Monday, May 23, 2016
Garage Sale Your Writing
I’m not talking about selling your books at ridiculously low prices. I’m talking about editing your writing.
1. Get rid of what isn’t useful. The first step to a garage sale is recognizing you don’t need and will never use many of the treasures you’ve stashed in your house, garage, and/or storage unit. They’re just clutter and prevent your enjoyment of useful items.
Similarly, an author needs to read a draft of his/her writing and think. Does this sentence or section advance the plot, develop characters, or establish the location? If not, perhaps the sentence/section should be deleted.
If you really love a section of writing but know it adds nothing to your current story or novel, create a file of deleted sections, which you hope will be useful in the future. These are the items I put a high price tag on at a garage sale and don’t mind if they don’t sell because I can put them out at the next garage sale.
2. Organize your material. I find shoppers are more apt to buy items in a garage sale if the objects are arranged logically and attractively. For example, at my last garage sale I was trying to sell necklaces. (My mother had a fetish for beads of all colors and “heart” necklaces and had bought hundred of them over fifty years. None were of much value individually.) I hung the necklaces from an old wooden clothes dryer rack so that shoppers could examine the wares without tangling or breaking the chains. I sold about a hundred.
Creativity is the key to good writing, BUT many readers today prefer organized material that is easy to read. Paragraphs with more than ten sentences and sentences with three or more commas generally slow the reading process. This is one reason why many readers report they like dialog. The paragraphs and sentences tend to be short. Readers can peruse pages of dialog quickly.
3. Never call your material junk. A positive attitude is important in any activity. If you don’t value what you’re selling or writing, why should anyone else?
4. Work hard. Successful garage sales and editing are hard work. You may enjoy the work (or maybe not), but you’ll be proud of the final result—a neater house or an improved novel.
5. Laugh at yourself and learn from your mistakes.
So are you ready to garage sale your writing and step up your editing efforts?
Maybe you’d like to examine tow of my editing efforts in the last year.
In Murder...A Way to Lose Weight, two ambitious diet doctors are testing a new way to lose weight. One doctor is killed after she develops a conscious and admits they took “short cuts,” which are endangering the lives of their obese patients. As the police turn up clues, the readers learn a bit about weird poisons and the social mores of a medical school.
In I Saw You in Beirut, a woman uses memories of her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and of her career as a globetrotting epidemiologist to provide clues for the identification and extraction of a nuclear scientist, known only as F, from Iran. But memories are often biased or incomplete, and she travels to the sites of her memories to gather new evidence.