Thursday, May 9, 2013

Importance of an Editor

As everyone knows, my husband is writing his novel.  Well, while it was out for edits, he decided to write a few short stories to keep himself busy and to just continue to help his writing improve.  He completed the Tough Mudder back in February, so over the past month or so, he wrote an essay about his experience.  The essay is now complete, and you can read it here.

After his first draft, he went back to edit it for things like tense and spelling.  After getting his novel back from a co-worker who reviewed it, he was given some feedback that he is bad with tense.  He just switched mid-paragraph, and sometimes even mid-sentence!  So he went through that essay thoroughly.  But he wanted me to read through it to make sure he didn’t miss anything and to look for any grammar mistakes.  So, as the loving wife that I am, I did.

Well, after about the third paragraph I started running into a few tense problems.  He set up the essay as all past tense, but then as soon as he went into the actual race, he switched to present tense.  And then it just got worse from there.  Long story short, there ended up being a lot of red on this essay that he had thought he’d caught everything.  After thinking about it, I realized that he basically wrote the essay as he would talk to someone.  But the way we talk and the way we read/write are completely different.

So this blog post is not actually about my husband’s bad tense usage, it is about the whole author/editor/publisher dynamic.  It made me understand how important an editor is.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of writers are probably just like my husband.  He comes up with the ideas, gets them down on paper in an entertaining and riveting way, and then someone else has to come through and polish it.  Though, I’m sure there are some authors out there who are great at both, every published book has to go through some sort of editing. And I know why.

I’m also reading this book called How NOT to Write a Novel and it’s interesting to see how many things there are that can make your book un-publishable.  Now, this book is actually trying to focus on not making major mistakes so that someone will read it to pick it up to be published.  But as long as an author is able to not make some of these major mistakes, there are still just so many ways that a reader can be turned off.  And that’s really why an editor is so important.  They’re going to catch not only the grammatical problems and tense problems, but they’re going to catch plot holes, the style of the dialogue, etc.  Of course, when you’re pitching your book to a publishing company, you want it to be really good, but all you really need to do is catch them - which means that beginning needs to be really good to make them want more.

So I’m left knowing that if we don’t end up getting his novel picked up by a publishing company when he is finally finished, that we definitely need to find a good editor if he wants to self-publish it.  Because I have definitely read some self-published (and even published) novels in which the dialogue was so bad and the style and errors were so bad that I couldn’t finish reading them.  So a good editor is worth it’s weight in gold.

But at the same time, an editor can only do so much.  If you give them a completely messed up novel, full of tense and dialogue that doesn’t make sense, and a plot that has no interest…there is only so much they can do – otherwise they’ll be rewriting your entire novel.

So for now, we will continue having friends and family read through his novel first.  We want lots of feedback.  And he will be making edits every time it comes back.  And then once we feel pretty good about it, we might still try to find an editor just in case.  To polish it off.  And then it will probably be in pretty good shape to make it to a publisher, who can polish it off even further once they’ve picked it up.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why is Iron Man so much more popular than other Marvel movies?

With the release of Iron Man 3 this weekend, I began to wonder why it seems that Iron Man is the most popular Marvel superhero right now.  Of course all the Marvel movies are doing very well, I love all of them myself.  But Iron Man is definitely my favorite, with Thor being a close second.  But why?  What is it about Iron Man that is cooler and more exciting than Thor or Captain America or the Hulk?  I know the budget is larger, so naturally they can have more things blow up and cooler special effects and bigger actors (though I love Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans).  But Iron Man has had some pretty big stars in it, even as the bad guys: Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, and now Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce.  Those are big name stars!  But why did Iron Man get such a big budget?  Because the first one did so well.  So I was left contemplating why everyone loved the original Iron Man so much.

First, Robert Downey Jr is about the best Iron Man ever.  He pulls the character off so beautifully.  He has the perfect personality for it and it seems to just come so easily to him. And I think Gwyneth Paltrow is a great Pepper Potts.  A quietly strong woman who can contain Tony Stark.  So the casting was great.  But the casting only does so much – it’s the characters that we love.  And there’s where my epiphany happened!

It is the type of characters that are in this story that get us all so attached.  Tony Stark is this arrogant, cocky, sarcastic, jerk but secretly he is a sweet guy who wants love and to save the world.  That character is so popular right now – that is the character that I absolutely love in my books.  I think about Will Herondale and Jace Wayland.  This type of leading male character is very popular.  I think it’s because he has the bad boy attitude, but deep down he really isn’t a bad guy.  The best of both worlds.  And with the popularity of this type of character, of course Iron Man is going to do well over the other Marvel Superheroes who aren’t quite as arrogant and sarcastic.  And add to it that Robert Downey Jr is playing him, now he’s cocky, sweet and hot.  What a great combination!  But Pepper is also the type of character this is popular right now.  She is quiet and reserved and doesn’t cause much trouble, but she has a way to reign in the cocky character.  To make him want to be a good man.  Which is exactly what she does with Tony Stark. 

So yes, I think the casting and the budget obviously make for a good film.  But it’s the characters themselves that are making the Iron Man series the best series out of all the Marvel movies right now.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Rebel Spirits

Rebel Spirits
by  Lois Ruby
Date Read:  5/3/2013

Rating:  ★ ★
I received this book from Scholastic through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think I'd give this 2.5 stars.  2 stars seems a little harsh because I really liked the overall concept and story. But 3 stars is too generous unfortunately.

First I want to talk about what I did like.  The concept sound so great.  I actually visited Gettysburg when I was younger and I've always thought that that history was so interesting.  And I have always been one who loves history, but not reading it out of a book, but going some place and learning about it.  So I was very excited when I saw this was taking place in Gettysburg and also that it was a sort of ghost story.  I read Anna Dressed in Blood recently, and I absolutely loved it. I was hoping this would live up to that. And add to it the murder mystery.  It was right up my alley.  I felt like the overall concept was great and when you stepped back and looked at the story as a whole, it was interesting.  This wasn't a book that I had to force my way through, but it also wasn't engaging either.

I did really like the history that was strewn throughout this book.  I think this is a neat way to introduce Civil War history to young people.  And I enjoyed the ghost aspect.  I actually thought the ghost lore was interesting.  Though I was a little unsure about why Nathaniel wouldn't come back after his mystery was solved. I guess he could cross over and actually go to Heaven?

And I actually liked the ending.  For one thing, this book did have a beginning, middle and end.  I've grown to find that refreshing - so many authors lately write them as a series and they never actually end any of their books until the very last book.  And I really liked [spoiler: the fact that Nathaniel still does disappear.  He doesn't somehow stay in solid form even though he's dead.  And I like that he tells her to go live her life.  That he helped save her life because he was selfless and wanted her to live her life.]  It was very refreshing.  About the last 10% of the book was by far my favorite part.

On to what I didn't like.  I felt that relationship was very forced and very unbelievable.  First of all, I felt this was insta-love at it's worst.  She met and fell in love with a ghost in 3 days?  I don't think so.  Maybe in lust. But not in love. And that first day, they barely even talked to each other.  So in 3 days they probably spent a few hours together at most...and she's in love?  But normally insta-love doesn't bother me as much as other readers, so I tried to put my finger on something else that might be bothering me about it.  And I realized that I just didn't feel the connection between Lori and Nathaniel.  Perhaps that's because they never built a friendship to build a relationship on?  Or just that everything was forced to try to make her interest in solving his murder more realistic?  I'm not sure.  But the relationship was killing me the entire book.  Everytime they talked about their feelings or how they loved each other, I just rolled my eyes and would yell "It's been 3 days!!!"  So it really jarred me out of the book.  Part of the reason this sounded so interesting to me from the summary was that she was solving his murder and then starts to fall in love with him.  But the connection between the characters was not executed well.  And maybe if this had spanned more time, it wouldn't feel so insta-lovey and I could get on board more.  But unfortunately that wasn't the case and it really brought the story down for me.

I was never actually fully engaged in this book.  It wasn't bad.  But it didn't keep my fully interested.  I felt so much more could have been done with this story.  It really was a great concept, I just felt that it fell short in the execution.

Other readers might like this more than I did if they don't mind the insta-love.  Perhaps they'll feel more chemistry between the characters.  I honestly felt more chemistry between Lori and Evan than she and Nathaniel.  Which is sad.  I almost felt like the author was going to an Edward-like character (sweet, honorable, old world charm).  And she just didn't get there.

All the revelations in the end weren't very surprising to me.  It's not that I necessarily predicted everything, but it wasn't mind blowing.  It's like I had it predicted in the back of my mind the whole time.  There weren't enough suspects to really make it a mystery. [spoiler: I had pretty much summed it up to being either Wince or Edison.  I just didn't really put together how it was all going to have gone down.  And I think I'm left a little disappointed that it actually wasn't a murder.  Well, I guess it was supposed to be with Edison coming to shoot him.  But it ended up being an accident.]

It is so hard for me to give this review.  I really wanted to love this book.  The summary sounded so good!  And I love the setting.  It just unfortunately fell short of my expectations.
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