Category Archives: Editing

Poor Writer, Sad Writer.

Look at them with their fancy apple products and their expensive apps, look at them writing away, producing masterpieces as they sip their thirteenth latte of the day in that cute boutique coffee shop that only makes coffee from cat shit, or something. Expensive cat shit….you don’t know. It sounds gross but hey if it’s expensive it must be amazing, right?

If only you had [AMAZING NAME BRAND PRODUCT WITH AMAZING NAME BRAND PRICE TAG] you too would be producing effortless prose, nuanced story lines, witty and wonderful characters.

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This was going to be a post about nano hahaha

And instead i found love.

With this remix of Marlon JD. We’re getting married on tuesday or something.

which is what I imagine would happen if the Manics had grown up writing music on Commodore 64s instead of guitars and were secretly Joy Division.

Allow me a moment to ponder the beauty of that concept.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Not-So-Secret-Manics-Fan and I love the original but nnggggghhhh electronics. Yes. mmmm.

And scanning through all the MSP remixes on the tube of you are just making my morning fantastic.

So basically.


ETA: I edit this to mention that this is actually a post about editing. because originals fucking rock. We all know that, And sometimes remixes suck so hard you want to find the person responsible and feed them their own entrails.

But other times remixes take something cool and do strange and amazing and just…fucking brilliant stuff.

And that’s like editing, I guess.

It’s not what it was, but it is what it is.

And sometimes that’s a better than good thing.

killing minor characters

Minor characters. It’s so hard for me to leave them minor. I want to know what drives them, why they do things, what broke them, and what good is left in them if they’re bad, what evil they can be pushed to if they’re good. They fascinate me.

This is problematic. (But also good).

Problematic because I write scenes that serve no purpose, only my own curiosity. They jar, they slow down pacing. Plus, I have to get all hard-core and mean before I agree with me that I need to cut the buggers.

Good because without my love of the Why of Minor Characters, I would frex, never have written Sea Rose Red. Felicita and Jannik began as two characters in Hob an Lam and one day I asked myself why the hell they were together, and what were they on about when they mentioned meeting behind umbrellas.

So I wrote a little meeting scene. And a year or so later I pulled out that little scene, and wrote a book around it.

Today I was busy drafting and organising wtf I’m going to do with Nulled & Void, where I have 5000 pov characters (9, actually, but dear god that’s just too much to ask of a reader). I didn’t want to cut any of them because I want the reader to care about them as much as I do.

Only, that’s not fair. That’s about me, and not about the reader.

So at least 3 of those povs met their death today. More might still fall. And that’s a good thing, because somewhere on my mess of a harddrive is going to be a folder full of stories waiting to seed.


I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front.

I have 20 pages left on this round of revisions, so there’s why. Generally I find writing and revising all kinds of terrifying. There are just so many potential ways for me to fuck up, and I hate fucking up.

So instead of actually committing words to screen, no matter how shit they might be, I sit and gibber at a blank page and IMAGINE how shit they’re going to be.

This is all kinds of productive, I know.


I’ve been taking baby-steps, breaking the edits down into chunks, and just…working on one line at a time. it’s the only way I can deal with this sort of thing.

Now things are looking a bit more doable, and although it feels to me like all I’ve been doing is making up skipping-rope rhymes, I’m almost certain that I’ve done more than that. The book’s a slightly different shape now. *cocks head* yup. definitely has a changed look to it. I think it’s the hairpins.


So here we are again.

December 2007

I started writing a book based on nothing more than a voice and a first line.

There’s going to be burning down on Lander’s Common.

It was a difficult book to write – three varying first person POVS, written in the seemingly universally loathed present tense (although hey, even present tense doesn’t get the hate that second person does. Feel the love, my people, c’mon) and riddled with dialect.

I’m sure there will be people who hate this book for all the above, will go OMG VAMPIRES WHY GOD WHY and will be somewhat annoyed by various aspects of the story. *shrug*  I didn’t write this book for them.

January 2009

Somewhere along the way I’ve managed to get an agent. Rohypnol has its uses, obviously.  (Uh, no. I really didn’t drug my agent. I have never met her, so it would be kinda hard to do).

Finally, I hold the agency at gunpoint and make them read Hob (No, I didn’t do that either, relax)

Eventually, terrified by the constant anthrax-laced letters I send (No…*sigh*) they send me a list of revisions they’d like to see.

August 2009

And now I’ve a book I’m damn proud of, with characters I love,  with words that make me happy.

Even if no one else ever feels the way I do about this book right now, I don’t care, because it’s better than drugs.  (No. Maybe. Yes)


So the revisions are going swimmingly, and I am super happy with them.

Even the ones I was a bit miffy about but decided to try anyway are working out.

*does a little dance all over the internet*

Tomorrow I rewrite the second half of the climax, tweak the ending, and then

and then folks

I send it back again.

A perfect line

So the first line meme has pretty much run its course on LJ now,  I think, but it got me thinking about first lines that I love.

I quite often couldn’t tell you why I loved them, but they just connect with me somehow.

So let July have a theme, and let that theme be first lines that Cat thinks are made of awesome dipped in awesomesauce and served on a crisp bed of shredded awesome.

 The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The Gunslinger – Stephen King

Okay, so there’s all kinds of things that make this what it is. First off, it’s not flowery and precious – King uses words we all know. But he gives us conflict, action and mystery in a neat little package. There’s a man dressed in black, running from someone/something, and a gunslinger (we immediately get a western kinda vibe off that, so a mental image is drawn) hunting him. I don’t know about you, but I want to read on and find out just who is who, and what happened to get them to this point.

How fantastic is that? I’ve got Johnny Cash and western hats, and skulls and deserts and whys and what’s happenings all from twelve pretty simple words. And none of it is cheap.

So yeah, hats off to King, who when he’s on his game has got to be one of the most brilliant writers of our time. If I could write an opening line half that good, I’d be in the jam.


Agent interview

There’s a great interview up, featuring Dan Lazar, Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, and Renee Zuckerbrot

ZUCKERBROT: I actually found a writer who had a short story in A Public Space. I’m going to be going out with her collection soon. She’s been published in McSweeney’s, Tin House, etcetera. But I also have a lot of clients who send me writers. I hear things from writers I used to work with back when I was an editor. People in my family will tell me about writers. You sort of hear about writers from everywhere.

BARER: That’s exactly right. Clients come from everywhere and anywhere. And I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about agents that some writers have. They think we’re off in our ivory towers and our fancy offices in New York City. But the truth is that we’re looking for them. We’re waiting for them to come knock on our doors. I don’t mean our literal doors. Please don’t show up at our offices.

Go read, it’s very enlightening.

How Cat deals with the writing process

Agent: Yay book! Climax needs work.

Cat:  *hides under duvet*

Beta Chorus: “We told you so!”

Cat:  “Shut Up! I did work on it, you bastards.”

Beta Chorus:  “Not enough!” *throws banana peels and pencil stubs*

Cat: *Takes up alcoholism some more*

Beta Chorus: *makes suggestions*

Cat:  *peers out from under edge of duvet, tosses empty gin bottle at chorus.  May also peer at suggestions, but will not admit it*

…..time passes….



Dear Diary

Today I killed an entire plot-thread before lunch.

The ‘novel’ is now only 200 pages long but, by god, is it better for it.

One wonderful thing about killing that thread is it also handily wiped out one page of minor revision notes. Neat.

Moving on to the list, and we’re on Organizational Tools now, the first of which is Sonar, another handy little app from Simon Haynes.

This one is a small programme to track your novel and short-story submissions. Clearly designed by a writer, I’d say it beats the crappy little excell spreadsheet I’ve been using by about a million points.

It’s small, simple and basic – all things I like in software. Sonar is 2.2 Mb, and can run off a memory stick.

It installed and opened perfectly using Wine in Ubuntu 7.10 – Gutsy Gibbon (I know I know, I promise I will be running Heron tomorrow) and the setup process was sweetly simple.

I think the market tracker is a handy little feature to store all that info you’ve ganked off duotrope, and it’s one of the things that set this apart from a plain old spreadsheet.

Nice one, another: