Editing Woes: Tips and Tricks

Hey wonderful readers!

I started editing the second draft of my novel again after a bit of a hiatus. I was stuck on a passage that I wasn’t sure on how I wanted it to look. The other day, I decided that it didn’t matter. This isn’t the final copy of the book. The purpose of this edit is give me some more options in regards to this specific passage. I will have lots of time to do more editing and find a passage that works best for the scene.

However, with that focus on my novel, I didn’t get a chance to finish reading the book I wanted to for my review. Rather than let that get me down, I decided to do something different for my post this week.

The other night, I was hanging out with my dad at a family supper. I was telling him about editing my novel and he mentioned that self-editing is difficult. I agreed. It is hard to edit your own work. You know what you want to say, so your brain will make unexpected leaps to cover the empty spaces you left behind. Then, I started telling him about all the tips and tricks that I have gathered over the years to help me in this process. He hadn’t heard of some of them.

So, I decided that I could share them with all of you too. Maybe there is something that will help you.

I will say that I won’t be able to give credit where it is due. I’m not even sure where I picked up most of these tricks. The majority of the sources that I found them on are probably secondary anyway. So if you see something in my list that should be credited to a specific person or place, please let me know. 


Tips and Tricks to Edit Your Work

  • You need something to edit
    • This tip technically isn’t about editing. However, it is the most important tip because you can’t edit a blank page. This was literally my mantra as I worked on my first draft.
    • This was the hardest part for me. I wanted to edit my unfinished draft to death. I have killed other drafts of work this way before. So, I changed all the previous text of my work to white, except the last sentence. This kept me on track as I wasn’t able to go back and edit the previous pages. I had one or two sentences to start me off and I just had to go with it.
  • Give the draft some time 
    • Once you finish that first draft, LEAVE IT ALONE. I had spent so much time for months finishing my first draft, that I gave it a year before I went back. In hindsight, that was a bit too long, but I was making it up as I went. You don’t need to give it that much time. You might only need a day away or six weeks or eight months, but that distance is important. Set the draft aside and think about something else until you decide to pick it up again.
    • This may seem counter intuitive, but it gives your brain some time to relax, to let the work settle. When you come back to it, there will be things that you can catch because you didn’t just finish writing it. This also gives you some emotional distance from the work, which is important going forward.
  • Change the colour or font of your text 
    • Once you ready to edit, the tricky part starts. How do you catch those pesky errors when your brain is automatically filling in the blanks? You knew what you meant to say, so you are quickly moving through the work, missing the obvious because your brain is looking for glaring errors.
    • Change the text up (font or colour). I find this useful for essays in my university classes. I don’t often get to give those time between writing and editing. Changing it up tricks my brain into thinking that it is looking at something new. It isn’t the same essay I have been working on for hours. It is a new pretty pink one that has a whole other font.
  • Read it out loud
    • I’m sure that everyone has heard this one before, but it is really helpful. If there is a passage that you are stuck on, read it out loud. You can read it to yourself or someone else. If it is a small passage you don’t mind sharing, I recommend reading it to someone else. I find if I am reading to someone, I consider the text more carefully to make sure that I don’t mess up. This way, you read what is actually there, instead of what you think should be. It helps with those smaller errors and hard to read sentences.
    • Bonus of sharing it with someone is that you have someone to bounce ideas around with if that passage is giving you a hard time. Either way, reading it out loud can help you find the part that is bugging you because you are hearing it, rather than just automatically going over the same information that you have read a million times before.
  • BONUS: Use Google Translate 
    • This is my favourite trick for my university essays and I use it all the time.
    • Depending on the length (5000 character max), copy and paste your work or chunks of your work into Google Translate. Once it is in there, press the speaker button in the bottom left corner. It will read your work out loud to you.
    • NOTE: Make sure that you click that button in the language of your choosing, which I’m going to assume is English if you are reading this. Hearing it in French won’t help unless you wrote it in French.
    • I find this actually works better than reading out loud. Why? Because Google Translate doesn’t fill in the blanks or automatically fix the same errors like your mind does. Listening to the monotone Google voice read your work, you are forced to hear when your sentences are weird or you used than instead of that. You get to catch those small errors that your brain fixes as you scan the work. It is awesome.
  • Finally, start from scratch 
    • I can already sense that everyone is wondering what the heck I’m talking about. If you spent months on something, why would you start all over again? But hear me out!
    • When I finished my first draft of my novel, I did the cursory read through and mark down edits. Then I read something that you should trying rewriting the story. I was gobsmacked. It took me almost three years to write the first draft and now you want me to start all over? But then, I read the reasoning behind this crazy idea.
    • Before I tell you the reasoning, here are some tips for this trick.
      • First, don’t use your actual first draft. Do the basic editing techniques, like checking for grammar and spelling errors. There is no point in worrying about these things as you do a complete rewrite. The draft you are using should be as spotless as possible, so you don’t get hung up on the little things.
      • Second, keep your previous draft nearby to use as a guide as you begin this journey. You aren’t scrapping all that hard work. It is the perfect template to move forward. I personally put my second draft and my new draft side by side. I use the second draft all the time as I do the complete rewrite.
    • So now the why. When you read your first draft, there may be issues that you see, but aren’t sure how to fix in the context of a 100-some page draft. “How can I deal with this glaring issue if I move on to something else right after?” You might note it in your editing process, but you also might never come back to it.
    • Doing a complete rewrite takes away that pressure of what is coming next. Instead of another 30,000 words that comes after, you have a blank page. You can add anything that you want because there is no pressure of fitting it into the already written work. Nothing comes after what you are currently writing. You get the benefit of already finishing a first draft and still getting to pretend that you are writing one. You can toss all the editing rules out and focus on fixing the big issues with your work.
    • For me, I realized that my main character’s friend base was pretty slim, but there was a perfect opportunity waiting for her to have someone outside of the main plot to share things with. I never would have found the place for that new character if I had not tried this technique.
    • This is the trick that I have been wrapped up in lately. I’ve been working on getting through my third draft, which is my complete rewrite. I’ve finally pushed through that sticky section and am moving on. After all, I have a whole lot of blank pages to fill!

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may start using any of these techniques and realize that you don’t like it. That’s fine. Stop using it. It is your work and you can do with it what you will. There is no harm in trying something and realizing that it doesn’t work. You might get halfway through a complete rewrite and realize that it is not working for you. That’s fine. You don’t have to delete the work you did. Keep it and find something that works for you. I just wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that work for me.


Have you tried any of these before? What did you think? Are there any editing tips and tricks that you swear by? Share them in the comments below!

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Top Ten Fan Fictions

I am back with another Top Ten Tuesday. If you want to start doing your own Top Ten Tuesday, you can find a nice long list here. This is where I am finding my prompts.

As the title says, I am going to be listing my top ten fan fictions. I do just want to say that it has been difficult to narrow them down. I read a lot of fan fiction, so I did have to find a way to narrow things down. I decided to only use stories that I have read on Fanfiction.net.


Without further aideu, here are my top ten fan fictions:

  1. Cruel and Beautiful World by Lena Phoria
    • This is one of the best fan fictions that I have ever read. The story was wonderful and filled with great characters. Of course, with fan fiction, the characters are already fully developed from the original. In this story, there are also original creations, like Bronson, who add so much to the story. The bad news is that the story has been taken down as the author has published a book based on the fan fiction creation. You can find these original creations here. Other fan fiction stories written by Lena Phoria can be found at the link in the title.
  2. Isolation by Bex-chan
    • While I am on a Dramione kick, this is another one of my favourites. This one is post Half-Blood Prince and has Hermione left behind at Hogwarts and suddenly saddled with Draco’s safe keeping. It gets intense as the characters begin trying to navigate the enclosed space of Hermione’s dorm.
  3. Love When You Aren’t Looking by Aleandri 
    • Switching it up from Harry Potter for a moment. This is a Supernatural AU (Alternate Universe) fan fiction. It is interesting to see the characters wrapped up in an adventure that doesn’t have anything to do with the supernatural. Plus, it is Destial (Dean/Castiel) and I’m over the queer baiting of the show and happy to look elsewhere for my kicks. 😉
  4. Tying the Nott by ShayaLonnie 
    • This is a well written story about Theo Nott and Hermione Granger. Theo is dying, so Draco convinces Hermione to marry Theo to save him. It was a pairing that I wasn’t sure about at first, but I really enjoyed this story. I have even started rereading it since I started making this list.
  5. Casting Moonshadows by Moonsign 
    • So the first thing I want to say about this story is *TRIGGER WARNING*. There is a lot of discussions and displays of abuse, so if that is a trigger for you, please proceed with caution. Now that I have said that, this is a beautiful telling of the love story between Remus/Sirius during their Hogwarts years. I’d like to believe it is canon, but that is just me. This is a long one with 86 chapters, so be prepared to get invested.
  6. Hard Road by Aleisha Potter 
    • This is another Supernatural Destiel story where Dean and Cas go undercover at a resort for gay couples in failing relationships. It is an adorable story that definitely has its share of hard truths. Plus, it is held within the Supernatural universe, so we get to see some supernatural beings.
  7. Temptation on the War Front by alizarincrims0n 
    • And we are back to Harry Potter. This story follows Draco as he is dragged along the search for horcruxes with the Golden Trio. It has been a while since I read this story, but if I remember correctly, it is an entertaining do-over of the final book. The relationship that cultivates between Harry and Draco is frustratingly adorable.
  8. A Wonderful Caricature of Intimacy by Countess of Abe  
    • Here we have another Dramione story. This one is centered around Draco as he tries to prevent his son from being taken away. He ends up turning to Hermione to help and their interactions are enjoyable. I especially love the relationship that develops between Hermione and Draco’s son.
  9. The Drarry Chronicles by zayjayoriginals 
    • NSFW – This story has a naughty side as Drarry reconnects at a BDSM club that Draco owns. There is a lot of NSFW content in this story, so I would hold off reading it in any sort of public venue.
    • The same author also wrote Conjux which takes place in the Hogwarts years and actually develops the idea of Draco have a younger brother.
  10. Bridges by Jazzy1  
    • Last, but not least, this is another Dramione story. Start with one and end with one. This is one of the first Dramione story’s I ever read. It is a pretty interesting story as Draco ends up in what is essentially rehab and Hermione is the one running the program.

Some honourable mentions:


That’s all for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. Have you read any of the stories on this list? What are you top ten fan fiction stories? Tell me in the comments!

A Journey of Quotes – Annie on My Mind

Annie on My Mind

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden is truly a slice of my past. It was one of the first lesbian books that I read after I came out in 2007. It was a huge deal for me since I hadn’t really seen couples like Ashleigh and I back then. Not in books anyway. It was a powerful read the first time and it still held that power as I reread it now, 11 years later.

Instead of a traditional book review, I decided I wanted to share some quotes from the book that had an impact back then and still do now. There are quotes that brought me right back to 2007 when Ashleigh and I started to date and I came out for the first time.

Even knowing that my parents would love me no matter what, it was terrifying to say those words for the first time “I’m gay.” And I was pairing them with “I’m dating Ashleigh”. It was an interesting time and I’m grateful for all the support that my family has given me over the years. My mom even walked in the Pride parade with me this year. It was awesome!

So, I wanted to share the quotes that reminded me of that time in my life. To keep it simple, I’m moving from start to finish.


 

Then a funny thing happened. We looked at each other, really looked, I mean, for the first time, and for a moment or two I don’t think I could have told anyone my name, let along where I was. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and I think – I know – it scared me.

— Page 13

This quote is from shortly after Liza and Annie meet for the first time. It’s funny because even 11 years ago, I can remember the moment that I met Ashleigh. We didn’t have this moment right away, but we did have it. I remember when it occurred to me that there was something more than friendship between us. It was intense and it was scary.

This quote brought that memory back for me and I felt so much closer to Liza than I had before. It can be terrifying to realize that you feel something more than you have always been told you are supposed to. Even if you don’t realize what it is that you are feeling right away.


That phone call was the best thing that had happened all day, and for a while after I’d hung up, the situation at school didn’t seem nearly so bad anymore.

— Page 33

High school is not a time that I look back on fondly for the most part. The whole experience for me was pretty underwhelming and filled with experiences that weren’t great. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for Annie and Liza since they weren’t even at the same school. They had to wait until they got home to talk and sometimes, you just need to vent about the bad things that happened that day.

I was lucky that I met Ashleigh in high school. Even before we started dating, I loved seeing her between classes. I’m pretty sure that every night for weeks, we talked on the phone for at least an hour. These were highlights for me. She was a bright light on some of the darkest days. This quote reminded me of those late night phone calls in the early days.


In a few minutes we were lying down on Annie’s bed, holding each other and sometimes kissing, but not really touching. Mostly just being happy. Still scared, though, too.

— Page 106

This is just a beautiful moment that shows young love. Even in happiness, it can be terrifying to feel something that seems beyond where you are.


I went downstairs to Dad’s encyclopedia and looked up HOMOSEXUALITY, but that didn’t tell me much about any of the things I felt. What struck me most, though, was that , in that whole long article, the word “love” wasn’t used even once.

— Page 143

I can’t even imagine trying to figure out what it meant to be gay in a time when the information wasn’t easily accessible through the internet. This description of the encyclopedia entry reminded me of how grateful I was to be able to find information that accurately represented what it means to be gay.


I felt as if I were meeting parts of myself in the gay people I read about.

— Page 144

This was an interesting quote to read because it was exactly how I felt as I read this book for the first time.


I’ve never thought gay people can be very happy– no children, for one thing, no real family life.

— Page 191

Liza’s dad tells her this shortly after she is forced to come out. It is one of the saddest quotes in the book, in my opinion. Like the encyclopedia entry, there is a failure to recognize that love exists within homosexual relationships. It is heartbreaking to consider that people actually get caught up in these old fashioned ideas. I wonder how many people in my life might have believed that Ashleigh couldn’t be as happy as anyone else because we are both women.

Plus, this nonsense of gay people not being able to have children or a real family life. Ashleigh and I may not have children, but we do have a family. We have each other, our two kitties and our puppy. For now, that is all the family we want and need.


It was awful. It made us sound like monsters, not like two people in love.

— Page 201

Like the quote from Liza’s father, this one was also filled with emotions. Without spoiling anything, Liza has to listen to someone describe finding out that she is with Annie. I will never understand why some people believe that love can’t be found in a relationship that doesn’t fit the societal norms.


What matters is the truth of loving, of two people finding one each other. That’s what’s important, and don’t you forget it.

— Page 229

And then after all the dreary stuff, there is this. It is a profound reminder about how important love is. Love is powerful and it is in this quote that Liza is told for the first time that love does actually exist in homosexual relationships. While I didn’t think that I couldn’t love Ashleigh when we first got together, it was wonderful to have some reassurance that love is powerful enough to overcome all types of barriers.

This quote was an important moment for me when I was younger. It helped me realize that it takes more than the world looking down on you to be torn apart. Almost 11 years later and I’m lucky enough to still have Ashleigh by my side. This book has been a huge part of that journey.


So there is my journey through Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden via quotes. It was an emotional journey to read through the book again and relive the memories and emotions that I associated with it the first time I read it.

Are there any books from your childhood or teenage years that you identify with? What are the quotes that still resonate with you?

Top 10 Books I’d Want on a Desert Island

I thought I would start July with something a bit different than previously: a Top Ten list.


So what are the top ten books that I would want to have with me if I was stuck on a desert island?

I would like to note that I immediately ruled out any sort of survival books. I mean, they would be useful, but I didn’t want to have a discussion about what books I would need to literally survive. Instead, I chose books that would allow me to mentally and emotionally survive.

I’m not sure if any of these books will be a surprise and I’m sure you can guess at least the first couple.

Here they are in no particular order:

#1-7) The Harry Potter series – I did seriously consider listing this series as one book. But I think that defeats the purpose. I’m only allowed ten books total, so I guess this will have to count for books one through seven. I guess I could have left some of them home, but you have to read this series from start to finish. Eventually, I would start to miss the parts that I left behind. So, the whole series it is.

I can read this series over and over again. There are so many different layers to the books, with secrets that I have yet to uncover. Each time I read them, I catch new things. Makes for great reading when you have nothing, but time. That, and I can lose myself in the books, allowing myself to forget my problems for a time.

 

#8) Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult – This is my all-time favourite Jodi Picoult books. It was the first book that I ever read by her and it will always be close to my heart. It is book that allows for some self-pity and is perfect for getting a good cry in. Whenever I need a book that looks at morality lines, this is the book that I grab.

 

#9) The Inferno by Dan Brown – This book was actually a suggestion from my wife when I mentioned what I was doing for this post. She was trying to help me narrow my favourite books for this list. I hadn’t originally considered this book, but as soon as she said, I knew it was one for this list.

I truly enjoy rereading this book. The concept is interesting. I love the mystery, the action and the symbology scavenger hunt. This is my favourite of Dan Brown’s book. I do enjoy his other books, but the concept of this one really speaks to me.

Last, but not least:

#10) Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden – I had a lot of trouble picking the final book for my list. I wanted something that I can read over and over again, but I didn’t want to add only one book from a series. I also wanted a book that I could relate to. Annie on my Mind is that book for me. I connect to the characters on several levels and, if Ashleigh isn’t stuck on the island with me, it would remind me of her.


There you have it: the top ten books I would want on a desert island. I sure hope that there is shade on this island with all the reading that I plan on doing.

What books would you bring with you? What other top ten lists should I do?

June Wrap Up

Hey everyone! It’s time for another monthly wrap up!

A few announcements first:

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian followers! We still have some work to do, especially around reconciliation, but we should still celebrate our country.

I have not forgotten about Annie on my Mind. I haven’t finished reading it due to all the things going on in my life, so that review is coming.


So, here is the wrap up of what has been posted on All is Fair in Love and Writing recently:

And that’s the posts this month! Thank you for your continued reading and support!


Here are some of the things that you can expect to see in July:

  • More book reviews, including some Saskatchewan authors
  • A look into my book shelves
  • Some book lists
  • Recommendations of awesome content, apps, etc

I’m looking forward to seeing you all in July!

A Tribute

Hey readers,

Last week, I lost my grandpa. It made the blogging a bit difficult over the weekend and I didn’t have anything queued up to go. In honour of my Grandpa Keith Anderson, I wanted take a moment away from Pride and focus on Saskatchewan.

My grandpa was born and raised in Briercrest, Saskatchewan. He also served in World War II with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless electrical mechanic. He was 94 when he passed away last Wednesday and I wanted to take a moment to share a book that I think he would have liked.


Living Skies

Living Skies by Craig Hilts is a coffee-table book filled with photography of the beautiful skies and landscapes in Saskatchewan. I actually stumbled upon this book while I was looking for Pride books at the library. I was planning to share it next month when I found my focus back on more local interest.

Part of the reason that I want to share this book is the absolute breath-taking photos that are contained within it. Craig is a storm chaser and he has taken incredible photos of storm clouds. He has captured lightning and braved tornadoes. He has basked under the Northern Lights and experienced sunrises.

This book roots me in my Saskatchewan history. The images found within its pages could just as well be memories from my own life, not that I have ever taken on a tornado. The photos are stunning and you can quickly see why Saskatchewan is the ‘land of the living skies.’

This book is feels like it holds the essence of Saskatchewan, something that I can definitely associate with my grandpa. Having served in the RCAF, the sky was not a foreign place for him. I feel closer to him having enjoyed this book.

Now, you wouldn’t think that a picture book could bring someone to tears, but this one did. Craig has a section of the book that is called ‘Dance Like No One’s Watching.’ Everything about that line is my Grandpa Keith. So many memories that we heard about him at the funeral were about his dance moves and his love of dancing.

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At my wedding, he was the star of the party. Even at 92, he was always on the dance floor. Everyone remembers how much fun he had being out there. You never would have guessed that he was 92. So just reading the title, especially after using those exact words in my tribute to him at the funeral, shattered me a little bit more. It also brought me closer to his memory. Home is where the heart is and my grandpa holds a part of mine, even now that he is gone.

Craig is an extremely talented photographer and his work should be seen by people all over the world. Bringing Saskatchewan to your corner of the world can definitely be worth the experience.

And that is why I want to share this book with all of you.


You can find Craig’s photography website here. You can find out more information about his book here and purchase it from McNally Robinson here.

Queer Potterhead Recommendation

So I figure now is a good time to let you see how much of a queer Potterhead I am. I take my Harry Potter seriously. I thoroughly enjoy the books and movies. I also love reading fanfiction. I know that some people don’t like fanfiction, but frankly, that is their loss. There are some pretty incredible works out there.

Which brings me to my recommendation for this week. It is time for you all to meet the extremely talented TT of The Boy Who Lived tumblr. TT runs a tumblr that is essentially based around the Harry Potter series and they regularly cosplay as different characters in the series.

I was lucky enough to stumble onto their blog back in April as The Snowball Effect was being released. And The Snowball Effect, my lovely readers, is my recommendation. It is a Mauraders-era story that contains text and GIFs. Basically it follows my newest obsession, Wolfstar, or for those unfamiliar with Harry Potter fanfiction, Remus and Sirius.

I don’t really read fanfiction that follows canon, but I mean, who is to say that this never happened. That’s all I am saying.

You can find the master post for The Snowball Effect here. While you are over there, please check out all of TT’s other masterpieces.