Blog Post #12: Endless Editing, Developing Character Flaws, and the Inevitable Feeling of Inadequacy

Bogged down in the mire of editing my first novel, I now realize I greatly underestimated the levity of editing and how much time and effort it would truly take to create a beautiful story.


Hello, all.

I have no short story for you… yet.

I know, I know. I told you I would, just like I told you I’d write eight blog posts a month, or when I told you I was planning on publishing my first book in April 2020 as a total novice who had never written a book before. In both of these instances, I had not really considered either what effort these undertakings would take, nor what my end result would look like in a worse case scenario.

So, just like I ditched the crank out blog posts about mundane shit everyone already talks about gig, I’m ditching the goal of April, 2020, because it’s just not feasible to make this book what it should be.  I don’t know when I’m planning to publish at this point, but do no fret, this doesn’t mean I’m ditching the project all together, or my dreams of being a self-published author and CEO of a power-house independent publishing house that works to find the greatest unknown authors.  I’m still putting in the 15-20 hours a week on this book until it’s finished, and I still plan on doing somewhere between 8 and 12 books, but with our goals of growing our family from just the two of us to three (and more), I don’t know when in the foreseeable future we’ll be able to do the whole publishing shebang. I don’t want to half-ass it, if I’m going to do this then I want to pay for good cover art, a professional proof-reader, the website, and all of the marketing tactics, promos, giveaways, it’s just a lot, but all necessary to give myself the best chance possible of being successful.

So, I’ve got to take my time, and that’s okay, there are tons of bloggers and vloggers who aren’t published yet and are documenting their journey. That’s really what my goal is with this blog, it isn’t to give you cheap advice about an art I’m still developing my own skills in, it’s to give you an honest look into a novice writer with passion and a big dream, which includes the times that I fail (and re-evaluate) my current goals. (This also includes getting snippets of my work posted on here for you guys but editing has been so intensive I haven’t had time to do anything else creatively outside of brainstorm ideas @.@; I’m so afraid to start a new project and leave this one behind.)

I totally underestimated the work this novel was going to take, and it’s not that the meat of my plot and story beats aren’t there (thank god I plotted to some degree), it’s just that my two main characters had no arc at all.

My female protagonist is now alright, her half of the book is what I’ve spent the most time on in the month of August (outside of the beginning itself), but I fear she’s not likeable, and I don’t really have a problem with that, she’s a depiction of a bad lifestyle in a lawless land, but I don’t know how that will translate to the reader, and I wonder if she needs a save the cat moment, even if it’s just small, to give some empathy to her. She’s on a tragedy arc in this novel, her story set into motion by her decisions (rooted in selfishness) and her subsequent downfall due to her inability to let go of that selfishness, but perhaps granting her a saving grace moment would twist the knife a little more at the end. I can say that as I’m getting older and have fully transitioned out of young adult and into adult, there are major moments of cringe and disappointment in my past that I couldn’t see at the time that I can now, and this is a sentiment I’m sure most people can empathize with to some degree. Giving her memories to look back on later and reconcile with internally gives her a rich character, now and in the future.  As long as I can pull it off. 

My male protagonist is who I’ve been having the hardest time with, and I think it’s because I wasn’t sure what kind of guy I wanted to start him as or what flaws I wanted to give him, so he basically had no set personality, nor a goal of what kind of person to develop him into.  The premise of the story requires a lot of stepping up and shedding away the traces of his childhood self behind to become a true adult, so I’m trying to hone in on areas where he would still be immature, to give him a developmental arc in this first book around the essence of becoming your own person, deciding your own fate, and doing what you think is right even if everyone else disagrees.  Again, as long as I can pull it off.

So that’s where my head is at right now, I took the holiday weekend away from my manuscript and haven’t looked at it today either, but I’ll return to it tomorrow to revise my male character and contemplate the depth I want to add in to other factions this early in the story without bogging down the pace. As of September 1st, my manuscript is at 124,215 words, and I feel like I have so much more to add.

Artists, give yourself a chance to re-evaluate your goals if you’re not reaching them despite your dedicated efforts, you just might be asking too much.



Blog Post #11: Finishing the Rough Draft, My Editing Plan, and Future Additions to the Blog

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:

  1. 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
    developmental passes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.



Blog Post #10: Indie Publishing, Staying Focused on the Original Goal, and Preserving the Integrity of your Piece

Facing all of the avenues of success as an entrepreneur and independent author can be overwhelming, but the trick to achieving your own success is focusing on what you’re passionate about and not pushing yourselves into spending all your creative energies on side projects.  

Hey guys, I know it’s been awhile — approximately an entire month and then some — since my last blog post.  To sum it up, I needed to focus solely on my manuscript, which resulted in June being my most productive month so far!  As of now, I am working on chapters 17/18 and I’ve reached just under 65,000 words on my first draft.  I am estimating this book to be 25 chapters in total, so my completed, super rough first draft should land around 90,000, and my brain/plotting notebook is already filled with small editing notes on what to add in my first rounds of developmental edits.  My goal is to do all my own developmental and line edits (multiple rounds each), and hiring a freelance proof reader before publication.  I have friends who are readers, writers, and artists who are very interested in the concepts of my story and who have told me they will review chapters and leave ARC reviews for me once I’m ready.

This brings me to the point of this post today: No, this isn’t me telling you I’m done with my blog, I’m telling you it’s gonna be randomly published on, at least for now.  My hope is to do one or two, maybe up to four posts a month, but as of now they won’t be on a set schedule, they’ll be written whenever I think of them.  I need to dedicate this time to my book, this story that I’m falling in love with writing and these characters I have very roughly developed arcs for that need fleshed out.

My initial intention for this blog was to pound out two posts a week for you beautiful people, but what I realized was I was exhausting myself and exerting my creative energies on a side project, not the real project.  I love this blog, it’s a great space to clear my head and get some advice about following creative passions as an adult, but stepping back from it for a few weeks revealed that my rigid schedule was going to turn this blog into a recycled piece of garbage, the same posts you’ve seen done countless times by other people.

Let me explain: I don’t want this blog to be another mouthpiece of a writer-working-to-author just trying to peddle books out to any readers who come across it.  I don’t want this to be another blog that doles out contrived, try-hard posts about a craft I’m still developing my own skills in.  The direction and intention of this blog is to be a place for me to organize and collect my thoughts, to give my two cents on how to juggle following your passions and keeping a roof over your head; not a direct piece of my marketing strategy, where I create a false persona of myself for “fans” to falsely idolize and I write blog posts that everyone has already read (or watched on a YT/vlog channel) somewhere else. Frankly, I’m not that person, and I never want to be that person, and running my creative energy into the ground to write articles about topics I either don’t care to write about or aren’t really qualified to do so, to hit an imaginary quota I put on myself makes me not want to do it.

There is a big push on independent authors to do EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE.  Going through the videos on Author Tube (YouTube’s author community), you get told that in order to cultivate the amount of people necessary to succeed at sales you need to juggle email lists for newsletters, pump out blog posts or vlogs on YT, start a patreon, join a bunch of social media groups with other authors and start critiquing each other’s work, consider putting out classes that people pay for, and other innumerable ways to push yourself out there. It is a lot, especially when you as an author plan to write books for the rest of your life to support an income and live your dream. The expectation is to start doing most, if not all, of this before your publication (while you’re still working for most people) in order to use it as a marketing hub, which is a perfect strategy, but you run the risk of flying too close to the sun and melting your wings.  Putting all of your time and energy in managing an empire of side gigs when what you really started for was to write stories you love isn’t rewarding.

Self reflection says it could just be me whining about what’s par for the course.  I could just be feeling the impending stress of needing to begin true marketing prior to a book publication and be getting overwhelmed.  Every publishing house hypes the launch of a book prior to release, that’s how you get the most people to buy it.  I guess the bone I’m picking at more is the struggle with keeping your sincerity and integrity while pushing out so much work and getting noticed, ensuring to not create a facade of a glossy, perfect person and putting that out into the world as the real thing. That’s ultimately what social media is, the best of everything projected as if that’s your real life, the visage of what you wish to share. It’s about the management of true quality control, ensuring everything you put out isn’t a rushed piece of shit that doesn’t give fans true value.  It’s about ensuring you have enough energy to keep writing your work, the real reason why you’re doing all of this in the first place.

As an aspiring independent author looking at the long game prospect, I am reflecting on what my true goal in this game is.  I feel like the story I’m wrestling with is very high concept, it requires a lot of world building and character arc development and it’s very taxing to weave these character developments into the overall pacing of the rest of the story.  It’s something that I will be working on for years to come, before starting other series I have notes written for stashed away.  TAW is my baby right now, with all of the different long game ideas and weaving in an entire flashback arc at the end about society before WW3 and the atomic decimation of the globe, it could be eight, ten, twelve books total.  Considering possibly weaving my other book ideas into the same universe, like the fantasy series being a comic book in my dystopian world, a horror series set in the pre-dystopian reality. Just different ideas that I have to keep somewhat fresh, yet preserved long enough to dedicate myself to TAW.  I brainstormed TAW: WRP for five years before it came out to be an idea I could divulge myself into (and before I stopped telling myself I could never do this and stopped doubting myself); I can hold on to these ideas too.

Shout-out to Sarra Cannon, I’ll link her website and YouTube, Heart Breathings, below.  I haven’t read any of her books but I love her web series, she’s a great example of a writer who turned her creative passions and entrepreneurial spirit into an empire; writing what she wants and supporting her family by following her heart.  I hope to do the same; writing from home while homeschooling my future children until I can afford to get them into private school.   She also provides classes to purchase, and I would argue her experience of writing 20+ books in multiple series for the past ten years puts her in a different echelon of mentor than others in the AuthorTube community who also offer classes.  I eat, sleep, and breathe her Anchor Series and when I begin editing I’ll eat, sleep, and breathe her Editing Series, both linked below.  I love her message of writing what you love, always studying the craft of writing to be a better writer, and focusing on high concept story ideas to make sagas that fans adore.

So, artists, remember to stay true to what you want, and don’t get caught up in your side games while focusing on crafting the true product. Grow and accept needed change, but always remember your original goals.  Think about what you want to pursue, and manage how much creative energy you spend.

Also, please feel free to message/comment any topics you want me to write about in the future.

Sarra Cannon / Heart Breathings:

Heart Breathings YouTube:
Elements of a Best Selling (or Anchor) Series:
How To Edit Your Novel: