Archives for category: About Editing

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Beginning, middle, and end.
The three act structure.
Sounds simple?
It should be. Storytellers sitting around a campfire in a prehistoric cave followed this natural progression of a story. You, the writer, should too. You, the reader or viewer, should look for that. If you’re having problems liking a film, story, or book, the first suspect is a writer who doesn’t understand three-act structure and doesn’t shape her/his material to follow it.
This is why Quentin Tarantino’s film, “Pulp Fiction,” profane and violent and experimentally plotted as it is, works. Even though plots are left in mid-stream to be finished later and a number of “chapters” are labeled, the film rigorously follows three-act structure.
And this is why Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Once Upon a Time….in Hollywood,” is in my opinion a failure. Aside from the fact that the film leads the viewer on a manipulative mind-tease about the real-life horrific, brutal, senseless murders of Sharon Tate, her unborn baby, and six other people (and the many other objections I have), first and foremost, it is a meandering mess.
This is why “Captain Marvel,” which I analyzed in detail here and on my Patreon page, earned worldwide box office of over a billion dollars. Because the screenwriter rigorously followed the three-act structure, even with a complex plot with a lot science fictional material happening, plus a moving personal story.
Beginning, middle, and end.
Many storytellers do this naturally, but if you’re struggling with a piece, look first to this problem.
Sounds simple, but what do I mean, exactly?
Many how-to-write experts will tell you to start with “an inciting incident.” An action-packed opening that draws the reader in, wanting to know more.
That’s good advice, as far as it goes. Five bad beginnings, as I saw in a recent how-to-write article, are (1) having your character dreaming some action sequence and then waking up to find, well, it was all a dream, (2) a description of the weather, (3) a description of an impossibly gorgeous character, (4) having your impossibly gorgeous character look at herself or himself in a mirror (5) having a character furiously being chased through a woods, precariously climbing a mountain, or whatever.
In good hands, any of these may work (Gone With The Wind springs to mind, “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom noticed that” and then Mitchell goes on for the first entire page to describe Scarlett’s looks), but you don’t want to tempt fate.
But wait, isn’t the inciting incident supposed to be exciting?
In a writing workshop I attended years ago, the teacher read the action-packed opening scene of a mountaineer scaling a treacherous mountain, slipping, falling, continuing to climb. The problem? It was boring! Boring because we readers didn’t connect with the character.
I’ve seen this same problem in many, many YA books.
Whatever ordeal or ordinary situation you put your character through in the inciting incident, you must make the character believable and sympathetic. You must connect the reader to the character in an emotional way so that the reader cares what happens next—to the character, first most, not necessarily the plot.
Even in a prologue—like in Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen—that skips ahead to a later point in the plot, you must connect to the characters to the reader in a sympathetic way.
I’ve often told writers seeking advice, you have no plot without character.
But the beginning is just that—a set up of characters, time, place, and yes the initial glimmerings of a plot.
The beginning should take up about a quarter of your screenplay, story, or novel during which you should plant plot points of what is to come later. I always admire a good setup and good plot points that are then later “paid off.”
You reach the end of Act One, and initiate Act Two with a surprising plot twist that sends the action spinning in an unexpected direction. Take all your characters set up in Act One and send them on a quest, into a war zone, into betrayal by a lover, into a problematic marriage, into capture by hostile aliens.
The choice is yours, but make it a doozy.
To read the rest of the February Writing Tip, about Act Two and Act Three, friends, readers, and fans, please join my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206 and help me after the Attack. I’ve posted delightful new stories and previously published stories, writing tips, book excerpts, movie reviews, original healthy recipes and health tips, and more exclusively for my heroic patrons! I’m offering a critique of your writing sample on Tier Five.
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

 

Had extensive paper-and-pencil notes for a new story, which I prefer to do before sitting down at the computer. But I wanted to mull over the idea and plot a bit more, so lay down in bed with a pad of paper and a pencil. I played with the idea of switching the protagonist from male to female and bingo! Now I think have the story. The plot beats are mostly the same, but the context is WAY different.
Also playing with changing the antagonist in a second story from male to female. The protag remains male. Interesting possibilities.
Yet a third story has been in progress for a long time. I know what I want to say, have outlined the plot several times, but the work is still frustrating me. An editor I have in mind for the story likes over-the-top stories, often horror stories. So if I take the story in that direction, and if she doesn’t acquire it (I’ve sold to her before but she’s very particular) I wonder if I’ll be able to sell it anywhere else.
Very likely the story will be seen on my Patreon page, which is quickly becoming a viable option.
Join me on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206.
Donate from your PayPal account to lisasmason@aol.com.
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

Some years ago, I wrote tax law books for a national law book publisher. I’d practiced tax law in a big San Francisco firm for a few years, but the time and commitment were overwhelming and I wanted—I needed–to work on my fiction.

Odd as it sounds, writing tax law books was easier.

The process went like this: my editorial director assigned me a topic, say, the charitable deduction. I researched the topic and wrote the chapter. I turned the manuscript in to my executive editor, who checked my research and tagged the manuscript for structure, language, and citation of authorities.

The editor returned the manuscript to me, and I responded to the tags and made changes. When the editor signed off, he or she then turned the manuscript over to a copyeditor.

We cranked out books on unforgiving deadlines. The director set up a production schedule for the hardcover book with facilities on the East coast before I had written one word.

We who wrote and edited substance were attorneys licensed by the State Bar of California and enjoyed window offices in a downtown skyscraper. The copyeditors, usually English majors, labored in interior cubbyholes. Like most business offices, we had a hierarchy and the copyeditors, all brilliant and educated folks who were probably working on their novels after their day job (as was I), harbored a bit of a grudge toward the lawyers.

Writing and riding. The two words sound almost the same, don’t they? I’m a huge fan of Blackfeet Indian pencils. I like to jot notes with Blackfeets. A sharpened point glides a soft, fine line onto paper that erases easily. Best of all, each pencil has a teeny, tiny Blackfeet Indian riding on a galloping horse. Love that horse and rider.

When you think about it, riding a horse is a lot like writing. The rider (your mind) guides the brute force of the horse (your material).

During my childhood and teens, I rode horses, trained at an academy, and competed in shows, winning seven ribbons in my day. I studied under a professional rider; I’ll call her Mrs. Grant. There she would stand at the center of the riding ring, a stern, silver-haired lady impeccably clad in canary breeches, black riding boots, and a tweedy hunting jacket. She would shout things like, “HEELS DOWN AND TOES FORWARD, MASON, YOU LOOK LIKE A DUCK.”

I loved riding horses. I did not love Mrs. Grant. But, like my fellow terrified riding students, I desperately wanted to please her. And she was always, always right.

The grudge match between the copyeditors and the lawyers sometimes went the other way when a copyeditor trudged from his or her dungeon down the hall to a lawyer-writer’s castle. After wrestling a manuscript out of thin air, many a lawyer-writer took a dim view of his or her masterwork beset by a million yellow tags, all of which had to be addressed in the space of two or three days.

My copyeditor, a stern, auburn-haired gamine in a slouchy sweater and tweedy slacks, would deposit my manuscript bristling with tags on my desk. Within, I would find comments like, “YOU’VE USED THE WORD ‘CONSTITUTE’ FORTY TIMES IN THIS MSS. ARE YOU WRITING ABOUT THE CHARITABLE DEDUCTION OR ORANGE JUICE?”

My copyeditor reminded me a lot of Mrs. Grant. I did not love her, but she was always, always right. And helped make my manuscript a polished piece of work publishable in a forty-dollar hardcover book. Which is just about as good as a blue ribbon won in a riding competition.

So there you have it, my friends. Here’s to you, my copyeditors. Your obsession with usage and punctuation has become mine, and everything I’ve learned about how to polish a manuscript for publication I’ve learned from you.

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 5: Authors’ Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/02/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-5-authors-market-share-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-6-ebooks-versus-print-books-lisa-mason-sfwapro

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 7: Unlimited or Not Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/08/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-7-unlimited-or-not-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 8: Print Books in 2013 Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/13/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-8-print-books-in-2013-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 9: Amazon Vs Hatchett Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/16/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-9-amazon-vs-hatchett-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 10: Conversations with Author Elle Emerson Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/20/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-10-conversations-with-author-elle-emerson-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo; Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo; My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters. Thank you for your readership!

The Bantam classic is back, revised and re-edited. Summer Of Love, A Time Travel, a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book.

Twenty five-star Amazon reader reviews
“This book was so true to life that I felt like I was there. I recommend it to anyone.”
“More than a great science-fiction, a great novel as well.”

I’m sensitive to the fact that the original Bantam edition was not as crafted as I hoped it would be when I was a young writer fifteen years ago. That’s why when, given the opportunity to prepare the title as an ebook, I re-keyed in the entire book and cut over 20,000 words of youthful excess.

I’ve become a much better writer after fifteen years of professional publishing, and I think the voice, the pacing, the clarity of the story, and the focus of the relationships in Summer of Love, A Time Travel are better now.

Most of my longtime readers love the new edition. “Thank you for taking the time,” one reader wrote, while another said, “You’ve crafted a fresh new voice. Thank you.”

Some of my longtime readers don’t love the new edition. Along with the youthful excess, I removed some substantive issues that I thought slowed the pace and revised others for clarity. One reader on Amazon said, “The author has changed an amazing book into a novella.” Ahem. The ebook is 110,000 words, not exactly a novella.

I’m glad if you, as a young writer, were totally brilliant with your first pieces, but it has taken the fullness of time for me to achieve a level of quality I’m satisfied with. And I’m not alone. Plenty of other published authors are revising previous titles in this wondrous new age of ebooks and print-on-demand.

So there you have it, my friends. You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.

Summer Of Love, A Time Travel is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.

The year is 1967 and something new is sweeping across America: good vibes, bad vibes, psychedelic music, psychedelic drugs, anti-war protests, racial tension, free love, bikers, dropouts, flower children. An age of innocence, a time of danger. The Summer of Love.

San Francisco is the Summer of Love, where runaway flower children flock to join the hip elite and squares cruise the streets to view the human zoo.

Lost in these strange and wondrous days, teenager Susan Bell, alias Starbright, has run away from the straight suburbs of Cleveland to find her troubled best friend. Her path will cross with Chiron Cat’s Eye in Draco, a strange and beautiful young man who has journeyed farther than she could ever imagine.

With the help of Ruby A. Maverick, a feisty half-black, half-white hip merchant, Susan and Chi discover a love that spans five centuries. But can they save the world from demons threatening to destroy all space and time?

A harrowing coming of age. A friendship ending in tragedy. A terrifying far future. A love spanning five centuries. And a gritty portrait of a unique time in American history.

What the professional book reviewers have to say:

“Captures the moment perfectly and offers a tantalizing glimpse of its wonderful and terrible consequences.” San Francisco Chronicle

“A fine novel packed with vivid detail, colorful characters, and genuine insight.” Washington Post Book World

“Remarkable. . . .the intellect on display within these psychedelically packaged pages is clear-sighted, witty, and wise.” Locus Magazine

“Mason has an astonishing gift. Her chief characters almost walk off the page. And the story is as significant as anyone could wish. This book will surely be on the prize ballots.” Analog

“A priority purchase.” Library Journal

5 stars
Calling All Fans
Amazon Verified Purchase
‘Summer of Love is an important American literary contribution that may very well have a strong and viable fan base. Where are you? Join us!
This novel is loads of fun to read. The majority of the characters are hippies from the 1960s who meet a stranger from the future who’s looking to save his world. This fellow, Chiron, needs to find a troubled adolescent teen named Susan (a.k.a. Starbright) for a very compelling reason. The book has a great deal to offer: swift action, lovable characters, spiritual insight, and well-chosen primary documents such as essays, poems, and news articles which round out the reader’s understanding of the worldview of the novel.
I think Summer of Love has excellent potential for a wider audience. I hope it continues to enjoy a healthy amount of sales in the used books market on this site. I wish even more for it to be in wider circulation. Some books talk about the sixties. This novel IS the sixties, thanks to the spirit and scholarship of its author. And, as one reader aptly put it, ‘the sci-fi stuff is just plain off the hook.’ Get a copy. Most people who have read it seem to respect it and enjoy it every bit as much as I do.’

From the author of The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords;

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords;

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;

SHAKEN on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords; and

Tomorrow’s Child on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

For urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, romantic suspense, humor, and a screenplay, visit the Virtual Bookstore! All Lisa Mason Titles, All Links, All Readers, Worldwide. NYT Notable Book Author https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2013/08/31/virtual-bookstore-fantasy-science-fiction-urban-fantasy-romantic-suspense-literary-screenplay-sfwapro/

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add a bunch of stars, write a review on the site where you acquired it, blog it, Tweet it, post it, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!