever I find the opportunities. If you need my help, just reach out to me on twitter @HetalWrites and I'll get back to you.

Enjoy Memorial Day weekend US readers and writers.

#writetip #pubtip #writerslife #life