Monday, October 21, 2013

One Year Ago Today – The Day I Put An Ending On My Book

October 21st is the anniversary of me putting an ending on my novel. That was a pretty momentous day in my life, because The Unraveler has been the artistic vision I’ve kept inside me for the past ten years. I had tried writing it a hundred times before, but I simply did not have the fundamental skills I needed to bring it to completion. So, I wrote other novels. Two others, not fantastic works (and never to be seen again, lol), but doing them was a learning experience. Those, plus graduating from an English program, gave me the ability I needed, and I made it happen.

 But, yesterday, was also a pretty momentous occasion. I finished what I’m calling, my 3rd draft.

It’s sort of a superficial number, since my “draft” is really whatever number I feel merits it, however I’ve been very cautious about what I think accomplishes a new draft. Here’s sort of a rundown of what I’ve done since putting an ending on my novel:

Ending written
Quick Read-through Edit #1

Printed the entire thing out, editing with a red pen, line-by-line
Quick Read-through Edit #2
At this point, my good friend Matt sent me extremely insightful feedback
Using his feedback, I majorly reconfigured several plot points, and made major cuts (including several character cuts). His feedback also made me refocus my novel toward my ending, and write new scenes based on things that felt missing.
Quick Read-through Edit #3

And that’s the point where I considered Draft 1 to be complete, and I started Draft 2:

I took a break period from working on it, and instead focused on researching rookie mistakes that first-time authors make and the little things that instantly send manuscripts to the slush pile.
I did a scan edit here, with my research in mind.

I also started drafting a synopsis and query letter.
I did another full edit here, this time listening to my entire novel through a text-to-speech robotic voice. I did this with the intent to focus on storytelling. What felt natural, what hurt the flow of my novel, etc.
Quick Read-through Edit #4Was / Were / Started to / Began to Edit of Doom – I noticed that my novel could use stronger verbs, and that I was using pre-actions way more often than I should. So, I did an edit where I highlighted many of these words and decided if they could be deleted or restructured to flow better. This was the hardest edit I did, but it was worth it. Print Out Edit #2Voice Edit – I decided that I wanted to do an edit focusing on giving all of my characters a voice that was more unique to them. Also, I wanted to change a few things like ages, looks, etc., and so I did a line-by-line edit to promote better all-around characterization.

This is the point I reached yesterday. I finished my big voice edit, and now I’m considering Draft 2 complete and Draft 3 begun.

I’m honestly at the point where I don’t know if there’s that much more I can do on my own. My novel feels shiny. It feels like it’s nearing perfection, in my eyes. I guess I need to find a writing circle or something so I can get more feedback.  For the next few months, I’m going to take another break from working on The Unraveler.  I need a fresh perspective before delving into it again, and I do have other writing projects at hand.

Editing my novel hasn’t been the only thing I’ve worked on since October 21stof last year.

I’ve been working on the daunting process of creating a social media presence for myself. I started blogging, tweeting, tumblring, and connecting them all together. I made a video book trailer on YouTube, and I’ve began following other writings to learn about what sort of successes and failures they’ve had. I’ve worked on www.harrisonaye.comlike mad, and using ideas from other writer’s websites to make mine better. I’ve drafted and redrafted my query letter and my synopsis. I’ve been writing short stories and poetry, too. I’ve been submitting short stories to magazines and entering writing contests. I’ve also been drafting potential plots for sequels to my novel, if my novel is lucky enough to sell well. I’ve also been working on two ideas for books that are not sequels, one of which I might start actually writing soon.

I’ve been keeping track of everything I’m doing—this novel is a learning experience just like the first two I wrote—so hopefully my writing / editing process will be more streamlined for next time (and if I start writing this new novel, I’ll find out!).

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for putting up with spam about my book in your facebook / twitter feed (I’m getting better about that, lol). Thanks for seeing me in person and telling me that you’ve been following me on my novel-writing adventures. Thanks for sending me random encouraging messages. Thanks for telling me about your writing adventures.

It’s been fun, and I’m sure it will continue to be. 

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