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A Writing & Editing Train Wreck

handwritingI read a few blogs from traditionally published authors who put down self-publishing because it muddies the waters. Anyone can self-publish and it does not matter if they have a good plot, but weak writing skills; a scattered plot, but excellent writing skills; or great characters and really crappy editing. I have kept this in mind for my future endeavors, but I understand the importance of finely crafting my product after the series I recently read on vacation.

I fell in love with the main characters, but the editing was poor. The worst of all the self-published e-books I have come across so far. I decided to read a different book after I was done with the first book. I figured if I still needed to know what happened to the main characters when I was done with the different book, I could purchase the next book in the series.

Guess who the sucker is?

Nine books in all.

The first few were okay despite the editing issues. Then it just turned into a laborious effort. I would have been better served reading a soap opera script for a storyline that had no end and kept begging for resolution. Ideas were brought up then promptly forgotten until twenty chapters later, if at all. There was too much telling with the right amount of showing. The protagonist did not grow until the end of the ninth book. A love square (because a triangle was not enough) held too much tension through the whole series. And the protagonist relied too much on others and outside forces instead of making her own decisions. I felt like the author vomited everything out and did no clean up. At one point I kept thinking to myself, how can I edit this down?

I noticed the last couple of books she had editors. Not very good ones, but at least “could care less” finally became “couldn’t care less.” I am sure they would have fixed the “lama” debacles and the continuity errors if she had employed them sooner.

I am a voracious reader and it is not often I ditch a book in the middle of it or finish it feeling dissatisfied with the writing. I think the author really missed out on something with this series. She had such wonderful characters but weighed them down with too much angst when she could have brightened them with the backstory she barely developed.

The sad part, I remembered in the middle of the eighth book that I was going to read my friend’s books while on vacation.

I am so glad that long before I read this series I decided I would need editors to help me refine my book. This was just a reminder why I need them.

Never underestimate the value of other people reading your work to make it shine for your audience.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Love-Hate

handwritingI used to hate self-editing. I did not know what I was doing. I was never taught the important questions to ask myself when writing. How to write an essay was pounded in my head. Tell your reader what you’re going to tell them in the introduction. Tell them in detail in the body of the essay. Then end with summing up what you told them. I even had an English teacher who would give us the outline of an essay. It was written on the board when we walked into class. It was foolproof as long as you followed his outline. The lesson on how to edit myself was lost somewhere.

I rambled a lot in my essays. It was a frequent comment from teachers and professors. Thoughts ramble in my head. I can ramble verbally until my best friend is rolling her eyes at me with a look that screams, “GET TO THE FUCKING POINT ALREADY!” All that ability to ramble tends to come out on paper and I did not know how to rein it in.

Perhaps essay writing is not my forte even though I loved English classes in high school and college. I fared better with creative writing and term papers (which are supposed to be long-winded, right?). However, when I sit here and work on editing my book I cannot help but think, how much better would my essays have been had I been taught to ask myself the questions I ask myself now?

I like to think that working on the J.D. and Ari story I posted here helped me hone my ability to identify what does not belong and cut it out. I went through each post several times a day for weeks before I published each part on the blog. I fell in love with J.D. and Ari while keeping an emotional detachment to everything I wrote. Every description and every line of dialogue was subject to deletion no matter how witty I thought it was. I wanted to make sure the essence of the characters were conveyed while keeping it short.

I discovered my strengths through J.D. and Ari, Kyle and Kyra, Connor and Siobhan, Eric and Shantelle, and other characters you have yet to meet. I also learned my weaknesses. While I play to my strengths, I challenge myself with my weaknesses. I experiment with different ways to tell a story and different ways to throw in twists.

Now I look at my book with new eyes. I ask myself if there is too much small talk when I read through dialogue. I ask myself how much detailed description is really needed. Does the reader really need to know about the small gestures I see in my head when I picture a scene? Does the scene further the plot or show growth in my characters?

I have all these questions in my head and it overwhelms me sometimes because I end up making decisions that mean dozens more hours of work to ensure continuity. I want to pull my hair out some days because my eyes start to blur while reading the words on the screen and my brain decides to zone out spontaneously. I hate the work but I love the characters I bring to life. I know that the work will result in a well-polished story that I hope people will love as much as I do.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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