March is the month of editing! I’m staying nicely on track for an April/May publishing and, in the spirit of making this a blog of semi-regular let’s-aim-for-at-least-monthly updates, I’ve decided to share a few editing tips as I’m discovering the process…
Firstly, I want to appreciate some of the sites/resources that have helped me out in this process;
What a useful tool! The list of issues is not only comprehensive but also comes with a list of solutions to those problems. It’s definitely given me a lot of things to think about.
For my proofreading, I have the plugin for Word. It’s definitely an improvement over the regular spell-checker, as advertised, but its a shame so many features are subscription-only.
The manuscript check includes a list of most-common words and an evaluation of the readability of the writing by sentence/paragraph length. I found this a big help for making stylistic changes without a Beta reader.
Now for My Advice; Have a Plan
One thing to understand about me is that I like making lists. I do it when I’m writing and plotting out the storyline, I’m doing it now with the editing. Lists help me think, they help me plan. A list of chapters that I can check-off as I’m editing is the best thing I can do for time-management and planning out what changes I need to make.
Acting on the Plan; Expanding and Improving a First Draft
- Since I tried to plug plotholes as I went along, and the huge story-changing structure and content rewrites all came before I finished the final chapter, changing the main content of the story isn’t going to be part of my process. The main struggle now will be finding the action-dialogue-description balance.
- I try to follow the principle that a character shouldn’t exist to show up once to create drama and never be mentioned again. My minor characters are always at risk of being completely written out of the story if they become unnecessary. And no, I probably won’t stick to that in every instance, but I will always try to make my characters three-dimensional and justifiable.
- The world in which Loathly is set is not something I really worked on until I was about to write the climax and resolution, when I was already at something like 78000 words. Of course, the most important scenery and settings like Aulkin Keep and Fort Marck and Barony Stonerow were already quite well-developed, but there are still some holes. Povomna was the only place mentioned that wasn’t directly a scene setting, and that was because Favior’s home is key to his character. So, although I knew there was a war between my hero and heroine’s countries, I did not know what it was about. And though I knew Favior was a Knight of the Prince Insurgent, I did not know what their country was called. That plus seasons and climate and weather are all things I will need to include.
- I’ve been considering what factors make a book an engaging read and how to build the drama and tension. Hooks aren’t limited just to the opening chapters, so one last thing I want to check is to make sure that the first three paragraphs of every chapter are uniquely engaging and the last two lines of a chapter are dramatic enough to draw you into the next even if it’s not always a cliffhanger.
Designing a Cover;
Loathly’s front cover went through many different iterations and a very helpful poll on the Facebook page that came up 50:50 when I was trying to decide on a colour scheme.
Unfortunately, I lack the skill for producing a more colourful or complicated scene, but I think these fit well enough with the story I’m trying to tell even without embellishment. For now, the final design is still a work in progress.
And, finally, Compiling the Parts;
Another great page that I will reference for producing the publishing manuscript from my working manuscript.
Another I’ve been appreciating is the Kindle plugin for Word.