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Posts Tagged ‘Revising’

After I finished writing my first novel, I stared at the pages, not knowing what revising entailed.

It’s perfect I thought. Exactly the way I wanted it.

But then I started to research the process of revising and it dawned on me that I had to completely slash away and polish every sentence, analyze every word, make sure every punctuation was just as I wanted it before querying.

I found some fantastic books and websites, but none helped me more than Caro Clarke’s in-depth advice.

If she taught a class, I’d take it. The way she explains everything and the topics she thought to include, astounds me. I read each and every one of her writing articles and if you have a little time I would check them out. How could you not, with unique article titles such as:

Just to name a few.

Caro truly knows her stuff and I promise you that you will come away a better writer after you have read through them all. I took her advice so seriously that I felt the need to thank her in my first novel. Best of all, the advice is free!

(Although it would be nice to purchase her novel in thanks if you find her advice as helpful as I do).

Just writing this blog has made me realize I should reread all these articles again before I revise the next book in my series. I’m sure I’m in need of a refresher course.

Thank you, Caro, for taking the time to write these extremely helpful articles and for sharing them so graciously.

Have any of Caro’s tips helped you? Whose writing advice has made the biggest impact on your writing?

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How many revisions does it take for your MS to lose its spark?

“Let’s find out.

One…

tWoo…

thhhhreee”

*CRUNCH*

I wish I only had to do three revisions. Three, and I might still be gushing about it for launch. But I find when I’m reading my novel for the twentieth time my MS loses its spark.

Finish the MS—Wow, this is the best thing I’ve ever written! Perfect!

First revision after letting it sit—Wow, this needs work but what great scenes and dialog! I love it!

Second revision—Wow, I can’t believe how many mistakes I missed after that last edit, but it’s still awesome!

Fifth revision—Wow, still so much work. I’ve got to rewrite a few scenes, but it’s pretty good stuff.

Tenth revision—Wow, I think I need glasses since I’m still finding mistakes! Eh. It’s okay.

Fifteenth revision—Wow, another revision, I don’t think I can read it again. I hope I’m going in the right direction.

Nineteenth revision—Wow, this has to be the last revision! I’m so sick of it! That’s it. I’m done.

Twentieth revision—Wow, is this even any good anymore?

I’m sure this happens to every author, but I imagine it must be harder for the self-published author since you have to feel confident about the piece you’re about to release to the world—on your own. You don’t have team cheering you on from behind. A team that has thought so highly of your project that they have invested in it.

Of course, even LOTR and Pride and Prejudice would lose its spark after twenty reads within a short amount of time. So what do you do when you start to question if your MS is still good when you have worn it out like a pair of comfortable sneakers?

You must have rounds of beta readers. You need someone at every stage of processing to tell you that you’ve got something there. You need someone to see your twentieth revision with fresh eyes. You need them to tell you it’s amazing and which parts they laughed and cried at. Then they tell you two or three small things that they would change and you’re back to revision twenty-one:

Wow, they loved it, so this must be good. I just have to fix a few things and it’s off to the editor who will be so impressed with how much work I’ve done this time.

After the editor—Wow, I can’t believe I missed all these mistakes. Am I ever going to learn comma placement? *bangs head*

So what about you guys? How many revisions does it take before your eyes bleed and doubt sets in?

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Have you ever picked up something you’ve written more than a year ago and read it again?

It was amazing.

After letting it sit for a year, I was shocked with how much I’ve forgotten. Once I got past all the terrible grammar mistakes I made prior to my editing education, (wow I really have learned a lot!), it was fascinating to read something I didn’t remember—yet I wrote!

It was so strange to actually critique and experience my MS like a reader. So many things were a surprise. I mean, I don’t have dementia. I do remember the large things, but there were many times I actually said to myself, “I can’t wait to see what happens here!”

Crazy, I know, but I do recommend it.

Also, I found I was confused at parts, even though before things made perfect sense. I found those holes and patched them up nicely.

I highly recommend writing, then letting it sit for a long time while you write something else. It is wonderful and so helpful! Still get as many betas as you can (you can NEVER have enough), but it’s always good to let your piece sit long enough so you can see it with fresh eyes.

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Oh well, holidays are over and my sequel is out for final proofreading. I’m completing my citations and bibliography page now and I’m forcing myself to finish writing my next book in the series. I say forcing since I’ve a hard time changing hats from researcher-writer- revisor- queryer-editor-designer-publisher-promoter then back to writer. I tend to get stuck in the phases.

When I was writing, I just kept writing. I actually finished the first book, the second, 2/3’s of the third, and 1/3 of the last book all in one straight streak. I couldn’t stop creating. I worried that I would never want to stop writing to get any of the books out. I made myself stop and start to rework the first book. Then I got caught up in all the other stages.

Why do I have such a hard time transitioning?

So now, I really don’t want to start researching the next life I’m delving into. I keep trying to convince myself that it’s a better idea to start reworking the lives I’ve already completed in the third book. I think a part of me feels like I haven’t written in so long that I’m afraid I can’t do it anymore. I have this great momentum in the book up until this point and then I stopped to do all the other phases and I’m scared to pick it back up again.

What if the momentum is ruined?

I think a part of me is scared to see if I can still write this series. I feel so much more comfortable to do what I’ve been doing for a year now. Plus, I have to isolate myself so much more during the writing process. I can revise, edit, design, promote all while watching Thundercats, shaking a baby toy, or keeping an eye on my son’s ninja attempts. But when I write, I need to focus and fall into the world inside me. Once the words start pouring out, it’s torture to stick a cork in to do something else.

But I don’t have a choice. I’m a full-time mother and writer, so I must try to juggle as best as I can. I realize that I just have to quiet those fears and throw myself into the writing. I hope it will be like riding a bicycle. I hope the series will keep up it’s pace and intimacy I created previously.

Who knows? Maybe all this professional editing will rub off during the first draft!

Do you have a hard time changing between all the different phases? Which phase to you enjoy the most? Which one do you dread?

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I can’t wait for this editing to end!

This is all new to me so every step I don’t know what to expect. I was so pleased after working with the editor I chose and part of me wondered if I even needed to use a copy editor. But I listened to all of the most informative self-publishing blogs that insist you must have a quality editor and proofreader before publishing.

So luckily, I found the name of a very reasonable proofreader on one of the forums I frequent. Her website looked fantastic and I liked how she has a review site as well that showcases self-published books. Anyone who wants to support self-publishers like that I want to give my business to.

I gave her my MS on Wednesday and she had it back to me by Sunday night. She even had her partner give it a look through for no extra charge!

I was worried about seeing completely different suggestions the other editor pointed out. I worried I wouldn’t know which editor was right and I’d lose faith in both editors. Well, when I opened up my file I saw the corrections were very infrequent. She changed comma placement, suggested some sentences could be made clearer by removing a few words, found a word I left in by accident when I made my last edits, and made a few editorial comments.

All in all, there was much less corrections than I anticipated. At first I wondered if that meant she wasn’t thorough but then I realized all the improvements she did point out where spot on. So then I realized that this was a great sign. It showed the first editor did a great job and the second editor agreed with her choices.

A few instances she pointed out things I went against the editor with and so I knew I had to change them. But I was very happy to see that the majority of things I did keep (against the first editors recommendations) the copy editor didn’t pick up on. Making me feel much better about going with my gut.

In conclusion, I feel very confident going forward. The fact I’ve had such a thorough and professional editor and then a great copy editor who picked up on the little things we’ve both missed, makes me feel fantastically ready to publish. The copy editor also told me that she and her partner really enjoyed reading my book and couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

I’ll probably do another read through before I send off to the book formatter, who I am still waiting on for a quote. This is all really moving forward so nicely.

PS- Would love to give you the name of the copy editor if you’re looking for one, just ask!

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So in the middle of this whole first self-publishing experience, I’m attempting to get my second novel of the series ready to quickly follow the first.I find myself going back (what feels like so long ago) to the first major edits of my first. So these are the things I’ve learned from so many terrific editing blogs out there:

1) Remove all the ‘just’s you can

2)Remove all the ‘that’s you can

3)Do an ‘ly’ search for adverbs and change them where you can

4) I tend to overuse the word ‘look’ so I do a search for those and change them

6) Tighten up unneeded words

7) Remove all unnecessary dialog tags

8 ) Cut the fat (take out anything that doesn’t move the story forward)

9) Change all ‘has pulled’ to ‘pulls’ or ‘is running’ to ‘runs’, even ‘comes running’ to ‘runs’

I’ve also started to go through all the things I learned from my editor so she doesn’t think I’m a lost cause. My goal is to have a lot less red on the pages with the next one.

It seems a never-ending process though because publishing the second makes me want to finish writing the third book so I can have that follow as well, but I’m only human! How can I be learning self-publishing, promoting, editing the second, AND writing the third! How do these prolific writers do it?

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Phew! I did it. I sent the corrected MS back to the editor for the second look through. She said she’d have it back to me in two weeks and then I’ll make the changes and ship it off to a second copy editor to make sure we caught everything.

But I didn’t change everything the editor suggested. Most of the time, I immediately saw that her suggestions improved my novel and implemented them, but there were some instances where I realized the change wasn’t right for what I wanted to convey to the reader.

Here are some examples of what I didn’t change:

1) I kept some ‘says’ and ‘continues’ in where I felt needed it, but I did try to take out as many as I could.

2) Some historic things she didn’t find in her research but I found support in more detailed non-fiction books.

3) She wanted to take out unneeded words and I thought it changed the flow or impact of the sentence so I kept them.

4) She made a suggestion to completely remove something that didn’t seem to have much relevance to this novel but it is something that will be mentioned throughout the next few books and explained in the last book.

5) Her suggestions sometimes showed me that she didn’t understand what I was trying to say and told me I needed to clarify the sentence better.

6) Also some of the suggestions she made went completely against some beta readers’ favorite parts. If you hear the same suggestions being made it tells you to change it, but if some of your readers love something I say you should keep it.

All in all, 95% of the time I made the changes. The last 5% I thought over and over about before I decided to keep my words in. But if I send it to the copy editor and she picks up on the same things I didn’t change, well then, I’ll probably make the changes since it’s obviously standing out in the wrong way.

Well, off to enjoy a little summer 🙂

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