Tag: editing

Road to Self-Published – Finding your Perfect Editor – Part 1

This blog is meant to attract readers for my published works. You know, people who like young adult fantasy or Biblical fictionalizations, or maybe even a little romance. Yet, here I am discussing my journey to being self-published.

Self-publishing still sounds like a dirty word to some people. However, in the past two years, Amazon and the popularity of eBooks has begun to alter that perception.

It’s a slow thing – change. Especially when people have rock-hard opinions in place. The number of independent (i.e. self-published) authors who manage to make a decent living writing and publishing quality books rises with each survey.

For me, I am seeking the traditional path with my young adult manuscript – for now. The Biblical fictionalization, however, appears in my mind as something that isn’t about profit. Why shouldn’t I self-publish it then?

Earlier, I posted about the necessity of hiring an editor if you’re a beginning writer. (Yes, you might be in your 40s with no publishing credits and still be a beginning writer.) In this post, I speak directly about the process I used to find a copy-editor for the manuscript I intend to independently publish in May.

Where I started

As a member of WANA Tribe, I started there. After all, I had superior luck finding beta readers by posting to those boards.

everyone-needs-a-good-editor2Specifically, I posted on the Christian Authors tribe’s board. I asked for referrals to any editors who had experience with Biblical fictionalizations. In my mind, I felt that the two super editors I know (Jami Gold and Marcy Kennedy) were experts in fantasy and paranormal romance. I wanted someone with a little bit of knowledge about this much different market.

With only a single response from that forum, I headed over to the Editorial Freelance Association website. A search narrowed the pool to 121 members. It took plenty of clicking through to learn the information I wanted, but I found two editors to email for more information.

What I found

The list of members on the ERA site is staggering. It can feel overwhelming at first.

Is my method of reading through the bios and checking out sites scientific? Not hardly. It did lead me to an editor I feel comfortable with, however.

I emailed the first two choices and asked for quotes. It was here I learned that many editors don’t call a line edit a line edit. If an editor offers to copy-edit your manuscript, that’s the same thing (they say, although Marcy Kennedy defines the difference on her site). One of the editors quoted me between 8 and 12 cents per word, based on how clean my manuscript started. The other quoted $45/ per hour.

At the ERA site, there is a list of appropriate prices for services. This is the editorial rates chart from that site: Editorialrates

As you can see, both of these first two quotes are above the specified guidelines. Even though I had corresponded several times with one of these editors, I went back to my search list to see if I could find someone closer to the suggested range.

On my next search, I only emailed one editor. Her rates were clearly listed on her clean and user-friendly website. At 1.4 cents per word, her estimate worked out to a rate that was at the high end of the recommended charges.

Check back next Friday to see how I finally found the editor for my self-published manuscript.

I will be running a series of posts on Fridays for the next two months (give or take) about my progress toward publishing – both the self-published track and the traditional path (since I have manuscripts in both).

Why Every (Newbie) Author Needs an Editor

I’m a newbie novice when it comes to writing novels. Not an ounce of shame taints this admission. If I send sub-par work into the world of readers because I don’t see the need for an editor, that’s when I’ll be ashamed.

In the past fifteen months, I have completed five first drafts. This amounts to about 350,000 words. I should be getting the hang of this writing thing after all that, shouldn’t I?

If I compare the first novel with the last, the improvement is easily identifiable. To me, anyway. A professional editor might see things differently. This is the reason you should hire one before you publish your “masterpiece.”

Lucky me, I won a 25,000 word critique from the amazing Jami Gold. As full-time writer who has not sold a single story, I appreciated this windfall more than a winning Lotto ticket. After experiencing Jami’s professional white glove treatment, I can recommend her services.

What I expected

  • A thorough critique of the manuscript – written within the document so examples of the flaws were showcased
  • Advice about my characters
  • Analysis of my story structure: the first turning point at least
  • Identification of recurring writing weaknesses
  • Discussion of my overall writing voice and its effectiveness
  • Confirmation that my story premise worked
  • Discussion of the story problem and stakes

What she delivered

  • A thorough critique of the manuscript. Besides lengthy notations within the manuscript, Jami provided four pages of explanation about the larger issues – good and bad – in the story
  • Advice about my characters. She analyzed the character arc of both protagonists, discussed their shortfalls, remarked about how to improve them. In short, I saw my characters in a different spotlight after reading her comments.
  • Analysis of my story structure. Jami identified the story problem but couldn’t pinpoint my character’s driving needs. Because of this, she didn’t see the first turning point the way I had when I wrote the story. Obviously, this is an issue – with my writing, not her editing.
  • Identification of recurring writing weaknesses. Do I really need to list these? Suffice it to say that I’m still doing more telling than showing. My descriptions are over the top (quite surprising) and often unrealistically delivered. Too many participles. Not enough strong verbs. Even a grammar issue (when to use ‘the’ rather than ‘a.’)
  • Discussion of my overall writing voice and its effectiveness. My third person POV didn’t go deep enough. My characters could be heard loud and clear in only a few sentences. If I want my readers to buy in, I need to delve more deeply into the psyche of these people who tell this story.
  • Confirmation that my story premise worked. Right off the bat, Jami raved about how well I nailed this. My thanks to Larry Brooks and Kristen Lamb. I learned the importance of this from them. Looks like it penetrated my thick skull and became a part of my writing arsenal.
  • Discussion of the story problem and stakes. Again, I managed to strike it rich. Of course, the lack in my characters rubs off on the overall story problem. Since their motivations are unclear, it holds readers at arm’s length.

My revised opinion

I have seen recommendations from authors who are traditionally published. They tell you not to spend the money on an editor for your manuscript before shopping it with agents and editors. I sighed hugely when I read this advice.

Now I’m going to refute it. Time to face facts: you won’t hook an agent or editor with a manuscript that doesn’t shine. No matter how great of a writer you are or how many degrees you possess, you aren’t the best critic for your written work.

I can slash in red with the best of them (ask my sons who have experienced my unforgiving editing for more than a decade). With a critical eye, I can spot plot holes, weak characterization, telling passages and other major flaws.

No matter how much I squint, I’m too close to my own story to recognize most of these shortcomings. I know what I meant. The characters are my intimate friends so I read between the lines. I see subtext that doesn’t exist. Caricatures are the invisible woman.

If you’ve shopped your story and no one is biting, take the plunge. Spend the money on a developmental edit to ensure your manuscript is sound of structure. Look at it as an investment in your career – like workshops, craft books and conferences.

In the end, your manuscript will shine. You will learn how to write a stronger story. Best of all, your name will appear on the cover of the book you’ve envisioned. And you’ll be proud to have people read your work.

Have I convinced you? Great.

One more thing. Do you have an extra $1000 I can borrow? Really, my friend. Help me get a much-needed developmental edit on my manuscript.

What are your thoughts on critique groups, beta readers and professional edits? Do they all serve the same purpose? Do you believe spending money on an editor is a waste if you’re a newbie seeking traditional publishing?

How I was forced into doing NaNoWriMo

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The ink on my blog post detailing why I wouldn’t be participating in National Novel Writing Month hadn’t dried. My writing friend and I met at the library, and she insisted I participate in the insanity. I said no. She cajoled.

I signed up the next day. *sighs*

I thought I was stronger than this. My calendar for November is flooded with rewrite obligations. There are beta readers expecting that novel in December. Wouldn’t want to disappoint them.

“But you’re writing short stories anyway,” my friend argues.

True. I have scheduled seven days in the first three weeks of the month to work on some new stories. I’m trying to improve my market reach. A few publishing credits can only make my queries stronger.

I figured the creation process would be a nice way to give my brain a break during the grueling work of rewriting (which is minor compared to the brain strain of editing). I’m wondering if I can work on two or more different projects at a time – and do them both justice.

“I don’t have time. I’m doing a rewrite.”

“You should still sign up.” (Is someone paying her for all the people she convinces to participate? Is that what being a Municipal Liaison means?)

I have no one to blame but myself. Who clicked on the NaNo website? *raises hand* Who typed in a description of a short story collection for their 2014 project? *looks away*

The voice of reason (my husband), “I thought you weren’t doing that this year.”

Yeah, I thought so too. Why did I want to be friends with writers again? Why did I go with this woman to a writer’s conference? Why do we have regular lunch meetings?

We’re “helping” each other. I’m not feeling especially encouraged at the moment. The stress of writing 50,000 words in 30 days is making my head pound.

What are writing friends for? Apparently, to push me out of my comfort zone. And in front of a speeding NaNoWriMo truck.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What crazy things have your friends convinced you to do? Were you later appreciative of their interference? (Please say yes. I really like this person.)

How the Street of Dreams Mirrors Life

5,185 square feet, $1,325,000
5,185 square feet, $1,325,000

“I live on the street of my dreams.”

Do you? Does your daily life take you through your dream landscape?

Since I wasn’t being wowed by the uniqueness of the homes on the Street of Dreams, my writer brain went to town to make a life connection. It doesn’t take much to wind up my creativity.

I found three parallels between my experience with the million-dollar homes and my pursuit of a writing career.

Expectations

When someone tells me about a million-dollar home, I’m expecting either an enormous lot or unique features.

If you read my post last week, you know I didn’t find either of these at the Street of Dreams. I found million-dollar homes with fantastic fountains and more floor space than I ever want to be responsible for cleaning.

Lot size? Not much considering how big the homes were. In fact, I could see clearly into all the neighbors’ yards from the second story balcony of one of the homes. Not much in the way of a private setting.

I’ll be honest about the writing career. I knew I needed to pen a million words before I could expect to begin to perfect the craft of novel writing. I have penned more than 750,000 (yes, I keep track) in the past two years. I’m still pre-published.

In fact, this writing gig is much harder work than I expected. Some days all the words I write sound trite or infantile. Other days getting the words out feels like an exorcism (not that I know what that feels like, but seeing one thanks to Hollywood – uh, similar screaming and pain quotients).

Comparison: Expectations while traveling the street of your dreams are never met. Bag them.

Awe Factor

Staring at the amazing great room, kitchen, dining and outdoor living area of the dream home we most loved dropped my jaw. I could visualize it teeming with the people I love – some of them aren’t even born yet.

An ooey-gooey swell of deliciousness warmed me from the inside out. A stuffed turkey roasted in the professional-grade natural gas oven. Trays of appetizers lined the granite-covered buffet along the wall of the dining room. A fire crackled in the great room and outside on the covered patio.

I wish you could see what I did and feel the emotions swelling like a tidal wave inside me. That’s the awe factor we expect from our dreams.

Writing, the dream of my heart, parallels this experience.

Fingers flying over the keyboard. Words, sentences and paragraphs become pages, scenes and chapters. Characters are born on those pages. Lives explode with love, fear, anger and adventure.

Hours pass and only the movement of the sun from my front window to my back deck signifies it. I’m engulfed in the fantasy of my creativity.

This exceeds what I imagined pursuing my dream and being a full-time writer would be like on a daily basis. No paycheck? That’s what you think. Contentment in the dream feeds a hungry soul and clothes lagging confidence.

Epiphany: Living the dream is like having Thanksgiving dinner every day.

Visualization

Imagination is the bedrock of my chosen path. If I can’t visualize, I’m not going to be able to write a story that comes to life either.

My vision of a million-dollar home includes elevators, stoves that cook entire meals without me and a private setting in the middle of the woods.

The Street of Dreams in reality? Stairs I had to climb, even though some of the homes had three levels. Professional quality gas stoves but no automation that would prepare meals at the touch of a button (don’t get sassy about a microwave here, either).

Worst of all, I could see acres of trees in the distance along the ridge of Mt. Scott. Below that were fields of homes, too many to number. So much for tranquility in my million-dollar sanctuary.

Creating a story from nothing but my imagination is what I visualized when I pictured me as a professional writer. I have done that – seven separate times in the past year.

Of course, what I’ve done to take that first novel (well, actually the third; the first two had to be thrown away. They were me writing to find the real story) to a place where it’s ready for public eyes is hardly that glamorous – or enjoyable.

Weeks spent rewriting after reading through the first draft almost felt creative. Revising every sentence to make it sound literary – creative but pushing tedium. Rewriting a third time based on the comments and criticism from my beta readers required a firm hand.

“You will write today. I don’t care if you’re sick of this story. You have a goal to meet.”

You think this manuscript is ready for an agent?
You think this manuscript is ready for an agent?

Revising the 300 pages to smooth the cadence and perfect the prose rivaled a marathon. I was unsure if there would be enough chocolate to see me through to the end.

Still…not…done. Now, comb over every sentence, looking for grammar, usage and typographical errors. Gladly send the thing to someone else for proofreading.

Time to query agents. Time to fix the dull beginning. Time to rewrite the first fifty pages because a professional finds them flawed beyond redemption – almost.

Nothing like I visualized.

Truth to be learned: real life is nothing like the dream. It can be better, if you’re willing to work on reality conforming it to the reality you want.

My allusions might not resonate with you. Or maybe they do.

How has your dream measured up to your expectations and visualizations? Or how has the awe factor kept you moving forward?

An Update on the Progress of my Manuscript

I hope someday to connect with my readers on this blog. As of this moment, I know most of my faithful followers are family, friends and other writers. Thank you for your support.

According to Jedi Master of Social Media, Kristen Lamb, I shouldn’t write about writing on my blog. My readers don’t care about it. In theory, I agree with her expert advice and follow it to the best of my ability.

However, I’m breaking her rule today. (Just this once, Master! I promise!) As an unpublished author, I don’t have the type of “readers” who only want to learn about the writer behind the story yet. In fact, some of you have actually asked how the manuscript was coming along.

For those of you who want to be “in the know,” here’s a rundown of my novel’s life:

  • Book one in the series started the beginning of September 2013.
  • Book two was written in 23 days during NaNoWriMo, November 2013
  • Book three was finished by the end of January 2014 (which was a miracle as far as I’m concerned, considering what was happening in my life at that time)
  • Read-through and rewrite of book one took most of February
  • Stage one revisions were completed by March 21
  • Manuscript sent to six beta readers for return by April 15, 2014 (Tax Day: a happy coincidence?)
  • First week of May spent making changes to the manuscript based on feedback from the beta readers (They improved the story so much. I love them!)
  • Stage two revisions finished by May 21
  • Read-through and final touch-ups
  • Manuscript to proofreader by May 30
  • First query letter to top agency of choice with sample pages sent June 6, 2014
  • Submit first 20 pages (and a synopsis) for critique by Alex Hughes at Willamette Writer’s Conference by June 18

What I hope happens next in this process:

  • An agent asks to see the whole manuscript
  • When I meet with Katie Reed of the Andrea Hurst agency at the conference in August, she asks me to send the manuscript
  • One of these agents loves my story and signs me up
  • They help me edit and perfect the manuscript (Yes, I know it isn’t perfect)
  • A publisher picks it up by the end of October, and I see my first book in print by October 2015

I know that’s a crazy long timeline. This arduous process is one thing that makes indie publishing look more attractive and self-publishing amazing. I need the traditional route for my first book. If it gets picked up, I know I’m ready to be read by the general public.

When the time comes, this website will light up with release dates, promotions and events. My life will get crazy because the publisher will be demanding the next two manuscripts in the series. Hopefully, I will be able to get them perfected in the year it takes for the first one to find the shelf at your local bookstore and on Amazon, of course.

Thank you for encouraging me to stay the course toward seeing my life-long dream come true. I couldn’t have done it without you!

Defining Hard Work in an age of Sit-down jobs

I’m a writer. I sit down while I work. And I hate it. Really.

Before this, I was a teaching assistant, and I sat down for my 30-minute lunch. Every day. Five days per week (except for summers – such an awesome benefit). You can bet I was happy to take a load off once I got home.

In process of writing my latest novel and getting it reader-worthy, I’ve worked so hard my back ached, my head ached and I saw spots dancing before my eyes. All of this while sitting in front of a computer.

Isn’t hard work defined as physical labor?

I raked a load of bark dust over my flower beds. Thankfully, I wore gloves and spared myself blisters. I dripped sweat, got a first-class kink in my lower back and suffered from stiff shoulders the next day. Must have been hard work.

When I watch movies of life in the pioneer days or earlier, I shudder to think of living in such a time. I like having time to sit on the deck and read a book. Those people sat down and fell asleep because their bodies needed to rest.

What constitutes hard work in an era when most of the desirable jobs involve a high-percentage of sitting and utilizing brain power rather than brawn?

This is my take on this subject. Five things that might mean you’ve worked hard:

Something gets accomplished

It might just be all the clothes washed, dried, folded and put in their appropriate spots. This is one task I would have despised as a pioneer. Washboard anyone? I’ll pass.

Visible results

Some people might say this is the same thing, but I think there’s a difference. After all, anyone who’s done laundry knows that all the clothes are never done. What happens when you get ready for bed on wash day? Right. You throw a bunch of dirty clothes in the hamper.

I wrote three blog posts today. Then I put them up on my website, programming them to automatically post on the appropriate day. I can show you this using the “All Posts” tab on my WordPress dashboard.

You feel it physically

Let’s face it, they don’t call that hour-long kickboxing class a workout for nothing. You will work your body. You will sweat. You will grunt. If it’s been awhile since you did it, you will groan for a few days to come.

Things like accounting and marketing don’t require the use of the same muscles as your cardio class. They do, however, make your brain sweat. My eyes feel like crossing after looking at the computer screen too long. I’m feeling it in my body.

Someone pays you to do it

Okay, I personally hate this one. I don’t consider some things people are paid for “work.” For instance, sitting at a front desk, smiling at people and showing them to the right room.  I know people who get paid to do this. I do consider revising and editing my manuscript brain-straining labor, and no one has yet to pay me for doing it.

Satisfaction follows on its heels

This is the biggest indicator. Labor for hours and finish a project. Afterwards, you can sigh and say, “That’s done.” (If you’re a mother, you will have to do the same exact thing again tomorrow.)

Work should bring with it a sense of accomplishment. I have had jobs that gave me nothing more than a paycheck. Some of them were physically demanding, and I worked quite hard while on shift. Afterwards, I just left tired.

When you do the work you’re meant to do, a sense of satisfaction rides on the bumper. Even in the midst of the project, you can look at how far you’ve come and feel good about it.

Why do people want to avoid work so much in this era? I have never gained the same flood of joy from playing a game or watching a movie as I do from writing a single scene in my novel. It just feels good to finish a job.

What’s your definition of hard work? Do you think a strong work ethic is being emphasized in today’s American culture?

So you think you want to write a book

Image courtesy of littlebahalia.com

No one who has actually ever written a book thinks they want to write a book. They like telling stories. They enjoy playing with words. Creating things using sentences and punctuation as opposed to brushstrokes and paint is very appealing to them.

When we sit down to write a book, we don’t think we’re going to write a book. We just have a story to tell. Things start going out onto the page. Generally someone else might get a hold of it read it.

“Wow. This is a really great story,” they say. “You should write a book.”

Shows what they don’t know about writing. Writing a book is not fun and games. Like everything else worth doing in life, it’s work. Yes, the terrible four-letter word: work. Writing a book is work. There, I said it.

I will admit there are times during the process of the first draft when the joy is welling over as the words spill onto the page. The story is so real, it’s like you can see the characters and hear their voices. You can feel the sunlight on your face.

Amazing! Incredible!

Then it’s finished. You think, “Okay let’s read this and see what I got.”

You know, anyone who thinks they want to write a book thinks when they read it, they’re going to think it’s awesome. I can’t wait for my friends to read this.

Another sign that they had never actually written a book.Windows Photo Viewer WallpaperWhat generally happens: I read my story and isn’t how I remember it being at all! It flowed in my brain and it made perfect sense. Not so on the page. What is this crap where my excellent words were deposited earlier this month?

Sometimes it takes other people to read the book before we see the flaws. Maybe they say they aren’t really sure what happened on page 10. Everything was going along smoothly and then suddenly it’s like we jumped in time, space, and place.

Why would someone want to read about this character? They’re a jerk. Was the point of this whole story just to entertain? Or just to get those words driving me insane out of my head and onto a page?

I’ve written a few books. I wrote my first in a green spiral notebook when I was nine years old. I have it in a box in my attic along with my second book, also written in a spiral notebook, and a whole bunch of journal from my teenage years. I have notebooks full of short stories and steno books of poetry.

I’ve been creating with words since I learned to write a sentence. I wrote a book and sent it to two different publishers. It got rejected. When I went back and read the book, years later after I learned a little more about writing, a light bulb turned on. “No wonder they rejected it,” I think. “This gal is too perfect; who likes her? What’s with the flashback on page five?”

Talk about a truckload of sophomoric mistakes. So, I wrote another book after studying craft and taking writing classes. It was the first of a series and I was so pumped.

I was determined to follow the formula for rewriting and do this one right.Halfway through the rewrite, I realized something was missing. It’s like my antagonist doesn’t exist. The conflict feels empty.

So, I took a class (notice how this is my answer to everything). I talked to a professional writer and editor. I had to scrap that book, too, along with the little darling that was its sequel.

Fine. Whatever. Throw it all out.

Next, I wrote this book that I didn’t even like, but while I was writing it, something amazing happened. I started liking the story again. I started figuring out what the character was going to be like and where the story should go.

So, hey, National Novel Writing Month. Millions of people are going to write a book this month. Yes, we’re all insane. 23 days later, I had 60,000 words in a file. A book. Better yet, the second book in the series.

I loved the story as I created it. The whole thing flowed from my creative center onto the page. I’m actually afraid to look back at it now. What if the thing’s a mess? I loved it when I wrote it. The idea of reading it now and being horrified by it just drains me.

So I didn’t read it, I wrote the third book in the series instead. Finished the whole thing. Then I read the first book (it was still bad), rewrote it and edited it. Afterwards, I sent it to six beta readers.

All of them did not like my main character. They didn’t think she was very sympathetic. The story needs more work. What this means is that I’ll be rewriting it again.

I guess if you think you’re going to write a book, go ahead. If you think your book will be worth reading, pardon me while I laugh or cry or just shake my head. Because writing a book might sound like a good idea, but it’s not as easy as everyone who has never written a book seems think.

Beta Reader Bliss – Or Not

betareaderblissIf you’re serious about becoming a published author, you can’t be afraid to share your writing with others. It’s inevitable that some of them will hate it. You know some of them will love it (and I’m not just talking your mom and best friend).

Some people use alpha readers. These people would see the rewritten first draft before it is edited. I’m not a fan of having all the picky things about my writing dinged. I want people to read like a reader and tell me what worked and what didn’t.

This is what beta readers do. I gave mine a huge checklist. Some of them followed it closely and others just marked the text and commented with questions or impressions they had. Both methods gave me valuable insight.

This marked my maiden voyage into the realm of beta reading, so everything felt somewhat surreal. Since most of my betas were also first-timers (at beta reading), I wanted to offer some guidance.

How I found my Beta Readers

Two of my beta readers are people I know. People who read the fantasy genre and know what they like, what works and what makes a good story.

My youngest reader was a former student. I interviewed him personally after he read the book. He had honest feedback and didn’t just “love” the book because his teacher wrote it. His was my first input and it made me break out the sandpaper so the other feedback wouldn’t hurt as much (hopefully).

A book group I meet with six times per year also took the book (a pre-beta version) and read it to offer their feedback. Since I consider them friends, I wasn’t really considering them beta readers, but I will consider their feedback. The first thing they helped me do was change the order of the opening scenes, making a stronger beginning.

The other four readers I found through WANATribe. This is a social media network for artists, and I have found tons of insight and inspiration by interacting with people here. One of the readers I found here was a professional YA author, one a writer with years of editing and PR writing and the final two: beginners like me. I figured that would offer me a diverse sampling of feedback.

Why I love my Beta Readers

One of my beta readers sent me updates as she read the text. “It took me awhile to understand the setting but now that I’m into it, it’s moving right along.” Comments that let me know it was holding her interest.

At the end, when she sent me the marked up manuscript she asked, “When do I get to read the next book?” I had heard that before from a member of the book group who read it. A good sign.

Cuddly beta readers - have claws!
Cuddly beta readers – have claws!

These people told me the truth. Seriously. One of the readers had something akin to a “don’t shoot the messenger” warning attached with his remarks. Troubled spots were noted and marked. Thanks to the sandpaper I spoke about earlier, I hardly even felt the jabs. After all, this was a story they slaughtered, not me.

Only a few areas found common dislike among nearly all the readers. These things will garner my full attention when the next round of revisions begin. Other things mimicked my own worries. Many good ideas for changing the areas that didn’t work also came to light. This is the sort of truth I needed.

All this honesty means I have more rewriting and revision to do before I’m ready to move on to the polishing phase. Not the news I was hoping for – certainly. On the other hand, precisely the reason I wanted beta readers in the first place. The outcome for my novel: positive.

Most of these betas volunteered to read the new manuscript or other work from me. In the end, that means they didn’t hate my writing or my writing style, which is good news.

Bottom line: this beta reading experience encourages me on my path to publication. I will use beta readers for my future projects and recommend the same for all of my fellow writers (who might be reading this).

If you are a young adult who loves to read fantasy, please use the contact form on my home page to send me your information if you would like to read the polished version of Daughter of Water. Of course, I will want honest feedback. I promise not to make it look like English homework.

Any other experienced beta readers out there? What do you like the most about the beta reading process? Writers: what sort of input do you want from beta readers?

A World of Revision

Image Courtesy of Leah Cutter

“The best writing is rewriting” – E.B. White

Glorious news: I’ve come to the end of the rewrite of my first novel. Or not. In my mind, I will begin revising now, polishing prose for prettiness.

Yep, I love that alliteration.

As I mentioned before, rewriting and revising aren’t technically the same thing. Not in my mind anyway. I can say what E.B. White was talking about in his famous quote is true. To make your writing the best, you have to keep revising and polishing (not the same as writing again).

The technical definition of the word rewriting is write again. I already wrote it once. I’m not throwing it out the window and starting over (maybe I should), so is it rewriting?

To me, rewriting involves creating new material. The author takes a brush to their manuscript and ferrets out areas where things drag and where plot holes exist. They realize they need more foreshadowing of a future event or that the subplot is nonexistent.

Starting at the first page, they add to what is written, completing it. This is what I spent three weeks doing.

Revising is a horse of a different color. This is the one I can ride into the sunset and never finish. This is the step I believe White refers to with his famous (or is that infamous?) quote.

Horse of a different color according to ibmsystemsmag.com

Literal understanding of the word: vision again. Yes, I’m going to visit my pages and mull over every word, phrase and sentence. Does it say what I mean? Could I say it better? What would make the voice more pronounced?

After rewriting my manuscript, now the more difficult process of revision begins. It will be a laborious dissection of each and every sentence. By the end, I will likely be ready to throw the manuscript in a drawer and forget it exists.

Instead, I will send it along to my beta readers. They will then get to determine whether I filled all the plot holes during rewriting. Are my characters likable and round? Does everything make sense?

It still won’t be perfectly edited. Sorry, beta readers. Editing is the final step before the manuscript meets my future agent or publisher.

More revision will follow based on what these readers tell me.

Like I said, a world of revision. In my mind, writing is revising.


 

 [SH1]

Self-Editing for Writers

I’ve been an editor since I learned to read, always finding errors and mentally rewording awkward sentences. (Isn’t awkward an awkward word to type? The k surrounded by ws just feels so…awkward.)

Self-editing can be a whole different ball game.

To help me stick to my guns, I purchased the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. With chapter titles like “show and tell” and “point of view,” it seemed like it would offer straight-forward and applicable instructions.

It does. According to chapter 11 “Sophistication,” I’m a hack. Several of the sentence variants I rely upon in my writing have been overdone and thus are considered immature by many editors (the authors of this text included).

When you’ve just completed your degree in English and Literature, this sort of insult incites the arched back of a territorial kitty. I was the outstanding graduate, so how can I be a hack? I’m still processing that information. It doesn’t take me to a happy place.

It occurs to me that the things I learn from Browne and King can be put into action when I get to Step 6 of my rewrite. You can imagine that after my reaction to chapter 11, the second one I read, by the way (who reads a book in order if it isn’t fiction?), I am less than thrilled to continue my study of this text.

I have also noted on several writing blogs I follow that hiring an editor is recommended, even for those seeking traditional publishing (which is my plan at the moment). Since story structure seems to be an area where I’m weak, I am considering having a professional check that for me – once I finish the rewrite.

Do you feel writers can edit their own work to an acceptable level if they’re going the traditional route? I can see a definite need for a professional edit (and proofread at the end) before anything is self-published.