Monday, March 12, 2012

Silence your Editor with Substance

Janet here.

When I say to silence your editor with substance, I’m not talking about my flesh and blood editor. The editor I’ll listen to if I hope to see another book in print. The editor who makes my stories better. The editor who approves my checks. She's the greatest!

No, I’m talking about that chirpy little nuisance sitting on my shoulder, whispering negatives in my ear and slowing my productivity to a crawl.

Even as I recognize she can be a pest, I’m freaked at the idea of silencing her. My inner editor and I are best pals. We have a bond. A history. A deal. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of ignoring her. She truly is a fount of wisdom. But then it occurred to me that she isn’t the problem. I'm the problem. I listen to her whispered cautions, her insistence my words were drivel instead of trusting myself. Okay, now that I think about it, I’m irked at her.

What do I do? 

It occurred to me that the main reason I didn't trust myself was I'd been known to write pointless scenes. She knew that as well as I did. Perhaps if I gave her the right food, I could shut her up. After all, inner editors were taught, as we all were, not to talk with their mouths full. Food poisoning might seem like an easier alternative to silence her, but really that’s not much fun. Remember this gal is attached to us. Part of us. Harm her and we’re going to pay. We’re going to need her later in revisions.

When we remember to do certain things as we write that first draft, we’ll silence that pest.

Why?

She’ll have the assurance we’re not merely typing words, we’re typing story. 

So what do I feed her? Nothing elaborate like the midnight buffets on cruise ships. Or rich as the chocolate we serve here in Seekerville. No, the food I’m talking about is simple fare with substance, the meat and potatoes of scenes. Keep the internal editor gnawing on the three meaty bones of substance below and she’ll receive enough nourishment to feel sated. Maybe she’ll nod off, ignoring the lack of vegetables, hot rolls and dessert--the details and descriptions that enrich our stories, things like setting, sexual tension, research and hooks. She'll overlook the abundance of talking heads, errors with pov, spelling and grammar, all easy fixes once we’ve finished our rough draft and are ready to revise.    

                        Get the story on the page while keeping the inner editor snoring on my shoulder.

1. In each scene give the point of view character a well-motivated goal.

Yes, that means planning ahead. Hopefully you did your planning in February but if not, then do it before you sit down to write. Decide what s/he wants in that scene and why. We writers have goals for our scenes but I'm not talking about us. I'm talking about our story people. Make sure what s/he wants feeds into the book-length goal. S/he should be working for his goal all the time, taking action. Type the character scene goal at the top of the screen if that helps. When you give the character a goal, our inner editor will shut up. And we’ll be gratified to discover during revisions that we’ve avoided pointless tea scenes. Writing a bunch of words that don’t forward the plot and will be deleted later does not make for productivity.

2. In each scene give the point of view character conflict. Either conflict from another character or internal conflict from themselves or conflict from outside story events.

In other words, give the character trouble. Conflict is story. If you’re writing along and everything is hunky-dory then you're probably forgetting to add conflict. Make something happen to give your characters trouble. Trouble raises the stakes. Trouble keeps that pest on your shoulder happy. Most importantly, trouble makes your characters grow and change. Story people aren’t going to change by the end of the book just because they should or you want them to. Something has to force them to change. At the end of the scene, make things worse. Use dialogue to add conflict and forward the plot. Remember conflict isn't arguing though it can lead to an argument.  

3. In each scene, at the end, give the point of view character a new decision for action.

By scene's end, whether the point of view character gets his goal or not, things should have gotten worse. When things get worse the character fails. This is good. Make your character fail. Force him to make a decision for a new action, a new way to get the goal. That leads to the next scene you’ll write. Isn’t that nifty? Action is key here. If your characters are just talking and doing nothing, you probably not moving the plot forward. The decision and the action s/he decides to take can happen in the next scene or perhaps in a couple of scenes. When we write scenes with goals and with conflicts that result in a new decision for action, we’ll have the sense that we’re marching through the book. We'll have strong pacing.


You may be wondering why I didn’t simply say write using the principles of Scene and Sequel by Jack Bickham. I don't know about you but I've written pointless tea scenes. I'm less apt to fall into that trap if I keep things simple and easy to remember. If you’re a whiz at writing first drafts, this process comes naturally to you. But if you’re like me, you need the briefest reminder before you write of what needs to be in a scene.

The point of SpeedBo is to get the entire story out of our heads and onto paper as fast as we can without that inner editor stifling our creativity. Still, writing fast won’t get us anywhere if our scenes don’t matter, don’t forward the plot, don’t raise the stakes. If they don’t, then our inner editor is going to start harping.  Or worse, cackling in our ear like hyperactive hyena on steroids.

Feed her first. Feed her fast. Feed her substance.

I brought a thick stew of meat and potatoes that’s been simmering in the crock pot all night. Just fed my inner editor. She’s yawning.

Hope you aren’t. LOL

Someone leaving a comment will win a copy of my January release, An Inconvenient Match.

Happy writing!


Today is another day of our March Speedbo. Find out more about Speedbo and our exciting weekly prizes here. Comment today for a chance to win! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

151 comments :

  1. Janet as I am working on a book for the very first time this is so helpful...thanks for sharing this! :)

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  2. You guys always give such good advice. Then I find myself questioning myself. Have I been following your guidelines? Or am I wandering?

    Got a lot to check during revisions.

    The coffee pot's ready.

    Helen

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  3. I decided to take some speedbo days and finish my plotting stuff before running for the word count for exactly this reason--and it's wonderful! When I start on a paragraph or two of "pointless" I stop and look back at my list of GMCs and romance arcs etc. and I get right back on track. Really makes the writing "easier."

    And besides the first 1k that was terrible that I forced myself to do to get into the swing of things, the internal editor has been pretty silent.

    Except for male conversations, she squawks at me for those when I go off the deep end and make them rather wordy. :)

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  4. Janet,
    Some great advice as I start my speedbo adventure. I am revising a ms and re-writing many of the scenes, dropping others that do not lead anywhere.

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  5. Hi Janet:

    This is a very fascinating post. It is definitely a good way to deal with a harpy inner editor.

    I am fortunate in that I think my inner editor is very different than many of the others.

    My inner editor is like a lover who only wants the best for me. She is cheering for me and even helps me write quicker. She helps me pantser by filtering out bad ideas before I even become conscious of them.

    You see, she edits before the fact as well as after the fact. She is like a template projecting a pattern of right things to do upon the empty screen awaiting my input. Most of the time I don’t even know she is there. (A perfect lover.)

    If she harps, and what woman doesn’t at some point, I simply say, “Thank you, darling, I’ll fix it on the second draft" (and I leave a parenthetical note to fix it later). She is good with this as her self esteem is respected. We trust each other.

    My inner editor tells me things like, “Let the hero win this time. Victory brings on a different set of problems. He’ll have further to fall the next time. Give the reader something to cheer about before you slam him with the next conflict."

    Of course, having a female inner editor, and being a man blessed with selective hearing, I have the best of both worlds.

    To be honest, in the beginning me and my inner editor were an inconvenient match; but with love and understanding, we achieved a new harmony and are now enjoying our HEA.

    Vince

    P.S. I just read “An Inconvenient Match” – 5-Star Review to follow!

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  6. I seriously wish I knew how to turn mine off. When I'm in a scene I like, I don't know if she's "off" or just loving everything like I am and the words and dialogue and action just come. The story is there. In other scenes, it's a fight with the backspace key every line. Does it get easier the more you write?

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  7. Please say, "Yes, it gets easier the more you write."

    Even when I have a super long writing block, my word counts suffer because I can't silence that crazy Nazi-esqe voice.

    When I do get lots of words, I find later that it's because she's angry and giving me the silent treatment. Which, of course, results in slashing words that are useless.

    The cook's greatest compliment is a silent table. I suppose the same can be said for pesky editorial hallucinations.

    ps. I can't think, say, or write the word "pesky" without thinking of Randy Ingermanson. Does anyone else have that problem?

    Janet~ Thanks for an awesome keeper post. I'd love to win a copy of An Inconvenient Match. I may already have it. But I can always give one away.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

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  8. Okay, I had to stop reading and go get a pen to scribble notes. I've sort of gotten lost in my WIP (totally not unusual) and I need to get back on track for some action!!

    Thanks for the great post, Janet. But no book for me, I bought it last month on Amazon. :) Which reminds me to leave a review... :D I loved the conflict in that story. I kept telling my daughter what had happened NOW and she would groan and clutch her head. She hates conflict... and loves it at the same time!It was so well done...

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  9. Vince! A woman editor and a man with selective hearing... Awesome!

    And Nancy, I hate to let anybody see me write because I type a line, backspace, type again, backspace, type again...I try not to let it get out of hand, but if it's bad, I can't get the next lines out. :(

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  10. With all the goodies that are usually provided around here, it shouldn't be hard to put my editor to sleep with food. I like that idea. Now if I can just avoid the food myself and stick to Helen's great coffee I may be able to make some decent progress.

    I've been away these past few days, and despite good intentions have sadly neglected my writing all weekend. Today was a beachcombing day, if you can believe it... out on the rocks of the windy Pacific west coast, gathering beach glass. Tomorrow I'm planning to write, although it's hard to guarantee how much. Lots, I hope. I'll try. I really will. I promise.

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  11. Good morning, Janet! Oh, silencing that woman....

    That screechy, hands-waving woman...

    I can't quite do it completely, but I'm trying! Such good advice you give, thank you!

    And Critty!!!!! GO, YOU!!!!! SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!

    I managed to get 7900 words written over the weekend. That's a great start to a new book, that's half my proposal length right there. My goal is to have this proposal for a 3 book series done by month's end... And if they approve Katie and the Trooper, to continue with that delightful tale. Either way, my schedule for March is writing and puppies!

    SUH-WEEEET!

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  12. Oh, Vince, I love your inner editor. I bet your inner editor and mine would like each other.

    Mine truly believes that I'm the next Debbie Macomber.

    What a great gal she is!

    Oh. Debbie, too, LOL!

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  13. My Speedbo is consisting of pure revision/editing. I wish I could have sent the Editor on spring break but I need her here and awake at 5:30. I plot before I sprint write so I know what's going to happen in each scene and reduces fluff!

    Janet, the crock pot smells delish. It's never too early for meat and potatoes.

    Please don't enter me in the running for your book. I have a copy on my nightstand!!

    Happy MONDAY!!! is everyone loving the time change. Hoo hah, nice and dark this morning (yuck!)

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  14. Janet, I was going to start writing and then give myself a break with Seekerville but am so glad I came here first this monring. Your points are now on a sticky note placed in the upper right corner of my monitor!

    I had reached that "stuck" point and can now move forward with the help of your advice and caffeine. Ugh, the morning after Daylight Savings Day is so hard!

    No need for your book since I have it and loved it. I am reading the Brides of the West each night as a reward as well. Just have to get through Vicki's story and then I am on to yours.

    Thanks again.

    Peace, Julie

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  15. Thanks for the tips, Janet!! My internal editor is always grumbling about the motivation behind my conflicts. LOL

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  16. Janet, great post for a Monday! The whole thing was very helpful, but one line stood out for me: She’ll have the assurance we’re not merely typing words, we’re typing story.

    That's the real challenge, isn't it? Not to just fill the page count with stuff, but with elements that matter to the story and--eventually--to the reader.

    Thanks for wrapping all this together so well! Advice like this encourages me to keep trudging, even when the going gets tough :)

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  17. I needed to hear this. Thanks so much for the wonderful advice!

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  18. This is much needed this morning. I'm starting a whole week off with nothing to do but write (and clean my house) and I'd been toying with the idea of starting at the beginning and fleshing out what I already have because it's bare bones to be sure but you talked me out of it! I'll stick to feeding my internal editor substance life tofu and veggies and dangle the promise of chocolate later if she lets me get all the way to the end. :-)

    But I have to confess to going back periodically to add notes of what needs to be included in a previous chapter. It seems like I get all the good ideas after I've written the scene!

    And I've posted your points too -- but inside the cover of my notebook because I'm handwriting this one. Oh -- and don't enter me in the draw because I already have your book! And loved it!!!

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  19. Great post Janet! Something new for me to learn here, for sure :) I hadn't heard of these three things before, but it sure makes a lot of sense. Perfect for me writing my first manuscript - simple steps to keep in mind!

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  20. Good Morning, Janet

    I think we all struggle with our internal editor. Thanks for the great tips.

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  21. Great post, Janet - and what a great way to keep our internal editors happy. Feed them into contentment, and then get on to putting the story down on paper.

    I do what a couple others have mentioned - when my IE starts to wake up and nag, I put in a parenthetical comment - bracketed and in a different color font - so I can come back and fix it later.

    Andrea - it must get easier the more you write. This all makes so much more sense to me now than it did a year ago.

    Don't put me in for the drawing - An Inconvenient Match is sitting on my "already read" keeper shelf!

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  22. Wow, great post Janet, and good advice. Vince I love your internal editor too! But I have to admit, my IE and I are getting along just fine - I pray to HIM when I start writing, ask HIM to get me to a certain point and thank HIM when I succeed - like this weekend!

    I wrote 4333 words on my current WIP despite the drain on my emotions and I caught up to where I'd ended the initial thoughts/writing.

    I began this book in Jan 2011 with the idea of writing the entire story through the heroines journal entries -- time line caught me at every turn and that idea flopped not to mention I was not ready to deal with her (or my) grief.

    After much prayer - I decided hey...write the story in 3rd person and use the journal entries as dialogue or show her writing in the journal - thence began my journey to go through and flesh out the story and catch up to where I'd left off.

    Still not much success though.

    When I started Speedbo last weekend my wc was 9552 - it is now 16857!

    Thank you Seekers for encouraging me to join up with you!

    Good luck & God's blessings everyone!
    PamT

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  23. THANK YOU.

    I love that idea to type the scene goal at the top of the page before you begin. That will really help me. =]

    Just added Scene & Sequel to my must read list, too.

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  24. Janet, I love your word picture of how to feed my internal editor. I'm with you, I'd be scared to write without her. :) Thanks for the reminder about best "food" to keep her satisfied when writing a first draft. Love how you mapped out the three main elements. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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  25. Good morning, Seekerville!!

    Christy, I'm glad you found the post helpful. Wishing you all the best with your first time book!

    Janet

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  26. Oh, Janet, I SOOO needed this today -- THANK YOU!! I have a backache because my internal editor's still on my shoulder, and she weighs about 300 lbs., so she pretty much sits on me!!!

    But ... I'm trying, God knows I'm trying!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  27. Thanks for the coffee, Helen. Advice is meant to help, not to make you question yourself. We all have different processes. Hope the revisions go well!

    Janet

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  28. Hi Melissa! I agree! Words that don't move the plot aren't helpful. Sounds like you've got that mastered.

    I'm smiling that your editor sqawks when your hero is wordy.
    :-) Can I borrow her?

    Janet

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  29. Good morning, Janet,

    Like Julie I was debating on whether I should jump into writing this morning or visit Seekerville first. I'm so glad I came here first!

    I was doing so well on speedbo, but have slowed way down and I know it's partly due to that internal editor's harping. I think a big plate of substance is just what she needs to take a long nap.

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  30. Good morning, Laura! Getting rid of words is hard to do. Congrats for being strong and dumping scenes that lead to a dead-end.

    Janet

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  31. Vince, Can I borrow your inner editor? :-) Mine is learning to edit before the fact, not just after, but we have a way to go before we reach harmony.

    Love how you slipped in the title of my latest book. :-) Five Star? Wahoo!! Can't wait to read your review!

    Janet

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  32. Morning Nancy! Does it get easier the longer you write?

    No.

    Sorry, not what you wanted to hear. Actually for some it may, but for me, the more I know, the harder it gets.

    Ruthy and Mary may have better news.

    Janet

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  33. Hi Abbi! Thanks for your interest in An Inconvenient Match!

    Janet

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  34. Hi Andrea! Actually some things get easier. We do learn. But the odd thing is I can know something, but can't always see I'm not doing it. At least, not at the time. Thank goodness for revisions!

    Maybe we should trade our pesky editors in on a male model. :-)

    Janet

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  35. Hi Virginia! Action is huge! Must have our h/h working for their goals. Not just thinking, not just talking, but doing.

    Thank you so much for the praise for An Inconvenient Match! Bless you. Would love a review!

    Janet

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  36. Thank you Janet! I have been stuck for the last several days. I could hear something click in my brain while reading this! (That's a good thing!) The three points were right on target.

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  37. Hi, Janet! I'd love to own a copy of your book!!! I really enjoyed, Wanted: A Family. :D

    I totally get what you're saying and you are so right! This reminds me of what I learned on Friday. For me, since dialogue is my thing, I need to really focus on just getting those scenes down and worrying about filling in the five senses later.

    The stew smells delish! Pass a bowl please. :)

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  38. Great suggestions! And I've enjoyed the comments too - Vince's, especially!

    My inner editor and I work great together, but I usually hear from her when I'm drifting off to sleep. She's been hard at work and nudges me to say abc won't work, and xyz needs (this). I'm thankful to have her!

    Now I need something to eat. That stew sounds great! Thanks again for your awesome advice!

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  39. Janet, you always have such sane and helpful advice!

    As for my internal editor, she doth have a name: Grammar Queen!

    The good news is...most of her attention is directed toward grammar, punctuation, usage, etc., which I don't mind so much because she's pretty savvy about this stuff.

    What she trips me up on is insisting I FIND THE EXACT RIGHT WORD. Not later, but NOW. Which often brings me to a standstill as I click on the thesaurus icon or flip through the pages of one of my trusty (but heavy!) synonym finders.

    I suppose there's another "editor" inside me somewhere, though--the one keeping an eye on my scenes, characters, and motivations. Because I do always ask myself as I start a new scene exactly what I hope to accomplish here.

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  40. Carol, combing the beach for beach glass sounds fabulous! To feel the breeze, the sun on your face, the beauty of the rocky west coast brings peace to the soul. Nothing wrong with taking a break. Fills up our tanks and makes us better writers.

    Now get to work. Ruthy's headed your way. ;-)

    Janet

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  41. Janet this is such a great way to look at this. How we feel...critically...about a scene could really be about the substance of it, or the lack there of.
    Great angle to use for a scene that's giving us trouble

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  42. Virginia, I feel your pain my friend.
    Janet, at lest you gave it to me straight. I appreciate that! =)

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  43. Hi Janet,

    Thank you for this timely post! I think it's the best explanation for writing a scene I've read yet! Simple and to the point.

    I have a hard time remembering to give the POV character a goal in each scene. I usually think what do I want to show here or reveal here. Thanks for getting me back on track!

    I've read your story and enjoyed it very much!

    Speedbo is not going as well as I'd hoped. Today my mother in law arrives and this week it will be tough to get writing in, but I'll do my best. At least I have about 10,000 more words on a new story, so no matter what, I've accomplished something!

    Have a great Monday everyone!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  44. Ruthy, love your enthusiasm and work ethic! Congrats on the weekend word count! No one works harder than you.

    Looking forward to puppy pics.

    Janet

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  45. Debra, love that you're cracking the whip with your inner editor. Silence is not what you're after. :-) Wishing you well with those revisions!

    I do love the time change. The days may start dark but they last longer.

    Janet

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  46. Hi Julie! Your sweet words made my day! Mega thanks!

    Is the sticky note you're using a program with Microsoft? A Seeker just introduced me to that handy little tool. Love it!

    Hope the writing goes well. Come back and tell us.

    Janet

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  47. Good morning, Jessica! Funny how our internal editor knows our weaknesses yet we can be clueless. ;-)

    Janet

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  48. Hi Mia! The going is tough. If writing was easier, I suppose everyone would write their own books and wouldn't need authors. LOL So we write and revise and work hard to get that story on the page. Keep trudging!

    Janet

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  49. Hi Annie! Thanks! Glad to hear the post helped.

    Janet

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  50. Janet, I was using a bright yellow sticky note on my computer. Is there really a techno version? I would love to know about that.

    1500 words so far this morning and some studying on layering.

    Hope to get more done later this afternoon to get my goal of 2500 met.

    Thanks for asking.

    Peace, Julie

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  51. Kav! You write your book by hand!! I'm awed. Do you find that your creativity flows better when you're away from the keyboard? Tell us more!

    You and I could be twins separated at birth. I'm always tempted to polish and polish and polish instead of writing new. Proud of you for pushing on!

    Hey, get the good ideas down whenever they come, early or late. The more we're "in" the story, the more the ideas flow. Great job!

    Thanks for reading my story and loving it. No words are sweeter to a writer. Well, except, "I want to buy your story." :-)

    Janet

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  52. Hi Helen W! Congratulations on writing your first book! If you want to know more, after SpeedBo, of course, :-) read Scene and Sequel by Bickham. Wonderful How To book.

    Janet

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  53. Hi Rose, we ladies seem to struggle with their internal editors but not Vince. I think I'll look into trading mine in on a cabana boy variety. ;-0

    Janet

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  54. Hi Janet:

    After looking at all these comments, I think that it might be said that we get the kind of internal editor that we deserve (or think that we need).

    How we see and treat our internal editor can have a great impact on that editor’s behavior. Having a happy marriage is more than a matter of finding the right person; it’s also a matter of being the right person. Perhas we should ask ourselves: are we being the right person for our internal editor?

    A husband who ‘silences’ his wife by telling her to shut-up, is in for a louder and more belligerent internal editor than the husband who says, “Yes, dear, I’ll get to it when I can. Oh, and by the way, I love you.”

    Imagine a 300 pound editor who sits on you! There’s a story in there somewhere. : )

    BTW, my internal editor told me to tell you that if you want your internal editor to pre-edit, “You have to give her her head.” I think this is ‘horse talk’ but I’m not sure. Any horsewomen out there know what this means?

    Vince

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  55. Speedbo Report”

    Completed:

    Chapter 10 (1171 words)

    “It Just Takes Too Much Time to Write to the Needs of the ‘Reading Experience’. Doesn’t it?”

    Keep the Reports Coming In!
    Watching Others Built Their Word Counts Motivates Me. Thanks.

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  56. Morning Jan! Wonderful advice to put your editor's input in brackets and a different color font so you can come back and fix it later. That way you won't forget and can keep moving on through the story.

    Aw, you're sweet to put An Inconvenient Match on your keeper shelf!! I'm honored.

    Janet

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  57. Pam T, I'd call that jump in word count success!! Congratulations!!

    I'm glad you figured out how to get the story down. You make a great point. We have to be ready to tell a story that hurts. When we are, we can share the emotion we've experienced on the page and our story will resonate with our readers.

    God bless you.

    Janet

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  58. Hi Patty, there's something about writing down the character's goal that helps me remember. Let me know how it works for you. Wishing you all the best!

    Janet

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  59. You got it, Janet.

    I was listening to Michael Hauge last night and he said "if a scene doesn't contribute to the internal growth (character arc) or external goal, get rid of it!"

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  60. Vince said: “You have to give her her head.” I think this is ‘horse talk’ but I’m not sure."

    Yep, you're right, Vince. It means loosening the reins and letting the horse move at will.

    However, if you're comparing your internal editor to a horse . . .

    I would duck if I were you!

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  61. Hi Jeanne T,

    Hope the ideas help! I like to get lots of words on the page but sure don't want to toss them. We can add a goal and revise the scene after the fact but it's harder to do.

    Janet

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  62. Julie!! 300 lbs? Maybe you're over feeding your editor!! LOL Sorry about that backache. But whatever you're doing, you're doing it right. Or your stories wouldn't be so wonderful!

    Janet

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  63. Had to LOL at the comments about killing our internal editors. They can be soooo intrusive and know it all. ;)

    Points 1 and 3 really hit home with me. Thanks Janet. :)

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  64. Hi Jamie! Hoping you give that internal editor so much substance that she snoozes all day and you get loads of words on the page!!!

    Janet

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  65. Good morning, Donna! Love those aha moments when an idea clicks. Hope you have a great writing day!

    Janet

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  66. Good morning, Donna! Love those aha moments when an idea clicks. Hope you have a great writing day!

    Janet

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  67. Hi Linnette! I've added more of a balance to the buffet since some of us are revising, not writing new and their editors need a wide range of foodstuff. But for those getting the rough draft on the page, meat and potatoes is enough. Passing a bowl your way!

    Janet

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  68. Janet, I read this post late last night before heading to bed and awoke with an eagerness to write this last, pesky, scene and get this WIP finished! I've been picking and poking at it for a week, and I realized upon reading your post, that my scene goal was way too broad. I needed to break it down into parts to make it manageable.

    Thank you! I'm almost done!!!

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  69. Hi Rebecca! your inner editor sounds nice, someone I'd like to know. Just hope her advice doesn't keep you awake all night. :-)

    Janet

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  70. Myra, the exact right word? I'd suggest duct tape! Slap a piece on Grammar Queen's mouth and keep her Highness quiet. Plenty of time during revisions to find that perfect word. Except for that one fault, you two appear to be in harmony, working together.

    Janet

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  71. Hi Mary! Yep, no matter how well they're written, scenes without substance get us no where. That's got to nag at us. Or so we hope!

    Janet

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  72. Nancy, I may have overstated my position. :-) But I am serious in that doing what we know, isn't a given.

    Janet

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  73. What a great article! I learned a lot and enjoyed that! Thank you.

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  74. Well, I am fond of yellow lined newsprint pads. Love the way the ink slides over the paper. Blissful sigh. However, I'm handwriting this wip because I have a sore paw and I can't sit for long in front of a computer. So I'm languishing on my fainting couch and writing by hand! :-)

    Here's the best excuse ever for messing with your speedbo writing time. Clip your dog's toenail too close to the quick and then frantically search the internet for ways to stop the bleeding. Cornstarch or flour if anyone wants to know. But by the time I found that out my wood floors were running red. Ugh. Then there's the time it took to convince the dog to stick his paw in the bowl of flour and the clean up afterwards and well...I've lost an hour! Ack!

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  75. Sue, you nailed the problem. We writers know what we want to show, but the best way to show and move the story forward is to give our POV character a goal. Then make them fail or getting the goal somehow makes things worse. Poor things. LOL

    10,000 words is great! Enjoy your mother-in-law's visit. Then hit it hard later.

    Glad you enjoyed my story.

    Janet

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  76. Julie, if your computer is new there's a program listed in the start function called Sticky Notes. When you click that they come up on your desktop.

    Congratulations on your word count! 2500 words is 10 pages!! Wahoo!!

    Janet

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  77. Good Morning, Janet.

    Those horrible tea scenes resulting in an 84,000 word cut file in my last WIP. So for my next project I decided to wait until I was absolutely sure of the "story."

    My Speedbo word count is zero. But this past weekend, God reaffirmed the direction he wanted me to write. So, today I'm off to buy a variety of different colored, and sized sticky notes for my own version of the plot board and tomorrow (or tonight) hopefully I'll rack up some words.

    No need to enter me for your book. I have it and love it.

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  78. Vince, I think you're on to something! Way nicer to say, "I'll get to that later, dear." than telling an editor to shut up. No woman likes that treatment. Now I'm feeling bad about my advice to Myra to duct tape her harpy.

    I will admit, some of us might be...just might be Drama Queens, no relation to Grammar Queen, btw. I'm not naming names, but 300 lbs does seem huge, even for a well fed inner editor.

    Janet

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  79. Congratulations on completing Chapter Ten, Vince!! You rock!! We want to read this book.

    Janet

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  80. Hi Tina! Getting rid of a scene hurts. Better to give it substance and watch the word count grow.

    I wonder how much the character will change/grow internally without rubbing his weaknesses against a strong external goal and failing.

    Not sure what I just said. LOL

    Janet

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  81. Vince, I live near Amish. They've been known to fall asleep on the way home at night, giving the horse his head. The horse knows the way to the barn. Unfortunately he doesn't know to stop at roads, which can have tragic results.

    Janet

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  82. Hi Casey! Yeah, these editors can be a nuisance. Still, we need them. Glad the post helped!

    Janet

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  83. Wahoo, Erica!!! Congratulations on writing that last scene!!! Glad the post helped. Wow, great job!

    Janet

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  84. Hi Jane, thanks! Wish you all the best with your writing!

    Janet

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  85. LOL, Kav! Sounds like you should be writing suspense. Poor pooch. Thanks for sharing the remedy.

    Hope you're feeling better soon and can get off the fainting couch and back to your computer. Drama Queens have a hankering for one.
    :-)

    Janet

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  86. Bridgett, my heart goes out to you!!! 84,000 words of tea scenes hurts! No wonder you're taking it slow. Wish you all the best with plotting this story and getting words that matter on the page!

    Janet

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  87. Such a fun post, Janet. Yes, I'd love some stew. Sounds yummy!

    Also love your idea of writing the scene goal at the top of the page. Along with the conflict and new decision. Great way to stay focused!

    I learn so much in Seekerville!!! And the food is always delicious.

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  88. Hi Debby! I learn so much here too! Seekerville is a great place to be!

    Janet

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  89. Erica YOU, with your editor's duct taped mouth? were struggling?

    Janet is an example to us all, as always.

    Thank You, J

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  90. Thanks Janet. I have noticed that I'm more aware of my tea scenes as I'm writing them, but I still write them. Probably seems like a waste of time, but for me, at this stage of writing, it's part of my growth.

    The good news is that I'm writing a few of these scenes, whereas in the past, my WIP was riddled with them. When I edit tea scenes, I discover a lot about myself, my character and my thought process. It's a constant learning curve for me and I love it!

    (An Inconvenient Match in my TBR stack, so no need to include me in the drawing).

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  91. Reporting in with a Speedbo update:

    I've written 18,275 words so far - about 1/3 of the way to my goal.

    But I have accomplished one major goal - I wrote THE END on my first draft!

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  92. Thanks for the helpful advice for that main character! I like the idea of introducing conflict w/each scene--helps keep us on track!

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  93. Mary, YOU are the example to all of us. SpeedBo is your middle name!

    Janet

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  94. Hi Lyndee, writing a book is like taking a college class. To be aware of our strengths as well as our weaknesses is a huge part of our growth as writers. You're discovering your process, what works for you! Exciting stuff. Nothing is wasted.

    Janet

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  95. Wahoo, Jan!!! Congrats on typing The End on your first draft!!! You've still got plenty of days left in March to reach your word count goal. You go, girl!!!

    Janet

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  96. Good afternoon, Heather! I'm grateful I don't the trouble my characters endure. Nor am I to blame. The conflicts they go through are a result of their choices, their actions or the actions of others in the story. It has nothing to do with me. :-)

    Janet

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  97. Jan, you're on a roll!!! Whoo-hoo! Fantastic!

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  98. No yawning from me, Janet! It's always a great reminder. In fact, I was doing some scene planning today and wrote down the goal and conflicts of each of those scenes. now I'm ready to write them! :)

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  99. Great reminders, Janet--thank you! I had to chuckle as I read about your "pointless tea scenes" because I was thinking of all the "lemonade scenes" I have in my WIP---now I've got to check and make sure the story is moving forward and the characters aren't just sipping lemonade and visiting, LOL. ~ No need to enter me for your book--I already have it and LOVED it!! (in fact, am re-reading it!). Looking forward to more of your LIH books! Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo :) p.s. YUMMO! Your stew sounds soooo good!

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  100. Missy, thank you! Glad the post didn't put you to sleep. Sounds like you're prepared to hit the keyboard!

    Janet

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  101. If substance doesn't work, can we try duct tape? I think that was suggested in Erica Vetsch's guest post.

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  102. Thanks for a motivating post, Janet. I, too, like the idea of POV character's goal/conflict at the beginning of new scenes. That will come into play in editing what's already written, and keep me on track as I continue.

    I'd love to win your book.

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  103. Patty Jo, you're rereading my book? That's the ultimate compliment. At least I hope! LOL

    Visiting works great, if the conversation adds conflict and moves that story along. Conflict can be as simple as unwanted feelings for the heroine that he's experiencing while they're talking about something else. All those undercurrents that make dialogue such fun.

    Janet

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  104. Hi Patricia W, if you're giving your editor good food and she's still whining, please use Erica's duct tape. Though I hate to think how much whining she'll do when its time to revise and you rip that tape off. :-)

    Janet

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  105. Hi Lois, sounds like you're working hard! I named my heroine's sister Lois in An Inconvenient Match. I know you're like her, if you win the book.

    Janet

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  106. Hi Janet!

    Thanks for sharing today. I love this point:

    In each scene, at the end, give the point of view character a new decision for action.

    I especially love leaving chapters like that. Or with a surprise, or a promise for a lot of drama/action/passion (most pure, of course! *nudges Julie*) in the next chapter. Keep those pages flying!

    Please enter me in the drawing for An Incovenient Match. : )

    Whitney

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  107. Great reminders, Janet! I'm also a queen of pointless scenes, but my editor never overlooks them. It's easy to ramble and let the characters speak like real people do--often without a purpose, repetitious etc. I'm glad I'm not not the only one prone to these problems!

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  108. Hi Janet! Great post. Had a long day at work (had two co-workers quit and another one pass away!) so I am exhausted but had to stop by and read something refreshing that wasn't work related!

    I know I have a habit of writing pointless scenes sometimes, so I'll have to apply some of your advice. Thanks!

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  109. I hate to say it but I think my inner editor is a set of twins...one for each shoulder telling me it's no good to erase it and start over. I seem to hear it all with an echo. I need to get gags for each of them. :)

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week in Seekerville.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  110. Hi Myra:

    Thanks for providing the meaning of “giving a horse her head”. I guessed that it meant, “Let the horse run as fast as it can.” But it really doesn’t mean that.

    BTW: It was not me comparing my IE to a horse. That was my IE’s phrase. Ever since she read that post about getting back on your horse, she has been using horse metaphors.

    Vince

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  111. Hi Ruth:

    My internal editor is just as nice as my wife. I’m sure she would like your internal editor. And if you’re like, Debbie Macomber, then I’m going to have to read a Debbie Macomber book real soon just to see if she is really that good. : )

    Vince

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  112. Hi Janet:

    In Latin there is a saying: “Who will watch the watchmen.” The Amish case makes me think about who will edit the editors. (Senior editors, of course…but…don’t say it).

    If the Amish driver is going to sleep, then he needs to get his horse a seeing-eye dog. They know when to stop until the road is clear. I’m not sure the simple life is really that simple.

    Speedbo is going well. I wanted the first draft of RPP finished by the 15th. It looks like I am going to make it. For the second 16 days, I want to do a second draft of my “Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer” book.

    BTW: I am going to need some beta readers if there are any volunteers. : ) They can read the book first.

    Vince

    P.S. Review posted. OMG!

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  113. Janet,
    This is so helpful. Thanks a lot for posting this today. I needed it!
    Jackie

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  114. I so so so needed to read this today. Just joined Speedbo over the weekend. The first chapter came like magic but now with chapter two I'm hitting a wall. It's not that I don't know the plot or where to move the story next, it's that SHE (that inner editor) wants me to do it perfectly before moving on.

    I think SHE is being tricky...just wants less work during the revising process.

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  115. Hi Janet interesting post today, keep them on their toes. I enjoy seeing how each of you relate to one another, looks like speedbo is coming right along.
    I enjoy reading your books and that little guy on your shoulder must be telling you wonderful words of wisdom to pass on.
    thanks for sharing, cant wait to read this book-"An Inconcenient Match"
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  116. Thanks Whitney! From me and from Julie. :-) I love cliffhanger endings too! I need my sleep but sometimes can't stop reading no matter the hour.

    Janet

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  117. Hi Cara, we want our characters to feel real but not talk real. :-) Guess their speech is one of the reasons they feel bigger than life. No small talk for story people.

    Janet

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  118. Hi Stephanie! Sorry you had a tough day. Only a writer would find the post refreshing after the day you've had. Thanks! Hope tomorrow is a better day!

    Janet

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  119. Cindy, I feel for you! Two editors harping at once is an echo I could do without. :-) Gags will work, but duct tape is harder to slip off. :-)

    Janet

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  120. LOL, Vince! The seeing eye dog could give one bark when he wants the horse to stop. Two barks for go. This might actually work!

    Congratulations on reaching your SpeedBo goal!! Hope the second half of the month goes as well.

    Love the title of your romance! What do you mean by beta readers?

    Will check out the review. Thanks for reading An Inconvenient Match!

    Janet

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  121. Hi Jackie! Thanks! Hope the post helps in some small way.

    Janet

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  122. Jess, congrats on joining SpeedBo! We want substance, the framework of a novel, not perfect. Looks like you'll have to gag your editor.

    Janet

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  123. Thanks Paula! We do have fun here in Seekerville. Thanks for your interest in An Inconvenient Match!

    Janet

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  124. Pointless.

    That's my biggest hurdle w/my editor. She doesn't fuss about verb usage or sentence structure. Just keeps telling me I'm writing a boring scene that no one will want to read.

    You're advice is right on and I intend to go back and apply the three points.

    Connie

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  125. Janet! Excellent stuff here!

    Of course I snagged immediately on your point of conflict. Conflict in every scene; conflict in every mind; conflict on every page. I'm the queen of hunky dorry, doncha know?

    Pointless tea scenes. Yep, got them, too. It hurts to delete them, but the replacements of meaty stew are so much better.

    This is a great reminder to think ahead and plan just the right explosions in the current scene to rock the next one, LOL! It will only keep the reader turning the page to see how the H/H survive and conquer. Wow, readers who can't put down our books.

    Imagine that.

    Thanks, Janet!!!

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  126. Oh that noise editor, "Be still...."

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  127. Janet - this is so timely.

    Pass the stew and I'll silence this woman, after peeling off the duct tape.

    :)

    Thank you.
    Yet another keeper from the Seekerville archives!

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  128. Thanks for your insights; planning is something i need to be better at.

    pageturner345@gmail.com

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  129. My inner editor likes chocolate - but my hips do not! Such a dilemma...
    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

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  130. Hi Connie. Feed her substance and she'll nod off. I promise. :-)

    Janet

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  131. Hi Audra,

    Your explosions make me think of Mary's recommendation to shoot someone when the action lags. :-)

    Janet

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  132. Hi Janet! Feed her. Gag her. Sit on her. Your choice. :-)

    Janet

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  133. KC, use May to chase that editor away. :-)

    Janet

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  134. Hi Pageturner,

    Getting better is part of the journey. Have fun planning!

    Janet

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  135. Hi Pegg, See if cyber chocolate will work.

    Janet

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  136. Interesting!! I'd love to read AN INCONVENIENT MATCH thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  137. Hi Janet:

    Beta readers are like beta users of software. The alpha users are other programmers. The beta users are sophisticated end users of the program who will use the new software under actual working conditions. A beta romance reader would be a fan reading to find problems that would bother a fan. Like lose ends, name selection, physical descriptions.

    Other writers and family members are not ideal for this. It should be an experienced fan who will tell you the truth. Also a fan who reads your type of romance. It's like 'field' testing.

    (Of course for my book the end user is not a fan but another writer. I probably can't have a beta reader. :( )

    Vince

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  138. Hi Tina:

    Perhaps a post by an author who uses Beta readers would be of interest. I’d love to know how beta users contribute to the editing process.

    Vince

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  139. This was great! I love the mental image of her snoozing on my shoulder! LOL

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  140. I can totally relate to that internal editor driving me nuts! Sometimes she's revising me so much I can't actually get anything on the page! :) Thanks for the advice!

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  142. Oh, good! Folks are still posting. I lost a day with daylight savings time ...

    Janet, your advice is enormously helpful.

    I'm revising and rewriting my WIP. Yesterday I wrote a bit more than 1000 words, and I realized I was working slowly because I wasn't sure of the scenes.

    The dialogue, setting, descriptions, etc. were brilliant as always (ahem) but I felt adrift. Now I know what I'm going to do. At the top of each scene will be three lines - goal, conflict, and new decision for action. I haven't a doubt that will be an enormous help with focusing AND with reassurance.

    Even my infernal ... internal ... editor is happy with the solution.

    Thanks again!

    Nancy C

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  143. That is by far the best advice I have ever received on my inner editor. Thank you so much Janet!
    Jodi

    jodi(dot)janz(at)gmail(dot)com

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  144. Thanks for your interest in my book, Marybelle!

    Janet

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  145. Vince, thanks for the explanation. I have a friend who'd be a perfect Beta reader for my romances. She adores and reads mounds of them. I may just ask her. :-)

    Janet

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  146. Hi Rachelle, that image reminds me of a sleeping baby. Is there anything sweeter?

    Janet

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  147. Bummer Natskee! Time to get control of your editor.

    Janet

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  148. Hi Nancy, The term infernal internal editor made me smile. :-) Hope the new method helps!

    Janet

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  149. Thanks Jodi! You made my day.

    Janet

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  150. I love the love inspired books thanks for chance to win

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

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