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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And what if…?

Just spent a cool hundred minutes discussing possible permutations and combinations for The Underwater Realm. And we careered from plot to setting to character to motivation and back to plot, trying to tie disparate ideas together and make it all work. This following a twenty-six message e-mail conversation I'd had with another person involved in the production yesterday where we argued about the whole concept over about three hours. This bouncing of ideas is exhilarating. I love working with talented people. It also means I have little creative energy left for my own project work today. Time to refuel with a chocolate cookie (gotta love Lent Sundays!)....
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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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I Heart Persona

When Phill Barron described his new project Persona on Wednesday, I wanted to be part of it. It sounds like a crazy format that could be incredibly powerful: daily two-minute continuing drama centred around a dating website - www.i-heart-u.co.uk - that is accessed via an app on your smartphone. Today, he released more details and invited writers to enquire. Obviously, that e-mail is already sent. Other things I like today include Less IMDB - John August's solution to IMDB's redesign to bring cast and credits to the top and screw gossip and trivia - which now has releases for Chrome and Firefox. And Vampires v Zombies, which reminds me of an action/interaction-based prompt table I made for my editor friend - including the prompt Zombies v Unicorns. (Personally, I'd take Undead Unicorns) ...
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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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The Read-Through

So, while draft three is with my editor, I'm eyeing up the looming Red Planet Prize deadline with dread. There are plenty of people with professional screenwriting credits going for this thing. People with talent and creative networks and Scribosphere contacts. And then there's me. Therefore, I've decided to attempt what any smart screenwriter would: a read-through. Get a bunch of people in a room who can read. Give them your script. Ask them nicely to read it - aloud, in character. Listen. Listen good. Receive feedback. Watch the whole thing back and wince repeatedly at how stupid your character voices sound. Redraft. Lather, rinse, repeat. I've mobilised my director, who decided that our little gang of film people weren't enough and has started hitting up the local acting talent. This scares me a little bit. It's fine giving my script to my friends, who know me and will coach their criticism in terms of "it's okay, sweetie, we'll get through this". These are people...
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Writers cannot shut up

Rang my pet editor to invite him to dinner. Spent nearly an hour on the phone talking about Old!Robin Hood, Steampunk Assassins and Military Monster TV Pilot. And I still don't know whether he's coming to dinner. Conclusion: writers are incapable of having "a short chat". However, dithering is a speciality....
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One True Love: TV

As I continue to await feedback on my Steampunk Assassins re-draft and plod onward with my Old!Robin Hood attempt, my pet editor drew my attention to Red Planet's competition. The brief is to write an original sixty minute pilot or play for television. Television is my love. I adore TV. At the moment, I'm crushing on Doctor Who, Glee, Merlin, and Castle. Past loves include The West Wing and Battlestar Galactica. Therefore, there was no way I was going to turn down this competition, no matter how many other projects I have on the go! My first idea was for a British space agency comedy-drama, but I realised that the season plan wouldn't really go anywhere and that hit a dead end. Then, I picked up my trusty Save the Cat book and out fell an old page of notes for a film I was planning in 2008. A film I later decided would be a much better TV series...and therefore abandoned. After a quick...
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A cacophony of projects

I managed to knock out a second draft of the Steampunk Assassins screenplay and my pet editor is on that. However, I then picked up my friends' project and set about a draft of a screenplay that completely changes their plot and characters, but fulfils the central requirement of: Old!Robin Hood. For research purposes, I watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which is cheesy awful and yet So Bad It's Good. I also have an important work project due next week, a cross-stitch with a deadline of this weekend, and I just signed up to a new challenge for my little fanfiction hobby. This is a disaster - but quite an enjoyable one!...
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