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Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

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Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:10 am

Hi lovely teen writers:

So, this might not exactly be the first Tuesday of the month. It might actually be very far into July. And I might be hanging my head in shame. Embarassed

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have the chance to pick my brain with your most pressing book, writing, and publishing questions. So go ahead. Ask away!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Taryn on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:27 am

Hmmmmmmmmmmm......

HI ALISON Smile

So how true is the rumor that publishing slows down in the summer? Completely true? Dependent on house? Dependent on editor? 100% false? Only true in regard to submissions? Tell me secrets!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Rachel on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:36 am

Hi Editor Alison! Smile

I have something of an odd question involving scenes. My latest WIP is rather experimental, for me, because the plot/genre are rather unlike anything I've done before (it's one of those "I'm-doing-this-for-myself" projects at its core). As a way of testing out the writerly waters, I outlined the plot along with the most critical scenes and those scenes alone. As a result, I get to the point much faster (in comparison to my previous attempts, that is) and there are fewer scenes, but...they take longer. A lot more stuff happens, but I'm wary of the length (the first scene is about 1900 words) because I've never taken this approach before.

So. I suppose that the essence of my question is, "Does this sound like a reasonable approach to/length for scenes?" as well as, "What are some basic signs that a scene is just too long?"

Sorry for taking so long to ask the questions, and thanks for doing this with us!

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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:38 am

I have heard since I got into the publishing biz that it goes quiet in the summer. I have never seen any evidence of this. If anything, my summers get even more crazy busy.

I think the reason people say publishing slows down for the summer is because people (who are not me) go away for vacations. But that just means that you have to get more done in a shorter period of time because you have a window to get the feedback you need or things sit. And we can't afford to lose time with things sitting.

Secrets. You want publishing secrets? Okay, here's one. There's no such thing as a formula for success. Because when you get a model that works, everything changes, and it doesn't work anymore.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:45 am

Well, Rachel, this is my philosophy about writing as a whole. We come up with rules and frameworks of how things should work, and you aren't supposed to break the rules. And that's because most writers who try to do it can't. But then there's that one person who goes entirely against the set-in-stone rules, and comes up with something genius.

So, as to your question. I don't think there are set-in-stone rules for how long a scene should be. But if the action is happening too fast or too slowly, you know there's a problem that needs to be addressed. Are things dragging? Does it feel like the story is stuck in a rut when it may be time to move on? If the answer to either of these is yes, than I think you have your answer.

I know that's a bit vague, but writing is all about experimenting -- trying things out -- and then deciding if they're working (in which case, hooray, and you keep going) or aren't (in which case you need to figure out what's wrong, and see if you can solve it).
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Rachel on Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:17 am

Ok, thank you! Experimentation is fun, but also terrifying—the possibility of failure is so high, and it's gut-wrenching (especially when I think about how far I have to go).

Speaking of improving and editing, do you have tips for teaching oneself to read one's own work in an objective light? I don't know how to get out of my own head in order to look at things reasonably (and, therefore, to edit effectively), and I'm afraid it's impacting my growth as a writer.

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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:03 pm

Rachel (but this applies to all of you, so ears open!):

Self-editing is so hard. You've spent hours, weeks, months, years (!) working on your book baby, so how do you get the distance necessary to do the level of editing that will keep the project evolving for the better.

Just that. You need distance. And by that, I mean you need to put the project aside for a while until it's stopped madly running through your head. Start something new. Go read a book you've been dying to try. Leave the writing cave and do some fun things with friends. (But take a shower first. Life in the writing cave can lead to some questionable hygiene choices.) You need to step away from your manuscript so you can come back to it with fresh, semi-objective eyes. (I say semi-objective, because there's always going to be that phrase you love, even if it makes no sense, and it will always hurt when you need to brutally cut it away for the greater good of your project.) Still, the distance of time opens your eyes to a whole world of "what was I thinking?" And that's always a wonderful place to get started in the self-editing process.

One other tip I have is to read aloud. If you stumble when you're reading a passage, or it sounds strange, that's a good indication that you need to fix something. Mark it, and move on. You'll be amazed.

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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Taryn on Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:16 pm

Thanks, Alison!

Wish I had more q's, but I can't think of much!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #18 (right in here!) - Better late than never

Post  Stephen on Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:20 pm

Hello Smile

I have been working on a epic fantasy novel for the past 2 years and have been wondering what language I should write it in(sounds a little weird maybe?). I was wondering if depending on the language, there would be a higher or a lower chance that it is received by readers? I was thinking of writing in French but as there are more English speaking people in the world I was thinking of writing in both simultaneously, but I don't even know if that is possible when it comes to wanting to get published and how that would work.

merci d'avance(as you would say in French) Smile
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