Tag Archives: manuscript

How Editing is Like Hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner

I’m in the midst of preparing menus for two parties. First, an orphan thanksgiving for local friends, and then traveling to a family dinner.

Have you noticed that despite the fact you you celebrate Thanksgiving every year, it’s never the same as last time? Sometimes there’s a little change, like adding a new side dish to the turkey feast; but sometimes there are massive changes.  Maybe you can’t stand turkey anymore and went for Chinese.  The core ideas were the same — family, feasting, gratitude — but you went about it a totally different way.  It’s a lot like re-writing and revising. 

You know the basics of what’s going to happen.  Thanksgiving has traditions and a theme, and your story has traditions and a theme.  The more experience you have planning the party [or re-working the manuscript], the more your skills and confidence will improve.  Change is necessary, and it’s up to you to say what stays and what goes.

Start small.  Tweaking your dialogue is like tweaking a recipe.  Adding a scene is like inviting a new group of people over.  Then move on to the big stuff.  If your manuscript is too long, think of it like cutting your guest list.  You love your writing, like you love your friends and family—but if your friends and family don’t mesh, one of them can’t come to the party.  Don’t be afraid to hurt feelings, or cut things you’re really proud of.  They can always get their own party later.

You owe it to your guests [readers] to make it the most fun, the most touching, and the most memorable party [story] you can.  Now buckle down and do it.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity…
— Amelia Earhart



Planning for the Writer’s Conference – Pick your panels! #sfwc

I just received the schedule of panels for the conference; and I found it a bit overwhelming. It was like being a rock in a stream — drowning in the frigid rush of snowmelt. For years we writers have been bombarded with information about how to write, how to be creative, and how to market ourselves. The water — the information — is constantly changing. As soon as you think you know who to follow, the water changes. It seems impossible to know where to begin.

Well, little rock, take note of your position in the stream.

The good part about having so many options is that you can design your own weekend. Think about what you already know, how far you’ve gotten, and what you need in order to get to the next level. Since I write fiction, I’ve identified four stages (categories) which might be applicable for folks on my track. (Sorry, poetry and non-fiction folks!)

  • I want to be a writer! – Look for panels and mixers designed for the very beginning: how to write, how to silence your inner editor, how to build good habits, and the basics plotting and character creation.
  • I just finished my MS! – This is when you’d start looking for more advanced panels like editing your own work, how to refine your manuscript, how to incorporate the setting into the story and how to make your words stronger and more alive.
  • I’ve edited a bunch and am ready to submit! – You’ve written, you’ve edited, you’ve polished. Now’s the time to learn about getting published. Learn how to get an agent’s attention, build a platform, find out what it takes to self-publish and do all the prep work toward your debut.
  • I’m already a pro! – There are a number panels that discuss writing across different genres, how to give readings, how to self-publish and even how to make the most of your tax return.

In addition to this, there are specific panels dedicated to genre like sci-fi/fantasy or memoir. Whether you’re a master revisiting fundamentals, or a new writer trying to figure out the next steps there’s a ton of beneficial info here.

The best way to get the most out of an experience like this is to pause, take a look at where you are in the process, and decide what you need right now. No two conferences or conventions will be alike. There’s always more to know, and more people to meet.


I’ll be sure to report back other details as they arise.

No man ever steps in the same river twice.
— Heraclitus

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”
— Paulo Coelho