This is my stop during the blog tour for Crossline by Russ Colchamiro. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and runs from 18 March till 7 April. See the tour schedule here.
Today, I'm featuring a guest post by the author, Russ Colchamiro! Next month, I'll be featuring my review of the book, so stay tuned!
Bag Full of Bonkers: Back to Front Editing
by Russ Colchamiro
For all of my fellow writers out there, whatever level you're at or what you're working on, I've got an editing tip for you. It's a little unconventional, but after nearly 25 years as a professional writer (reporter, editor, media consultant, author), I've found that it works pretty darn well.
Even if most people think I'm bonkers for suggesting it.
Page 1, Paragraph 1, Word 1
Tell me if you've heard this one before.
You're working on your short story, or novella, or novel. Whichever. It's written, you've read it, and you feel, well, however you feel about it. But you know that to deliver your best work, it probably needs a polish.
So you read it again, starting where one starts. At the beginning. Literally, page 1, paragraph 1, line 1.
You're going along and it looks pretty good and then... hold on. Wait a minute. That doesn't look right. So you do your line edits. It's clean. You're happy. And then your brain says, "Okay, where was I? Right. Back to the beginning."
There you are again. Page 1, paragraph 1, line 1. Gotta get back into the flow, right? So you read again, fresh, and get a bit farther along this time. Things look good and... hold on. Wait a minute. This section doesn't look right. And then you do more line edits until you're happy. And then...
Back to the beginning.
And on and on.
The net result is that your story edits tend be front-loaded, your concentration fading as you head deeper into your story. Why? Because as you read and re-read the front section, eventually, you're skimming. You can only look at the same material so many times before your eyes glaze over and your brain switches off.
And then, the deeper and deeper you go... reading, editing, re-reading, editing again, re-re-reading... you get fatigued.
Your eyes hurt, your back hurts. Your arms. Your fingers. Your brain hurts!
Until finally you're not really reading at all, and by the time you get to the end of your story, you're done. And I'm not talking done done, I mean done. As in DUN done.
You've had it! You just can't look at the story anymore.
Which likely means you haven't done your best work all the way through.
So the question is... how can we overcome this editor's fatigue?
All right. You've stuck with me this far, so chances are you're curious about how bonkers I really am.
What if... stay with me... what if... instead of staring your edits on page 1 of your story, you started on... the last page? And then edited subsequent pages in reverse order? Back to front?
For example, if your story is 20 pages, start your edits on page 20, then page 19, then 18, 17, 16, and so on until you get back to page 1.
I know... what? Huh? What kind of madness is that?
In my experience, it's the madness that works.
Why start on the last page? Because it's probably been severely under-edited due to the fatigue we discussed. But even if you buy this premise, you might be thinking, whoa, Russ. Maybe I can see some logic to this but, uh... huh?
You're suggesting that I read my the story in the wrong sequence. Out of order. It won't make sense.
My response: that's exactly why you should do it!
Through sheer repetition, you have a certain expectation about how your story should flow. There's a rhythm to it. Certain words, phrases, descriptions and dialogue you've come to anticipate.
If you read pages in reverse order, once you're done with page 20, you'll move to page 19, and your brain will likely go, 'Whoa! Hold on, hold on. That's not what comes next. I'm so confused. I don't understand what's happening. Let me look closer at what's here..."
And that's where it should click.
Let me look closer at what's here.
Isn't that what you want? To look closer at your words, and from a fresh perspective? To examine your prose with greater scrutiny, ensuring that each paragraph, each line... each word... is written with the level of clarity, nuance, and simplicity (or complexity) you're shooting for?
Don't you want to get pulled away from the skimming mode, plying your mad editing skills with a re-invigorated brain?
I'm willing to bet that if you give this process a fair shake, you'll find mistakes big, medium, and small you didn't notice before. Wonky prose. Misspelled words. Poor grammar. Inconsistent descriptions. Repeated words and phrases. Clunky or overwritten dialogue.
Any number of gaffes you can't believe you missed already, despite the attention you thought you were giving your story. Happens to me all the time.
For example, over the past 6 months I submitted three different stories (a novel, a novella, and a short story) to different editors, all of whom told me, accurately, that I hadn't done my best work.
And they were right. You know why?
Because I failed to implement the techniques I know that work best for me. I've since gone back and revised these stories, using the back-to-front technique. The results were staggering.
I Know. It's Weird.
I know. Back-to-front editing. It sounds weird. It's unconventional. It contradicts your experiences and instincts. It defies what you've been taught. It's not intuitive.
But then again, if you want to elevate the quality of your writing, isn't it worth it now and again to break the mold? To challenge yourself? To experiment with techniques you hadn't considered before?
Go ahead. Give it a shot.
Maybe it’ll work for you, maybe it won’t.
But I'm willing to bet that if you give it a fair shake, you'll never look at your writing process the same way again.
And then you can be a bag full of bonkers, just like me.
by Russ Colchamiro
Genre: Science Fiction/ Space Opera
Age category: Adult
Perfect for fans of Firefly, Flash Gordon, Stargate, and Escape from New York...
Hotdog pilot Marcus Powell has been selected to test Taurus Enterprises' Crossline prototype craft and its newly developed warp thrusters, which, if successful, will revolutionize space travel as we know it.
But during his jaunt across the stars, Powell is forced into a parallel universe -- including a parallel Earth -- where he finds himself at the center of an epic battle he may have been destined for all along.
Meanwhile, back home, reclusive oil tycoon and Taurus CEO Buddy Rheams Jr. -- who sent Powell on that very mission -- has a mysterious past and a secret agenda, one that could prevent Powell from ever making it back to his wife and little girl.
From author Russ Colchamiro, Crossline is a psychedelic, action-packed romp across time, space, and dimension that asks the question: once you cross the line, can you ever really go back?
About the Author:
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.
He is now working on the first novel in a new series featuring his hardboiled private eye Angela Hardwicke, and the first of three collaborative novella projects.
Russ is repped by The Zack Compnay.
For more on and Russ’s books, you can visit www.russcolchamiro.com, follow him on Twitter @AuthorDudeRuss, and ‘like’ his Facebook author page www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor.
You can find and contact Russ Colchamiro here:
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Crossline. These are the prizes you can win:
- one physical copy of Crossline by Russ Colchamiro (US Only)
- three e-copies of Crossline by Russ Colchamiro (INT)
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway