Posts Tagged ‘ Editing ’

Knowing Your Length

This past Thursday I began working on the revisions to Project X after getting it back from my second beta reader. In reading her comprehensive and detailed notes, I realized something important: You must pay attention to length!

In working on Project X, I’ve focused strictly on word count and not number of pages. My go-to, most favorite writing software Scrivener doesn’t even understand page numbers as it’s designed to work in small chunks. Only when compiling the WIP into Word do I see where I stand. This seems to have bitten me in the ass.

My second beta reader liked the idea and the execution but felt the story was very front-loaded. It took me 12 pages just to get to the action! The entire manuscript was 29 pages, so this is a glaring issue. It was also a surprise to me since in my Scrivener world, I had three documents broken down to about 1,100 words each that lead up to this action. Broken down, it doesn’t seem like much. Combine it all into real-world formatting and BOOM I’m dragging my feet on the story.

It was only by viewing my writing in a linear format did I see areas that needed improvement. My advantage here was having Scrivener AND Word open side by side. As I read through the WIP in Word (and staying mindful of what page I was on) I was able to make the appropriate edits in Scrivener. With just a few hours of work, that pesky page 12 action was bumped up to page 6 with some shuffling of scenes and cutting fat off the WIP as a whole. Even reading it mid-revision, I see the story is a lot tighter and significantly improved.

Sometimes we need multiple viewing angles to see what needs to be done and that requires multiple tools. While I’ll never do my primary writing in Word, I’ve now seen it can be valuable for analysis in the editing process.

So how do you change your setup and approach when shifting from the writing stage to editing? Sound off in the comments!

Beta Blocker

Last week I completed the edits to Spirit Hackers which brought my long and inconsistent writing process with this WIP to another milestone: Second Draft. I’ve talked a lot lately about how long it’s taken me to get to this point but boy am I glad I got here! Any time I complete a stage of this project I am filled with a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence. If you include my Robert book, I have now written two full-length novels.

So what do I do now? Continue the process of course. In the months leading up to the completion of my initial draft, I began lining up some beta readers. I’m not an active member of the Absolute Write forums (haven’t even visited the site in years) and so it was a little tougher of a process finding people I was comfortable in approaching. In the end, I think I made some good choices. My first beta and I tossed a few preliminary e-mails around setting the stage for what I was looking for and in just a few hours my baby, my sacred story, was shuttled through the internet at light speed hurdling towards an inbox. Now the hard part for me: I wait for the impending feedback. Patience has never been my strong suit so I’m doing my best to not tweet or e-mail this person so I’m not a pest. I think I’ll be fine.

With Spirit Hackers off my plate (for now) I can turn my attention to another project. “Another project?! What other project?” you may be asking yourself. Stay tuned to Copious Notes to find out soon.

Getting Cozy With Editing

October 6th seems like so long ago. One reason for that is that’s the day I completed my first draft of Spirit Hackers. Since then my life has been busy with the holidays and other events but my mind has never been far from the dreaded next step: editing.

I’ll give you all a moment to calm your churning stomachs.

I know nothing makes me feel dreadful about writing like editing does. It’s something I look at as a non-creative process meant solely for fixing and improving. Not that I think it’s unnecessary but I’ll be the first to admit I’m slogging through it all.

So Spirit Hackers has been going through the first round of edits and I’ve been making corrections, clarifications and general sprucing-up of the WIP. The overall story and progression has remained intact which helps avoid the ‘ripple effect’ of making a major change in the story and needing to update the story everywhere else.

At times it’s been slow going and other times I get only a few minutes in but progress is progress. Right now I’m about 50% through my round of edits and then I’ll be shipping it out to a few beta readers. I know the book will need a bunch of changes and tweaks after those people present their notes along with the error of my ways.

Lately I’ve been poking my head into the world of agents and querying. I’ve seen agents posting to twitter and I even signed up for Querytracker.com. Of course it’s getting ahead of myself a little but knowing that these are people I’ll be communicating with in not-so-short of a time helps keep the motivation going.

Finally, my other motivation (aside from giving this book a fighting chance in the world) is to take the time my beta readers will use to do their thing and begin work on my next project. I have a new novel idea baking in my mind along as well as taking a strange dream I had last year that I think will make a good short story. Both are in the scifi / fantasy realm so I think my genre is just getting further reinforced. The dream was something I wrote down as soon as I woke up and will be interesting. It could also be a bust. We shall see.

For now I’ll continue making word changes and fixes to Spirit Hackers and slowly bring this novel closer to the reality of being a real book one day.

The Impending Feedback

One of my beta readers has sent me back my manuscript for the Robert book. To my surprise, this reader left me with over 500 comments in Word! Talk about feedback! While it does seem overwhelming, this type of feedback is vital to making this book a reality and giving it the best chances when I shop it to agents later this year.

I’m at work right now and so I could only go over some of the notes and such, but I’m glad I was ready for the feedback because it’s honest. This is the best thing I could ask for and I will say it’s not harsh. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t hurt a little and it does burst my bubble but it’s reality and I am by no means a bad writer. Like everything else in life, it needs work and refinement.

One of my other beta readers gave me a sample page of suggestions and thoughts, to see what I thought. I really liked the feedback and encouraged that person to continue. So far, the feeback I’ve gotten is going to help a lot. I know that within a couple of months, the Robert book will be refined, tight, flow, and most importantly be the best Frakkin’ book it can be.

I now know and understand the feeling a writer has when they get a reality check and see their story isn’t the polished gem they thought it was. This just drives me to work harder and make it work.

PS- I still don’t have a damn title.

Beta Time

100%

As of last night, I’ve finally completed the second round of editing of my Robert book. The story comes in at 130 pages (unformatted) and 56,000 actual words. I think this is a good length and I also think this book has potential to go somewhere. That, though is where my beta readers come in.

I have four beta readers ready to go. My wife being one of them, has started the book and has already made comments. I’m in progress of informing my other beta readers that it’s time to call in their generous offers to read my story. So this is where I now stop working on this book and try to focus on other projects. I haven’t touched Mars in a few months and I’ll probably end up picking that back up again to get the story working. I only have two chapters written.

I know my beta readers have all the time they need, but I’m guessing within a month, all four will have probably finished it and have a crap-load of comments and suggestions for me. I’ll take all that and go on another round of editing. Once that is done, I’ll be querying for agents to see where I can go. Hopefully things can happen.

For now, I just want to enjoy my accomplishment and revel in the fact that I’ve actually written a book. Not many people can actually say that. Now lets hope people think it’s good. ­čÖé

Slice & Dice

Swiss Army Knife

My second round of editing my Robert book has gone well so far. I’m not calling it the Robert story any more because I feel it’s more than a story. It’s a novel. I need to be in the right mind-set. Anyhow… I’ve expanded the book more with this round where I’m focusing more on structure and flow. I’m addressing all the sub-plots, chapter placements, etc. I have taken inventory of where certain sub-plots fall in the book and moved the around accordingly. I want to make sure they’re evenly spaced out and they fit.

My last round of editing on Friday brought me to a sub-plot that I didn’t know what to do with. I ended up cutting a lot of it out because it just didn’t fit. I did salvage some of it by modifying it and making it work better so it’s more of a small trait of Robert and not an entire plot-line.

I don’t have much more to go, so we’ll see what happens. I’m going to need to put my beta readers on alert that their services will be needed soon. I’m estimating I’ll be done in a week or two.

Working the Ends

Edited Document

I spent most of Friday working on my Robert story and focusing on a major item on my to-do list: the final chapter. This chapter is kind of a wrapping up of the loose ends and it’s something I’m finding somewhat difficult. Specifically, I’m trying for it to not sound rushed nor try to cram too much information into it. The first thing I did was split it into two chapters. I saw that the bulk of the chapter dealt with items relating to most of the climax but then there were items wrapping up a sub-plot. The sub-plot was moved to a new final chapter and I am going to need to expand it.

The now second-to-last chapter was something that I feel flows better and I’ve bulked it up pretty well. I need to give it another once-over but I think it’s damn good in its current form. I’m going to focus on the now-final chapter when I edit next time (hopefully tonight) and work on expanding it. All I did was cut & paste the text into this new area and I haven’t touched it. This new end consists of two paragraphs. Hopefully by the time I’m done with it, it’ll be about two pages. I’m also thinking of turning it into an epilogue but I don’t know if that is even worth it. Aren’t those cliche?

For now, the editing is going well. Still no title, but I’m adding bulk to the story. Every time I turn around, my word count has grown. I remember reading that a book really adds words during the editing process and I didn’t believe it at all. Only until I began this process did I see it’s totally true. I always associated editing with cutting out things but with each word or sentence I delete, I’m adding twice that. I hope this all comes through to my beta readers and on the final draft when it’s published.

We shall see.

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