I thought, seeing as this blog is to document my truthful journey to becoming a self-published author, I better write something about the editing of my first manuscript, however much I wish I didn’t have to admit the parts of my writing that are bad 😀
I finished editing Stolen on Monday morning, and I have put it away completely until April, and in all honesty I was totally ready to stop working on it by that point.
After completing the first draft of Stolen, I read it and edited it myself 3 times, catching spelling mistakes, grammar problems, etc. I thought I did a pretty good job.
It just goes to show how wrong I can be, and the real need for proof-readers!
Unfortunately, I cannot afford professional editors so I had to ask people I knew would be honest and who knew their stuff when it came to books. I asked 3 people: my mum, my sister and my best friend and (thankfully!) they all agreed. I chose these people because they are very literate, always a useful thing, but also because they vary greatly from one another:
– My mum reads an… interesting selection of books, though generally no romance, but she has read A LOT and knows her stuff.
– My sister reads romance, and is very, very good at seeing good romance in a story and what works.
– My best friend is a brilliant writer and started writing a novel of his own, he is also very good at grammar, very professional and American (this was surprisingly useful, as he picked up things that sounded slightly off for an American reader).
I had some great proof-readers.
So, I sent off my manuscript and waited… and waited… and waited. Oh my word! The waiting was painful! It wasn’t even that long, they all got it back to me very quickly. And they had been very honest (incredibly honest, I asked them not to worry about hurting my feelings and they didn’t! 😀 ) and very thorough. I admit, I had a major bout of low self-confidence after seeing some of the edits, but then after doing them I realised how much BETTER my manuscript was! It read smoother, it looked tidier, the whole thing was just lovelier 😀
I needed them to be that nit-picky, point out every flaw and not worry about hurting my feelings, because in the end it was seriously worth it!
Now, when I actually looked at the edits, they were all just mostly grammar mistakes (apparently, a weakness I need to work on!). I had only 1 typo out of the whole manuscript! Also, there was hardly anything I needed to change about the actual story itself, they understood it, enjoyed it and liked the characters. Not only that, but they were all still encouraging me to keep going with this career. I’m pretty sure if they thought Stolen was awful, they wouldn’t be quite so eager to keep encouraging me to try and make my living from writing! So why was I getting so down?
I am a perfectionist, I like things to be exactly right as soon as it pours from my fingers, but writing doesn’t work that way. Editing needs to be done, nobody is perfect and no one can produce a stunning first draft.
I did the edits, and Stolen was looking better than ever. Then I decided to take the advice that had been written in many articles and I sat down with my mum and sister again, and my mum read it out loud (a weird experience, it was like going back in time to my childhood when she‘d read to us but it was my story she was reading 😀 ). I have to say, I was surprised how useful it was to hear it read out loud. We picked up on a few last things that needed changing that no one had even noticed during the edits, but that was only because when reading it aloud it was obvious that I’d been repetitive, or maybe the sentence structure was odd.
I thoroughly recommend reading your manuscript aloud during editing, it really works.
So, to summarise this much-longer-than-I-planned-on post, editing is a necessary thing. Nobody’s first draft is stunning, and that is not a bad thing, it’s just how it is. Having people proofread my work showed me parts I need to work on (grammar and more comma-usage, who knew you had to use so many?) and helped me to see that my story and the body of my novella was actually pretty good.
Stolen is now mostly complete. In April I shall read it again, with fresh eyes I might be able to see any last bits that need changing. Until then, it is stored away, and am I seriously thankful for that!
Word Count: 5441 words since Monday.
Status of Second Manuscript: Writing first draft.
February E-Book Review: 30% Read.