Ah HA!

Aug. 25th, 2012 01:10 am
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
FANFICCERS!

Worried about lack of reviews?

Sad that everyone is reading everyone who is not you?

Depressed to see teenagers who don't know how to spell frottage and cannot accurately gauge the bendability of the average penis with thousands of ffnet reviews while your finely crafted and beautifully edited masterpieces are lucky to garner 23?

FRET NO LONGER!

THE SECRET IS REVEALED!

''People say it isn't good quality but you have to remember Fifty Shades started as fan fiction and as fan fiction you have to have action,'' Hayward says. ''You have to have a sex scene in every chapter because that's how you get your reviews. The amount of people who review per chapter shows popularity, that's how your ratings get up. In fan fiction every chapter has to give you something to keep you reading it.''
(From an SMH interview with Amanda Hayward, the really rather brilliant publisher of the not as brilliant book.)

So there you go! You lot who've been telling me to porn it up were right all along! (I mean, obviously I'm not going to, but that's for the best. The Bad Sex Awards longlist is already inches thick.)

I thoroughly recommend the article, which is interesting and respectfully written, without being actually nice about bad writing. It includes this gem from The London Review of Books' Andrew O'Hagan, which I had previously missed: ''It's not that Fifty Shades of Grey and E.L. James's other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote.''

blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Ages ago, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins  asked how people sit down and actually write: the brass tacks practical version of things. I've been an editor, writer and journalist for over 20 years, so I waved my hand loftily at the ease of answering such a question and then started to jot down a few notes. Then a few topics to cover at more length in my response, which quickly grew beyond the limit of a comment. And then beyond the limit of a single post. And then I needed to research it more and provide more examples ... and suffice to say that now, what must be coming up on a year later I have still not come close to finishing the bugger and have 11,000 words of practical writing, technical and editing tips languishing on my hard drive, helping nobody.

So, as part of Operation Finish Things, I am going to start posting bits when I have finished them up to something approaching my satisfaction. They will be, as the trains say here, late and out of timetable order. But I hope, also like trains, of some use.

There are two very important caveats. Firstly, nothing I say represents the One True Way. There is no One true Way, these are just things that I have seen work for myself or others over the years. Please feel free to comment with things that work well for you, too. 

Secondly, everything I have written below and everything that will come in future parts in this series is written from the perspective of the advice I would give someone who was planning to publish their work (because I cannot turn off my work brain to write this). Not all of it is appropriate for every occasion or for everyone in fandom. Do not think that you need do any more than you want to, because fandom is first and foremost about the enjoyment of participants. Needless to say, I sometimes fail at everything I am going to advise all through these posts. They represent an ideal, like five serves of veg and an hour's exercise every day. But like all ideals, they are good goals.

All quotes are given with attributions, all unattributed quotes are made up on the spot for the purpose of the exercise and should not be judged too harshly. Annoyingly for the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins , I've begun at the end with my section on editing your own work, which is of absolutely no use in answering her original question, but may be of some help for some of you. Inevitably there will be an appalling typo or two below, as there is in every 'how to edit' post. I apologise in advance and submit that it cannot be worse than the time I received a rejection from a Political Figure telling me that my freelance copy was far too easygoing for the Pubic Service.


THE EDITING PROCESS
Spotting blunders )

Put it aside for a time )


Basic beta checklist )
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Ages ago, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins  asked how people sit down and actually write: the brass tacks practical version of things. I've been an editor, writer and journalist for over 20 years, so I waved my hand loftily at the ease of answering such a question and then started to jot down a few notes. Then a few topics to cover at more length in my response, which quickly grew beyond the limit of a comment. And then beyond the limit of a single post. And then I needed to research it more and provide more examples ... and suffice to say that now, what must be coming up on a year later I have still not come close to finishing the bugger and have 11,000 words of practical writing, technical and editing tips languishing on my hard drive, helping nobody.

So, as part of Operation Finish Things, I am going to start posting bits when I have finished them up to something approaching my satisfaction. They will be, as the trains say here, late and out of timetable order. But I hope, also like trains, of some use.

There are two very important caveats. Firstly, nothing I say represents the One True Way. There is no One true Way, these are just things that I have seen work for myself or others over the years. Please feel free to comment with things that work well for you, too. 

Secondly, everything I have written below and everything that will come in future parts in this series is written from the perspective of the advice I would give someone who was planning to publish their work (because I cannot turn off my work brain to write this). Not all of it is appropriate for every occasion or for everyone in fandom. Do not think that you need do any more than you want to, because fandom is first and foremost about the enjoyment of participants. Needless to say, I sometimes fail at everything I am going to advise all through these posts. They represent an ideal, like five serves of veg and an hour's exercise every day. But like all ideals, they are good goals.

All quotes are given with attributions, all unattributed quotes are made up on the spot for the purpose of the exercise and should not be judged too harshly. Annoyingly for the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins , I've begun at the end with my section on editing your own work, which is of absolutely no use in answering her original question, but may be of some help for some of you. Inevitably there will be an appalling typo or two below, as there is in every 'how to edit' post. I apologise in advance and submit that it cannot be worse than the time I received a rejection from a Political Figure telling me that my freelance copy was far too easygoing for the Pubic Service.


THE EDITING PROCESS
Spotting blunders )

Put it aside for a time )


Basic beta checklist )
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Before talking about editing in YA literature, a quick rec, [livejournal.com profile] leochi 's adorable next-gen Weasley-Potter clan image should be smiled at by everyone, it is that happy-making.

Now, onto editing. I have been trying out new YA authors of late. Sometimes this has been a very happy adventure, Frances Hardinge and Ysabeau Wilce have brought me great joy so far. But other times it has been an exercise in frustration. Not because I have been reading bad YA literature, a few paragraphs in the bookshop will usually be enough to warn me off books that would have me frothing, but because I have been reading books that should have been better than they were.

Sometimes it is a small matter, and one that the target audience may not even notice. Flitterwig, by Edrei Cullen and with delightful illustrations by Gregory Rogers, was a charming tale that's more young than YA. Ella, whose mother and brothers are dead and whose father cannot bear to look at her, discovers that she is a part-magical creature and that it is up to her to see that the Queen of the Faeries can return to the Kingdom of Magus.

There were some very clever ideas in this novel and some great spots of writing. My inner six-year-old was giggling at the demented pixie who helps Ella along, and for 95% of the book, I was wholly charmed. But the other 5% was wading through the bog of paragraphs that should have been sentences where the exposition fairy had been allowed to trample her muddy boots across the text. I also seem to remember some copy editing isues, but buggered if I can find my copy to confirm that.

It may not seem like much, but it was very noticeable while I read through, and made me want to break out a blue pencil and mark up edits, as someone else should have done before the book was published. As I say, though, the target audience probably did not notice. I read ever so many Famous Five and Secret Seven books when I was little despite the fact they were formulaic and had the odd plot hole, apparently these things mattered far less to me 35 years ago. I remember that I read them differently to the adult literature I was reading when I was small, and that I filled in all the gaps myself without question, which is probably what young readers of this book will do today, given the smartness of the underlying ideas and the satisfaction of the end.

On a different note is Justine Larbalestier's output. I really, really wanted to love this author. For a start, she set her trilogy up the road, in Newtown, and her other, stand-alone, novel features a character who is a lesbian and is filled with Australia jokes. I should have loved them. But instead I find myself saying, 'they're good, but …'
cut for length and spoilers )

Why is this all so important? Because good editing means the difference between small print run books that people on LJ think are good and small print run books that take off and become blockbusters. You need either it or publicity, and sometimes the former will lead to the latter. One of the obvious examples is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was for the most part a beautifully edited novel. There was nothing in it to throw the reader out of the text, to make them work harder than they needed to. Insetad, it all made for a seamless inviting read.

In a purely mercenary sense, good editing is like cleaning your house up before you try and sell it. It is the reassurance to the reader that not only did the author think this book was worth lavishing time and effort on, but so did the publisher. You have more faith in such a book, and less in one that is badly edited.

And it offends me on Justine Larbalestier's behalf that her publisher let her down here, because I think she is smart and has talent, and that it should be polished and shown at its best. The editing these books received did not do that.


blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Before talking about editing in YA literature, a quick rec, [livejournal.com profile] leochi 's adorable next-gen Weasley-Potter clan image should be smiled at by everyone, it is that happy-making.

Now, onto editing. I have been trying out new YA authors of late. Sometimes this has been a very happy adventure, Frances Hardinge and Ysabeau Wilce have brought me great joy so far. But other times it has been an exercise in frustration. Not because I have been reading bad YA literature, a few paragraphs in the bookshop will usually be enough to warn me off books that would have me frothing, but because I have been reading books that should have been better than they were.

Sometimes it is a small matter, and one that the target audience may not even notice. Flitterwig, by Edrei Cullen and with delightful illustrations by Gregory Rogers, was a charming tale that's more young than YA. Ella, whose mother and brothers are dead and whose father cannot bear to look at her, discovers that she is a part-magical creature and that it is up to her to see that the Queen of the Faeries can return to the Kingdom of Magus.

There were some very clever ideas in this novel and some great spots of writing. My inner six-year-old was giggling at the demented pixie who helps Ella along, and for 95% of the book, I was wholly charmed. But the other 5% was wading through the bog of paragraphs that should have been sentences where the exposition fairy had been allowed to trample her muddy boots across the text. I also seem to remember some copy editing isues, but buggered if I can find my copy to confirm that.

It may not seem like much, but it was very noticeable while I read through, and made me want to break out a blue pencil and mark up edits, as someone else should have done before the book was published. As I say, though, the target audience probably did not notice. I read ever so many Famous Five and Secret Seven books when I was little despite the fact they were formulaic and had the odd plot hole, apparently these things mattered far less to me 35 years ago. I remember that I read them differently to the adult literature I was reading when I was small, and that I filled in all the gaps myself without question, which is probably what young readers of this book will do today, given the smartness of the underlying ideas and the satisfaction of the end.

On a different note is Justine Larbalestier's output. I really, really wanted to love this author. For a start, she set her trilogy up the road, in Newtown, and her other, stand-alone, novel features a character who is a lesbian and is filled with Australia jokes. I should have loved them. But instead I find myself saying, 'they're good, but …'
cut for length and spoilers )

Why is this all so important? Because good editing means the difference between small print run books that people on LJ think are good and small print run books that take off and become blockbusters. You need either it or publicity, and sometimes the former will lead to the latter. One of the obvious examples is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was for the most part a beautifully edited novel. There was nothing in it to throw the reader out of the text, to make them work harder than they needed to. Insetad, it all made for a seamless inviting read.

In a purely mercenary sense, good editing is like cleaning your house up before you try and sell it. It is the reassurance to the reader that not only did the author think this book was worth lavishing time and effort on, but so did the publisher. You have more faith in such a book, and less in one that is badly edited.

And it offends me on Justine Larbalestier's behalf that her publisher let her down here, because I think she is smart and has talent, and that it should be polished and shown at its best. The editing these books received did not do that.


blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Before I embark on today's chatter, anyone who has an interest in next-generation HP fic should go and read Cal's post here. It's a brilliant new plan that should be supported! And I'm not telling you about it, go and read!

Now onto a little thinky bit. It's not a rant, more a tip. I've been going back over some of the AS/S fest stories I missed, slowly slowly. And something that's occurred to me is that pretty much all of my  favourite stories  had a real sense of time to them. 

The Epilogue to DH is set in 2017. That's eight years in the future. Eight years does not sound like a ong time, but it is. Think about what life was like in 2000: I bet most of you had never heard of Osama bin Laden, the iPod was still on the drawing board, Windows 2000 was cutting-edge and Hillary Clinton was having a year of political successes. Eight years from now, things will have changed just as much.

Now it can be hard to play speculation, believe me that I know this to be true! So I understand why some people choose not to go there. But for stories set in classic HP era, or even Marauders era, why do some people not think back 10 or 20 years to what life was like, what people wore, and how people spoke?

Note that it's some. There are people out there who do an amazing job of researching or remembering their eras. For the rest, the internet is your friend. Vintage television series are easily come by (takes a brief mental pause for visions of a wave of Professionals-inspired H/D, decides that would be quite funny, moves on), and everyone has novels from the 1990s, '80s and '70s on their bookshelves.  Embrace them.

And, there's no gentle way to say this, try and research what was happening in Britain at the time. It's not what was happening in America. Well, except for the fact that Reagan and Thatcher were both making us all very nervous indeed.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Before I embark on today's chatter, anyone who has an interest in next-generation HP fic should go and read Cal's post here. It's a brilliant new plan that should be supported! And I'm not telling you about it, go and read!

Now onto a little thinky bit. It's not a rant, more a tip. I've been going back over some of the AS/S fest stories I missed, slowly slowly. And something that's occurred to me is that pretty much all of my  favourite stories  had a real sense of time to them. 

The Epilogue to DH is set in 2017. That's eight years in the future. Eight years does not sound like a ong time, but it is. Think about what life was like in 2000: I bet most of you had never heard of Osama bin Laden, the iPod was still on the drawing board, Windows 2000 was cutting-edge and Hillary Clinton was having a year of political successes. Eight years from now, things will have changed just as much.

Now it can be hard to play speculation, believe me that I know this to be true! So I understand why some people choose not to go there. But for stories set in classic HP era, or even Marauders era, why do some people not think back 10 or 20 years to what life was like, what people wore, and how people spoke?

Note that it's some. There are people out there who do an amazing job of researching or remembering their eras. For the rest, the internet is your friend. Vintage television series are easily come by (takes a brief mental pause for visions of a wave of Professionals-inspired H/D, decides that would be quite funny, moves on), and everyone has novels from the 1990s, '80s and '70s on their bookshelves.  Embrace them.

And, there's no gentle way to say this, try and research what was happening in Britain at the time. It's not what was happening in America. Well, except for the fact that Reagan and Thatcher were both making us all very nervous indeed.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
No, that is not an H/D title, it's one of my crazed ways of explaining How Things Work.

The wacky world of fandom is a richly imaginative one, with a lot of talent leaping about, but not a whole lot of input on the craft of writing. As I mentioned in a friend's journal, this is crazed, because for any other craft, we're all about teaching the technique, yet for some reason we just expect people to make their own way with writing.

Writing fiction is something that comes very naturally to some people and is hard-wrung from others, but it's a natural imperative. We're a narrative-based species. When we talk about ourselves we do it in terms of our personal stories, when we meet people, we judge them on theirs.

But although narrative is one of our most basic human impulses, written narrative is not something that comes without a raft of issues. It's analogous to running: some people head off like a gazelle in bare feet, others need corrective shoes, others look like ducks, and others sprain their ankles after three paces. Yet with an awareness of why problems come about, most people can run happily. Some just need to spend more money at the shoe shop, others need a trainer to show them style, others need glasses to spot the pot holes.

The issues that plague narrative writing are more complex, but they can similarly be fixed with a bit of awareness and effort. I like to think of them all as a series of fairies, good and evil, that flutter around our sweetly bowed creative heads as we scratch nib to paper [which may have started off as an original idea for me, goodness knows, but certainly wasnt a unique one; it's like the lightbulb ...]. You should probably be warned at this point that I'm also the woman who began a description of how hair dye sticks to hair with: "Imagine a lettuce dipped in melted chocolate ..."

blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
No, that is not an H/D title, it's one of my crazed ways of explaining How Things Work.

The wacky world of fandom is a richly imaginative one, with a lot of talent leaping about, but not a whole lot of input on the craft of writing. As I mentioned in a friend's journal, this is crazed, because for any other craft, we're all about teaching the technique, yet for some reason we just expect people to make their own way with writing.

Writing fiction is something that comes very naturally to some people and is hard-wrung from others, but it's a natural imperative. We're a narrative-based species. When we talk about ourselves we do it in terms of our personal stories, when we meet people, we judge them on theirs.

But although narrative is one of our most basic human impulses, written narrative is not something that comes without a raft of issues. It's analogous to running: some people head off like a gazelle in bare feet, others need corrective shoes, others look like ducks, and others sprain their ankles after three paces. Yet with an awareness of why problems come about, most people can run happily. Some just need to spend more money at the shoe shop, others need a trainer to show them style, others need glasses to spot the pot holes.

The issues that plague narrative writing are more complex, but they can similarly be fixed with a bit of awareness and effort. I like to think of them all as a series of fairies, good and evil, that flutter around our sweetly bowed creative heads as we scratch nib to paper [which may have started off as an original idea for me, goodness knows, but certainly wasnt a unique one; it's like the lightbulb ...]. You should probably be warned at this point that I'm also the woman who began a description of how hair dye sticks to hair with: "Imagine a lettuce dipped in melted chocolate ..."

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