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Editing: The Greatest Challenge to my Writing by guest blogger, Paul Moscarella

April 30, 2021-Today we wrap up our theme of Pushing the Envelope in our writing! Thank you to everyone who read our posts and special thanks to my authors for sharing their methods and ideas in how they push the envelope in their own books. Paul Moscarella, author of Machinia, is our guest blogger today.


​The writing process for me has always been a peculiar outlet that demands my obedience yet gives no instruction for compliance. This manifestation of my active imagination into words began when I was in grade 4. I had selected a book on the shelf of our art class, The War of the Worlds, because the cover art intrigued me. It was a difficult read, but the tale of the Martian invasion had me riveted. After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to share the things that I imagined into something others could experience. But right away I saw that there was a limit to what I could express, mostly because at age 9 emulating the classic writing style of H.G. Wells was beyond my ability! It was a challenge, but I gave every story I submitted in my English class that extra effort that went well beyond what was required. The endeavour paid off as my submissions were always given praise (and high marks). Those were the exciting days, when what was put to paper rarely saw revision greater than a few erased words. The written word was magic, and my pen was the sorcerer’s wand.

​Since that time, the greatest challenge to my writing has been the revision process. Imagination for me has always come easy. Shaping the rough draft into a cohesive well-written form takes continuous effort. Too little self-editing and the rough edges mar the prose. Too much, and the creative inspiration becomes a bland stream of clarified beige. And then, more challenging still, the editor’s feedback! I can get a sentence or paragraph rewritten to the point where I feel it is perfect only to get comments that ask for clarification or a slash through the writing with a simple “No!” So, following the advice I was given numerous times, I’ve learned not to fall in love with sentences, or paragraphs, perhaps even whole pages.

​When the first draft of Machinia was completed in 1992, I never dreamed that a novel of over two hundred thousand words would ultimately be subjected to a thirty-year editing cycle. It eventually emerged as a ninety-thousand-word triumph. It taught me that no piece of writing worth reading ever reaches the published page without the struggle and meticulous challenge of revision. In many ways writing is revision, and each reread gives clarity to what we truly wanted to say in the first place. And whether it takes hours, days, or decades, I’ve learned to treat the revision process as if seeing the prose for the first time.*

*author’s note: this submission was subject to several revisions and my wife’s editing notes.

Get your copy of Machinia here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/Machinia

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Goldilocks is Dead

April 2, 2021-This month we’ll be talking about pushing the envelope in your writing. What does that mean exactly? It means that without pushing boundaries, we’ll never find out how far we can go with our work.

By pushing the envelope in your writing, I’m not talking about putting in gratuitous explicit scenes, or excessive swear words, or shock and awe factors that do not move the story forward; I’m talking about putting your characters in new situations, changing up your writing style, writing in different genres, and exploring new themes. As we explore these ideas, one at a time, let’s start with putting your characters into new situations and what that can entail by using a well known story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What do we know about the fairy tale? We know that a little girl ventures into the forest and stumbles upon a cottage to explore. She pushes open the door and finds 3 bowls of porridge on the table: one hot, one cold, and one just right. She eats the porridge and then ventures further into the cabin. She goes to a bedroom where there are 3 beds, one too hard, one too soft, and one just right and the story continues. So how can we change this up and push the envelope? We’ll put together a brief synopsis at the end of this exercise.

  • New location-The original story takes place in the woods. By switching up the location, you can create a whole new spin on a classic. Picture this, Goldie is a 25-year-old living on her own in a penthouse in New York City that overlooks Central Park.
  • New profession-Goldilocks was a little girl in the original book (but perhaps what’s more interesting is that the original story was written with an ugly, old woman as the main character who had been cast out of her community because she’s a thief, liar, and derelict), but using the track we’re on with her being a 25-year-old living in New York, we’ll make her a stockbroker. She works on wall street with three of her closest colleagues that she’s affectionately nicknamed The Three Bears.
  • New spin-Goldilocks and the Three Bears was a story written as a fairy tale for children. You could push the envelope in your writing by turning the classic into something completely different such as a horror, thriller, or mystery.

Synopsis:

Goldie Walker has everything she’s ever wanted; a great job making tons of money, a penthouse with a view of the park, and an active social life in the most exciting city in the world. One late September evening she returns home after drinks and finds the door to her apartment has been left slightly ajar. She enters the front room and sees a trail of blood leading to her bedroom. She reaches for the light when suddenly she’s grabbed from behind and silenced with a blow to the head. She awakes bloody and swollen hours later with no recollection of what happened. She stumbles to her room to find that the wall safe has been broken into and her late grandmother’s ten carat emerald necklace has been stolen. The only thing that remains is a note that reads, returned to their rightful owner, you have 24 hours to contact us before we kill your thieving brother. Goldie must enlist the help of her friends to unravel the mystery of who robbed her, why, and what her brother has to do with it all.

Push yourself. Explore new takes on old stories and in your writing because you never know where it could lead!