Check out this great checklist for editing and redrafting at twincreatives.com! If you are like me, you’ll learn a lot from this list that will help you create a better story. Heather covers a lot of problems I find when reading a manuscript — my own and others.
Heather here. This week I thought I’d write a blog post detailing some of the things to look out for when re-drafting and editing your novel. I’m currently at this stage in my own novel writing journey and it’s arguably the hardest stage so far – perhaps even worse than the dreaded first draft. I will be referring to this list continuously myself as I draft, re-draft and hone my novel and I hope it will be just as useful to you. I have split this post into two parts as it would have been a little bit too long to be one! Don’t fret though, part two will be posted soon.
When writing dialogue, keep fancy dialogue tags to a minimum. There is nothing wrong with plain old ‘said’. Changing it up every now and then to add variation and drama is fine, but if your novel reads…
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a hard time with writing time = being selfish even though intellectually I keep telling myself that writing time = self-care time. Writing makes me happy!
I will start out by saying that this is a perfect example of what is meant by the phrase, “Doctor, heal thyself!” I am the absolute worst at not following this advice. Of course, that is probably why I have joked with my students that my name should be a verb meaning “to screw up badly.” So if you ever heard me say “I Slatered myself by not listening to my own advice,” then you can understand what I mean.
The New Year promises a fresh start, but only if we truly bring the current year to a close. If you don’t resolve the physical and emotional “incompletes” in your life, January 1 will look remarkably like December 31, with the possible minor difference of needing to clean up after the party.
One of the paradoxes of creative polarities is that the only way to finish is to get started. And the only way to get started is to finish.
Let Go of What Should Be
One of the hardest things to be done with is the idea of what your writing (or your reality) should be:
I should write this new piece the way I’ve written before
I should invent a new way to write every piece
I should write for x hours
I should be able to just show up when I feel inspired
This month I released two planners through Lulu with writer’s in mind. The 2017 Task & Project Planner and the 2017 Writer’s Notebook Planner. I thought I would share the article posted on my blog for anyone who is interested in them.
I wish all those participating in NaNoWriMo the best of luck this next month. Have fun!
Wow! It’s been ssssooooo long since I wrote a post here (looks like sometime in 2013), even though I’ve continued to lurk around checking things out.
For whatever reason I just got an image of Batman, or would that be Batgirl, slinking around?
Anyhoo, there are so many new people here that I feel the need to introduce myself again.
Hello! *dorky grin and wave* My name is Stephannie Beman, I’m a writer. I write books.
And yes, I’m this awkward in person, possibly even more so.
Okay, now that the introductions are out of way, we can focus on the important stuff. The reason I decided to break my long silence and write this post.
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived a group of people terrorized by Trolls. These were not the normal kind of trolls with an ugly countenance, giant tusks, long claws, and sharp teeth. These Trolls were the covert kind. The ones that looked like everyone else, hiding in plain sight. It was only through their actions that the truth of what they were was revealed.
These nasty, mean, awful beasties thrive on stalking their prey, destroying lives, causing self-doubt, and ruining the dreams of the people. But then the people started to learn an important secret about the snarling creatures.
Don’t feed the Trolls. It only makes them stronger.
By feeding the trolls ego the people were giving the trolls what they wanted. Control. These people learned a few ways to weaken the noxious influences of the trolls in their lives by….
Knowing That It’s About Them
Those who go around behaving in an abhorrent manner that reminds you of a raging toddler in adult form are trolls and you should tell yourself that it has very little, or more likely, nothing to do with you personally. Yes, I know the attack was probably personal in nature, they usually are. But it’s not about you. It’s all about them. It’s about who they are, their past experiences, their unmet desires, their inability to communicate in positive ways, their fears. Anger is just fear indulged and magnified in an unhealthy and hurtful manner.
That Sometimes It’s About You
Yes, sometimes you did or said something to contribute to the incident. However, that doesn’t mean you are to blame. If you said or did something they didn’t agree with, they could have taken their mom’s advice and walked away without saying a word. Nothing says that anyone has to agree with everyone’s opinions, but the trolls are the ones that feel justified in pointing it out in great and insulting detail why you are wrong. They want you to see it their way because it is the ‘only way’. It doesn’t mean it’s the truth, or even your truth.
Some trolls find insult in the smallest things, like the woman who was angry at me for “destroying the Persephone myth” in one of my stories by not following the myth to a ‘T’. Not only did she point it out in great detail what I did wrong, but she brought a few of her friends along to do the same. At the time I was a newbie author who took what she said to heart and it crushed me.
Why? Because I was afraid that she was right about my ability to tell a good story, a deep-seated fear that was created long before she came along. I was afraid that everyone would hate the mythology that I created and that the books would fail miserably. I really had to take a good look at that fear and ask myself if it’s justified. Years later I can say, I told the story that I wanted, in the way I wanted to, and as a fiction writer it is my right to screw it up royally if I want.
Either Way, You’ll Never Know The Whole Truth
Even if you ask. There rarely is a good reason for trolls to do what they do. They are no better than the schoolyard bully trying to feel better about themselves or impress the other bullies by attacking “the little guy” to make themselves feel important
If some of the troll attacks I’ve had over the years are anything to go, it probably won’t make sense even if they tell you the problem they have with you. I’m still scratching my head over one woman’s scathing remarks over my author bio which I won’t go into detail other than to say that for two days she personally attack me and all those who commented on the blog post that had nothing to do with the bio. I came back from the weekend to 120 comments.
Years later, she apologized for her behavior and being curious as to what started it I asked her in the hopes of understanding why something so simple had set her off. It only triggered another bout of personal insults. Needless to say, I still don’t understand her reasoning and probably never will.
So Remember The 1/3rd Rule
When I was in the 2nd grade I came home crying because some of the girls didn’t want to be my friend because I wasn’t girly enough and I was kinda weird. My mother told me that there is no way to please everyone I met and to try would only twist me out of true. That rather than change to be their friend, I should surround myself with friends who loved me for who I am. I learned early that people will try to change those not like them and demand that they bend over backward to please them.
Later I learned the 1/3rd Rule. 1/3 of people you meet will love you, 1/3 of people you meet will hate you, and 1/3 of people you meet won’t care one way or the other about you. So I guess the question is, do you really want to spend your life trying to impress people only to fail? Or would you rather strive to impress the person you have to live with the most, yourself?
Because Resistance Is Futile
Yes, I love Star Trek. And I do use this phrase on my kids regularly, although the circumstances usually involve cleaning their rooms or doing their chores. Mom is the Borg and resistance is futile. You will be assimilated, kids.
Surprisingly, it also applies to trolls. You can’t change the minds of bullies. They will think what they want no matter what you do. Sometimes you can teach them a hard lesson, but I wouldn’t suggest it. It has the horrible potential of backfiring and causing you more harm.
No matter what you say or do, defending yourself against a bully will only makes things worse because if they don’t “hate” you for one thing, they will find another “fault” to hate about you. Haters hate.
And Hate Is Contagious
Trolls ‘hate’ you for anything and everything you do, and that hate can contaminate you if you let it in. If you aren’t careful their hatred might become yours. Don’t own that.
Hate is like an infection that spreads and consumes the person. A better use of your time would be to learn from what they say, and if changes need to be made (like improving my horrible grammar), then it is better to put energy into improving yourself rather than hating the trolls. It’s not like they care if you hate them, it only gives them more power.
Just Wait 24 Hours
Don’t respond to them. Stop responding to them. Ignore them.
If I learned one thing from the schoolyard, bullies hate to be ignored, and nothing angers them more than your apathy. It’s actually the perfect revenge. If you don’t feed the trolls, they’ll eventually lumber off in search of easier prey who will respond to them and feed their need for control and conflict.
Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that most things, even the vilest of rumors, die within 24 to 72 hours. It might be Hell during that time but there will always be juicer gossip for people to consume.
Or Delete Them
If it’s an offensive blog comment, delete the comment or post a note that their comment was “deleted for offensive behavior”. It sends a message to the other Trolls that see it that your blog isn’t their stomping grounds and their attacks will not be tolerated.
Regardless if you can delete them or not, don’t speak to people who are bad for you. You deserve better than their venom. They aren’t worth the breath, or words you’ll write, to answer them. Don’t become the thing you hate in the mistaken belief that you are combating them.
Either way, Don’t Respond to Them
I get the need to defend yourself by creating boundaries and lines that trolls can’t cross without consequences. I’m not saying ‘turn the other cheek’ or ‘let them use you as a doormat’, I’m suggesting fighting them in a way that hurts them most, by not giving them the attention they want. I found that if I do or say something, even if it’s calm and rational manner, I’ll eventually say something they will later be use against me.
In the grand scheme, ignoring them and removing them from your life is the best advice I can give you.
Eventually, Time Heals all Wounds
Anger and hate ultimately passes if you let it and you will heal from what was said. In time, you might even be able to shrug it off as an unfortunate learning experience or laugh about “that one time when that one person told me…” or you could use that anger toward the troll in your next story. What better way to relieve the pressure then by using that energy to fuel your story? You can even make your troll into the villain and proceeded to kill them horribly and violently.
And yes, I am that vengeful. However, the idea came from other writers who have used strong emotions to create emotional charged scenes in their books and from time to time even immortalized their enemies by making them the villains in a story. 😀
In Summary, Trolls are bad
Nothing makes their attacks right or excuse their behavior. Feeding the trolls makes it worse. Letting them into your lives is like bathing in toxic waste. You will not get superpowers. You will get burned. Keeping them around like allowing a feral Mountain Lion to sleep at the end of your bed. You’re likely to wake up one morning with a Mountain Lion gnawing on a body part. Really not smart.
I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about writer’s blog.
I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity. 😀
You are welcome to disagree with me. I won’t stop you. But I want to tell you why I believe the statements above.
I don’t think every writer needs a blog.
Every writer is different. The goals for their writing are different. No one author platform is the same.
This blog is about writing, publishing, and marketing books, the niche is self-published fiction writers. It was started to share our thoughts and opinions on self-publishing when it was still a shiny bright toy. This is a non-fiction blog. We get 50 to 4k+ hits a day. It works because it is geared toward readers looking for information on self-publishing and writing.
On a personal note, it fills my need to write about writing and publishing. It’s not here to sell my books (Probably because I’m a fiction writer, not a non-fiction writer.) It doesn’t build my platform, unless I start writing non-fiction. It’s mostly a blog for you and me.
Blogging was one of those things created for non-fiction writers and those who liked to share their personal journals online. What better way to build a non-fiction platform then by sharing snippets of information found in your books.
I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.
Fiction writers don’t need a blog. For the most part it serves little purpose other than to alleviate the guilt that we “should be blogging.” If a blog helps you hash out your thoughts and ideas, keep at it. However, if you hate blogging, can’t think of anything to say, and don’t want to do it, don’t. Create a website instead and use your blog as a latest news stream to let readers know that you have something coming out or places that you’ll be. Create an ‘Extra’ pages for fun facts and stuff for readers.
I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about your blog.
Before I became an author I never read a blog from an author. I visited plenty of their websites. But I didn’t care what they had to say about their daily lives, what contest they were running, what their life was like, if they were having trouble with the characters, if they’re busy or in need of a holiday, if they’ll be absent from the internet for weeks or why, or what their kids are doing.
Sorry, but I’m selfish that way and irrelevant information isn’t going to make me want to come back. And I’m not alone. Many readers don’t visit the author’s blog. They don’t care about the life of the writer. They care about the books. And reading a blog geared toward other writers is a turn off for many readers.
The top things a reader want when they come to your blog/website isn’t the blog. They want information on your books, what is available and what is coming out. They want to know about you, but not too much about you (About me page?). They want a way to contact you (Contact Me page). They want excerpt from the books (Books page). Possibly some fun facts about the books (Extras about the books). Maybe a FAQ page (Author FAQ or Book FAQ pages).
I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity.
Yes, I see the irony of this statement and I still believe it’s true. I don’t think writers should tell other writers that they absolutely need a blog or that they don’t. Every writer is different. Their goals for their writing are different. Their author platform isn’t the same as another authors.
Besides, I didn’t tell you not to blog, merely that I didn’t think every writer needed to. I’m a blogger that shouldn’t blog. I can’t keep to a consistent schedule. I only blog when I feel like it and weeks can go by without a word from me unless I start feeling guilty or have a sudden burst of energy and write dozens of posts at that time. I have plenty of ideas for blog posts and title and no real passion to do most days.
If you have eyed the internet for publishing your book this time for the many obvious benefits of publishing an EBook, it’s nice, but don’t be content with the publishing part itself. If you thought the game ends there and the rest depends on the readers, you are wrong.
If you don’t promote your book well on the internet, you will lose out soon. So, to gain concrete success that comes when many copies of your book are sold, sign up for as many avenues of promotion available online whether these are ads, blogs, reviews, online book retailers, social media, etc…
Expand Your Fan Brigade
In the year 2013, social media is being given preference over other channels by Google search. So, make sure you have active accounts on social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many others.
Putting a word about your EBook on social media is sure to go viral sooner or later and make you popular in no time. But, for that, you must be actively posting comments about your eBook and trying to get the maximum number of likes, comments, replies, and shares from others. Creating active fan following on social media is sure to make you popular even if it is moderate in number. These, in turn, will add more fans to your brigade. Greater visibility leads to increase in sales.
Join Affiliate Programs
Signing up for affiliate EBook marketing programs like Amazon.com Associates helps you increase sales significantly. This is because when you are associated with a top online retailer like Amazon or Goodreads, you surely reap greater benefits due to the brand value that these bring to your EBook making more and more people consider buying it. Improved trust leads to increased sales.
Get Involved into Cross Promotion
When you cross promote your eBook with another promoter’s books or other products, you save a lot of time, money, and your marketing efforts are halved too. You don’t have to rack your brains so much for chalking out a smart marketing plan; the other party is there to help you. But, make sure you contract with a marketer whose products are popular with buyers. This is because if people don’t trust them, they won’t trust what they promote too. But, if carried out smartly, cross promotion almost always produces good, concrete results (sales) making it a reliable method of eBook marketing.
Be Generous with Freebies
Give away lots of free EBooks in the first phase of marketing like through affiliate programs, through special schemes and discounts, as a prize to winners of online competitions, an EBook for joining a blog or a fan club, etc… Be generous but don’t be a wastrel. Make sure you get enough returns for your free distributions. If nothing else, try to get a review from people in return for free EBooks. Freebies will always lead to greater sales.
You may try hard in promoting yourself. But, self-bragging hardly works. Who wouldn’t talk good things about their own work? So, in order to gain more trust from book readers, making a third party talk is the best way. Even if they are commenting negatively for your book, do not worry.
Have the tolerance to understand their views and reply back to them in a way that seems positive to them. It’s good to accept negative reviews as that is an aspect of any new venture however, do not put up with too many bad comments. Else, the equation will tilt in a way that will not be in your favor. Third party brings more credibility thus improving sales.
Get your EBooks exhibited at a local library or a small-scale book fair event in your city to begin. Make sure these are technically sound EBooks compatible to open on different computer and mobile systems. If you want to take a giant leap, you may try to put up your EBook at a book exhibition event of international caliber. Don’t just send your eBook there. Go and personally speak about your eBook to promote it. Making a personal presence always helps. Special events like these are more likely to grab eyeballs rather than random, scattered marketing efforts thus improving sales.
Alana Woods is a writer with rich experiences in writing books, blogs, and articles on a wide range of topics. She has full faith in Combined Book Exhibition services to do justice to the book promotion. You can visit the Frankfurt book fair in October this year. It will be an exciting and maybe breakthrough experience for your children.
Not sure why, but there seems to be this idea that readers want a certain type of book. That if a writer pulls away from the pack to write the story they have passion for, that it will be hated and not sell. I’m going to throw down the bullshite flag on this. It’s a myth. A writing myth. (Of which there seems to be a bushel full.)
Once upon time, when the only way to be published (yeah, I know there is more to that story) was go through a publisher, writers were forced to follow certain rules for the type of books that were acceptable by the publishers. As with anything, this grew into a fact of life that is mere mythology now.
If you are reading this blog then you are either self-published or you think of it. Self-publishers don’t have to follow this rule of the industry. They aren’t publishing for anyone else besides themselves, and possibly readers. This doesn’t mean you can’t follow the rules of storytelling, or have it edited for typos. You want to put out the best book that you can.
What you can do it experiment. You can try out new ideas. You can mix genres. You can write the strangest story ever.
There are readers out there for every type of book. Trust me, if you write the book and market it to the audience who wants it, it will sell. It might not sell like blockbusters, but it will sell and you will be happier for it.
You have probably heard many magazine owners, business people, teachers, and just about everyone else complaining about how people have lost the ability to write. However, I have a problem with that point of view because I strongly believe that there are many talented modern writers; the only factor that separates them from great writers is that they don’t know how to edit their own work. Editing doesn’t kill the work! In fact, it can make it much better, easily readable and more captivating.
The most famous pieces of literature didn’t exactly fly under the pens of their writers. Some of the most renowned writers in the history have literally destroyed parts of their work when they weren’t happy with it. A writer can become better only when he learns how to judge the worth of his own writing, without feeling too attached to it and without being afraid to cut down the unnecessary parts.
Many people can write, but the editing process is what makes the real difference between good writers and amateurs. Implement our simple editing tricks and bring your writing a step closer to the readers.
1. Avoid passive sentences
Passive language is used by unconvincing writers who make weak, unsecure arguments. This type of writing only suggests the effect instead of conveying the action, which doesn’t make the readers too happy. The conclusion is to avoid using passive language as much as possible!
2. Let go of the ill-favored adverbs
It is completely fine to use adverbs in your writing, only when they don’t serve the sole purpose of padding a statement that doesn’t need that. Your readers will appreciate you more if you don’t give them an entire page stuffed with unnecessary words only to make a simple statement that can be written in one or two sentences.
3. Don’t repeat your statements
The high school habit of repeating things all over again just to fill out more pages of the papers may have left you with some remaining damage. This rule applies in the work as a whole, as well in sentences: do not waste your readers’ time by repeating obvious things and insulting their intelligence! If you already told them something, there is no need in repeating it all over again.
4. Don’t be pretentious!
There is one thing that readers hate more than repetitive writing: the use of pretentious language. Don’t try to impress your reader by using fancy words that would require a dictionary to be understood. This is a problem for many inexperienced writers who are stuck to the language that sounds ‘academic’ to them. Present your thoughts in a manner that will be easy to read and understand, but will inspire deeper thoughts in the reader’s mind. The most exquisite pieces of literature that are able to cause a revolution in the reader’s soul are usually written in a simple language that hits the point.
5. Justify your writing
Every single word you write, every joke, statement and question has to be justified with a real reason to be present in your writing. If you can’t find a reason for a certain phrase, sentence, word or an entire chapter to be part of the piece – get rid of them! Don’t be afraid to be harsh on yourself, because if you can’t justify your work, how can you justify the time your readers spend on it?
6. Cut instead of adding
Many writers get too attached to their work and they aren’t able to cut down the pieces that don’t belong there. Instead of making their own writing cleaner with the editing process, they end up adding more and more until they completely dilute the main idea. What you need to do is make your writing more concise through the editing process, which means that you will need to leave out some parts in order to make the entire work more powerful.
7. Take a break from your work
Writers usually need to work under strict deadlines, but it is recommended for them to ‘sleep on the work’ at least for a couple of nights before they start editing it. Here is a quote by Stephen King, who managed to capture the essence of this rule: “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
There is no better way of ‘looking at the forest’ than by reading your piece pretending that someone else wrote it. The only way to be able to do that is if you forget about it for few days and then approach it from a different point of view.
8. Read your writing in reverse
Reading backwards is a simple editing trick used by many professional writers. If you read your writing word by word in reverse, you will be able to spot mistakes that went unnoticed by your careful eye before. This is a nice way to proofread and correct minor spelling errors, but you shouldn’t rely on the ‘read in reverse’ trick when it comes to correcting the meaning of your content. A better way to focus on the meaning is to read paragraph by paragraph or sentence by sentence from back to front. This will make sense and enable you to focus on the content.
9. Read out loud
When you make some corrections and improvements within your work, it is good to read out loud and listen to the way they sound. If you are having second thoughts on which version of a sentence or passage to use, then you will decide more easily if you read them out loud.
Conclusion: there is no good writing without good editing
Good editing is an art, and there is no exaggeration in that statement. Developing a real editing talent takes a lot of time and practice, but if you devote yourself to it, you will definitely become more appreciated by your readers.
The result from your editing effort is worth struggling for: your writing will become more powerful, effective and alive. Ultimately, it will bring you more satisfied readers who understand and appreciate your work, which what writers are always striving for.
Sandra Miller is a freelance writer, lives in New York. Two times a year watches Friends sitcom, loves salsa. Uses editing service to write great material. Her passion is Latin American culture.