Author: Aggie Villanueva
Page count: 60
Genre: Writing Reference, Writing How-to, Writing Skills, Communications Skills, Rewriting
A published author at Thomas Nelson before she was 30, bestselling author Aggie Villanueva published Chase the Wind, and Rightfully Mine, both Thomas Nelson 1980s. Villanueva is also a critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. She founded Visual Arts Junction blog Feb. 2009. By the end of the year it was voted #5 at Predators & Editors in the category “Writers’ Resource, Information & News Source” for 2009. Aggie is founder of Promotion á la Carte, author promotional services. Contact Villanueva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book’s purpose is for an author to start with an article, story or chapter they feel is finished and ready for publication. Each chapter ends with a lesson where authors can rewrite (though they started with what they believed was a finished ms) according to principles learned in that chapter. Repeat and rinse for each chapter’s lesson.
The workbook is not how to produce en masse for submission to article directory engines, becoming an instant expert. That writing has its promotional place, but I’m talking about how to rewrite until your work shines as literary art, fact or fiction, print or electronic.
Why is producing literary art so important? Because of The Reader. Everything is for The Reader. One sentence of verbose rambling can drive The Reader away. Readers are not only intelligent, but busy. Too busy to read 500 words when 200 would say it.
Some complain this busy lifestyle shackles the artistic bard of yore. On the contrary, it demands writers take the time to polish work to precise perfection. This crafting of every word creates literary art. It demands less of the readers’ time, much more of our own. Perhaps that’s the root of our complaints.”
In this short pocket book you will learn to chop everything that prevents your readers’ instantaneous comprehension and interest, even in fiction. Whittle away what buries the art of your words beneath pulp, no matter the topic, no matter the genre. We don’t betray our gift when we put the knife to our writing.
How long did it take to write the book?
A bit over two years. It takes time to rewrite with the conciseness, clarity and active verbs I’m teaching, but beyond that I had to work my personal writing time in between writing my blog, Visual Arts Junction, where I teach authors to promote their own work, and regular contributor to Orange Soda SEO marketing blog http://www.orangesoda.com/blog/turn-your-social-media-peekers-into-faithful-followers/, and BookBuzzr author marketing blog http://www.bookbuzzr.com/blog/book-marketing/mid-week-book-marketing-tips-how-faithful-are-your-social-media-followers/, not to mention my full time job as founder of Promotion a la Carte, http://www.promotionalacarte.com and author publicist there.
What inspired you to write the book?
I have to laugh. That’s easy. I’m a terrible writer. I am verbose and sloppy so it takes much “sculpting” of my first draft to create a publishable final.
I’m not an editor or grammar professional. I’m simply a writer working hard at creating a piece of literary art in my fiction and nonfiction. So I’ve shared what I’ve learned. Sometimes it’s easiest to learn from someone like me who doesn’t tech-speak but just tells it like I understand it.
I was aware from the start that I’m tackling a huge subject and was exited and intimidated by the challenge to whittle it down to a pocket book. So I attempted to teach tomes worth of rewriting knowledge by example, i.e. wasting not a word. Even I surprised how few words it took to get the lessons across, since one of my biggest writing sins is verbosity. Hope I didn’t go overboard!
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
Because my personal writing time is hit and miss I didn’t have a routine. My research involved searching through the Net for examples I could use for rewrite examples, though I used a lot from my own work.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope they come away with an excitement about rewriting their work, rather than dread, viewing it as an artist sculpting words into literary art. I can’t describe the satisfaction I get when I compare my first draft to final, or the delight when a reader exclaims what a smooth and enjoyable read it was. That makes it worth everything.
I hope they come away with an understanding of a well written work, outside of grammar and style, which are vital too. But I leave it to the editors and English professors to educate us about these specialties. I don’t even attempt to cover them.
The aspect of sculpting your words into literary art through active sentences, clarity and conciseness is a craft unto itself. This is the field I work at so hard with each of my verbose first drafts. This is what I’ve learned through hard experience as a writer. So this is what I share.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Smashwords (available in 10 electronic formats for nearly any eReader https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/25719
The Rewritten Word is also available in the iPad Store, Barnes & Noble online, and Google Editions.
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
I teach authors to promote their own work at my blog, Visual Arts Junction. http://www.visualartsjunction.com
I’m an author publicist also, founder of Promotion a la Carte http://www.promotionalacarte.com where authors can choose from our creative menu of promotional services.
Facebook profile http://www.facebook.com/aggiev
Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/visualartsjunction
Excerpt from book:
Aggie’s note: I spent only one chapter (lesson) on applying everything I taught to fiction writing, but it’s an important lesson. We must know the principles of writing in active voice with clarity and conciseness so we can apply them to our fiction, but often we still have a horrible rewrite.
So if we’ve applied these principles and it fails to improve the work we know we have basic construction problems and need to take other steps first, like clarifying the plot or strengthening characterization. Here’s an excerpt from the fiction lesson.
Lesson Five: A Few Facts on Fiction—Everything We’ve Just Covered, but Related to Fiction Only
Dialogue, Plotting, and Characterization Rewrites
We’ve covered many things to consider when rewriting, but fiction has some unique aspects. Mostly you want to use simple, short, flowing words to pull the reader along. But at times, like when you set a mood, each word must propel them; waste one and break the spell.
These rewriting excerpts from my first historical novel, Chase the Wind, coauthored with Deborah Lawrence, published by Thomas Nelson 1983, exemplify that everything we’ve covered applies to fiction—and then some.
There is nothing you can do to me now, lord of Israel. If you slay me on this spot you would not have the satisfaction of seeing my obedience. No torture would induce the desired action in me. I will perform for you no longer.
Though my characters are circa 900 B.C., this was still way too wordy and meandering. Not sure what the problem was, I tried again.
Do you think this is the way to fight for a woman? You took my husband. Your threats are useless now. There is nothing more you can do to me, lord of Israel. By your own tactics you have lost this war.
Second rewrite: Notice I kept adding information:
Do you think this is the way to fight for a woman, you silly suckling? Your threats are useless now, for you have taken my husband. There is nothing more you can do to me, lord of Israel. All your power over me is drained, for you have uncorked my reserve of wine; my husband. Though I leave him, I love him. But now I will perform for you no longer. By your own tactics you have lost this war.
Do you think this is the way to fight for a woman, by taking away her husband? Though I left him, I loved him. You have lost all power over me, for there is nothing more you can do to me. Your threats are useless now. By your own tactics you have lost this war.
There is nothing more you can do to hurt me. Your threats are useless now, lord of Israel. By your own tactics you lost this war.
Why was the last rewrite so short? Struggling over this paragraph, I realized people don’t give soliloquies in the midst of angry outbursts.
Continuing to hack away, I sensed half the things this character said were unnecessary. I had only included them so the reader would know what was going on. I needed to clarify my plot, not lengthen my dialogue.
Still, I could not figure out how to make her inferences about the war between them clear without her explaining it. I went back through my manuscript. It turned out I had to strengthen my characterizations in preceding chapters. Then the reader would be aware of the rivalry between these two without a stream of unrealistic dialogue.
Without continual scrutiny of my own words, I would not have known what was wrong, much less how to correct it. If you haven’t gone over each of your words until you are utterly sick of them, you haven’t sufficiently scrutinized your work. It’s much less painful to complete the rewriting process now than to suffer continual editorial rejection, or worse, make reading your work a chore when it should be a pleasure.