Tag Archives: Polishing

Beta-readers

So. My current progress report is that I am at 69157 of 69157 words. Yes, the manuscript grew. This is normal for me when I edit, because my biggest bane is writing too condense.

Doubtlessly, if a professional editor would go over the text, there would be text cut from the manuscript. I have seen the pages of professional authors where they show pages with large red x’s through them. That doesn’t change that when I read through my own texts, I tend to find stuff I tried to discuss in a sentence for which I really should have taken a page. So I work hard to put more air into my manuscripts, so it’s a fun experience to read, instead of a heavy information overload.

I mostly write because I love to write. I love the process of working on, crafting and polishing a story. Of seeing my text and knowing I wrote that. But I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like for other people to read my stories and enjoy them. Even though, that is the dream, it’s also something I am absolutely terrified off. It’s really scary showing people something so precious, something so deeply personal, something I made and am proud of in a sort of fragile way. Which makes asking people to be my beta reader for a novel-length manuscript one of the hardest and scariest things to do.

However, I feel that if I am going to send my manuscript out to a publishing-house and/or an agent, I should at least have one other human looking at my texts beforehand. Because you know what you are trying to say and you know how your story-world and your characters work. But it also needs to make sense to other people.

Fortunately, I have a partner I love and trust, even or maybe especially with something like this, even though it’s scarier to let the people closest to me read the text than for instance a total stranger. He will read and comment on it, in a useful way.

Maybe I will also approach a couple of friends that like to read in this genre, since while my partner is amazing, urban fantasy isn’t entirely his thing. If I can find the courage :-/ Cause letting my friends read my words…. it remains scary as all hell.

Progress report

So the last few weeks I have been busy editing. My daughter has started napping for one longer period a day, instead of mostly power napping for like 10 minutes at a time, and sleeping a bit earlier. So I am proud to announce that I am at: 48785/66237 words. That’s about 2/3’s done.

I feel proud. And motivated to edit on. So now, for the hardest, and least re-written bit of the book. I am editing on!

Polishing

A lesson I run into every now and again is that people can not see past a lack of polish. This is not just with writing, but with many endeavors in life. When you’re selling your house, you learn most people can’t see past your stuff into the space they would actually be buying. In social occasions people can’t see past your outfit and your make up choices into who you are and what you have to say. In the case of writing, it implies that a lot of people can not see past spelling mistakes or grammatical imperfections, into the ideas that drive your stories. Even when they can, they are not always willing to invest the time and effort if the first appearances of your story isn’t pleasing. So I really do need to remember that polishing my story is very important.

When I write, I really want people to look at the bones of my story. I want them to tell me if the construction of my story works, if the characters make sense, if the plot is well crafted. That’s what I spend most thought on, put most work into and what I care about most myself.

When people are caught up on the metaphorical weird dress my story is wearing, they’re not even looking at the picture as a whole, let alone at the story´s bones. While those bones are what determine how much potential your story has, if no one takes the time to look at them, good bones get you nowhere. And if you ask for feedback, people will point out your spelling mistake, not the problem in the construction of your story. Especially if the people giving you feedback are people that you don’t know very well.

So for now, returning to crafting stories after a brief holiday into lyrics and poetry, I am beginning with polishing. And when I have done that, I will do some more polishing. Because writing more gets me only so far. If I want to work on my skill-set and get better at crafting stories, I need feedback on the bones. And to get that, I need to eliminate the imperfections in the story´s polish. So back to editing it is!

Editing in the Dark

Coming up from feeling sick, I’ve been spending a bunch of nights, while the world outside feels wet and dark, motivating myself by doing some editing. This may sound funny, but unlike most people, I enjoy the hell out of editing. For a long time I felt like I didn’t have the patience to finish a long story. When I am editing, I am looking at the proof that yes, I sat down and actually wrote all of those words. And now I get to fix the mistakes I made the first time around! (I am a total perfectionist. Making things better is something I always enjoy doing.) Also, I tend to write what I love. Wading trough the words is therefore fun. And because it refreshes my memory on what I’ve built, it’s very inspiring. I always end up having new ideas for little pothooks, either for the story I am polishing or for a different one, sometimes within the same story-world. It gives me a platform, all mine, to explore from.

One thing I have been spending a lot of thought on while editing, is the action versus detail balance. I have written about this balance before. This time, I have been working on a different balancing of this concept. Sometimes, describing instead of showing can speed up the pace of the story. Less detail, more skipping the less exciting parts. Sometimes, though, it turns something that could have been beautiful, meaningful or exciting into a bland description. I guess it’s also a part of the ‘showing’ or ‘telling’ balance, where I generally prefer showing wherever it doesn’t boggle down my story with too many details.

So within my editing I’ve been addressing a lot of smaller descriptions, asking myself, whether or not the description mostly speeds the story up or makes it more bland. And then the task of turning the bland bits into bits with more detail follows. I do hope in the end, this edit will improve the story. I think it will, and regardless of whether or not I’ll be successful, I am learning oodles about balancing my stories.

Editing

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been mostly working on editing Obsidian. This was only paused for a brief break to start this blog, and to kick start writing a short story for a contest I plan to enter soon.

I started writing Obsidian in 2009. Before that, I loved to read and passionately wished I could create stories for other people to enjoy, the way I love to read theirs. However, I firmly believed I did not have the patience to actually finish a novel. Ever since I had been old enough to hold a pen I had been trying to write stories longer then a couple of pages, and each of those attempts had failed miserably. At some point I’d decided I was better of sticking to my quite ferocious reading habits and my academic essays. Until, during my first year of teaching, in the middle of a fairly miserable, wet, cold December I needed something to dive into and reading wasn’t working. Suddenly, Word informed me that I had written 10.000 words. And the story wasn’t even halfway finished.

Believing I had nothing to lose, except maybe some time, I stuck by that story. And slowly, I added more and more to it, until it had grown into a 60.000+ word manuscript three years later. Having caught the writing bug really badly, and having the tendency to have too many ideas, I had also started a couple of other novels. These were also halfway finished by then, so I’d gotten a fair amount of practice. I’d even finished several short stories, entering them into contest to get feedback, so I could improve. And, being a touch of a scholar, I had also read a fair amount about writing. In general, I’d been working hard on becoming a better author.

The problem with learning and improving, though, is that when you read material you created before you got better, you see a lot of things you know you can improve. So I kept wanting to tweak things. And tweak more. Especially because becoming a better writer is a life long project. I’m always learning, and because of that, when I’m looking back on what I’ve created before, there is always something more to fix or improve.

But when are you done tweaking? If you keep on working on the story, it can’t get out there. And at some point tunnel-vision is inevitable. I actually have already let other people see the work, to get tips on what I missed, thinking of that problem. But to this day I still see parts that could improve…. And when do you give up on improving? When do you leave a manuscript behind, to focus on something new entirely?

Somewhere this year, I’m going to sent it out, though. As a new years resolution I promised myself I’d send the manuscript to a publisher before the year was done. After which, whatever the results may be, I will spend time focusing on new material. But for now, before I send it out, I need to edit some more, to make the manuscript as good as I can make it with my current skill set.