Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
In my last blog concerning the writing process, I talked about some of the elements I was learning to incorporate into my writing. This time I want to focus on styles of composition and the editing process.
My first published work is a novella entitled To Conspire. It was never intended to be a novella at all. I had been working on my first novel, The Corporeal Pull, which is still a work in progress. Somehow I had gotten myself bogged down with the book. I mapped out the plot, against my very type C temperament. I was making a good-faith effort to stick to my plan; and I was failing miserably at capturing the passion and personality of my characters in the process. I hit a wall. I decided to write something else to clear my mind. But what? It was then that I took a risk and asked for requests on my Facebook page. I received two requests, one for a mystery and one for an essay about the illuminati. I scratched my head. I don’t really read many mysteries, but I watch them on television at times. As for the Illuminati, I was clueless. I started researching and eventually came up with a plan to incorporate the two into a short story. When my story passed 20,000 words, I realized that my little creation was in no longer a short story. This brief story had plenty of research, but very little preplanning in terms of the plot. It was liberating, heck it was darn near exhilarating. Suddenly, I liked my characters. I cared what they thought, and I couldn’t wait to write more! The experience made me realize that there is validity in preplanning, but there is a sense of passion when letting yourself become fully emerged in your character’s world, just as I hope my readers will be!
Like a romantic romp, my interlude with my draft eventually came to an end, and a rough draft stared back at me from the screen. “Now what?” I thought. Eventually, I decided that it would have to be proofed, if not formally edited. I started a long process that was somewhat successful. I decided to forgo formal editing due to my teacher’s salary and the demands of 3 children!
The Editing Process
-First I made a futile attempt at correcting my own work on the screen. This was not effective in the least. The errors and oddities blended in with some special camouflage that was dependent on my brain filling in the details with what I meant to say.
-A friend of mine recommended a program called White Smoke to help with grammar. I purchased it, and used it with mixed results. It allowed me to see that I was lousy with commas, occasionally used split infinitives and tended to use the same words over. This part was useful. Furthermore, seeing my work in a pop up with a different spacing and font made some of the errors stand out. The work was better, but still not great.
-I got desperate, and printed the whole thing out. I divided up by chapters and stapled each one. I then dug around in my teacher bag and found a different color ink for each fully literate family member. Even the twelve-year-old was not exempt. In this manner far more errors were weeded from the garden of my thoughts than before. It amazed me how many of the little gremlins still lingered in my manuscript!
-At this point I congratulated myself on a job well done and concentrated on teaching myself to format the darn thing for eBook publication (That is a matter to discuss another day.). I managed to iron out the formatting and asked an old friend for some help with cover art. Using Smashwords I quickly published my work to the Internet. I was published; my book was approved for the “premium catalog.” I was ecstatic- until I downloaded it and tried reading it on my own Kindle and iPhone. Ewww. Mistakes caught my eye at every turn. I quickly “unpublished” the book and spent two days going page by page one each device with my laptop in front on me, so I could immediately make corrections.
-After experimenting with Smashwords I decided to publish a second time with Amazon. In a lovely coincidence, my original formatting and cover art translated well!
What I learned:
My first book was relatively short. Its plot was engaging, but not complicated. I thought I could handle the editing process on my own. For my next book, The Corporeal Pull, which will hopefully be published in the fall of 2013 I will take the steps listed above once again. This time I will be wiser. After I go through all of those steps, (which I am working on now) then I will add a few more. I will read the book aloud with a recorder. You can hear when something is off with dialogue more easily that you can see it. I will also invest in a full critique and later a professional editor. After all, this is the same book that had changed point of view and dimensions twice!
Don’t miss Sara B. Gauldin’s amazing books! Click HERE!
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