Let the Editing Begin


I like this quote about editing –

“I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times—once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one’s fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.” – Bernard Malamud

Some would question that revision is “one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.”

For me, I have to be in the mood. When I am, I do enjoy it very much.

I’m almost finished with my first draft of book 8, tentatively titled – A Crimson Sky for Dying. It is the 3rd in my series about a middle aged private detective named Archie Archibald.

Even though this is the 3rd in the series…the first was The Black Orchid, followed by Unsafe Harbor, which came out last November, this book starts the series off since it takes place in 1984 when Archie receives his first private detective license.

I have a few small things to add to the manuscript, but 99% of it is finished. Now the first of my three editing passes will begin. Then it’s off the my ALPHA reader and then to my editor and 2 BETA readers.


Kill Your Darlings


Many books on writing mention that sometimes you have to kill your darlings. Darlings being paragraphs or scenes that the author loves, but really don’t work in the overall book.

Well, that happened to me today. In book 8, tentatively titled A Crimson Sky For Dying, I had a scene where the protagonist gets chased behind a back yard, falls or jumps into a canal (in south Florida), and swims across to the other side. He’s bleeding and has to worry about alligators. (I lived on a canal in south Florida that had a resident alligator I saw every morning).

I had thought up this scene early on in the creation of the book, and I enjoyed writing it. BUT…it caused me a huge problem because he had been taking pictures (he’s a private-eye), and how could the camera and film not get ruined in the water, etc…etc…etc.

So, this morning, I had to face the fact that my darling scene had to go! It wasn’t easy. I’m still in mourning.



This Morning’s Precipice

I feel like I’m standing on a very high cliff. I’m looking down into a misty void. Why? I need to spend today sorting out the many characters in my half finished novel A Crimson Sky For Dying. I’ll be focusing on two people today. Dixie – a private detective’s wife. I need to identify every page she is on and make sure her character arc is fully developed. Then, Billy – right now he is locked in a room with his left hand bandaged. He needs to talk to Rosa, the cook. She is going to tell him things that will not make his day.

This is my 3rd Archie Archibald novel. It’s fun to go back and write how he became a private eye in 1984. He first appeared in The Black Orchid Mystery, then last November in Unsafe Harbor.

At this stage in my first draft, every day is like stepping off a precipice. I find that I enjoy the uncontrollable falling feeling because I never know what branch I’ll reach out for to save me. Well, yes I do. I’m an outliner, so I have a pretty well defined idea of how high the cliff is.




via Daily Prompt: Precipice

Initial Writing Mistakes

I’ve been teaching a class on how to write your first novel and it was interesting to me how many people were making the same mistakes. Mistakes I had also made when I started writing. After thinking about it for a short time, I figured out why this was happening.

I started writing novels later in life, as did my students. We were very familiar with books we had enjoyed reading when we were in our teens and early 20’s. Well, most of those books were read 30, 40, and 50 years ago. This meant that some of the books had been written 20, 30 and 40 years before that. Some of the books we loved and remembered were almost 100 years old!  YIKES!

So, when we began to write, we automatically reverted to writing in a style that had disappeared many years before. We included foreshadowing, author intrusion, no deep point of view, etc.

I love teaching these classes. Seeing the excitement on my students faces makes me eager to get home and work on my book in progress. I hope I’m giving something of value to my students because they certainly are doing that for me!