A bestselling author, and professional editor, joins the Am Writing Fantasy podcast to give you advice on how to edit your first draft.

What do you need to pay attention to?
What are some of the common errors writers make over and over again.

Kristina Stanley, the CEO of Fictionary, share lots and lots of information in episode 79. 

Learn about Fictionary here: https://fictionary.co/

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Read the full transcript below.
(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).

Narrator (2s):
You're listening to The Am Writing Fantasy Podcast in today's publishing landscape. You can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from riding Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them. Now on to the show with your hosts. Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.

Jesper (30s):
Hello. I am Jesper. And this is episode 79 of The Am Writing Fantasy Podcast. And as you can hear, Autumn is taking a break today. And instead I'm joined by Kristina Stanley who is the CEO of Fictionary. Fictionary is a platform run by Kristina and her husband. Kristina is a best selling author and a fiction editor. And we are going to talk about editing today. So welcome to The Am Writing Fantasy Podcast, Kristina

Kristina (1m 1s):
Thank you for having me it's pleasure to be here.

Jesper (1m 5s):
So I actually did check on the Fictionary website earlier today. Kristina and I saw you're actually had quite a nice description of how and why Fictionary start it. And I was thinking that that might be a good place to start if you could retell a bit of that story. So our listeners as well, get to know you a little better here.

Kristina (1m 25s):
Sure. I'd love to, I mean, who doesn't like talking about their story. Exactly. Yeah. So, umm, Fictionary came to be from my writing career and I started that in around 2009 and I started writing the stone mountain series and I started writing that because I just left living in a ski resort and I missed it and I wanted to write about it. And what I found after I had three novels in the series written and I was having trouble editing it and keeping track of everything.

Kristina (1m 59s):
And I had this massive, massive spreadsheet organized. And my husband actually walked by and looked at my computer and said, what are you doing? And I said, Oh, I Writing is like an Excel when I said, Oh, well, okay, I'm actually editing and I need to keep track. And this is how I do it. And he said, Oh, there's gotta be a better way. I'll find you something. And so he went on this search of course, for a product that would help me. And they're just, wasn't anything that focused on story editing, you know, there's lots for copy editing and proofreading, but really nothing on the structure of a story.

Kristina (2m 31s):
And the two of us decided together that we would build a product and that was kind of the beginning of it. You know, it was just sort of idea of it. Well, lets make an app and see what happens.

Jesper (2m 46s):
So is it more like an... an app that keeps track of everything or how does it work?

Kristina (2m 53s):
So it's how it works. So we like to focus on people who have a draft written and you can right from scratch and Fictionary, but that's not really our thing. Our thing is if you have a draft written, you import it into Fictionary and Fictionary scan's it. And when it's scanning it, it draws the story arc and it compares it to a commercially successful book of around the same length. And it gives the rider right away, a look at, you know, where their key plot points are for exciting incident excetera and are they in the right place?

Kristina (3m 26s):
It does that word count per seen and shows you in a visual way. So here's your work comp foreseen. And so you can see what your pacing is doing and do you have any outliers that are just too long or too short or something? And it pulls out using natural language processing. It pulls out all of the character names and links them to Saenz and then chose a writer. You know, how many characters are need seen. And when they come in, who's got the point of view and how many point of view characters or are and stuff. And so it's a very visual way for a writer to look at their story.

Kristina (4m 0s):
And then, because it's all broken out and organized and just seeing and chapters, we push scene by scene editing and we have 38 story elements there that help the writer know what to look at when they're evaluating their own story.

Jesper (4m 18s):
Yeah. That, that's very interesting. Actually, I don't, as you said in the beginning of that, I can't think of any other product like exactly like that. I mean, I know of other products where you can use it to sort of structure well character's, you can connect them together visually as well. And you can, well, the whole world of building part that comes with Fantasy, for example, you can connect all the places together and in the visual fashion, I know tool's like that, but not really tools where I think I can think of where you can upload your draft like that.

Kristina (4m 50s):
Yeah. And it, I mean, part of historically this happened because I have a degree in computer mathematics and my husband has a degree in computer science. And so even though I'm a writer, I have a very techie background. And so I was naturally drawn to this side of it and to figure out how this would all work and how would you draw a story arc and, and, and make these things happen. So it really, really entertained both sides of my brain to, to work on this and build it.

Jesper (5m 22s):
Yeah. I can certainly see that. Okay. Well that's actually pretty cool. And maybe we can a at the end of the episode, we can just to make sure that we give people a link so they can go and check that out. She, is there any like M is there any like a trial version, stuff like that or a demo versions of people can use?

Kristina (5m 40s):
Yeah, absolutely. So we have a two week free trial. So you just pop in your manuscript and have a look around, we have online chats, so people could ask us questions on how to use it. And when people sign up to the free trial, they also get a 14 lesson online course that goes with it, that teaches all of the story elements and why they're important and how to use them and what it means to you as a writer. And so there's a whole educational piece that goes with it to help people as they work through Fictionary and are kind of a dream, is that once you go through it once, then the next time you write a novel, it's much easier because you have all of this in your head and you know how to start a scene and is seen all over.

Kristina (6m 24s):
These are things that, especially newer writer's, you have to learn how to do.

Jesper (6m 29s):
Yeah. And the whole structure of a novel, I mean, they're is a formulaic approach to structuring a novel. And while we, as authors needs to understand how that formula works and how to put all those different milestones, that the right places in a novel, you know, that the reader don't really understand those, but they intuitively know. So if it's off, they will intuitively sort of feel like there's something wrong with the structure of the story, but they won't be able to pinpoint what it is. But a, we as authors really need to understand that

Kristina (7m 1s):
It's a super important point because what we're trying to do with Fictionary is make the Author aware of it. And so if you do decide to break the rules, know why you're doing it. And then you're making an educated decision on, well, that doesn't work from my story and I have a reason for it. And that's great as opposed to just getting it wrong. And then you don't know why your story's not working.

Jesper (7m 21s):
Yeah, indeed. Okay. That, that's a very good, but I also know, based on the whole thing that you have developed here at Kristina that you really liked editing isn't that right?

Kristina (7m 32s):
Yeah, I do. I do. It's kind of funny that I, I had no idea when I started writing that really my true passion is editing. I love working with writers. We developed a, an Editor product to go along with our Writing product, just for our editors to do structural edits in it with the dream that we can make editors really strong editor's. And so I edit maybe one, one novel a month just to keep my skillset up, but it's not, it's not, my main focus were really focus now on pushing Fictionary Editor version out to editor's and which we call it a story coach.

Kristina (8m 9s):
And it's really meant to help an editor do a comprehensive story, edit without being biased. So it makes it really objective and they have to cover everything and it ends up being a really good edit for the writer.

Jesper (8m 23s):
Yeah. So it sounds like you've actually come quite a long way from when you were first sitting with that Excel sheet, then this is how I'm editing two now, where, where are you both built this up here, but also teaching other Editor other people how to get it.

Kristina (8m 40s):
Yeah. And so we've got 'em we have a Fictionary certified story coach editing program that we bring editors through to teach them how to do a proper structural edit and then certify them so that when a rider hires and Editor, they know what they are getting, and they know that person really understands story versus hiring an editor that may be thinks they do or have certain biases have how they edit and, and were trying to push editors to get a little bit away from that.

Jesper (9m 8s):
Yeah. But you see, this is the second Why. I want you to come on the podcast today because you have the excellent, an excellent approach here and a very strong background in educating us, hear on the podcast a bit about how do we go about editing. And especially also when authors are self-editing down the work, you know, maybe a good place to start would be just so when you start editing a new manuscript, what is the first thing you do?

Jesper (9m 37s):
Do, do you just start from page one and then you start editing or do you read through it in a high level pass first? Or what do you do?

Kristina (9m 44s):
Yeah, so we like to first thing for, for newer authors, I mean, authors who are more experienced they're a little bit farther along, but for newer Author of the most important thing is to understand what a scene is and look through their manuscript and make sure that they have their scene structure done right first. And so when I encourage riders to do, if they are already broken out into scenes and chapters, that's great. Then I'll, I'll tell her, I'll tell you a bit where you would start at that point, but there are many newer writer writers who have written their novel and it's not properly structured into stories and oriented scenes.

Kristina (10m 22s):
And so what I recommend is first going through and looking for logical places to start seeing them without thinking about word account that can come later, but just to look through and go, okay, so the point of view has changed or at the point of view, character has changed. That's a good place to start a new scene, or the location has changed, or the timing has changed. These are three key areas where a rider can go through and, and read their manuscript, not don't focus on words and copyediting or anything like that.

Kristina (10m 56s):
Just go through and look for the points where you would break out a scene. And once you've done that, it's amazing how you can see the structure of your story just by having it broken into scene's and its a big eye opener. When you do that for the first time, it's really kind of fun and you can see how many scenes you have and once you've done that, then you can start looking at all of the other things you need to do for a story at it. Does that make sense?

Jesper (11m 23s):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think sometimes it can be confusing and then in, for a new author, when, when you stop doing the editing because they're is there's a tendency to, well, okay. I stopped on page one and then I will stop looking at commerce or spelling errors or making the sentences sound a bit better. But I think there's a very good point in looking at the overall structure first. And even if you don't have something like Fictionary help you then at least educate yourself by, you know, reading, maybe nonfiction books about how to plot a novel and understand the structure of it and this out there and see when you're off.

Kristina (12m 5s):
And it is it's super important not to waste time on making a sentence or beautiful. I mean, in some people do it in actually some people really struggled. You have to spend a lot of time and not to spend time on the commas and typos and all of those things until you have a story because what's going to happen once you've broken out everything in the scenes, you're gonna realize that, okay, you have a lot of revisions to do. And if you spend hours making everything perfect at this sentence level, but your story is off, you have to rewrite it anyway and then you have to copy it all over again.

Kristina (12m 37s):
And I certainly don't recommend paying for a copy at it or proofreading until you've done your own story at it that you will have to do it again. And it's kind of a waste of money if you do it too early.

Jesper (12m 49s):
Yeah. So, so what your view on this revision past as you know, how many should, is there any recommendation you would give to say, okay, you can do one past in the high level story elements, you know, and one pass in looking at the copy, edit, and then you do a third pass proof reading and then you hand it off to copyedit or something. Or do I, do we have like a work permit methodology? Did you follow the customer that right?

Kristina (13m 20s):
Yeah. So again, it depends on the level of the, where the author is in their career and how many books they've written because the more books you write, obviously the easier it becomes, you know how to structure so you can start and different places. But the basic thing is once, once everything is broken out into scenes, then I like to recommend that they Author Now goes through and names each scene in three words or less. And the reason I say this is if you can't name a scene, you don't know what it's about.

Kristina (13m 51s):
So you should be able to name names every scene in your story. And by doing that, it tells you, does it have a place in this story? So it does it have a purpose in my story and everybody gets carried away writing and your right, this fantastic seen, and you will love it, but it was nothing to do with your story. It's just a great scene about the character. Right? Okay. So if you can't define the name and the purpose of that scene, then perhaps it shouldn't be in the story. And so it's a good place to start looking at high level.

Kristina (14m 23s):
Do you, as an author understand why you put every scene in your story,

Jesper (14m 28s):
Right? Yeah. Fully agree with that for sure. So that's right.

Kristina (14m 33s):
It's a big step. I mean it takes time, right? You have to really think hard when your doing it. Yes,

Jesper (14m 39s):
Indeed. But it's still like something that you would say. So when you have edited tons of manuscripts, so is, is there something that you would say maybe we could put them into buckets here? So it's sort of seeing the bucket, one being The fletching rider who is just starting out and maybe another bucket with the more experienced Ryder, but is there some common issues that you see that is very in both buckets? Because I, I think that they will be different, but it still like a common issue is that you see popping up over and over again from, from the stuff that you edit.

Kristina (15m 16s):
Yeah. So the big, the big things that show up the thing that I see most often as people don't know when to start an indices. So even if they're story is broken into the scenes, they are starting a scene at the wrong place or ending at, at the wrong place. And what I mean by that is if, if, when you think about as a reader, when you're reading a book and you're kind of getting tired and you want to, you're you kind of peak at the next seen to see if you wanna keep reading you going to read three or four sentences and if it captures you right away, okay, I'm going to keep reading, I'll get one more seen and all fuel, all accomplished.

Kristina (15m 50s):
It's great. Write if you look at anything, it kind of boring. If you put the book down in, he might not pick it back up or would you pick it back up your eyes? You're a little bit out of the flow. So having an entry hook, there's a lot of stuff written about the first first sentence of your novel has to be the best in your opening hook. Have your novel has to be the best, but I believe the opening hook of your every scene has to be strong because every time you start, a new scene has a chance for the reader to put that book down, they finish a scene and if they are not engaged in the next scene.

Kristina (16m 25s):
And so I often look right away to see how is the author doing their entry hooks. And then at the end of the scene, I want to see how are they leaving the scene and do they leave it at the right point? And often you can just cut off the last two paragraphs and there's the right point to leave it. So you leave it with an unanswered question or someone just built a big secret that they shouldn't have, or a cliff hanger, you know, there's really intriguing piece of dialog or a revelation or a part of a revelation or something like that. So that the end of the scene, the reader is feeling okay.

Kristina (16m 58s):
I just... I have to keep reading and you'll notice really good books, all have a great entry and exit hook for every single seat and as hard to do because you try and fill in with description and, and have a lot of ambiance around it. And if your skillset isn't quite there yet on how to make that suspenseful, it's tricky to do it.

Jesper (17m 19s):
Yeah. Autumn and Aye, we, we plot our novels in quite a lot of detail, but that's also of course, because we are co writing. So we need to know where things are going. So we have quite a lot of details, but I would say, especially with what you just mentioned here at the beginning of each chapter, and also at the end of each chapter, we spent quite a lot of time in the plotting phase detailing out, how has this kind of start on how it's just going to end? And we, we try to be a bit creative as well, so that every chapter doesn't enter the same way. You know, it shouldn't that every time a chapter in the monster appears or whatever, you know?

Jesper (17m 52s):
Right. So, but, but I think if it doesn't come natural to you, to, or for the writer to, to find the right place to stop the scene or whatever, a lot of it can be gained by just planning out ahead, you know, figuring out a head, how do you want this one to end and find a good cliffhanger or something to add on it.

Kristina (18m 14s):
And it really just comes down to thinking about it, like, and to know that you need to think about it as a writer. And once you have that in your head, even when your writing and you write on an unplanned scene is if it's there and your head, you know it. And so you write that way and it's really the first time going through it, really learning. This is how you do it. And of course experienced all authors make mistakes too. And you put too much in, and then you're Editor comes and goes, Hey, take all that out. And you know, if you cringe any to take it all out. Yeah.

Jesper (18m 41s):
Yes, that's absolutely true. But I also think when were talking about seeing some chapters or However, or somebody wants to whatever they want to call it, but when were talking about that, and we were talking about starting points and points, I think that there is also something that I could imagine, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I couldn't imagine what you would also see quite often as an issue is that there is not enough variation on high conflict versus low conflict chapter's so that if you can read several chapters with high conflict and a, in a row does not really a problem, but if you read 15 of them in road and you're gonna get tired, you no, you need a break and read, it needs to break once in a while.

Kristina (19m 23s):
Yup. Yeah. And the tricky part comes. So when you give the reader a brake, you want to go maybe into a contemplate of seeing where your character is reacting to something. And those are hard scenes too, right. Because you wanted to get the characters feeling's out and, and how is it changing them and what decisions or are they gonna make based on it. And so it's a really great time to connect your readers two, your character's when you get to those contemplate of scenes and if they are placed right within exactly what you're saying, that you've got action.

Kristina (19m 55s):
Action, action, action, action. A bit of a SQL. Okay. It gives you gives your reader a, a, a breath, and then they also feel it along with the character. So it's very important.

Jesper (20m 5s):
Yeah. And I feel a lot of the time, those bit of a break chapter, or if we call it that those are excellent tools to use For for the character arc to basically build upon the character arc and how they change throughout the novel. You can use those a, if you have like five of the slow chapters throughout the entire novel, those are excellent five different points where you can show that the character is, is going through the character arc because they are reflective seems so.

Jesper (20m 36s):
So they are good. They put to good use there.

Kristina (20m 38s):
Well, and you know, whose book has really good on this is Sasha Black's book that just came out, that's called anatomy of pros. And she has super examples in their, of exactly what were talking about Andy. She gives a new way of writing out that goes to, this is good. And then she rewrites it and you can say, this is great. And it's exactly what you're saying about the character arc can, it's it, it's a great book. So anyone who is working on not as highly recommend that book.

Jesper (21m 4s):
Yes, absolutely. And the, also for the listener, if you forgot, we actually have Sasha black on this podcast as well. I don't recall the episode number on the top of my head here, but if you go back through the archive, you can certainly find it a, when we talked to a Sasha blacks, so she knows what she's talking about. So, so that's a very good as well. What I was also wondering, and this is sort of something that pops up over and over and over again, you know, Autumn, and I also do courses for authors and stuff like that. So we also are heavily into the teachings.

Jesper (21m 35s):
So we here a lot of the common questions. I think this has probably a good one to two cover here as well, because it is something a lot of people are wondering about and I have my key of you on it, but I'm curious, curious to hear he was the first time, but it basically goes to something like this. So when you're writing, is it best to edit as you go? Because then when you reach the end of the manuscript, you are sort of done. Why is it better to just write out the entire manuscript, not worrying about any of the editing or any of the grammar errors you might be making along the way, and then edit one only once you have the full first draft complete.

Jesper (22m 17s):
Yeah.

Kristina (22m 18s):
Okay. I'm going to give you a big caveat on this one. Okay. So I think it's good to get your story down and right. Your whole story, but sometimes your, your brain is tired, but you wanted to do something productive. And so maybe you want to do some copy, editing, have stuff that you've written when you don't have your whole story written. And I actually think it's not a bad thing to do because then you practice it and you can start to see where your weaknesses are and what you need to fix in what you might wanna look at when your doing a full copy at it.

Kristina (22m 51s):
So, I mean, I have author friends who are perfect each seen, but they've done a very serious outline. Kind of, it sounds like what you do to see the outline has written. They know what the story is. They know what's going on in every seen and they know how to write a story. And so they right there seen, and then they prefect it and they go to the next one, four other people who are, you know, what are called pastors, you know, writing by the seat of your pants, like to get the whole story out. And so there's a lot of personal preference.

Kristina (23m 22s):
I believe that there should be a lot of joy in writing. And so to force yourself to do it one way or another, if it makes you unhappy, it's not the right way. For for you as an author, you know, I'm a big proponent of finish your story and then do all your, your copy editing and proofreading. However, if it's not what works best for you and your process don't change it because somebody else told to

Jesper (23m 47s):
Right now, I think that's actually a fair and good answer in my view. Normally I would say, Oh, as well, that it, it sort of depends a bit. I think a lot of the people who doing the edit S they go, they also use the editing as a bit of procrastination tool. So it was like, yeah, I don't quite know where two right. Two I'll keep editing my previous chapters. So we don't really move ahead. And if that's the case that, and I think it's an issue.

Jesper (24m 18s):
Yes. And then you, you need to, you need to press forward because as you also said, I'm also usually advocating. It's more important to get to the end of the draft and it is to make it sound nice. So as you go, yup. But when I say that, I also have to say that for some people, it is just incredibly annoying to know that there was a spelling error on page 45 and they almost can't get it out of their head. So if, if, if it really annoys you that much, then you know, correct those small spelling errors as you go, if you really can't see past it, that that's better than getting annoyed about it.

Kristina (24m 53s):
And I think as you write more books, your process changes as you go because your strengths change and your interests change and the technology changes. And so you don't need to get stuck in one way. You try one, if it doesn't work for you to try something else and don't be afraid to try something else.

Jesper (25m 12s):
Yeah. And I think it also ties back into how much you're actually plotting that novel in advanced, because a as you alluded to before, if you really know everything that needs to happen already, then basically Autumn, and Aye, we can sort of edit it as you go. I can write the draft first chapter, and then she can edit it while I write chapter too. And that's possible because we know exactly what's going to happen. And, and we have been around the Bush enough to know how to do it. And so, but yeah, I think, I think as well that it is something that evolves over time, but, but it is just, and if you don't get too, the end of the first draft before eight years have passed, well, I guess that's okay.

Jesper (25m 52s):
But on the other hand, it's not going to help you at least earn any income from WRITING. If it takes me that long to do it. So you also need to sort of push yourself forward

Kristina (26m 1s):
And that's hard, you know, they're, at some point you have to let somebody else read your story in that first time you do that. It's really difficult. It's a, it's a kind of a frightening moment because you've spent, you know, maybe at least a year on it, and then someone else is going to have comments after they spend a few hours reading it. Right. The hard moment

Jesper (26m 20s):
It is, it is very hard. I still remember when I gave my first first book too, a critique partner. And he was just like, no, let's just, Oh my God, I spend so much time a lot of them. And he just said, no, this doesn't work.

Kristina (26m 36s):
I know it's hard. And, and as an editor, you have to be very careful with writers to make sure I point out here, the places that your really good to you, you know, they're our strengths here. And here's why I'm saying maybe you want to change something that its from an editor prospective, it's really important not to demotivate a writer and make them feel like they're not good at writing a story because everybody can be. And it just takes a bit of hard work in some time.

Jesper (27m 2s):
Yeah. And don't you think as well, that one of the problems or challenges we have, he is also, I mean of course you can take like, what is it called an MFA or whatever is called a, you know, a degree in Writing. But even without a degree in the only way you learn how to write is by writing it, it's not like a carpenter who will go to carpenter school and he'll be at Prentice for a while and then he will know how to do carpeting. It's not like that with writing. Right? Of course. In some sense, in what way you could say that it is like that because you keep riding and, and you get editing and then you get better, but it is different in the way that it's not like you go to a school and then you get some grades and, and you will know if you are good or bad is we spent two years writing something and then you put it, you give it to the Editor who knows what they are doing.

Jesper (27m 48s):
And then you could hear the hard truth. Right? So yeah, it is, it is tough, but I fully agree with you that it's important as well. On one hand, of course I would expect from an editor who knows what they're doing and who are good at it, that they also know how to give feedback and a good manner. So you don't scare people off because it's a vulnerable process. Right. But on the other hand, if you want a, if you want to seriously get into writing and also write to for commercial purposes to earn money from it, you also have to take it, you know, because if the end of that might be nice and professional in the way that the word things, but the review is on Amazon or not, but I'm just going to slam here.

Jesper (28m 32s):
So it's do you just have to learn it?

Kristina (28m 35s):
Yup. It's true. You do, you know, I just went through a process. I had 13 editors edit the same manuscript and it's a manuscript that I wrote with some holes in as a bit of a test. And it was very interesting to see that the breadth of the way people pointed out issues and right, most of the editors caught all the same issues and, and there were sort of the w the one end of super positive feedback that's.

Kristina (29m 10s):
So while you're dealing with the issues, you've felt good about, Oh, that works great. You know, you feel really good to the other end of that didn't work because you have whatever reason. And that was quite hard when you think ouch, that's just too hard. And as a, if that had been my experience as a new Author is quite frightening, right? So that's not good vs. The other ones who is super important to point out why something works and that an author is particularly good at whatever, you know, maybe entry hooks or whatever it is.

Kristina (29m 40s):
So it was kind of an interesting experiment to go through, to see how that many people would edit the exact same story.

Jesper (29m 50s):
Yeah. And they're is, well, at least as good to hear that they sort of caught the same things. And then of course, to feedback element, it's more like the, how do you treat other humans and in terms of giving them feedback and that's, I mean, I've, I've worked in management for many, many, many years and it's, it's one of the things you have to learn. You're, you know, if you have an employee who's not performing it, it doesn't help to shout them in the face. Right. It's much better. If you can find a motivational way of telling them that, that there's things that we could do in a bit smarter way, they will also help you and then help them along the way, rather than putting them down.

Kristina (30m 24s):
And, and I love it when you could see an author grow and change in their story, it just keeps getting better in its it's really fun when that happens. Yeah.

Jesper (30m 33s):
But I'm curious as well. Kristina so when you were say, when you just said Anne Author growth, because I'm also curious, have you a process for editing changed over time? You know, editor to editor is also grow in their skills of editing. So it, is there something that you do differently nowadays compared to what you used to do when editing, right.

Kristina (30m 52s):
Yeah. So when I used to edit it, I mean I would read a story and go through it and ms. Word and, you know, edit based on the knowledge in my head. And now I use my own product story coach because all of this story elements or are there and it makes me look at every scene for the writer and go, okay, what's the conflict in this scene? What's the tension in this scene? What's the backstory. Is there a flashback you can't get away with? You know, you read to see anything, Oh, it was pretty good to move on or you can find a lot more.

Kristina (31m 25s):
And when you're looking at key story elements to see, are they in every seen and you can get really in depth feedback. And now when I write a summary letter to an editor or to write, or it will be somewhere around 5,000 words, have high level comments for their story. And then I do for every scene Aye I have notes on that particular scene of what worked or it needs improvement. And then I Mark up all the story elements and give them a nice big check Mark, if it's awesome.

Kristina (31m 59s):
And they did a great, or I get a specific feedback too, you know, maybe I can't figure out what the purpose of a scene is. And so I'll put a note. I don't know what the purpose is sometimes when you read the whole book and go, Oh, I got the purpose of, of that sea now. But when you first read it, you can't quite figure it out. And so for example, if I say a book has 70 scenes and you know, 15 of them, I don't know what the purpose is that tells me the writer's a little bit lost and it gives me a way to really focus and be specific and say, you know, you have 17 scenes and 15 of them don't have a purpose.

Kristina (32m 34s):
So we need to work on that piece of, of why that is in there and what we want to do it.

Jesper (32m 41s):
Yeah. Touch. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. I was just why you were saying that it was just thinking about how it must be you sometimes as well when your editing fantasy novels. Because one of the really tricky part that I, I guess may, well, maybe we have it in common with cipher authors, but in general, the FANTASY and see if I, at least we always have to walk that really careful balance between the info dumping versus a given the information through the narrative. But you also have to give some information just like here it is, this is explain it now.

Jesper (33m 16s):
And hopefully the only in one sense, and so that it's a quick and done an over with, but it is an incredibly difficult line to walk some times

Kristina (33m 24s):
It is because you do need the information there. And then of course the talented Author is put out a lot of that information. They can give through action by what the character touches or feels or a CS. You know, I can do it through the point of view description so that they're feeling something while they're seeing something. And, and that makes it a little bit, umm, it's more engaging for that for the reader. And then, you know, it has an author when you've got it, you just have to say

Jesper (33m 54s):
Right.

Kristina (33m 55s):
Something very specific about the setting or some magic capability or whatever Because I just have to say it and as long as you know that and when you place it in, you want to make it as smooth as possible.

Jesper (34m 6s):
Yeah. But do you see, so when you were working with a lot of different editors, do you see that it's Editor or you also have their own view on how is too much info dumping, for example, versus when that this is, this is okay. OK. Because at least when I, if I look at written fantasy novels, even from some of the very, very popular Fantasy, Author am not going to name any names yet, but I have red fantasy novels as a well written by, you know, massive global best seller authors.

Jesper (34m 43s):
And I don't quite like it. It's just not, not my cup of tea. And I have a feeling that I think that this is very much, I fully agree with the fact I should back up and say, I fully agree with the fact that there is a right way on a long way, to some extent and doing it. You, you can't feel the one and a half page with info dumping about a culture, just because you want to tell the reader about it. That's not, that's not what I'm saying here for what our more thing is that I think there is a in, in terms of how to do it they're is sort of have a degree in or how much is too much versus how much is too little.

Jesper (35m 18s):
That kind of thing might be a bit on a personal preference, but I don't know what your view is because you can edit it hundreds and hundreds of novels. So, but yeah. How many of you that

Kristina (35m 29s):
I'll give a tip to writers? If you use beta readers, it's a specific question you can ask or a beta readers. But so first from an editors point of view, what, what I tell Editor is the second you start to skim, there's something wrong. And if you think it's the info dump thing, because there's too much there and you are starting to skim through it, you got to Mark that and then look at that and go, why am I skimming here? Well, maybe it's because there's too much information on this new city setting and there's no character interaction with that setting.

Kristina (36m 3s):
It's just a two and a half page description of some Citi and you don't know why it relates to the plot or the character. So skimming is a big tip to, to an editor to, to right away go, Oh, okay, what's happening here in this story. And the other thing for info dump two little. If that's an editor, you get confused calling not enough information in there and the writer could put more in and you know, editors read very carefully and they pay attention to story.

Kristina (36m 34s):
And so if an editor gets confused, the writer should listen to that and should go, okay. I confuse the editor and they don't know what's happening here or they don't understand why this was possible. He needs to pay attention to it because they are reading very carefully. Now also as an editor have to caution that if you start to skim, make sure it's not just because you're tired and you've been editing for too long. So, you know, an hour is good. And then after that, for me personally, I've got a step up and do something else because then I can't pay attention as hard as I'm paying attention when I'm fresh.

Kristina (37m 8s):
And so skimming doesn't automatically mean there's to much of an info them. It could just mean like tired, but its it's a big trigger. And what I wanted to say for, for readers, when you have beta readers, sometimes especially if they're friends and family, they don't wanna tell you what they don't like. But if you just ask them, please just Mark. Every place you start to skim, you can't hurt my feelings. I just need to know this. You can then as a writer, look at that and go, huh, is that an, an, an info dump or is this boring? What's going on here? And if you have two or three beta readers who are at the same passage as their skimming than, you know, for sure there's something wrong with it.

Jesper (37m 45s):
Yeah. I quite liked that approach that you were mentioning there. Kristina and I must say, because what I normally say is that if you add, at least if you are starting out, I normally caution authors are very, very much on using beta readers because in my view is a hundred times better to either hide the higher and Editor who knows what they are doing and who can help you or find a critique partner who also know what they're doing and listen to one person. Because especially when you're starting out, you're getting, let's say the 30 beta readers and they will give you 30 different points that they like or dislike.

Jesper (38m 19s):
And they will also be contradictory to each other. So when you were starting out, it's more confusing than helpful because you don't know either what it's right or wrong. So you were hoping that you are going to get 30 pieces of feedback that is all aligned and will help you understand. Oh, okay. I see. And then you can move out for it. That's not the reality of it. You're going to get 30 strange topics popping off all over the place and it's not helpful at all. So, but I like the approach about it. If you only say what you just said, you know, just highlight that the places where, where your eyes are glazing over the text or something, or at least that's helpful.

Kristina (38m 52s):
Yeah. Or your confused as to the other one. And I also asked my beta readers when you put the book down because you don't read at one setting, Please just mark, "I put the book down". Don't tell me why. Like, you know, you put it down because you wanted to have dinner or it doesn't matter. Do you want to see the break points where a beta readers are putting your book down? Because it means that it wasn't quite enough to get them to that next scene. And again, if you have multiple ones that pick the same spot that gives you something to look at and evaluate yourself as a writer, without relying on biased information from your beta reader.

Kristina (39m 24s):
So I wrote a blog a while back and I'm trying to think of what else I put in there, but very specific questions to beta readers of what you want from them. And then they do a great job for you because they're not afraid to hurt your feelings. Cause you've asked specifically, I need to know these things.

Jesper (39m 42s):
Yeah. Yeah. And, but not normally, at least when you're starting out, I, I really prefer to work with an edit who knows it because editor's know what they're doing and, and you can listen to them. And as you also said, they are very methodical. And if they pay attention to all the details and is like, normally I say, you know, we, we basically approve 90% of what the Editor comes back to us when they are editing our novels, because normally they are right. And know what they're doing,

Kristina (40m 9s):
But not always right. That's the other caution that I try and tell, even everybody I end up, I say, you know, to the writer that they are the artist and it is there a story in my job was to make them think about their story, but not dictate what they should do or not do with it. Right? No, absolutely. No, you won't hurt my feelings as an editor. If you just go, Nope. Not making that change and stand up your self as a writer. That it's your story. Right. And the editors, one person in the world giving you an opinion on it.

Jesper (40m 40s):
Yes, indeed. I agree with that. But under the same, at the same time, it also has to be set that the person giving you opinion on it is somebody who has edited hundreds of novels. Right. So it's, it, it's, it's different from a beater reader or a family member who thinks something.

Kristina (40m 54s):
Right. Of course it is. And you should take it seriously in think hard about why you're saying no, that, and that's why hopefully you hired an editor because they know what they're doing and you want their feedback on it. But you know, it's, it's also okay. To be a believer in your own story.

Jesper (41m 14s):
Oh yeah, for sure. I fully agree with that, but I'm wondering maybe I'm if, if this is possible for Christina, but I am going to ask it anyways, but I'm thinking, wow, we covered a lot of ground here. And I think there's a lot of good input for listeners, but I'm thinking, would it be possible if you, if I told you that you only give three concrete and tangible advice that our listeners could take away from this podcast episode and go and implement in their own editing process, like right here and right now, what would you be able to give us free things?

Kristina (41m 47s):
In fact, I'm very opinionated on that have, so this works. If you were, if you write the stories from multiple points of view, my first recommendation is to go and look at who has the point of view for every seen and what's their goal for that scene? Because if they don't have a goal, they are not doing anything. And so you should go through every single scene. Count up. Your point of view is how many do you have, does your protagonist have the most point of views?

Kristina (42m 21s):
Does, do you have too many points of view, have one character only in, it should be in a different point of view. So study your point of views and use it to your best. So every scene look at it and ask yourself, is this the best point of view for the seen, and I've actually found authors who have changed the protagonist because most of their point of view scenes where from a different character and they are actually writing somebody else's story. And then it became a great story because they flipped it on that one piece. Right? Right. And the goal is very important. They have to have a goal and the goal has to relate to the story.

Kristina (42m 55s):
So it can't be a goal to get a cup of coffee. It has to be some goal that relates to the story. And there's a consequence that your reader is going to care if they achieve that goal or not. So that's my number one thing for you when you're looking at your, when your first looking at your character's go and get your point of view straight. And then the second thing I recommend is look at the purpose of each scene, ask yourself why is it in this story?

Kristina (43m 26s):
The same question does the purpose of the scene relate to the overall story. So that same as goes for character. And you want to look at each scene and if one scene has to many purposes in it, are you trying to do too much? You might want to split it into two, quiet it down a little bit. So look for scenes that are bit chaotic, where there's to many reasons for it to be in this story, it could just be overwhelming too, the reader. So that's the number two. And number three is choosing the location of each scene.

Kristina (43m 59s):
And the important thing there is to ask yourself, what's the emotional impact you want either that character or the reader to feel. And so, for example, if you pick a couple sitting on a Hill and there's a thunderstorm off on the distance, that could be quite romantic. So maybe that's the feeling you want their, but what if that couples on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean, it's not so romantic anymore. It's frightening. And quite often in an a, in a newer storey or an early draft.

Kristina (44m 30s):
And I'll see that This, it's just in somebody home or this scene takes, plays in a coffee shop are in a car or some very standard thing. And so my, my pushback to the reader is what do you want your character to feel? Do you want them frightened? Well, what's in your story where you could place them in a location where they are frightened more than if they're in their home and their family is there and it's not frightening at all for them. So those are my three. So I'll just backtrack on that. It's, who's got the point of view and what's their goal it's kind of to, but I'm really that into one, the purpose of the scene.

Kristina (45m 4s):
And what's the emotional impact you want either the characters or your reader to feel

Jesper (45m 12s):
This was so excellent. Kristina I, I have thank you so much for coming on the podcast today and talk about all this stuff and give all these are excellent advice for us. Author's here. So if listeners want to learn more about you and what you do with Fictionary and all that stuff, well, where can they find you?

Kristina (45m 36s):
Yes. Or a website is fictionary.ceo. So not.com is.ceo. And if you're a writer than you want to look at our storyteller side of things, and if you're an editor, then it story coach. So I mean, everything about us is, is on the website. I'm we have obviously an email list where we have a really great ebook that we wrote all about the editing journey. And we wrote it together with pro WRITING ADE and with the editing company called first editing, who does professional editing.

Kristina (46m 10s):
And so the three companies got together and we wrote this book on one or all the different phases of editing a novel when to do them, when to do self at it, when and why you might want to hire a professional and how they will help you. So it's, it's a really great book. If you, if you're looking for just learning what our, all the different types of editing, so what structural, what substantive what's copy editing what's proofreading, et cetera, and how to use it in your own stuff.

Jesper (46m 41s):
Okay. That's that's really good. If, and Kristina, if you send me the links to different things, then I we'll make sure that your listener to put them in the show notes. So you can just to go and check it out from, from their, so thank you so much again for coming on today. Kristina

Kristina (46m 56s):
Thank you for having me. It was such a pleasure. I love talking about stories,

Jesper (47m 1s):
All right. So next week Autumn is back and we are going to go back to the beginning and actually talk about story ideas.

Narrator (47m 13s):
If you like what you've just heard, there's a few things you can do to SUPPORT THE AM WRITING FANTASY PODCAST please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Autumn and Jesper on Patreon.com/AmWritingFantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep The Am Writing Fantasy Podcast going to stay safe out there and see you next Monday.

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