Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Posts Tagged ‘editing

Project 10K – January 2018

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You might be able to tell how well January is going with goals given that we’re a third of the way through already.

The goals for this month are to get the first third of my WIP re-written (1) and ready to resubmit (2) to my prospective agent by the end of the month. I don’t think it will be sent of by 31st but as long as it’s ready for a re-read prior to sending I will be happy. This task has been taken up again this week and is bigger than I’d hoped as chapters chop, change and dive-bomb all over the place.


December goals were partially met, and I’m posting all of Flights of Fancy’s badges as achieved in different areas.

  1. Read 9 books and get them back to the library by the end of the month.

Mostly a fail. I read and returned two, am currently reading two, have started two others, and have two unopened by the side of my bed. I’m not sure what happened to number 9 and hope I returned it as I can’t remember doing so.

  1. Edit the first 3 chapters (approx 8k-words) of my book post-pitch.

Partially met and yet the task has grown to the first third of the book.

I’ve written a new Ch1, edited the original Ch1 into Ch2. Ch5 has become Ch3, which pushes the original Ch3 and Ch4 to positions 4 and 5 and I’m not sure they work there. This is very much still a work in progress, and I’m also having to adapt Ch7 to make this all hang together.

  1. Get a 1000-word ‘Christmas’ story ready for my writers’ group on 12th.

Yes, I managed it, and then the meeting on 12th Dec was cancelled because of bad weather. We read our stories to each other this month (9th Jan) instead. The group liked my character, could relate to the frustrations I described, and said my story flowed well. As I told them, in terms of constructive criticism, they were useless.

  1. Participate in one Friday Fictioneers’ challenge – I’ve missed the last two.

Success, I managed to complete two.




Written by Sarah Ann

January 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Pitch Feedback – #amwriting, well I was

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Awake in the middle of the night last week, having tossed and turned for one hour, read for another, and still nowhere near dropping off, I asked myself, what would I do if I had a week to live. The first thing that popped into my mind was that I would contact the agent to whom I pitched three weeks ago to let her know my revised manuscript would not be arriving in her inbox. This was a surprise to me. Is this really the most important thing I would need to do during my last days? Probably not, but the thought did spur me into action. Since my pitch meeting on 27th November I have been thinking about the changes the agent suggested, and attempted a few false re-starts to my manuscript. However, later on in the morning that this life-limiting thought arrived, I finally buckled down and set to work on the first five chapters of my book.

Chapter 2 has disappeared, being chopped up and pasted into Chapters 4 and 5, as Chapter 5 moves forward to the position of Chapter 2. Keeping track of all the pages and moved paragraphs has been a task, but one I’ve enjoyed as I see the start to the book reshape itself. I am yet to discover if this will result in additional changes through to the end.

The agent suggested I have started my book in the wrong place. Instead of Chapter 1 being a character looking back retrospectively on a lunch at which she hears some bad news, I need to open with that lunch and the receiving of that news. This I am still struggling with, as it was hard enough to get the first chapter written the tenth time I attempted it. Having to shift the timeframe, and add in a character’s voice I was reluctant to write in the first place, is a difficult task. I have to remember faint heart never won fair lady. Unfortunately, with the Christmas holidays almost upon us, my colleagues seem to be dropping like flies and I’m the only one who seems to be available to fill in. My work schedule has gone bonkers, and my re-started novel languishes neglected…. I’m going to have to take some time off in January!


Written by Sarah Ann

December 19, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Oh those poor agents – #amwriting, #amediting

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I am not sure what I was on in March when I thought that my has-been-going-on-forever book was publishable as it was. Perhaps I made too much use of my friend’s Nespresso machine and excess caffeine caused delusions. On the advice of my new writing friend Lou, who said the book was almost there but not quite, I have been re-reading and re-editing. Chapters 1-3 haven’t been covered in so much scribble since a major re-write two years ago. And when I found a typo in Chapter 2, I wanted to jump up and down and pull my hair out. A train pulls away, not ‘as the trained pulled away.’ How did I miss it? As I paced my friend’s kitchen, coffee in hand reading aloud, how did I not stumble over this mistake? I don’t know, but I did, and it makes me unhappy to know I sent out a manuscript that wasn’t just not perfect but also contained errors.

I have worked on Chapter 3 today, which was previously chapter 4, and found yet another mistake – a we instead of a with, as in ‘take a walk we me.’ Again, how is it only now I am seeing it? I want to boil my head for my stupidity/ poor eyesight. Instead I will plod on. It has taken me three weeks to get this far (p. 21), slotting in reading and editing between appointments, typing in changes while hubby watches TV. I just hope I can keep the same mood and frame of mind until I reach the end of p. 212, as the changes need to be uniform and the feel of the book consistent.

As for the eight agents I submitted to in April, one replied the book was a near miss for her, three others said, no thanks in the current market, and after the passage of time, I imagine I will not be hearing from the remaining four. I will be working on my re-submission next week.


Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

New Year, New Me? Probably not.

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After a year of no writing or blogging, my head seems to have made room for both. I have changed jobs, from one where I looked at documents and computer screens all day long and all but gave up reading for pleasure, to one where I see families for short periods and writing is limited to an hour-long report per visit. This work is also part-time, giving me space to do some much needed decorating, practise piano, learn to crochet properly – something I promised my husband’s aunt I’d do 18-months ago – and get back to reading.

There is something else spurring me to write again. One of the women I met two years ago on a writing course has got herself an agent. True, her writing is very different from mine, more on-trend and much tighter, and she got an agent through someone who knows her husband, but I am an eternal optimist/ eternally deluded. If she can do it, so can I. And so, over the next weeks and months, I will be reading across my bookshelves to get my head back into the groove, and hope, in time, to get on with editing my own work. I re-commenced reading on New Year’s Eve with Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, a birthday present from a few years back, and was blown away by page two by her detailed and fluid descriptions. Her prose is nothing I can ever emulate and, if I weren’t so deluded, might have sent me straight back under my writing-free stone.


Written by Sarah Ann

January 2, 2017 at 8:06 pm

#FridayFictioneers Revisited

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My stories for the last two Friday Fictioneer prompts have generated confusion about content (Daisy and Jack) and helpful comments on how to improve (Waiting and Longing). Here are my attempts at addressing the issues raised.


Waiting and Longing #2

(Romantic fiction of 100-words)

Jess scanned the grey lake reflecting leaden sky. She checked her phone. 10am – the bench, Tom’s text read. She knew she’d been early but, at twenty past, was he coming?

Late and panicking thanks to traffic, Tom bounced down the path. In the distance the lake shimmered, mirroring fluffs of cloud in the bright sky.

A clash and clatter of stones caused Jess to turn. A scuffle perhaps?

Tom’s hasty descent kicked up a waterfall of scree.

As he steadied himself, Jess’s unease fled and her lips twitched a smile. Tom grinned, his mouth as inviting as his welcoming arms.


With thanks to Claire Fuller  for identifying where change was needed and Janet Webb for suggesting an alternative line. Of course, one change inevitably meant more changes had to be made …



The whole concept of Daisy and Jack was lodged firmly in my head and not on the screen, so here is a version more in line with what I wanted to convey.


Autumn Departures

(General fiction, 100-words, formerly titled Daisy and Jack)

Jesse wiped the empty courtyard table, again. The old couple always arrived promptly. They’d spent the past six months working their way through the menu, even occasionally asked the chef to make minor adjustments. Something must have happened for them to be so late.

Back inside he raised his concern.

‘Jack and Daisy?’ his boss replied. ‘Oh they’re okay. They come to eat outside and watch the world rush by. They’ll be back in spring when the sun and people start cavorting about again.’

Relief spread like a warm glow as Jesse considered his own grandparents’ and their retirement habits.




And here’s a version for Russell Gayer who gave me a first line to work from.


Chair Chat

(Anthropomorphic humour, 100-words)

‘Who was that fat guy who sat in me, strained my back and ruined my legs?’

‘I don’t know what you’re complaining about. At least with fat you get warmth and comfort. I always get the boney, fidgety ones. My arms are scarred from all their tapping and scratching.’

‘But you don’t need your legs straightening, or your back reinforcing.’

‘My arms need polishing.’

‘Which will be warm and comforting. I’ve got to be stretched and bashed back into shape.’

‘I’m covered in splashes. All their flesh protects you from those.’

‘It always has to be about you, doesn’t it?’



Thank you to all my fellow Fictioneers and others who read and comment on my stories each week, giving me things to think about and the opportunity to improve.


Written by Sarah Ann

November 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm

A number of OMGs – WIP update

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OMG 1 – Yippee.

I’ve been re-reading and revising my blog – going through each post from the first one in May 2011. I can’t believe I’ve been sending out my thoughts for that long. Initial posts were about the lack of progress on my manuscript. As I sent it to a prospective agent only last month, it has been a long time in gestation. Still, the blog revision has been a relatively easy experience. I only deleted a couple of (now irrelevant) posts and found typos in relatively few – Yippee.


OMG 2 – For pity’s sake!

Reading my manuscript aloud again (from Chapter 4 onwards), I am seriously beginning to question whether I have a subconscious typo monster. I think he dances across my keyboard whenever I’m not looking. Of the first ten pages read, five needed amending. Admittedly, one was replacing an ‘L’ with an ‘l’; another was a ‘to’ for a ‘the’. But still the typos remained. Further into the manuscript, there were more pages that needed no changes – Good.

Having read D. R. Humphrey’s Self-Editing and Evaluation Checklist: Four steps to polish your manuscript, I read the manuscript last time with a style-sheet at my side. I thought I had eradicated different spellings of words (e.g. half-way and half way), but no. On this read through I had used ‘anymore’ and ‘any more,’ and my use of numerals and written numbers was still inconsistent – Oh well.


OMG 3 – WTF?

More disturbing than both of these was my recent trawl through my old short stories. What drivel I wrote! All my characters seem to share a very small pool of names – they were different in personalities, but I obviously have a small repertoire of names I call on repeatedly. And then there’s the recognisable turn of phrase and use of language. Thankfully, I think my writing has improved. I have printed a few of the stories to read through and see if they can be tweaked or reworked. Most won’t be looked at again, ever, but I’m still not brave enough to send them to the recycle bin – Shame!


Written by Sarah Ann

April 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Progress on synopsis

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I have been left to my own devices for two whole days, read through my manuscript and the fourth draft of Pippa is complete. My initial thoughts on starting to re-read were, ‘Why did I think I could write?’ followed by, ‘This is going to take forever,” as I re-ordered four chapters. However, it is done and today was the day to write the synopsis.

When asked, ‘What’s it about?’ I have been able to sum up my story in a couple of lines – it’s about a woman dying of ovarian cancer; her plans, her fears and resolve; the reactions of her friends and family; and how they live the last year of her life together. On reading about how to write a synopsis, many sources suggest summarising each chapter and cutting and cutting until the story can be summarised on one side of A4. I tried that approach but, with 19 chapters alternated with at least one email from my main character, that’s 38-bits of action to record without introducing who everyone is, where they live and so on. After an hour and a half my head was hurting.

Thankfully I had made two previous attempts at writing a synopsis. In August I covered one side of A4 and had only reached the end of chapter two. In October, I scribbled a couple of summary paragraphs. These each contained a sentence or two of insight that I have been able to copy into my final version. Three and a half hours after starting I had one and a half sides of A4.

As a synopsis is supposed to mirror the language and style of the book, I have clumped chapters roughly into seasons and alternated the events described in each of these chunks with the period Pippa covers in her emails. The first draft of the synopsis is complete. Now I leave it to rest for a while. At the moment it is very much ‘tell’ and I don’t feel it ‘shows’ my story in its best light. I’ll work on that later because now it’s time to move on to the covering letter…

Written by Sarah Ann

December 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm

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