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.