Super Monday Morale Boost: Activate

Got a wonderful bit of feedback from Misti this morning. When I fired off my edited MS to her on Saturday night, I mentioned how baffled I was that she hadn’t given me any notes on the storyline, or characterisation–you know, the broader strokes of the novel. I was a bit worried that I’d accidentally bought the wrong editing service, and got just copyediting instead of developmental/structural/content editing.

Instead, I received this gem in Misti’s reply, which has absolutely made my day.

“As for the content question, you might remember me commenting on your outlining during your phone call, and asking about your reading habits. I didn’t notice any issues with the storyline, and the only character issues I noticed were the speech patterns. You’re quite right that so few content issues is unusual for first books.”

Me, shortly after

Ascension Point Edit Update: Editing is Super-Satisfying

I’m ten chapters of twenty-three through Misti’s edit of ASCENSION POINT, and loving it. Every comment and suggestion makes sentences, scenes, chapters just so much… tighter. The story is getting leaner and meaner by the minute.



(Caveat: Book is not as funny as Jonah Hill.)

I’m super-excited about getting the edits finished this week, and I’ve got plenty of time on my hands to do it as lovely wife is in New York for a conference. Once I’m done, it’s back to Misti for an edit of my changes, then back to me, back to her, etc. until THE CHANGES ARE NO MORE. And then, oh boy.

Publishing time.

Pro Editors: They Tell You Things You Didn’t Know

‘Dictionary counts “then” as a subordinating conjunction itself, so it can be used without “and” to form a dependent clause.’

This is one of the 619 (!) comments which the lovely Misti from RedAdept gave me on ASCENSION POINT. Over the course of our hour-and-forty-five-minute chat yesterday–now that’s value for money!–I got the most concentrated lesson in grammar that I’ve ever had, as well as a ton of other excellent feedback. Phenomenal.

I’m still processing everything, but here are some snippets:

  • I really like using dashes. Like, all the time. Even when I should be using ellipses, or colons, or periods.
  • I’m far too busy and important to spell words consistently. See: light-year, lightyear, light year.
  • I’m generally good at POV! Yay for me! But not so good at maintaining a single POV in scenes with several of my POV characters: it sometimes gets a bit muddled.
  • Authorial intrusion FTW. Or: I’m not always great at keeping the narrative sections of a scene in keeping with the POV character’s voice. A key lesson.
  • Scene transitions need some work. Too often it takes a few paragraphs before it becomes clear to the reader where the story is, and who the POV character is. Or as Misti put it, “Who? What? Where?” 🙂
  • Dashes vs. ellipses. Phrases vs. clauses. Independent clauses vs. dependent clauses. Commas with modifiers. Commas with conjunctions. Phew!
  • Unnecessary verbiage, e.g. ‘Emitting a yowl.’ Yowl is already a verb, Dan. Tut tut.
  • Pacing needs some work. More shorter sentences in dramatic sections to build tension, keep the longer ones for more mellow stretches to diffuse it.
  • And last, my personal favourite. I’ll let Misti’s example show this one: “His eyes followed them.”
    • Interpretation #1: He watched them, following them with his gaze.
    • Interpretation #2: His eyeballs popped out of his skull and trailed after them while he did something else.

Ahem… Yeah, the first one.

As I skimmed the edited doc I was pleased to see fewer and fewer comments in later chapters. No surprise, the first chapter, or 4% of the book, has 15% of the comments! Good to get confirmation from a professional that my writing really did improve as the book progressed.

I’ll probably post some more editing bits and pieces in the coming week or two as I beaver away at the changes. Having addressed the 92 comments in chapter one, I can already tell that enlisting a professional editor was absolutely money well spent.

But we already knew that, didn’t we?

Self-Publishing ‘Properly’, Or: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I got an email earlier from my editor, Misti, telling me that’s she’s almost finished her edit of ASCENSION POINT.


Ahem. We’re going to have a chat on Wednesday, and shortly thereafter I’ll be able to start carving up my MS into a leaner, meaner form, with an eye on publishing before the end of October.

As this milestone nears, I just wanted to post on something I’ve been thinking about, what I consider the two different approaches a writer can take to self-publishing. In essence, one’s free, and one’s not. But there’s only one which I think is doing it ‘properly’. Can you guess which?  Read more…

No Post For A Week! Are You Alive, Dan?

I am! Don’t worry, dear readers. I just haven’t been posting. Lovely wife’s lovely sister came to visit us in Sao Paulo, so we’ve been busy. Took her to Rio de Janeiro for the weekend, too.

We went up here. It was great, but I could have lived without the three hours of queuing.


Fun times.

I’ve not been reading, and I’ve not been writing, which has limited the nuggets of bloggy inspiration somewhat. Fear not, though–at the end of this week I should be receiving a shiny, gleaming, edited copy of ASCENSION POINT back from my editor, bedecked in fancy new red lines where before there was just cliched dialogue and over-exposition. And once I get that, you can be damn sure I’ll have a blog about it.

Edit Is Go Go Go… Next Week

On Friday I got the sample edit of ASCENSION POINT from the folks at RedAdept. My new editor, the delightfully-named Misti, did an edit of just the first four pages of the novel–and I was delighted to see her come back with 29 suggested changes! This is exactly the kind of thoroughness I’m looking for, especially for the first few chapters of the book. (Which are still significantly weaker than the later ones, despite my best efforts to bring them up to par.)

I like Misti’s editing style, and the quoted price was fine, so all systems are go. Misti’s going  to start on the full edit early next week, and should finish roughly two weeks later. At which point I spend ten minutes marveling at how many red marks there are, then set about hammering it into shape/cutting away the fat/insert editing metaphor here.

There’ll be a few passes back and forth as we whittle down the changes, then it’ll be time for a proofread by another editor to catch all the little flaws we missed. ‘This colon should be a semicolon‘, etc.



It’s getting exciting. I’m nearly at the end of my beta reader edits, which have been really helpful. (If you’re reading – thanks!)

Soon it’ll be professional edit time; I have a slot booked with the team at RedAdept Publishing, who come very highly recommended by the folks on the KindleBoards Writers Café. Looking forward to that.

And as if that wasn’t enough, my cover designer, the lovely Stephanie Mooney, sent me the first mock-ups for my cover yesterday! They look awesome, really close to what I’ve been envisioning. Just a few tweaks needed, and it’ll be done. You’ll see it here first, of course.

Exciting times!

This Is Why We Need Beta Readers, People

Just a quick one.

Among other excellent feedback from my friend Steve on ASCENSION POINT was this gem: “If you use the word ‘smiled’ one more time I will cry.”

“Oh, really?” thinks the author. “I’m sure he’s exaggerat- oh.”

135 times, in 88,000 words.

That’s 0.15%, and would only be acceptable if there were fewer than 700 words in the English language. And maybe not even then.