On Monday author Emily Williams shared some of the research that informed her novel Letters to Eloise – do check that post out to find out more about her book. Today she shares her editing tips – do please share your top tips in the comments too.
For any other budding writers and authors out there I have complied a list of editing and proof reading tips for Letters to Eloise. These tips and tricks I developed during the writing process from my debut novel. It is great to share ideas, so I look forward to hearing more tips from other authors if you would like to share.
- After finishing writing each chapter, read through twice, and then move on. When you have finished the first draft, read through the book once more from start to finish.
- Take time away from the novel – I had two years but I don’t mean this long! It really does feel like reading the novel with fresh eyes and amazing what you can spot after doing this. I really enjoyed reading the novel again and was surprised at my own writing. Sometimes you are stuck in the moment of novel and this perspective away really helped.
- Ask a few friends/family and beta readers (unbiased) to read for content and to spot any plot holes/errors.
- Make plot/character amendments.
- Read aloud — to see if each sentence flows with the punctuation and edit any stilted sentences.
- Read aloud backwards, sentence by sentence, from finish to start. This seems tedious but really takes you away from the actual story and concentrates on the proof reading. I was lucky and had someone to do this for me for a second time.
- Proof read; make changes, and then proof read again. I made the mistake of giving the same proofread copy to different people. I wish I had waited until the first changes came back and then sent an updated version out. That way each copy comes back improved, rather than the same errors being spotted by different people over and over again!
- I discovered a list of common words to eradicate from a novel (repetitive words and ones that stilt the flow) and found each of these words by find/replace to check whether the word was still needed in the sentence or could be cut out. I also found a list of common errors such as using apostrophes to indicate contraction and searched for all of these to check they were correct. (e.g. it’s or its).
- Have some different beta readers lined up – I had several amazing readers – each one found something different from the other. Some I asked to read for errors and others to read for flow and story plot. The feedback was highly valuable.
- After all the changes are updated, read a final time.
- I sent the novel to a professional proofreader to give a final run through and then updated these last changes.
- Again, read through a final time. Next is the nightmare that I found formatting, but that is another post! I have learnt a great deal from this process.
Huge thanks go to Emily for writing these two posts for me and for sharing a copy of Letters to Eloise which I am looking forward to reading.
Letters to Eloise – The story behind Abelard and Heloise
Letters to Eloise is the heart-wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams; a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child.
Thank you so much for welcoming me onto your blog for my guest post. Today I am going to talk more about the story behind the quotes from ‘Abelard and Heloise’ that are woven through my debut novel Letters to Eloise. I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers so I will leave these out and hopefully tantalise you with a snippet of the story so you’ll want to find out more! Letters to Eloise is my debut love story that was published by Lutino Publications last month.
The blurb …
‘Receiving a hand written letter is something that always puts a smile on my face, no matter who the sender is.’ Flora Tierney.
When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final year studies she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of ‘Abelard and Heloise’, or chase after the past with her estranged first love?
But will either man be there to support her during the turmoil ahead?
‘Banish me, therefore, for ever from your heart’ – Abelard to Heloise.
The story behind the name Eloise …
When I first started writing Letters to Eloise, I had planned the overview of the plot, and then was in the process of deciding the names of the characters. I have always loved the name ‘Eloise’ and looked it up in a babies name book to find out more. I researched each name in the novel this way to try to fit the names meaning with the characteristics of the character. The meaning of the name Eloise is ‘famous warrior’ and the name is linked with the Germanic name derived from ‘hail’, which means robust and healthy. The name fitted this character perfectly.
Love is incapable of being concealed; a word, a look, nay silence speaks it all. Abelard to Heloise
I read about how the name became famous due to the tragic love letters between Heloise d’Argenteuil and her tutor Peter Abelard. This lead to my further research into the love story of Abelard and Heloise, and the tragedy of their relationship. I became interested in this true story and bought a book of their letters to read. The website ‘Sacred Texts’ had translations of their letters to each other and this source was invaluable in my research. I would recommend a read. I had never even heard about the ancient tale before, and found myself fascinated.
The relationship was a scandal at the time, due partly to Heloise’s age and Peter Abelard’s position. Tragedy followed their illicit relationship as other people fought to keep them apart. However, by writing letters — for over twenty years — their love continued to burn for each other despite the tragic circumstances. The story is an inspiration, as is their courage and passion, which kept their love alive despite the separation between them. The quotes from their letters to each other fitted parts of the storyline of Letters to Eloise perfectly, so I interwove them into Flora’s letters to her unborn child.
Heloise and Abelard is a passionate, true love story and I knew the name Eloise was a perfect fit.
God knows I never sought anything in you except yourself. I wanted simply you, nothing of yours. Heloise to Abelard.
Read Letters to Eloise, which is out now on kindle and in paperback, to find out more about the story of Abelard and Heloise and to follow Flora’s story and her own predicament.
US – http://a.co/0VshOdw
Follow Emily on twitter @EmilyRMWilliams
Emily has also been kind enough to share some editing tips so pop back on Wednesday to find out more.
I’m happy to welcome author Ravinder Randhawa onto the blog today with a guest post as part of the A Wicked Old Woman blog tour. A Wicked Old Woman is an adult contemporary novel full of drama, masquerade and mischief.
In a bustling British city, Kulwant mischievously masquerades as a much older woman, using her walking stick like a Greek chorus, ‘…stick-leg-shuffle-leg-shuffle…’ encountering new adventures and getting bruised by the jagged edges of her life.
There’s the Punjabi punk who rescues her after a carefully calculated fall; Caroline, her gregarious friend from school days, who watched over her dizzy romance with ‘Michael the Archangel’, Maya the myopic who can’t see beyond her broken heart and Rani/Rosalind, who’s just killed a man …
Vividly bringing to life a bit of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Ravinder Randhawa – My Top Ten Books
This is an impossible and cruel question. I’ll pick from the many books that sit on my shelves, which stand out at the moment.
- His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman: This may be a bit of a cheat as there are three books here, but since they all follow on, the story counts as one. Needless to say the writing is brilliant; a master craftsman is at work here. Just one little observation, I think it’s rather ironic that Philip Pullman, a male writer, has a female heroine, and J.K. Rowling, a woman writer chooses a male hero. I believe Rowling could just as well have had a female protagonist, as all the qualities in Harry could just as well exist in a girl, and wish that she had done so; it would have raised the profile of women in literature. But the rather unpleasant reality of sexism in the world makes me wonder if the Potter books would have been as successful as they have been, with a female heroine. Although, it’s worth remembering that Bend It Like Beckham, did wonders for women football players. Equally, I don’t believe in dictating to writers and if that’s how the character came to her then that’s how it has to be. The comparison that I want to make between His Dark Materials trilogy and the Harry Potter books is that the Dark Materials trilogy, as well as being a brilliant read, containing magical elements, discusses serious issues, such as the existence of the soul and God, whereas the Harry Potter books don’t have this deeper vein.
- All the Birds Singing by Evie Wyld: this is a story that travels back to itself. Beautifully structured, so that we start in the present, then shift to a near past in Australia, and keep switching till the present and the past reach a crisis point. Jake, an Australian woman, is running a sheep farm in a remote area of Scotland. We begin to sense that something terrible has happened, which has mangled her life, and brought her to this desolate place, as well as the fact that when she rings home, she hides her number and never speaks. This is a book about wounded lives, families and finding love in unlikely places.
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid is a deceptively simple yet serious read. A slim book, barely 200 pages, it begins in a gentle, old fashioned manner as Changez, the narrator, tells his life story to someone who appears to be an American tourist in Pakistan. As they sit in a Lahore café, working their way through tea, snacks and food, Changez’s story of being a student in America, relationships, working for a valuation firm and his growing disenchantment are quietly sketched in. The personal, emotional and political are all brought together in a seamless and almost inevitable way. This book quietly lifts the covers on something important happening in our world.
- The Long Song by Andrea Levy. I was hesitant to start this book, as it’s about slavery on a sugar plantation and I wondered if I could bear to read another book about that pain and suffering. Actually Andrea Levy has a deft and sensitive touch, knowing how much to portray and how much to suggest. We ‘live’ the story through July and everything becomes vivid and personal through her.
- Neverwhere, by Neill Gaiman. I’ve always enjoyed stories that mix the ordinary and known with the strange and hidden. Where a simple door can lead to another world or where time shifts and turns the story into something else. “Under the streets of London, there’s a place most people could never even dream of… the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.” Fast moving and inventive Neverwhere takes the reader on a crazy, unusual ride.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I hadn’t read a book about Afghanistan, but the country is so perpetually in our consciousness that when I came across the Kite Runner it was a natural choice. Interestingly, for me, the Kite Runner is about guilt and the impossibility of burying it. A word that seems to hover over the country of Afghanistan itself; poor, beleaguered, suffering Afghanistan – who and how many are guilty of bringing it to this terrible condition? The book is about two young boys and an act of betrayal. Echoing the acts of betrayal by countries which have used Afghanistan as their battlefield. A sweeping epic story, gripping from the beginning to the end; it takes us into the heart of an ancient culture, and into the frail heart of being human. “There is a way to be good again…” is a line that I love from this book, acting almost like a beacon, making you hope the story will travel towards it.
- The Humans by Matt Haig. One of the chapters begins with a wonderful line: “Humans are one of the few intelligent beings in the galaxy who haven’t quite solved the problem of death.” An alien has taken over the body of Professor Andrew Martin and is finding life, family and people very confusing. However, at the end of his mission he writes to his fellow aliens: “And let us consider this: what if there actually is a meaning to human life? And what if – humour me – life on earth is something not just to fear and ridicule but also cherish? What then?” Indeed, what then? I like books that ask the big questions.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. A real golden oldie. My bookshelves have never been without this book. I have an old, pocket hardback, published by Oxford University Press in 1964, which I must have picked up in a charity shop. Everyone knows the story, so I’ll just write the first fabulous sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
- Corinna Lang, Goodbye. By Vivian Connell. I doubt anyone will have heard of this book or have even read it. Another one of my finds in a charity shop, it was first published in 1954 and is about Corinna Lang, Hollywood film star, who sets out to play the most important role of all – that of herself. There’s espionage, danger, double agents and an enigmatic spy. Corinna is intelligent, witty and adventurous. Eat your heart out Mr. Bond.
- The Chalet School Stories. By Elinor Brent-Dyer. Another cheat I fear, but with around 58 novels in the series, it’s an amazing feat of sustained story telling, engendering the kind of addiction that soap operas create. These days we’d probably find some quite un PC sentences here and there but it’s also a world of snowy Alps, danger and plucky young women.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour – details below.
Do any of Ravinder’s picks make your top ten list too?