Questions From My Editor

Questions From My Editor

I've been fortunate to work with my excellent editor Deb Nemeth on three Amy Lane novels now. In the course of editing my work, she asks me a lot of questions. Some are to expand her knowledge of my characters' world and some are to challenge me to grow as a writer. I'm going to share a few (spoiler-free!) questions that Deb has asked me during different stages of editing for Binary Witness, Code Runner and Captcha Thief. Welsh life I use a number of Welsh names in my novels, but Jason's sister probably possesses one of the more challenging ones. Cerys is pronounced "keh-ris", not anything like "cerise". Additionally, Owain is less like Owen and more "owe-ein". Sticking with names, abbreviations aren't always universally understood. As Peggy is to Margaret and Betty is to Elizabeth, so Dai is to David in Wales. Slang is obviously also highly-localised. "Butt" is a piece of South Walean slang, most often found around Cardiff and Newport, and it's...
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The Art of Waiting

I am currently in the strange position of waiting on all on my projects. A couple of things are waiting on feedback and decisions, and a novel and a screenplay are in the brewing stage, where I've deliberately left them alone to gain some much-needed perspective. So, what is a writer to do? Here are five dos and don'ts of waiting gracefully. DON'T refresh your email all day and night With most of us having our email literally at our fingertips, it's very tempting to stay glued to your inbox. The very instant that success, rejection or those vital notes arrive, you will know it! I have a weird habit of avoiding my most-wanted email - I will check Gmail's Social and Promotions tags and empty Spam before reading The One. It's either avoidance or saving the best 'til last... DO take a break from devices This is an important point at all writing stages, but it's particularly relevant here. Getting out and experiencing life gives...
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Along the byway

Of course, it's the time of year for summaries and conclusions, personal achievement counting and reflection. I have finished Steampunk Assassins. By which I mean it's with my beloved director and editor friends and I suppose there might be One Final Draft to complete. I have made a start on The Greenwich Problem for Laughing Stack 2011. I ran the logline past my director, extrapolated the plot of the pilot and shaded in the main characters' traits and tics. He was very enthusiastic - and, as I trust his tastes, this pleases me greatly. I'm also going to try my hand at a Rom Com feature spec - we'll term it Baking Lawyer. That has a beat sheet but nothing else at the moment. Military Monster needs a complete overhaul before it can have anything going for it. I need to take a step back on Asylum and write a beat sheet for the pilot before I sink further into the intricacies of plotting...
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Sotto voce

After flailing at Danny Stack earlier in the week about original voice, I decided to concentrate my efforts on this "final" draft of Steampunk Assassins. By far, my biggest self-criticism is that this reads like a court reporter's transcript: flat, lifeless, tab A into slot B, thank you kindly. Edward races along the dock front towards the Royal Navy and East India Company ships. The seaman stumbles ahead, looking over his shoulder in terror. The gem in his hand flashes in the lamplight. Some average use of word diversity but nothing special. But, with spit and polish: Edward races along the dock front, the Royal Navy's sails fluttering like the flags of the finish line. The seaman stumbles ahead, glancing back with wide eyes. A flash from his hand - gold-blue light, magpie bait. Maybe now, however, I'm in danger of writing a Harlequin romance novel instead of an action-adventure screenplay? So far, only four scenes have been rendered in this light, so the overall tone is not as...
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Passive present

Set to editing Steampunk Assassins this weekend - actually overhauling the whole thing instead of tweaking the bits I hated most. And I realised that I'd written most of the thing in present progressive e.g. Edward is writing a load of nonsense at his desk. When I did use a simple present, I usually followed it with a 'then': Edward runs to the mast, then climbs it. Also, a lot of things happened simultaneously: Edward turns, as the wind catches his coat and billows it behind him like a big black cloud. Irritatingly, Act One took about two hours to trawl through and getting to the midpoint took another two hours. I'm not convinced some of these scenes took this long to write in the first place! Editing sucks. In other news, The Bitter Script Reader has collected the final scripts from the Round Robin writing project. He will be showcasing them on his blog in the coming days - my segment is in the...
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Square One

After all the pressure of competition deadlines over the past few months, I've gone back to the specs. Having finally transferred all my work to Celtx (even if I haven't resolved all my formatting issues quite yet), I've set Steampunk Assassins and Military Monster down to rest for another week. I've also actually written an outline for the Asylum pilot, because stumbling around Military Monster led to some bad creative decisions and a lot of words I had to unwrite and I like to dance to some kind of beat. I have another long train journey tomorrow, so hopefully I'll drum something out and flesh out my characters. Then, for the journey back, I'm going to pick up Steampunk Assassins and tear that thing to pieces. I really need to learn to love editing - writing is rewriting, after all. ...
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Red Planet Panic

So, the Red Planet Prize shortlisting announcement is "mid-September". The optimist in me says 'Great! That gives me three weeks to rewrite the rest of my script!'. The pessimist in me says 'Yeesh, just put me out of my misery already and let me move on with my life'. Regardless, I now have a definite plan for my train journey tomorrow. Huzzah for trains, the only place where I can be utterly productive. I just hope the Bank Holiday crowds allow me a seat to work......
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Too many fireworks

I just submitted my entry for the Red Planet Prize. I've spent the past two days angsting over it, bombarded with feedback from my editor and director, and tonight, I just let it go. It's done. Tomorrow, I move to a new town. And on Thursday, I start a new job. Everyone just comes along at once, doesn't it?...
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Outlining the outline

Thanks to two train journeys, my first draft of the Military Monster pilot was completed and, after feedback and a bit of hack 'n' slash, draft two is back with my editor. The pressures of the deadline! Last week, Danny Stack, screenwriter and co-creator of the Red Planet Prize, posted a few more tidbits of info. This included highlighting the need for a "short synopsis", which may be for the episode or the series - "whatever you think best sells the idea/script/show". And I haven't the first idea how to write such a thing. In my head, I know the theme of the first season, the general character development and the bad guy(s). I've also jotted down some notes to myself, including potential directions for Season 2 and 3 (because, hey, dream big, right?). Yet, is that what's required? Or does this synopsis require episode outlines? And, if so, how many episode outlines? Six, like Hustle, one of Red Planet's shows? Or Thirteen, like...
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