Symbolism

One way to enhance your writing is through symbolism. Colors, animals, elements, and weather can all be used in symbolic ways to add a deeper meaning to your words. Examples of this could be an approaching storm as the conflict builds, the sun setting red to show coming death and war, spotting a dove to show feelings of peace and hope, rain falling to show life/rebirth and cleansing, a serpent representing an evil house.

dog resting in front of window

In high school, we are taught to find symbolism and understand it. Yes, I’ve seen the “the curtains are blue” meme. You can take that stance if you so wish. But know that your English teacher thinks that the curtains being blue means something because the author of the book probably said that they did and that several hundred writers, critics, and literary experts have agreed on it.

Symbolism is one of those things that can take your writing from mediocre to grand, from enjoyable to meaningful, and from stagnant to moving.

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Let me show you about telling.

There are a million articles and blog posts on showing, not telling. For real. Google it. It’s great advice. It’s one of those things that a lot of new authors don’t really see until it’s pointed out to them. Something some authors who’ve been at it a while now need a reminder of. Show us, don’t tell us.

Telling is important in children’s books. Think of the board book where you read that Simon is mad! accompanied by an artistic rendering of a clearly angry Simon. This level of reading is teaching kids to associate words with what they see. Oh! That’s what mad looks like. I get it now! These drawings carry more weight than the simplistic words.

As readers get older, it flips. We see more artistic illustrations that give our mind a launching point for our imagination while the words direct what we see in our mind’s eye. The information the reader needs comes from the text more than the art. While it is still a lot of telling, the words do more to show as well. This is where kids learn to pick up on subtlety. They still need a lot of information, but they can fill in more of the blanks on their own. Simon was pretty upset at how things were turning out.

When young readers are teens, reading helps them understand their world. One of the skills they pick up during these reading years is how to read between the lines. Picking up on tension and tone. Getting cues and understanding what’s really going on. So we show them. And then when they’ve had a chance to figure it out, we confirm by telling. Simon stomped across his room and threw himself on his bed, glaring at the wall. He was not okay with this.

Now we come to adult fiction. Show, don’t tell is a mantra you’ve heard. But as you’ve seen above, telling has a place. Is there room for telling in adult fiction, though? I think so. But when, you ask. When is it okay? Let me show you.

Sometimes you just need to get to the point. Simon being mad isn’t always the point. If we all already know what a mad Simon looks and sounds like, then we can just tell the reader Simon was mad again. Shocker. Then you can get to the point of the scene.
Sometimes you need a quick review of what’s happened. Please don’t show us all over again.
Sometimes what’s going on isn’t really that important. If Simon is a side character, the fewer words spent on him, the better. Simon was pissed, but who cared?
And sometimes, just spitting it out brings things into focus for readers. If it’s a big deal, we want readers to know upfront. Simon was furious ought to get their attention and set the tone for what’s next.

Show, don’t Tell is one of those rules that you should really spend time learning. Once you’ve got a solid understanding, you can make better decisions on when to break that rule!

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Deciding on KU vs wide

New to the world of publishing? One of the questions you’ll need to answer is if you plan to publish exclusively to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited or if you want to go wide and publish across multiple platforms.

What’s the difference? Why does it matter? Well, there’s a lot to consider, but most of it boils down to the reader you’re trying to reach. While there is some overlap, for the most part, readers either spend their dollars on a once a month subscription or on purchasing books. KU readers want a lot of bang for their buck. These are voracious readers! They consume a lot of books. Amazon pays authors by using algorithms to count the number of pages that are read. Their algorithms also give more weight to KU books than to wide books when it comes to ranking and to promoting through “customer’s also bought”. If you are a quick producer and write to market, this is a solid approach for you.

If you write a little more slowly and want to reach a wider audience, going wide might be your golden ticket. Generally, a wide release approach is more of a long game. It can take longer to establish a fanbase, and book buyers tend to be more selective in their purchases. But you get paid by units sold, there are no issues with platforms removing “reads”, and there is less pressure to produce to keep up with the algorithms.

Knowing how you plan to distribute your book can affect how it is written. KU authors are masters of the market. They know what’s hot, they know how to package it, and they know how to follow the trends. This approach means that the fastest way to get eyes on your words is to see what’s selling and write something similar. You want to write a sports romance? Check the Amazon Top 100 list and see what those sports romances have in common, then apply those elements and make it your own.

If you’re not interested in writing to market, consider going wide. While this can make it harder to market your book (there are so many categories to consider!), a wide release allows you to write what you want, the way you want to, without worrying about if other books like yours are out there and doing well. These are writers who don’t follow trends. They set them.

However you decide to publish, I wish you luck! And if you’re in need of any editing services, check out my services page!

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Do you need an editor?

No. No, you absolutely do not. So why am I here? Because while you don’t need an editor, they’re nice to have. The list of things that you don’t really need in life is pretty long. You don’t need a pillow to sleep or utensils to eat. You don’t need a table saw to build a house. You don’t even need a toothbrush to clean your teeth (I’ve read that chewing twigs is an alternative). But all those tools sure make things easier on you! The same goes for editing.

So do you really need an editor? And what kind of editing do you need? Hopefully, I can help you decide where to invest your editing budget.

It all starts with understanding what you need. Every author is going to be different. You all have different strengths. While some have a solid foundation in grammar, others may have a natural knack for syntax; they might be able to skip a professional proofread. And if you’d rather yank out your own molars than change anything about your story, then it wouldn’t make any sense to hire a content editor. Unless, that is, you want to pay for advice you plan to ignore, in which case, maybe just light the money on fire. Or hire me. I’m a mother and am used to being ignored. Getting paid for it would be a happy change!

Here are a few ways to cut some editing corners:

If you’re wanting to pass on content/story edits, grab a beta reader or three. A good beta reader will tell you if your story is boring or if your characters are unlikable. They might not pick up on the more subtle things a content editor would, like theme, symbolism, and story/character/relationship arcs, but they should be able to tell you if the story is entertaining. A quick Google search will pull up a bajillion beta questionnaires that can help you direct their feedback to elements you’re most unsure of. Don’t have them fixing your commas, though. At least not until the bigger issues are addressed. A step up from a beta reader would be a critique partner. A CP that you click with, who doesn’t smother you with false praise, and who knows the fundamentals of storytelling is invaluable, but they’re almost as hard to find as unicorns.

Copy edits are where you probably should invest in editing. Your brain that you plucked that great story from is amazing. So amazing that it doesn’t need to read what you actually wrote to know what you meant. It’ll make sense of confusing passages and insert missing words or punctuation for you when you read. Unfortunately, your readers don’t get that access to your brain. This is the stage that a fresh set of eyes is most useful. A good copy editor is going to catch your errors and improve your prose. They’ll help you convey your story clearly, correctly, and cohesively. They’ll tell you if you have inclusion issues that need to be addressed (insensitive word choices, lack of diversity, virtue signaling). And they’ll do light fact checking (can your character really get from Miami to Phoenix by plane in three hours?). If you just can’t afford it, then set your manuscript aside for two or three weeks. When you come back to it, your brain won’t be as “helpful,” and you’ll be able to see issues a little more easily.

What about proofreading? You’ve paid for copy edits. . .do you still need a proofreader? Maybe. If the other rounds of edits have been extensive, new errors (probably minor, like extra spaces or double punctuation) could have been introduced to the copy. But a good copy editor will have caught the vast majority of errors. If you’re wanting to skip the proofread, the same advice about taking a short break before coming back with fresh eyes applies. And run spellcheck. No, seriously, run spellcheck.

So, you don’t absolutely need an editor. You can do this on your own. It probably won’t be as polished and professional as you want it to be, but it’s completely up to you to decide if the investment is worthwhile. I believe it is. If you decide you want professional edits, though, check out my Services page!

I hope this helps!

Write on,
Becky

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An Introduction: Hello, Internet!

Editors, authors, and everyone else (Hi, Mom!): Thanks for checking out my website! With the hard work and help of a very patient friend and web designer, I’ve managed to put up pages about me, my services, and this blog. Check it out! I’ll be posting weekly about editing, writing, and more. Follow me on Facebook to be notified of any new posts!

Write on,
Becky

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