Probably the biggest surprise to me personally as I’ve moved from writing for myself to writing for others has been the editing process. It’s far more involved with a lot of revisions and drafts probably because I prefer to write in layers and being a pantser sometimes things aren’t revealed until a scene is typed.
#1 Rough draft – begins with a concept. I am more pantser at this stage (someone who writes without a draft or plot outline). I’m consumed with wanting to get something on the page – an idea, a character, a scene that I’ve imagined. At this stage I have no idea where the story is going or if it will develop into anything.
This is an extremely rough draft and should not be seen by anyone but myself and DH. It’s a sketch – like the very first outline you make before drawing a figure. All the untutored will see is circles and lines – not a human being.
This is how The Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other Fairytales began – with just a line stuck in my head when I woke up:
Bess was milking her favorite cow as her stepmother entered the barn and asked her to kill a sorcerer.
This story: Milking Time, was written within two days. I knew how the ending was going to go although I had to take some time to figure out the actual confrontation scene.
#2 By the second draft, I realized something about the character that I had set up unconsciously but hadn’t capitalized upon. It was something pretty neat so I don’t want to reveal that to you here. I also refined the ending.
#3 By the 3rd draft, the story is in a complete form (characters, scene, plot, action etc… all in place). If someone else reads it – it makes sense.
At this stage DH reviews for editing. We do this via the Dropbox service (you could use Google docs for this). Whatever service you use make sure it is SECURE with an EXCELLENT password and two-step notification.
About this time, Milking Time went to the writer’s critique group. This was my first meeting with the group and their feedback gave me ideas on how I could improve the story.
All writers get into a rut. Usually it’s the same pattern of mistakes. For me, it’s the overuse of certain words, the misuse of a couple of words (then/than is my biggie), and when I’m trying to get words down in a hurry, some sloppiness. I had fallen into a pattern of using very complicated and long sentences. The writer’s group helped me see this problems and I started self-correcting.
If you have no money for editor, I highly recommend finding a compatible writer’s critique group. Look for one that provides constructive criticism, not one that has egos out of control. If you can’t find one – start one!
#4-5 After these corrections are made, it goes off to my copy editor, Kate. When it comes back from her, another pass through is done to review and implement her corrections and suggestions.
During any of these stages you could use Grammarly to help. I also like Power Thesaurus for finding other words to use. I write in Scrivener, not MS Word. JMO but if you are serious about writing, Scrivener is the only way to go – yes it does take a learning curve.
#6-7 If I’m using Beta Readers for the story, off to them it goes. Beta readers will find the inconsistencies, the plot-holes, the boring and exciting parts of your book. If they are confused, you can can bet your final readers will be too.
When I wrote Dragon Shadows (being my first book), I ended up ripping up half of what I wrote and starting again – all because of Beta Reader feedback. It made it a much better book.
#8-10 Now, I’m near the end of the process, so I record it or read it out loud. With Dragon Shadows, DH and I read that story out-loud FIVE TIMES!
This time around, because I want to put Wicked Wolves on audio, we did a recording. I listened to it as I had Scrivener opened on my computer. This worked out really well so I’ll be using this method again.
Listening to the story being read out loud will help you catch a lot of things. It will help you smooth out your sentences, paragraphs, conversations, and the flow of your story will greatly improve.
#11-12 Next step (yes there is ANOTHER step!). From Scrivener, I export the finished story to a format that would be acceptable to Amazon (because I’m self-publishing).
You can read this format via your tablet or reader without actually publishing it. This gives you a visual of what it will look like in that format. Time to look for spacing errors and more typos!
So as you can see, for me, it’s a long process. Getting the words down in some sort of rough form is only the very beginning!
What is your editing process like?