Editing

Returning Lemonade to the Lemons

Arrogant Writer

In my opinion, there are too many suggestions to improve things. Ten keys to success, five days to improving something, 12 steps to overcoming something, transform something by the end of the week, etc.

An entirely neglected approach to life is how to make it go sour. Messing it up needs equal time and attention. Not enough is written about it and not enough time is spent discussing it.

Until now.

Forget making lemonade from lemons, here are eleven proven methods to putting the lemonade back where it belongs…and derail your otherwise tolerable writing life. Do these all in one week and I will guarantee a sour experience, like chugging a tall glass of warm unsweetened lemonade on a hot summer day and realizing you just swallowed four flies who died in the pitcher.

Does that scream “summer fun” or what?

Here is your list for today, guaranteed to eliminate any enjoyment from writing:

  1. Pay no attention to anyone who knows what they are doing – close your eyes and ears to the distractions. After all, you know how to write and know everything about publishing. How hard can it be? Hey, if that football player can write a book, certainly I can!
  2. Treat a book contract like you deserved it – Hey, you have worked hard at writing. You are special. You deserve this. You need to tell people that you are special and you deserve it. Humility is overrated and no fun at all.
  3. Pay no attention to manuscript deadlines – First, you have a life and this manuscript deadline was arbitrary anyway, so forget those people who are waiting for it. Second, see reason number two.
  4. Treat an editor like the enemy – How dare they change my words. This is MY book, not theirs. Okay, so I misspelled a few werds and didn’t get my facts straight and can’t find the source of the quote I used. Details, details. (See #2)
  5. Be too busy for family and friends – I am working hard to hit my deadline (whatever that is), fulfill the contract, must write the book, must get it right, must hit the deadline, must get it right. Do you think I have a clone? This book is too important.
  6. Be too busy to grow spiritually – Serve in the church? I have a book deadline! Small group Bible study? Be serious. I am writing something that will change the world and you want me to stop writing to meet? Come on, I write Bible studies, I don’t use them.
  7. Truly believe your reviews, both good and bad – Woohoo! Bob from Memphis gave me five-stars! I love being an author. Wait. Jan from Denver hated it. One star? I am going to hunt her down.
  8. Determine your value to God by your royalty report – one hundred twenty copies sold last year? That’s it, I give up. God can’t use 120 copies.
  9. Treat a publisher like the enemy – I heard that publishers regularly gather around a boiling kettle and chant spells, throwing eyes of newt into the brew.
  10. Work to develop your craft by yourself – Writers conferences or writer-groups are a waste of my time. They should be paying me to teach, not charging me to attend.
  11. I am on a mission for God – I am God’s messenger to this generation and everyone and everything is either a distraction or threat to my mission. Must destroy them. Spiritual warfare has casualties and it will be them, not me.

Having fun yet?

Read Galatians 5.

 

 

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When the Gloves Come Off

Fist Slams Table in Anger

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“But I wanted my readers to know about my characters,” the author may protest.

Understandable, indeed.

However, I believe it’s important to lay out the basic conflicts for the reader early on so she’ll know what she’ll be exploring with you and will be eager to keep diving in. Before I learn that the hero had a difficult childhood and the heroine struggles with lingering effects of poverty, I want to know their immediate obstacles to their current goals. Those goals may be (whether they know it or not) their ultimate romance. Or they may be involved in a quest. Or perhaps solving a mystery. In any event, the reader wants to know what type of book he’ll be reading and will want to learn what obstacles he’ll be overcoming with the characters right away. Then, once the reader is interested in the characters’ journey, their back story will be all the more fascinating and relevant.

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The Right (Size) Stuff

One hundred and fifty years ago this fall, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address on the site of the battle that turned the tide of the American Civil War.  It was 270 words and took two minutes to deliver.

Not as memorable was the 13,600-word oratory by American statesman Edward Everett that lasted for two hours prior to Lincoln’s epic speech. In fact, the program for that November 19, 1863 event consisted of eight elements…four songs, two prayers, Everett’s speech and a few words from the President.

History elevated those two minutes by the President to some of the greatest words ever spoken. The rest of the program is all but forgotten.

Recently I was in an airport terminal waiting to board a flight and the well-intentioned airline employee picked up the really bad microphone and began explaining the boarding procedure for my flight in tremendous detail.

Fifteen minutes later (I am not kidding, I timed it) the announcement was finished.

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Your Writing Team: Freelance Editors

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Yes, for some, the editor role is filled by an in-house editor. But if that’s not the case for you, then I encourage you to consider bringing a freelance editor onto your team. You’ll be amazed at the benefits.

Good editors are a mix of coach and cheerleader. They look at your work front to back with an eye not only to the details you see, but to the big picture we often can’t see in our own work. I’m constantly amazed, and grateful, for the insights my editor brings to me as a writer. The way she can cut through the story that I’m so immersed in and pinpoint exactly what I’m doing wrong (coach mode)—and right (cheerleader mode).

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You Are Essential

On Sunday our pastor’s sermon was on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Although in this passage, St. Paul writes about how each person is a special part of the body of Christ, with a comparison to how all the parts of the human body work together, I couldn’t help but think of how essential we all are to the publishing process:

Writers: Without authors’ creativity and courage, no one would have a book to publish or to read.

Agents: Yes, it is possible to be published without an agent. But because of the nature of publishing, few have the broad range of contacts and experience that an agent has to understand the nuances of the marketplace, each individual publishing house, the complex nature of contracts, the intricacies of the editorial process, and where each writer’s work will best fit.

Acquisitions Editors: From the many submissions editors receive, they are responsible for deciding which books are best suited for their houses to bring to the reading public.

Sales and Marketing Teams: They agree early in the process that they can sell an author’s book, and will present it it to book buyers. The marketing team works on getting the word out about the book.

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Editing the Bible

I always thought it was interesting that Christian publishers employed Bible editors.  Of course, they are not there to edit the Bible text, but to work on the extra-Bible notes and additional material that might end up in a study or devotional Bible.

It got me thinking that there is a lot of stuff in the Bible that is just downright disturbing if you want to maintain a simplistic easy-to-accept view of God.  So, if I set out to edit the Bible text, what material could I personally do without?  Here are some things I would rather not have in the Bible: (There are others, but these just come to mind)

Cain killing Abel episode in Genesis 4 Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 Numbers 14:26-33 – Moses and Aaron are not allowed to enter the promised land. Isaiah 55:8 – My thoughts are not your thoughts… Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15 – If you don’t forgive others, then I won’t forgive you. Matthew 7 – Judge not Luke 12: 49-53 – Jesus causes division. Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira If you do all things well, but not love, the truth is not in you (1 Cor. 13:1-3) And the toughest passage in the Bible…”I never knew you” in Matthew 7:23

Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek, but I have always felt that one of the facts that validate the authenticity of Scripture is that it contains real life.  Let’s face it, most of Scripture is the story of sinful people doing sinful things and God responding, with the ultimate response (so far) in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

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