Recently I was reading a book of short fiction by an author with more experience and success than I. The stories had interesting ideas driving them but then they fell flat. This author has been published traditionally and has marched the independent path. This particular work was indie published.
I am a big supporter of indie publishing. It gets more of what I like to read in my hands and provides writers with another way to get there stuff out there. It is a tool for the tool box. However, I am not sure I can finish reading this book.
It isn’t bad. Not really. I see some of my own mistakes made by this author and it irritates me. Also I doubt the author uses beta readers. That is a mistake I try not to make. (Not saying I’ve never made it, but I try not to get impatient and toss out stuff that isn’t ready.)
Beta readers are one of the most important tools a writer can have. You really do need that second pair of eyes. I know I have written about this before but it is still true. Fresh eyes and a fresh brain see things you will miss. If you spell the wrong word correctly, spell check isn’t going to catch it.
Often writers will read what is supposed to be there rather than what actually is. So get a beta reader. Two or three if you can. Bribe them. Beg them. Whatever it takes. I find coffee, the occasional lunch, or a free book work well for mine. Some will even do it just because they love to read. Make use of your bookish or grammar Nazi friends.
Those personality quirks that may annoy you in everyday life will be indispensable for your writing world.
It is a beautiful sunny day and I am sitting on my porch as I write this. I have missed my porch. During the Winter it has been too cold and the Spring has been rather wet. We have had a few good days but for some reason I haven’t made it out to the porch to write.
Possibly because of the glare. I am having a difficult time seeing the computer screen. White porch + bright sunlight = low screen visibility. I have sunglasses….somewhere. I guess I will just have to make do.
I came out here to work on my Science Fiction novel. It has been simmering in a box for awhile now, waiting for me to get around to the next rewrite/edit. I have this problem with editing…I don’t like to do it. Part of that is because I don’t really know what to do when it comes to editing. I know something is wrong. I can feel that it’s off, but pinpointing exactly what, always gives me trouble. Some of this is just because I don’t know what questions to ask myself and some of this is lack of practice. As in most things, the more you do it the better you get.
I have been reading this book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and it has been a big help. The other day I actually took my Sci-Fi novel out of its box and started to work on it. First I re-read it and then I spent thirty minutes starring at the first page. I knew stuff was wrong. The second paragraph in was really wrong, but no matter how I turned the page or willed the answer to come to me, I couldn’t figure it out. So I turned to my friend Jessi and said, “What’s wrong with this sentence right here?”
She read over the page and pointed out the sentence in question would read easier if I made it into three sentences and the next paragraph could be summed up in one three word sentence. I looked at again and decide that her suggestions were Pure Genius! After that the rest of the page went smoothly. Also, I began to notice I repeatedly made similar mistakes on other pages.
I rewrote that first page then went back to compare it to the original. It was so very much better that it made me excited. Maybe this editing thing isn’t so bad after all. 🙂
I have been sitting in front of this screen for about two hours and I have very little to show for it. My plan was to write on new stuff for a bit then start sorting through the two massive stacks of paper that I call my works in progress. (Actually I have them in binders. I learned my lesson from the one time I handed my sister/beta reader a three inch stack of paper to review. She hit me with it and then went out and bought a simple binder and a whole punch.) Things have not gone as planned.
I did write a little on some new stuff, but when I pulled out my latest manuscript I realized that may not know how to use scrivener as well as I thought I did. I have not been using it long and all the tutorials make it seem simple. But I somehow have managed to make a mess of things.
Scrivener has this awesome ability that allows you to move chapters and other bits around so you can rearrange them however you like. Unfortunately I seem to have handled that about as well as someone handed a riffle for the first time ever and tossed into a skeet shooting competition. My manuscript is now as upside down and backwards as it would be if I had left it out of the binder and with kitty treats hidden among the pages. (I have two cats by the way.)
It is going to be a real head ache to sort out. I could go work on the other one but I would rather save it until I have this one semi coherent. That way I will have something easier to work on while my beta readers are hacking at the new one. (The older manuscript is on its third rewrite/edit and was written in word.)