You think you’ve done a great thing when your screen is filled with words and maybe some pictures. As you read each chapter and smile, your accomplishment amazes you. Pity the poor NSA person who has to read every keystroke because you’ve already made many changes before you completed the chapter.
You finish. It’s 50,000 words, and there’s a plot, characters, a setting, all the things it needs to turn it in to NaNoWriMo. So you cut, paste, send, and they send back a verification. You are done. Take it to the publisher. Right? Not so fast. There could be an error or two. Oops, that was almost a month ago, and what happened? Maddie sent me a great article she wrote on editing, so I’m working through it, but here are some additional tips I’ve found as I’m climbing the editing mountain RANGE.
- Put on your big girl/boy pants. Be prepared that some people won’t like things, or that the mistakes will overwhelm them, or they will be bored. I’ve done a lot of writing, so I know to expect this, but it is always difficult at first because you have been smiling at your cleverness for a whole month, and you think everyone else is going to be blown away by what a magnificent writer you have become. You need some of that self-confidence, or you’d never write in the first place. If your writing is really horrible, probably you’ll never hear from the reader again, so accept the criticisms as a good sign.
- Enlist the help of close friends and family. My husband didn’t read every word. In fact, he got stuck on Chapter One, and hasn’t finished it yet. Nonetheless, he has been a great help. I’ve gotten ideas from lots of other readers, and we talk them over. For example, one reader said, “Take Trixie where you’d never go, and let her respond.” Do you know how difficult that is to do? My thought was where in the world could I take her? My husband suggested a male strip tease club. Sorry, I’ve been there – only once when I was in my 20s, BTW. I begged my date to take me when we were in the big city of San Francisco. It was a shock to see how ugly those girls were. We stayed a few minutes, and left. After shocking my husband with this information, we got down to business and brainstormed where I might “take Trixie” that I’ve never been, and he came up with a great idea that ended up not being a place at all. It means some research and adjusting, but it is very doable, and I’m pleased with the results. I’m still smiling, so far at my little creation.
- Get readers from outside your family and local area to read and help you see what is unclear. One reader told me to explain what made my setting unique. MORE research comes into play at this level of revision. I used several books about my target city. I looked up controversies on the internet. I spent quite a bit of time looking at what others said about where I set my story. I am very familiar with the place. The investigations gave me new perspective. So once I had the feelings are on the paper, I needed to go back and add those things that are unimportant to me. It might be different to you. You might notice the way things look, and have to go back and add the emotions. Everyone is unique. I had to cut back on my dialogue, and give the readers a little background information.
- Don’t worry about people liking or disliking certain characters. One reader told me she didn’t like the character that I based mostly on my personality. Oh well, my favorite character ISN’T me. I can go back and change things about her/him. Give him/her different interests, reactions, looks, setting, family. I can even change “me” into a man or my male model into a woman. You name it, with the flick of a finger, you and your friends (who are your other model characters) are no longer in the book. So don’t get hung up on whether someone likes your favorite character or not. It’s nothing personal. Different people appeal to different folks. That’s good.
So now it’s all good, (for now). Darla says I’ll be done when I’m 64. But YOU are ready to follow Maddie’s plan of attack. http://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/editing-your-own-work/
Many thanks to Carol, The Eternal Traveler, for the many pictures she sent of Manny traveling the world over. The photoshopping is mine. You can catch Justin at theadventuresofjustinbeaver.wordpress.com.
Any guesses about where Manny is in these pictures? Setting IS important, yes?