The art of writing, is editing

For the past few weeks I’ve been editing my novel and three short stories. Though in the past I’ve always edited my short stories, only now that the stakes are high enough do I see how important, I mean REALLY important, editing is. In my mind there’s no doubt about it: writing is all about editing.

My editing process is somewhat… strange. Perhaps it’s because English isn’t my native language. Perhaps it’s just because my first drafts are in worst shape than the ones the well-known writers produce (yeah, I know I shouldn’t compare myself with them, but I can’t help it. I want to be traditionally published and to make it happen, I feel I have to be better than them. This is what I meant earlier when I said “the stakes are high”).

The first thing I do, is to restructure each sentence and each paragraph. I’m never satisfied with the way I write my sentences, even after several edits (language barrier and related linguistic insecurities apply here).

Once that’s done, I activate my macros. Yes, I use macros for specific mistakes I know I make, and yes, they’re more than one. I have one for filter words (which somehow still seem to make their way to my drafts) and another one for useless words (like “very”, “that”, “just”, “even”, “There was”, “there was”, “there were”, “There were”, “actually”, “practically”, “literally”, “suddenly”, “really”, “again”, “Again”).

The third step deals with how I use the word “as” in a sentence. That’s a tricky one to deal with. I often use it in a sentence when I shouldn’t. The following example is from (Bob ran for the cabin as the zombie swung at his head.) In this example the AS implies that both actions happen at the same time. The problem is that’s not the case. The second part of the sentence is the reason why the first part happens. The zombie attacks Bob and because of that, Bob runs away. Using AS here is wrong (though “wrong” sounds so strange when it comes to a creative art like writing, no?). Still, I not only overuse that word, I flood my MS with it. Hence, the need for yet another macro to evaluate each occurrence of that word.

The last editing step (for the first round of edits, mind you) is the worst of all; my incomplete macro for adverbs. I consider it an incomplete macro for two reasons: 1. some adverbs don’t have the -ly ending (, 2. That last step should include adjectives as well, but given the nature of the words (they don’t have a special ending), I can’t include them in a macro. Which means I have to go over the entire passage and highlight every single word that’s an adjective. Why is that bad? I’m a perfectionist when it comes to doing something that I love. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Humans make mistakes! I often miss them because I either fail to identify them (oh, language barrier, if only you had a face I could punch…) or because my brain has turned into mush and I fail to notice them.

Once these steps are done, and I’m ok-ish with the results (I tried using the word “satisfied” instead of “ok-ish”, but alas I couldn’t! Not even for this post!), then I turn to beta readers and critiquers (if such a word as critiquers exists). And then a new round of editing starts, which includes the above but also their suggestions. Grand total of edits? As I mentioned in a previous post, between 9-12 up to this point.

What happens after that to my MS? Well, then and only then can I say it’s no longer in its first draft status.
Is it ready, you ask? A few weeks ago I would have said yes. But these past few weeks I’ve been reading Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (  or if you prefer Amazon,

Now I cry every time I finish the steps I mentioned earlier, because I realise there’s SOOOO much more that I have missed.

I was about to send my cyberpunk short story out to a well-respected, VERY well-paying, professional magazine. Who was it that said that manuscripts are never perfect but simply abandoned, meaning the writer refuses to work on it any more and considers it ready for publication? Yeah, I’m not ready for that yet.

Back for another round of editing. Yay!

P.S. See how I knew I’d fail point #1 from this post? Will there ever be a time I won’t have to compare myself to those better than me?!

Third short story titled “The Darkening” now published

Just a quick reminder to let you know that my third short story The Darkening is now published by Voluted Tales. The story appears in their special issue called “Darkness Internal” Issue 3. You can find it at

It’s a post apocalyptic horror story and it’s considerably shorter than the previous one, barely exceeding 2100 words, so if you choose to pay for the magazine and read it you should be able to finish it in one sitting.

The story deals with John, one of the few survivors from The Darkening, an event that brought each person’s shadow into life and eradicated the majority of the human race. Ever since then, John had to make some tough choices about life and death, particularly that of other people. In near isolation, he struggles hard to maintain some sort of humanity but his self-preservation instinct often kicks in.

I hope you enjoy it. It’s the one that inspired me to write the novel I’m working on and it should be enough to get you into the setting and mood of living in darkness.


Second short story now available

My short story titled When Hades Felt is now available for everyone to read. It’s a story where a wife’s death triggers events in her husband’s life, after a woman dressed in black shows up at his doorstep, claiming to be able to do the impossible (this sentence was actually the pitch/hook I used in my cover letter, by the way). You can find it at but please, have a look at the stories, poems and essays the other authors have contributed or read some of the other stuff the magazine has to offer from past issues. I should also warn you that the story is just over 5000 words long, so it may be time-consuming. I should also point out that I write dark-ish fantasy, perhaps borderline with horror (though I’m not experienced with the Horror genre), so since the editor’s description of the story in their main page is “dark and disturbing”, this story may not be your cup of tea. I just hope that by ‘disturbing’ the editor meant ‘depressing’ rather than ‘annoying’, lol 😛

Also, it’s one of the toughest stories I ever tackled and the only one so far that I had to re-write entire sections (namely, the whole last scene). And by rewriting I mean deleting and never looking back at thousands upon thousands of words; if I remember correctly, I rewrote it more than 5 times. Even now that I read the published story, I still frown at a few points. You’ll be the judge of whether the story is good or not. All I know is that even though it’s only been 7  months since I wrote it, my style has changed considerably since then.

This is also sort of a milestone for me, as this is the first story I got paid for and although it’s only a token payment, it’s still the first one. Hopefully, others will follow as well.

Other than that, in a month or two I expect my other short story, the one that inspired me to write the novel I’m currently working on, to be published by Voluted Tales, an Australian literary magazine.

I had to withdraw my fourth story from the magazine I had sent it for review, since they never responded to my follow-up emails. I think the magazine may have stopped operating. So, off to make some more edits to that story and find a new home for it.

If you have any comments about it, please don’t hesitate to post them below in the comment section.

Published yet again??

Hello dear readers!

You may wonder why there are question marks on the title of this post. Here goes.

Shortly after I had finished polishing up the short story titled “The Darkening” (I mentioned it on last week’s post) that will appear on Voluted Tales, I wrote another short story (though longer by far compared to any other short story I had written), borrowing certain elements from my country’s mythology. The story takes place in our current timeline but it features two rather prominent characters from Greek mythology, Hades being one of them, ruler of the Underworld.

This particular story is the only one that I have deleted and re-written more than five times so far and in most cases due to the ending. I never seemed to be satisfied with the way the story ended. After a while, I just gave up (shocking, I know) and decided that I would either get it published as it was or that it would simply never make it and perhaps I could get back to it at a later time when I would self-publish all those short stories that no one wanted. I hoped that as the years would go by, I should be able to spot the mistakes and refine it even further.

Luckily, while searching for a magazine to send some other short stories that haven’t been made public yet, I came across a magazine that in its submission guidelines stated they were interested in stories with ancient gods. You can understand my excitement when I saw it. I thought to myself, if this magazine turned me down as well, then the story was doomed to be for ever rejected, an outcast of sorts. Well, the good news is the editor of the magazine wants to run the story for their autumn issue. The bad news is that it needs polishing up. She offered to send notes and suggestions, provided I was ok with that. Obviously, I replied that I would be more than happy to look over anything she sent. I thought this would be a great chance to see how magazine editors think and point out things that annoy them in a story (the instances where one can learn new things are so many after all!).

The problem is that it’s been almost a week since then and I still haven’t received her notes and suggestions, to the point where I’m getting worried she may had second thoughts about the whole thing. I asked a friend of mine, who is far more experienced in the matter – since he has been published so many times – for any insights on what this delay might mean. So, the plan is to send a follow up email tomorrow and ask about the notes. If she says no to the story, well, no harm done I guess, though I wouldn’t mind having another story published 🙂

In other news, the novel progresses steadily. Word count indicates that I wrote just over 6700 words this week, which is not great but considering the alternative of not being able to write anything at all (I just shuddered at the thought), it’s ok-ish :/ Grand total so far is 48000 words, so I’m a little under 43% of what the final word count for the 1st draft should be.

Hopefully, next week I will have some good news to share with you, namely another upcoming publication. Cross your fingers for me please 🙂

Published again!!!

So many things happened in the past week and all of them great!

I have good news my friends; I’m going to be published again. Voluted tales, a literary magazine, has honoured me by accepting a short story of mine and it’s scheduled for publication before the end of the year. I don’t have a definitive date yet but once I have one I will let you know and give you a link to the story itself. For the time being, if you are interested in taking the time in checking the magazine out, their web address is at here.

I’m very excited about this acceptance, as this story is dearest to me and also the one that sparked the novel I’m currently working on. I spoke about it here. It’s the one short story I have worked the most on and it’s also the very first one that I ever sent out to magazines, not to mention that it’s also the second story I had ever written in my life (the first one was just so I could practice some exercises I had read about and I needed a completed story). As a result it’s also the one that has accumulated the most rejections. I was lucky enough for some of them to be personal rejection letters, which had very helpful comments that I later used to improve not only that story but also the ones that followed. It was thanks to this story that I managed to be published earlier in the year by Beyond Imagination. So you can understand how partial I am to this story.

Over the past months that I have been trying to find a home for it and ending up getting rejected, I very often thought about hiring an editor to help me pinpoint the mistakes I was unable to see. It would have been of great help to me to see how proper editing is done and see the small details he/she would add and make the story shine. I think it would have helped me considerably, cause I would have learned something new. Guess I’ll have to wait a little longer for that to happen but at some point down the road (not too far down the road, mind you) I hope will have the chance to work with such a professional. I think I can learn things from it.

In other news, the novel I’m working on progresses somewhat slower but hasn’t stopped. Writing on a cellphone is not easy (my eyes can testify to that, lol). I finished two more scenes, so that’s about 6200 words in total. It’s not great but it’s not bad either. Currently I’m stuck because of my nemesis, the dialogues. I can never seem to get them right or at least good enough. If you have any insights to offer with material on how to write good dialogues, please share 🙂

I also came up with an idea for another story (whether it will be a book or short story or something in between is something that I haven’t decided yet). Never before had I ever felt the need to wake up because of an idea getting lodged into my head (no, it wasn’t a dream), but it was enough to get me out of bed and start taking notes about it, while my eyes were still closed. To be honest, I hadn’t had a new idea for a while (I have taken notes on many things and ideas since I started writing) and this one was god-sent. The only bad thing is that I can’t (or rather, I shouldn’t) work on it any more, until the current project is finished. Otherwise I’m risking not finishing anything. I am very excited about it though. Seems promising but only time will tell if it will be good enough.

Finally, a friend I came to know through this blog that has supported me considerably during my darker mood swings or when I got discouraged by rejections, has just published her first novel. Her name is Dee King and her book is a YA novel. The author’s blog is here. You can find all the necessary information about the book there. If you have the time or the curiosity, stop by her blog and check her book out. I’m really proud of her. Finishing a book is not an easy thing to do, as I’ve now come to understand 🙂