Welcome to the six installment of Year One – you can access the previous entries right here!
In the last installment I veered off course a little to address the all-important email list, but let’s get back to the process of creation.
The first draft is done. It feels awesome, like a giant weight has been lifted. Pat yourself on the back and feel great for a minute, but the real work is about to begin.
Everyone likes different things about writing, I actually enjoy rewriting.
It’s fun to tear a piece apart for what works and doesn’t work. Moving this piece here, slashing that one, or adding another. This is the time to turn that piece of coal into a diamond (in a lot shorter amount of time hopefully!).
Rewriting is a process that can be daunting and depending on if you are a plotter or a pantser, the amount of rewriting may vary greatly.
When I take on a rewrite, I usually give it a week from the time I type “The End” until I even pick the piece back up. I need distance to gain perspective. Then I read it straight through and try my hardest not to make notes (I always fail here). After I’ve read it and gotten a fresh look, I dig in and start ripping my work apart.
This is a lather, rinse, repeat action – as many times as necessary. And believe me, it could go on forever. The key is knowing when to say enough is enough, you begin to see diminishing returns and are just tinkering with descriptions and sentence structure.
I think part of this comes down to that little bit of fear of typing “The End” and meaning it. I could literally find reasons to never consider a work done. If you’re looking for perfect, there is no such thing. If you think it’s perfect, you’re deluding yourself.
Rewrite until it works. Find your plot holes and fill them. Tie up all the loose ends. Make sure it all fits. Then…
Take the next step.
The most important piece of advice I can give anyone who is self-publishing is simple and should seem obvious:
Hire an editor. You may think you can, but you cannot edit your own work. It’s too familiar, you know what it should say, so you gloss over mistakes. You miss things that anyone reading it for the first time will see right away and if you have a bunch of typos in the first chapter, it’s likely a reader will not give you the benefit of the doubt – they will simply put your book down and move on.
If you are lucky enough to know someone who is a qualified editor (like an English teacher or something of that ilk) that’s great. Odds are you don’t, invest in yourself, invest in an editor.
There are several levels of editor, but basically, your choice involves content or proofreading (each has multiple levels of depth as well).
If you are confident in your plot and themes, go for the proofreading option. If you feel like something is missing and you need an unbiased opinion, get a deeper development edit.
It is so worth it. I only did a proofread edit for Shady Place because I had already been through years of story development before ever turning the concept into a novel and knew the plotting was solid.
You may find another rewrite is necessary after an editor gets their hands on your work. Their comments are not an attack, I promise. They actually want to help you make your work better. You don’t have to make the changes they recommend, but at least consider them.
So, to absolutely beat a dead horse.
Write, rewrite, HIRE AN EDITOR!*
*Repeat as necessary.