The Wednesday Writing Worktable: Turn Your Book Into A Diamond

So you've written a book. Where do you go from here?

If you're like me, writing the book is the easy part, so to speak. It's so much fun meeting new characters and letting them take you for a ride. I love writing new stories. I'm not such a big fan of editing. Not because I can't cut or rewrite or am afraid of the hard work. I'm not. It just bores me.

I'm trying my hardest to change my mindset. Here's my new take:

Editing is like a gem.  When they first uncover a gem, it's a hot mess, right? It's surrounded by rock and is dirty and cloudy. Then they remove it and polish it. Bam! You have a beautiful diamond. Who doesn't love and appreciate a diamond. That's editing. Your first draft is ugly. But after much work and polish, you get a beautiful treasure.

I love diamonds. Can't ever have too many? hehe How to get there? Many people finish their first drafts, but don't know where to go from here. I didn't just starting out. I wish I had a list like this. It would've saved me a lot of headaches. So, I'm sharing my experience with you.

What now?

10 Things You Need to Do:

1.  Let it rest.
      Just as you would a steak off the grill, wrap it up and let it rest. If you're in a hurry, you can skip this. However, for the best possible results, set it aside for a week or two, a month, maybe more. Whatever it takes to forget it.

2.  Reread.
      It'll be tempting to edit, but muzzle your inner editor. Just read it as a reader would. For novels, I use those little Post-it flags and mark places to come back to later. A simple tag and move on. No thinking. No dwelling. It's a compromise my inner editor and I came to terms with a while back.

3.  Edit.
      For the first draft, I typically print it out and have it bound. This way I can make notes all over it. Since I did a multiple POV novel this JuNoWriMo, I'll be putting it in a binder because I wrote it in many different docs according to person. Having the binder, I can move around scenes easier and see how it works.

Here's some things to look for when self-editing:

View full image Top 10 Editing Tips

4.  Crits
     After draft 1 is complete, it's a good idea to send to crit groups. There are several ways to find crit groups. You can join an online writing community. I've recently joined #10minnovelists on Twitter and Facebook. They are very active and supportive. You can use to find places in your community. I belong to SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). They have a monthly crit group near me. Or, you can ask people you've connected with. It's great to get crits that write in your genre because they know it, but it's also really helpful to get a crit not in your genre because they will help your work appeal to more people. I didn't do this step for my first book. It's my biggest regret. Don't pass this up.

     Your crits will give you priceless feedback. Remember to keep an open mind and don't take it personally. They are trying to help you make your work stronger to avoid those dreaded rejections. If you really don't agree with what they say, you don't have to listen.

5.  Edit Again.
     Incorporate the edits from your crits into the MS. Reread.

6.  Hire a professional editor.
     An editor will give your work a professional review. Do your research to find a reputable editor, preferably one who enjoys your genre. They will be the most like the editors and agents you'll be searching for if you publish traditionally or will self-publish. There are several types of editing to choose from.

Here's a helpful chart to help decide what's best for you [via Wine Press]:

7.  Edit Again.
     Incorporate the edits from your editor. You don't have to listen to the editor, but I suggest you do for the most part.

8. Repeat steps 4 & 5.
     The story is probably pretty different by this point. Have your crits read your hard work and incorporate the suggestions that resonate with you. If you have multiple people say a particular person, subject, or thing is wrong, listen to them no matter how hard it hurts. It's clearly confusing or being misinterpreted.

9.  Repeat steps 6 & 7.
     This isn't always doable on a budget, but if you can, do. It wouldn't be the same kind of editing as the first time. You can just hire for proofreading. If you can't afford it, repeat steps 4 & 5 again.

10. Polish, Polish, Polish.
     Some people let it rest after this and re-edit after some time. You definitely want to reread it as a reader again at this point. Chances are that you've been working really hard and have learned and improved as a writer. You also have a good grasp of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to editing.

     If you're self-publishing, the good news is that you're done and can start working on the marketing plan for the book. If you're traditionally publishing, you'll have to go through these steps all over again, possibly with your agent and then editor, hopefully. Best of luck on your writing journey.

Next week: There is so much good information about critiquing and crit groups. I'm going to share some of that info with you including an awesome questionnaire to be able to give and receive better critiques, so come back.

Lots of <3,

JuNoWriMo update: So sad. I'm already missing JuNoWriMo. I completed it with 61,789 words. The goal was only 50k, so I met that, but I had hoped to finish the novel. I'm close, so close that I can smell the rotten teeth of a zombie. I hope to finish it this week. I had a blast getting to know the JuNoWriMo community and being a part of the amazing crew. I can't wait until next year, but keep in touch until then.

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