This week’s guest post is the lovely K E Domeny, who discusses the horrors and successes of being a writer. Enjoy!
So, you’ve finished your first draft (Woohoo congratulations!), and now comes the editing, a phase which some of us loathe, and some of you might really enjoy. Your characters have to lead you on a path that has come to an end, a completed manuscript.
So, what now? How do we edit?
Everyone edits in a different way; some first edits are complete rewrites (I’m definitely sitting in this boat at the moment) and some are just minor tweaks. One thing I can say for certain, a tip that applies to all types of editing, print out your current manuscript and type it all up again!
I know, this sounds crazy, time-consuming, and somewhat pointless, BUT, you can catch the smallest grammatical errors, spelling errors and typos when you completely retype a manuscript.
This tip has saved me so much embarrassment by the time I was ready for beta readers (or professional editors).
You should also keep every copy of every editing round safe somewhere, just in case of a computer malfunction or simply because you don’t like your current edit as much as you did the last and can look back and see where you’ve gone wrong.
Something I personally choose to work on thoroughly in my own editing process is my characters. I have about 20 pages of notes for each character I work on.
So, after my first draft, I go through my manuscript, scene by scene, and I think to myself, how would my character REALLY react to this situation.
There are so many sources out there to find out things about your character, my personal favourite is the MBTI (Myer Briggs Type Indicator) test (16personalities.com), I copy out absolutely everything from my characters PTI (Personality Type Indicator) and use that to better understand my characters’ motivations and how they interact with the world in general.
It’s an amazing resource so I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re having trouble fully comprehending how your character deals with things in their day-to-day life.
Another thing that I focus on is making sure all of my information is correct. Now my town is fictional, but it is set in the USA. Some people may think, well if it’s fictional how can your information not be correct?
Well, my characters have particular hobbies (as most do) and I need to make sure that information is correct, for example in my upcoming novel my main character is a head cheerleader, so I got in touch with an old friend of mine who actually is a cheerleader to get some information from her and then continued my research into particular moves and positions, as well as competitions and football games.
My MC is also the senior editor of her school’s newspaper, so I had to research what exactly a senior editor for a school newspaper did and what sort of articles she might be writing.
I know this all sounds daunting and you might be thinking “this is all too hard!”, well, guess what? There’s no getting out of it. No first draft is perfect, and editing may just make you want to tear your hair out, but it is completely necessary.
If you’re going to be applying to traditional publishers they’re not going to take on something that’s rough and seems unfinished, it’s too much time lost to them and their editors.
If you’re going for indie publishers or self-publishing then you definitely want to put your best foot forward for your readers because you’re going to be doing absolutely all the marketing yourself and all of the negative reviews are going to fall back on you as an author, and we don’t want that do we?
Now when you’re editing, we all know that things can go wrong, very, very, wrong. Maybe in your first draft, there was an entire, huge plot hole. Maybe you’ve mixed up characters names.
Or maybe you’ve completely forgotten a character altogether. For me, my worst editing horror was going back through my first draft and realising that some of my characters just had absolutely no purpose, they were well fleshed out, full human beings with flaws and hobbies and a goal, but they just weren’t adding anything to the storyline.
That meant to me, this character had to go. It was such a heartbreaking decision after weeks of meeting them and getting to know them and then months and months of writing hoping they’d help the situation in some form, but no, my baby had to go.
It’s a hard decision to make, we all know it, but sometimes, they just don’t add a single thing. What I do to make this a less heartbreaking experience is to keep their character profile and hope they’ll come in handy in another story. That way they’re not disappearing forever, just waiting for the right chance to show themselves.
Now for a story about success!
Editing can’t always be bad, right? Right! Now clearly editing isn’t my favourite thing in the world… but it can have its upsides! I was recently reading through one of my old manuscripts and realised, hey there’s a giant plot hole here!
Now mind you, I had left this project on the backbench for quite a while because, for some reason, the strings just weren’t tying together properly, and I couldn’t quite figure out why, but by finding this plot hole that I had not noticed when writing my first draft, I was able to fill it in, lead it to the next scene and voila!
The string came together perfectly! Everything was making sense again! So my main point here is to never give up on your novel because it isn’t making sense, go back through, see what you’ve missed and what you can add to make this spectacular success happen for you too!
Thanks to everyone who has read and a special thank you to Ari, for giving me this opportunity to share some of my wisdom with you guys, I hope at least some of this helped.
About my debut novel, The Immortals, YA Urban Fantasy:
Lyria Rocha, daughter of the Chancellor and heir to an immortal society.
Rather than obeying her father and refining herself, she finds herself leading an army in the largest battle her town has ever seen, a war to end all conflict in the region.
In the chaos and the terror, who will fall and who rises against all odds? Will a forbidden love flourish or be trampled in the midst of war?
What lays down in the cells that has an effect on Lyria that she just can’t explain? With her Elite soldiers by her side, will she pay an unimaginable cost and break free of her father’s strict regime or will she be forever trapped under his control?
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