In January 2011, I published my first novel, Promise Kept. It took me two years of tinkering and editing to finally feel like it was ready for strangers to see it. And I was wrong. I never got it proofread by someone who knew how to do that, and it showed big time. I am currently in the process of getting the book ready for rerelease with a professional cover and actual proofreading.
Why would I preface this guest post with all of this information? Because all of this has caused a change in how I write. Some things are the same, like moving from project to project. I get bored easily, so I like to have several projects in different stages of editing so I can move to something else without burning out. I’m still writing by the seat of my pants. Very little plotting and planning go into my first drafts.
However, most of the rest of my writing style has changed. I don’t treat my first draft like a first draft anymore. It is more of an outline. In fact, the last couple of rough drafts I worked on, and another one I’m about to work on were completely rewritten after I read them the first time. First drafts are now more like the skeleton of a story to me. After two years of tinker on that first novel, I can see the plot holes that need to filled better, and I can see the fat that needs to be cut from the edges most of the time. Then sometimes, I still end up rewriting the whole thing.
My use of critiques and outside resources has changed. I found an automated service that finds repetitive phrases and words, along with a test to find words you are over using like “that” and “was.” There are also other tests and wizards to test reading levels and so on. I use this almost every time I make any large changes in a novel. This has really helped me move from the passive voice to the active voice in a lot of my writing. Sometimes, I can even catch myself making the same mistakes I was using the wizard to find six months ago while I’m still writing.
Back when I was getting critiques on Promise Kept, I only used one source for critiques, now I use multiple sources. There are free critique websites on the web as well as pay sites. You just have to figure out which one you like best. I bounce my stories between two different sites, so new eyes can look at the revision from the last edit. I think this has worked very well.
However, one of the best things about publishing an e-book is the change to rerelease it. Say you didn’t get it right the first time, but you didn’t realize it until after you publish. Or like me, you decided against hiring a professional proofread your work first. Just fix the problems — the cover, the editing, etc., and rerelease it. Or if you finally get an agent after self-publishing, you can always take down your work. Nothing has to be
forever for an e-book.
About Brandy Hunt:
I am a stay at home mom who likes things that go bump in the dark, especially if it is the full dark found without electric lights at the end of the world. I have a wonderful husband, a daughter, and a dog and am thankful I live in the middle of nowhere on a farm. I also have an unhealthy obsession with Stephen King, but we don’t talk about that much.