On July 16th, after seven and a half months, I finally finished the rough draft of my novel.
My last few chapters may be fairly short, the word choice not the most eloquent, and the prose might be sloppy, but I finished 25 chapters, wrote 89,000+ words, and finally put to (digital) paper the beginning of the story I’ve been mulling over the past half decade.
It was cathartic in a lot of ways, using a passion I’ve had for writing to actually craft a formal story, following structured plot beats and (hopefully) coinciding with firm character arcs. This is a personal accomplishment that I always hoped to achieve but never thought that I would have a story idea large enough to build off of, and even if this ends up being the worst book ever written in the history of literature, at least I’ll know I had a hell of a lot fun writing it.
Since I’ve finished my rough draft I jumped straight into editing it. And yes, I know, I know. I wasn’t supposed to do that. I was supposed to sit on it and marinate on it so that I could come back with fresh eyes and see the mistakes. I didn’t want to, though. Mind, this wasn’t a I just don’t want to in a petulant child manner; I didn’t want to step away from it and lose momentum and the vision. I didn’t want to let self-doubt creep in and make me fear going forward with my idea (fear is the mind-killer), which always happens when I stall on an idea, and why I mulled on this for five years in the first place. I also didn’t want to stop writing everyday, something that I’ve finally worked back up to and I used to do everyday after school from my preteen years through high school.
My editing process has been developed from listening to multiple Author YouTuber’s videos on the subjects (Heart Breathings, Alexa Donne, and Jenna Moreci, mostly), and while I am mainly following Sarra Cannon’s method on her Heart Breathings channel, taking advice from both a traditionally published author (Donne) and an indie publishing author who edited as they went (Moreci) has been awesome as well.
My editing plan consists of the following, the goal being to complete it before the end of August:
- Two rounds of developmental edits:
The first focusing on fleshing out the character arcs and plot beats, and actually writing my two romance arcs! Major focus on dialogue and character motives, their emotions, and reactions to surroundings. Starting at the beginning of the story, my worst writing by far, my main goal has been developing the two main character’s viewpoints in their homes, and as I move on chapter by chapter it will develop into the fleshing out the emotional weight of the plot beats and character arcs as they leave their homes, while beefing up the action sequences, both of which are very brittle in my rough draft. I realized I didn’t flesh out either of the dysfunctional romance arcs that my characters will experience. Subsequently, I added entire sections to chapters, doubling their page amount, and it’s really adding more desperately needed depth to the characters I’m creating.
The second focusing on fleshing out the world.
The second round will be focused on adding more depth into the world around them, beefing up descriptions of surroundings and settings, histories of various factions that have formed in the wastes, reinforcing class differences, religions that have pop’d up after the end of the world, songs sung and rumors told in bars, urban legends of beasts hidden in the wastes, and subtle hints about future characters to come forward in later books, among countless other attributes to consider when world building.
Ultimately, I am expecting to add at least 50,000 more words in these two
- Two rounds of Line Edits. There’s nothing fancy here, two slow, clean sweeps through where I’ll pick apart my sub-par writing and attempt to deliver this story succinctly and with eloquence. I’ll be focusing on word choice, sentence structure, dialect of characters, balancing purple prose with concise explanation, a last review of show versus tell, and generally second guessing everything I’ve ever written.
- Two rounds of Proof Reading. The first round will be myself printing and combing through it one chapter at a time, reading it on paper, and marking any errors as I see them, since I’ll have only read it digitally either on my phone or on a computer prior. The second round will be an automatic proof read, where I’ll run it through an additional spell check and a grammar check, followed by combing through it digitally while listening to a reader online.
After these steps it will be ready to send to my personal group of writer, editor, and artist friends who said they would act as critique partners and beta readers, to let me know if they see any mistakes (And Mr. Frost, of course). After I hear back from them, I’ll hire a professional editor to proof read it.
Then it’ll be time to do it all over again for #2 of the series, while also turning my focus to the beginning stages of true online marketing for my Author career and Publishing House.
This brings me to the announcement for this blog, I’m going to be writing short stories, additional pieces of the world I’m creating for you all and publishing them here. I’m hoping to publish these monthly, and once I set up a newsletter I’ll be offering sneak peeks and writing samples from my current WIP. These short stories won’t be very long, maybe 2,000, 3,000 words, but they’ll be small snippets of this world that I want to entice readers with. My first short story will be published here in August!
So creatives and artists, always keep striving, even if it feels like it’s the worst piece you’ve ever made, because the journey is what matters, not how bad you are at the moment. Realize that it’s the small, consistent steps that help you reach your goals.