donovanmneal

Posts Tagged ‘revision’

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide: Step 10 Celebrate your accomplishments

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps on May 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm

fireworks

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  This is the last step I used when I wrote my book

Ok here is step ten: celebrate!

Yep.  Writing is a lonely business.  It is not a group activity.  It is you and the paper or the screen staring back at you.  I know writers that will not even share their work with a person until well after they are finished.  I couldn’t do this.  I had after some scenes and even some chapters read it.  I needed the feedback.  I needed to know if people could see what I saw in my head.  Was I able to translate the pictures and voices of fictional worlds and characters from my mind into the mind of my reader.  Heck I needed that encouragement.

But let’s face it.  When you write it is a struggle sometimes.  It is an uphill battle to add character development, plot twists, seal plot holes, endure writers block.  Then after you have gone through all that.  You look back after x period and by God you are done.  You look at your work after so many pages and you realize that you have created something.  Celebrate that.

I remember when I finished my novel.  It was July 4th 2012.  I sat there looking at my computer screen.  I had reached the point where I could put the words the end on my work.  I knew I was done.  There was a part of me that was ecstatic, another part of me that was sad.  Me and this book had labored under much toil together and our journey and now taken a dramatic turn.  Oh yeah it needed polishing…at lot actually.  But it was done.

So when you get to your word count for the day. Celebrate.  When you complete that chapter.  Celebrate.  When you figure out that plot twist.  Celebrate.  And when you finish and get to the end…celebrate.

You did it.

Reward yourself at every opportunity when you achieve a bit of success.  Use whatever motivation you have to keep going.  Do not give up.  It is worth it.  I have learned so much.  But all my learning has shown how much more I have to go.

Take some time out to sit back, and celebrate.  Ya did good kid.

D

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 9: Get some beta readers!

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps, On writing on April 30, 2013 at 5:35 am

edited-manuscript

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I am going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I am going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step nine: get some beta readers.

A beta reader (or betareader, or beta) is a person who reads a work of fiction with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the public.

Another way to think of a beta reader is as a product development tester.  Essentially, you have someone who represents a sample demographic of the market for your book to gauge consumer reaction.

I like the idea personally of a beta reader being more than someone who checks for grammar, spelling and the like.  But thinking of this person(s) as representative of your selling demographic will really tell you if your writing is connecting with your audience, and what you might need to do to improve.

Where can you find beta readers?

Well there are various areas that you can look.  A few of the best I’ll just list out and link for you.

  1. Family/Friends
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Good Reads         http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group
  4. absolutewrite.com             http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=30

What are the basic steps?

  1. Send out your manuscript.
  2. Get back the replies.
  3. Go through the replies, and thank each person by email phone or a mailed note.
  4. Follow up and see if they are willing to look at further work
  5. Determine if their input warrants changes to your draft.

Things to watch out for

People who don’t respond!  Yep you might have some that say will do it, you provide them with the information but they simply don’t follow up, or through for whatever reason.  This is why you want more than just a couple of readers.

Secondly be very clear on what you’re looking for from a reader.  Having a reader tell you the story was good.  Or it was awful wont help you become a better writer.  What was awful?  Why?  The more you can help focus your reader on monitoring how they are interfacing with your work the better off you will be.

Thirdly, you have to decide how much of your work you want to give out.  Will it be a couple of pages?  A scene of work?  A chapter?  The whole novel?

My recommendation is that you give out based on do you trust the person to not ‘steal your work, and are they providing feedback?

Register with the copyright office. The best way to protect yourself legally from any copying is by registering your material with the US copyright office (www.copyright.gov). While each and every material produced by you is automatically copyrighted upon publishing, registering with the Copyright office will give you more extensive legal rights. In the event that someone publishes material that is exactly the same or similar to yours, having a formal copyright will make it easier for you to prove first instance, which means that you are the first author of the work.

Send any correspondence via email. The email provides documentation that you are the source of the material.

Typical Beta reader questions

Interest:  Does the story hold your attention

Were you ever bored during the story?

Was your mind ever wandering?

Can you tell me in the story where it happened?  Where do you remember losing interest?

World creation: is more detail needed?

Was there ever an occasion during the story where it seemed not “believable”?

Was there a point where you said, “Oh come on!” or where they any “logical fallacies” which you noticed?

Exposition: How was it handled?

Where in the story were you confused?

Was there anything you had to read twice?

Are there characters you found you didn’t care about?

Did you like the character(s)?

Did you hate the character(s)?

Did you keep forgetting who the characters were?

Was there any plot questions left unresolved for you?

Tension: Are the plot lines resolved?

What do you think will happen next?

What are you still wondering about?

Remember  the reader is reporting on their experience of what they are reading…their opinions are not wrong.  They are helping you to acquire great clues on how a reader is interfacing with your writing.

Again always make sure you tell your readers thank you!

D

Double Vision

In On writing on April 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Double Vision

I thought it was just me!

 

Does this happen to any of you!  Post and let me know!

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 8: Revise, revise, and revise again.

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps on April 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm
Revision doesn't have to be hard.

Revision doesn’t have to be hard.

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I am going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I am going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step eight: Revise.

Revision

When do you start revision?  Some have a tendency to revise as they write.  I do this a bit, but the reality is if you do; it slows down your writing and you are leaving the ‘flow’ of your streaming consciousness that is giving you scenes to write.  Therefore, revision should be its own step.  Do it after you get the thoughts out on paper.

How to revise you ask?  Well I’m glad you asked that question!

There are several steps that have helped me.  Essentially, I go from a larger view of the novel until I zero in to the smaller aspects of it.  When I hit the center of the bull’s eye, I start over until I feel there is no more revision left to do.

So using the image of a bull’s-eye (concentric circles) I do mine like so.

Revise the plot: are there plot holes or anything that is not tied together in the novel?  Unanswered questions.  Frayed edges?

Revise the scenes.  Do you need to rearrange them?  Does some need to be deleted?  Added?

Revise Characters:  Are there too many? Can some be combined? Are the descriptions there?

Revise Dialogue: Does the dialogue of the characters sound unique to that character? Does it need to be shortened, lengthened?

Revise for grammar and spelling.  Some word processors will do this as you type the manuscript out.  This is last step for me.

csg_writing-the-revision-process-tone

I don’t profess that these are all the steps.  What I do profess is that the method will work if you work it.  If in using this method, you need to add another ring in your concentric circle.  Do so.  However, always move from larger issues with the novel to smaller issues.

Lastly, when should you revise?  Well I would say wait at least 4 weeks after you have done your first draft.  Then start revising.

4 weeks!  Yep, I know you’re excited but let me tell you after you start revising after a while you will get tired of reading what you wrote over and over.  Revising is taxing work.  I emphasize the work piece.  It is not fun.  Think of it like this.  You are essentially going to be cutting things like a movie editor.  Remember in the DVD all those deleted scenes?  Well that’s how your novel is going to be.  Slimmer than the original in all probability.  You are cutting the dross away.  In addition you need to give yourself space from the work to get perspective.  It will help to read it with fresh eyes.

Remember those attachments you have to scenes, and characters, and all that while you wrote.  Well in this stage you have to let that go, and ask yourself the crucial question, does it move the story forward?

A film editor for example is a mechanic who removes the unneeded and fits pieces of film together to make a finished movie. He is a collaborator who works with cinematographers and sound editors to bring sight and sound together. And he is an artist who captures a director’s vision and tells a compelling story.

You are the film editor for your story.  You have to ask yourself is this needed?  Why.

Once you can do that and follow the steps involved, you will be well on your way to revising.

Have fun!

D

How I write my novels a 10 step beginners guide. Step 7: Write!

In How to begin your novel in 10 steps, On writing, Uncategorized on April 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Image

Writing a novel can be a daunting task. I know because it’s taken me 7 years to complete my first one.  However, writing is easier for me now, than when I started. I realize that there are many of you who want to write that first novel, so let me lend my acquired experience to make your journey easier.

I have 10 steps that I realized I have used to complete my book.  During the next 10 weeks I’m going to provide you with the actual and specific tools that have used.  I’m going to put them up on this blog for you to see, and I’m going to give them away to you for free!  Yes, free because I want you to be successful! I know that they will work for you  some of you are more computer literate than others, so my tools are going to help you no matter what level of proficiency you have in software or hardware.  All you need is a desire to learn, and a willingness to implement the steps.

Ok here is step Seven: Write.

You have your inspiration, you established some world creation, you have an outline.  You have your materials.  Stop loafing and get to writing.

It doesn’t matter what you have.  If you don’t write nothing will ever be produced.  It’s not enough that the idea and world and characters are in your head.  They must be released from the prison of your mind to live on paper.  Only then can the purpose of your novel be realized.  That being for others to enjoy.

Write.  Just do it.  Try to write 1000 words a day.  Yep.  Keep a limit.  Shoot for a 1k a day in words.  Move it.  Get off your butt.  Start writing!

I do not care how much you read about writing.  It is NOT writing.  Only writing is writing.  Outlining is not writing.  Character creation is not writing.  Marketing, is not writing.

Only writing is writing.  So get to it.  Push out words.  Write the images that come to your mind.  Just get them out.  Connect them later.  But write the images or scenes that are in your head.

Pick a time when others know you are not to be disturbed.  But write.  If you need to do it in the morning, or in the evening write.  If you don’t get to 1000 words still write.

Write daily.  Make it a priority.  But write.  Do a lil something daily.  But write.

Only writing will make you better.  Only writing will see your vision materialized: only writing counts.

It does not matter how much of the previous steps you did if you do not write you have been active but not productive.  You have missed the mark if you do everything but write.

So write.  Write as if your life depended on it

Some say you should not worry about grammar and spelling as you write.  I say do what you want.  Just do not get bogged down.  Correcting already generated text is NOT writing.  It is revision.  Write.  Generate new text…new words.  Leave the revision for after you have finished writing.

This step out of all the others is the most important.  This step is the only one that will create your masterpiece.  Your work.  Nothing else.  Everything else is star stuff.  Writing is where the planet is formed. Where the rubber hits the road.  That which separates those who do from those who try.  Nothing else matters.  In the words of the company Nike.

Just do it.

D

Is it “epic” enough?

In On writing on October 27, 2012 at 6:51 am

It’s taken me seven years to write my first novel.  I’m still in the process of revision, working to make the characters deeper than they already are and attempt to remove any flatness they might have.

When I wrote scenes in my book I often asked myself this question.  “Is it epic enough?”   In other words was the action such that when I finished reading it, I had captured the sense of excitement and vision that I saw in my mind’s eye?   When my novel is translated into film, will there be enough of a description for the producer and director to translate my work to the silver screen?

“Is it epic enough?”

I once saw a motion picture that I was really excited to see.  When I left the movies I was disappointed.  Not because it wasn’t that great of a movie but it left me wanting because I realized.  It wasn’t “epic” enough.

Now that I’m essentially done with my story and I am deep into developing my characters even more, I find that I’m asking a new question as it relates to them.  “Are they emotional enough?”  In other words will you care about them?  Do they make you laugh?  Cry, want to wring their necks?  Because if they don’t.  Then I haven’t done my job yet.

I’m actually finding this is more of my weakness as a writer, at least as it relates to this story.  But I’m working on it: so that when you read my stories.  You will come away satisfied and moved in some fashion a character.

Is your story epic enough?  And are your characters emotional enough?

Think about it.

On denoting feeling

In On writing on October 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm

As I move more in depth to describe and impart a greater degree of characterization to my writing.  I am struggling with the show and don’t tell mantra.  How to denote anger without saying my character was angry?  How do I spice up the read?

I have remembered something from a training I used to do that I believe might help me and those that also have struggled.  In a simple word: Para verbal communication.  Well I suppose that’s two words, but hey it’s my blog.

Para verbal communication is spoken communication that consists of one’s voice tone, volume and rate or rhythm of one’s speech.  And these elements can be visually described for a reader.

Tone of voice: There are 4 ways to convey the meaning to this sentence, “I didn’t say you were stupid.”  How would you write it to capture each meaning?  The meaning changes depending on which words you emphasize.  Try it and see.  Just by italicizing one word can change its whole meaning.

Volume: Someone who speaks so softly as to whisper is a different character than one who speaks so loud over a phone; patrons in line at a grocery store can hear the conversation.

Rate and rhythm of speech: Does the character sound panicked?  Or does he or she speak in a dry monotone response when spoken too?  Remember McCoy from Star Trek and Spock?  Their dialogue was wonderful in part to the variances of how they communicated   McCoy was passionate and emotional in contrast to Spock who was cool and logical.  It’s easier to see the differences in characterization when they are offset against their opposites.

I don’t pretend to be an expert.  But I am ever learning to become a great story teller.  And using para verbal’s in writing dialogue and exposition of characters can go a long way to bring life into them.