Last week I announced my friend, Jodi's, accomplishment of finishing her first rough draft and I mentioned now the tough work begins. Yes, revisions - they can be fun, or they can be grueling.
After I finished Fable I was so excited, but I found out, with your first book especially, it can be years before it's actually publishable. On average it takes 4+ years to get your book up to snuff, whether you self-publish or traditional.
I recently read an interesting article about creative writing and the issues an agent or publisher faces with the manuscripts they receive. One of them was lack of editorial revision.
Sometimes people send their work when it's just not ready. I know when I self-pub Fable, I read back through and still found mistakes. Although true it will never be perfect, you need to at least take care of the big stuff.
Creative writing issues such as, info dump, head hopping, and too much back story can create problems for the reader. The last thing you want is to stop the reader and have them put down your book - never to pick it back up again.
Even with reading some of the author greats, there are issues I've come across. Some of it is due to changes in the writing world as to what is acceptable and what isn't, but some of it is bad habits.
I'm going to touch on these basic creative writing skills over the next few weeks. But in the mean time, today will be about revisions.
Where do you start? Well, on page one. If you've outlined your story and characters it will help you through your re-write. You need to be consistent with your information otherwise the reader will catch it. Luckily when I saw an inconsistency in my book, I managed to fix it before too many copies were distributed. It can be quite embarrassing.
The best tool you can have is a critique partner. They will catch things you just didn't see. Make sure you work with this person on a regular basis. Besides, you'll end up with a really close friend and someone you can count on.
As you begin your revisions, start with one scene at a time. Go through each sentence and try to rewrite them with less wording. Check the "voice" of the character in question, and make sure you've given a description of the scene so that the reader can picture it - just don't over do it.
And don't forget your hooks - very important. You should grab the reader on the first sentence, the first paragraph, and the end of a scene. Also at the end of the first chapter.
You don't want to let go of the reader. You want them to keep turning the page. This also helps to keep up the tension and move the story along.
And of course, check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. After you've managed to go through your entire manuscript, you will want to read it through yourself. Fix places as you go along and work your first chapter until it's perfect.
With Fable, I reworked the first chapter and prologue about ten times. Of course with each genre there can be slight differences with creative writing, but for the most part the same rules apply for all.
If you run into issues, talk to your critique partner. There's nothing wrong with brainstorming together. Also, ask people to beta-read once you've gone through the revision process. But make sure they are people that don't have a vested interest in you, such as a friend, or family member. Remember those people love you and don't want to hurt your feelings.
After you think your book is ready, go through it one more time before you send it to a publisher. But if you plan to self-publish, make sure to hire an editor. They are worth every dime you spend and there are some who will do it at a reasonable price.
Don't think you can edit your own work. You won't see all the mistakes no matter how much you tell yourself you will. Between my two critique partners, my "Jr" editor, and my professional editor, there are still mistakes to be red marked.
No one is perfect and as writers we tend to "over write" or "glaze over" as we write. Don't take any chances with your baby.
If any of you have questions I am always available. If I don't have the answer, I know enough people to find it for you.
I hope these posts help you along on your journey of writing your first novel. Don't be hard on yourself and realize you're only human and will make mistakes. The important thing, admitting it and learning so that you can move on.
Thanks for all of your support the last 3 years of this blog. I know a lot of you don't leave comments, but I hope you still read the blog and get something out of it.
Until next Friday, have a wonderful week and don't forget to check out my new website. Djenworld There's an interactive blog - Blog Talk - that I would love for you to join in.