Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Must Have Been High

Seriously, have you read Aeris?  Have you?  I knew it would be rough.  I did.  But MAN ALIVE I HAD NO IDEA.

Honestly, I don't know if I was on crack when I wrote it or what, but IT NEEDS SO MUCH WORK!!!  Like 5 or 6 edits per kindle page(that's at LEAST, most of the time it's whole blocks of text that need work). 

Some people have problems with the words: writer's block or story structure.  They doubt themselves, their work languishes.  The words have never really been a problem for me.  No, the editing is where my big doubts hit.  I look over my work and shudder.  "This is awful!"  "What was I thinking?"  "This makes no sense!"  "How can I call myself a writer?!?!?!"  

It certainly doesn't help that I've read so many awesome and amazing books lately!  All I can do is read my words and fret over my characters not being kick butt enough, my stories not being action-packed enough, that my readers (the ones who've emailed to tell me how excited they are about the new book) will HATE where I've gone with the story line.  I don't want them to feel like I've let them down.

Anyway, to get my mind off of my troubles, let me tell you about my process for editing.  I've recently made a couple of changes, too, thanks to Elizabeth May and her FABULOUS ENTRY ON EDITING and also, if you're a glutton for punishment take a look at her really educational First Page Edits HERE and HERE.

I'm not that far yet.  I'm still in the early stages of my process.  The first thing I do with a book when I finish the rough draft is put it aside.  I sent it to beta readers.  I think about the overall arch of the story.  What are my character's motivations and does my plot reflect that?  Is there anything I put in that doesn't make sense for the story?  How will this book move me along toward Terris?  All of my musings are mental.

Then I start making notes in my Wonder Woman notebook (which is dedicated to all my Five Tribes scribblings.  Scrivener, anyone?).  I wait for the feedback.  With each passing comment, I get a sharper image of what I need to do to improve the book.  

I finally open the book again for myself.  It's been interesting this time around, because some of this stuff I haven't read in a YEAR, so it is totally foreign to me.  So I do a quick format job on my book (OMG, I HATE .mobi, did I mention that?  I have scads and scads of random paragraphs in italics, for no apparent reason!) and start reading.

Here is where I started to feel bad for my beta readers, because IT'S SO LONG!!!  It takes me an hour to get through 5 percent of the book, and I'm a fast reader.  I think it's gotta be close to 500 pages.  Holy crap?  Did that come out of my brain??  Using kindle notes and highlights, I mark the rough draft up for changes.  

What are my trouble spots to look out for?  Bad words: just, like, as, SO, basically, really, likely, and barely.  I keep my eyes out for adverbs (those bad TELLING -lys): softly, angrily, roughly, wistfully.  I don't have a huge problem with them, because I've become good at training myself out of using them when I write.  -ING on the other hand.  What a nightmare!  I'm like an addict.  So I mark those up.  I highlight anything that seems confusing or doesn't make sense.  I highlight stuff that is repetitive, or gives away any surprises I might have coming up.  I mark passages that are too passive or places where there is too much dialogue and not enough description.  Basically, my rough draft is a plethora of notes to myself.

And that is where I'm at right now.  The book took longer to read than I thought, so I will have to push back my editing deadline.  I'm thinking that it won't get done till the end of next week.  At which point it goes off to the proof reader and I get started on some of the other things on my list.

Happy Reading!


Jennette Marie Powell said...

"Just," "only," and "still" are my favorite words! I used to use a Word macro to highlight them, but I found that reading aloud actually work better because it also makes it obvious which ones help with flow and shouldn't be taken out. Editing is a bear - takes me twice as long (or more) to revise as to write the first draft. Good luck with yours!

Anonymous said...

We're our own worst critic. Is it really as bad as you think it is? Ugg. I abhor edits but it's something we all have to do. I like to think of it as punishment for being a writer. LOL.

Nadja Notariani said...

Kate...I'm sorry to laugh, but your title wins the prize of the day over at the ROW80 check-in! Ha! It grabbed my eye first thing - and had me giggling before I even read your post. Love when that happens.

Ahhh...edits. (smiles/frowns wistfully) So sweet, nearing the end of a journey with a story, yet so stinging to face the words I've carelessly, purposefully slapped down. Sometimes I cringe...sometimes I smile smugly - you never can tell when you turn a page what will happen. It's an emotional roller-coaster if you ask me. lol.

Inner Critic (more about her in my last post) usually chooses these moments to pop her sleek, tight-bun-wearing head up to hurl some well chosen words at me - which I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR. She and I enjoy a love/hate relationship.

You'll get there! Keep plugging away. (and what is it with the italics once you converted through Mobi?? I haven't had that particular mishap...but I did have three ramdom paragraphs indented about an inch too far! I wonder how these things change??? It wasn't like that when I typed it??? Of course, I found and corrected it - as I read through every stinking page in the Kindle Previewer...but it makes me wonder???)

Tia Bach said...

I'm an oddity. I am equally passionate about writing and editing. Still, I find it VERY hard to edit my own work. My best method, although time-consuming: I read it out loud. It's amazing what you will catch. If I stumble reading a paragraph, I know it needs work. Plus, you'll find so many simple errors this way.

I also highly recommend a professional editor in addition to as many beta readers and friends as you can.

Still, with all of that, I published a 176,000 word debut novel. I found 32 errors and paid to have them corrected. Couldn't sleep at night. ;-)

Wishing you all the best. Remember to breathe during the slow, but rewarding, process of editing! ;-)


Kate said...

@ Jennette: Since this book took me about a year to write, I certainly HOPE the edits don't take me that long. Eep!

@ Ryan: It's pretty bad. It's not the editing I mind so much as looking over the writing style of my first draft. So many lines marked "PASSIVE". Not great. :)

Kate said...

@ Nadja: I'm glad I made you laugh. I loved your post on the IC. It's true, editing is an emotional roller coaster!
I don't know what the problem with .mobi is, but it always messes up my text. I can have a PERFECT epub doc, and the .mobi will be all jacked up. *sigh*

Kate said...

@ Tia: Sometimes I wish I do hire both an editor and a proof reader. I know Vicki Keire does both. But my limited budget will only do one, so I choose the proof reader.
That's okay, though. Polishing my own work is good practice for learning to be a better writer. The only reason I don't have adverb issues anymore is because I trained myself out of it through editing. :)
PS- THAT IS A HUGE FIRST NOVEL! You have me beat, for sure. Aeris is my longest, thus far, at around 160,000 words.

Katherine Nabity said...

Hi. I'm Katherine. I'm an ~ing-holic. (And "even." I use even *way* too much...)

I hate editing, because it's when I have to face all the flaws. I love editing, because it's when I can make everything better.

Good luck, stay strong!

Kate said...

@ Katherine: I'm with you. I love the process of making my work better. At one point in my life I thought I wanted to be an editor. But man alive, I hate facing all my flaws as a writer! :)

dani said...

I enjoy editing. It's writing that I hate, lol. Which is why I am a reader and not a writer. I have this horrible habit of editing what I am reading in my mind. Especially when it comes to the structure of the sentences. I go "hmm, this would go better here" and "too many comma's." But most of the time I am irritated by unnecessary use of words. Or too many adjectives in one sentence. Oh and when there are run-on sentences. That drives me CRAZY. Just use a dang period you crazy piece of wacko!....
Wow! Point proven, I am a stickler sometimes when it comes to editing and grammar. In informal conversation grammar and such, or the lack there of, doesn't bother me. Take texting or facebook posts for example.

The reason why I want to give writing a shot is not because I can "do it better," but because I enjoy reading so much.

Don't beat yourself up Katie. It will be great. Just take your time and make sure you are 100% satisfied with YOUR work. Don't worry about "dead-lines." We will still be around to gobble up Aeris the way we did Compis.

Deniz Bevan said...

I know exactly how you feel! I've been editing lately, and feel like every single word sucks. Not even ready for betas yet!