Mistakes are proof that you are trying.
Ugh. It’s Monday. We must all drudge back to our places of work and cope with a certain amount of monotony until we get to fight traffic to get back home. But, it’s also the day I have penciled in to really get cracking on edits and revisions of Sex, Love, and Formalities. Now, this post is going to be in three parts: A little bit of editing advice. A character confession. And an invitation. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
If the very thought of editing something—much less an entire novel—gives you the chills, you are not alone. Even if edit wasn’t a four-letter word, it would be such in the hearts of many writers. It is quite the disheartening task, for sure. You’ve spent a sizeable chunk of your time writing these words, and now you have to purposefully sit down and undo a lot of what you did.
And I’m starting it hot and heavy on a Monday. I must be some sort of literary sadist.
Truthfully, it’s just because the last lengthy read I did of my manuscript was exactly two weeks ago. That two-week absence is pretty important to me. It’s long enough that when I come back, I truly have a fresh set of eyes to give to my work. But it’s short enough that I haven’t lost any fervor for my project. It’s a difficult two weeks, to be honest. I miss my characters and think of them quite often. Randomly, something will remind me of a specific scene or sentence and I’ll mentally start revising and editing it. But I don’t physically touch it.
Tomorrow, I plan on getting very handsy with it.
So, what exactly will this look like…you know, aside from me celebrating with new highlighters and a new red pen?
First, the entire thing is printed (Thank goodness I have a laser printer!) and placed in a binder. Then, I sit at my dining table with a carafe of water and begin reading aloud.
Yes, I read the entire thing aloud.
Reading the work aloud allows you to hear mistakes—or simply things that simply sound weird—that your eyes would never catch. At any point I stumble, that isn’t due to a dry mouth, I stop and highlight it and test out ways to fix it, making notes in the margin if necessary. Many times, I find that the offending words or sentences are best fixed by eliminating them altogether. (I use page markers to mark the pages I need to fix to streamline the process when I go back to my computer.) Once I have made any major revisions, I will go back to those passages and again read them aloud. I will do this until my ears are as happy as my eyes.
Once I’m pleased with what is in front of me, I run my words through ProWritingAid and both marvel and cry at all the mistakes and suggestions it finds, and painstakingly go through them one by one. I actually keep a notebook for each manuscript and I transfer each chapter’s suggestions and record what I fix and what I ignore.
This whole process takes me somewhere between one and two weeks, depending on how crazy things are at my 9-5. After that, it’s on to Beta Readers. (*ahem* this may have something to do with the invitation below.) I’m considering trying out BetaBooks this round. If you’ve got any experience with them, by all means, leave me your thoughts in the comments below.
For more of my thoughts on the editing process, click here.
The Character Confession:
So if you haven’t read Sex, Love, and Technicalities, I don’t want to potentially spoil anything for you, but near the end of the book, I introduced a character by the name of Alexander Kensington. Can I just say that I love this character? I thought I loved the character of John, who is my MC’s best friend, but then I concocted Alex, and now I have a new favorite. (I still adore John, though.)
If you want to get to know Alex a little better before the book comes out, you almost can. As it turns out, someone cast my physical inspiration for Alex, Simon Baker, in a movie called I Give It A Year, and his character in that movie (Guy) is astonishingly similar to how I’ve written Alex. The movie came out in 2013, but I just stumbled upon it on Netflix this weekend. I saw his handsome face on the title card and I just had to watch. The movie itself is mildly entertaining, but I was transfixed as I saw Alex on the screen prancing around with another name.
If you are interested in becoming a beta reader for Sex, Love, and Formalities, please email me at AilaStephensBooks@gmail.com and let me know of your interest. It is a work of Women’s Fiction, and the final product should be between 75,000-80,000 words. As I said, I am considering using BetaBooks, but I haven’t decided concretely on that just yet. I have been a beta reader on more than a few projects, and I know that it is a time-consuming commitment. So, for this project, I’m going to offer a few surprises for my betas.
First, I will be vetting potential beta readers so not all that express interest will be chosen.
Everyone who beta reads for me will be listed in the published book. You’ll also be highly praised on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
For those that beta read and are able to get their complete notes back to me before September 24th, 2017, will receive an Amazon gift card—just don’t expect a bazillion dollars. (Hellooo, starving artist-type here.)
Also for those who finish before September 24th (and live in the continental US or Canada), will be sent a gift package—if said beta is willing to provide a shipping address. If not, I’ll figure something else out. (There’s a good chance that I’ll be sending a small bag of the best coffee beans I have ever had. Among other things.)
Here’s what I’m looking for in a beta reader:
• Someone who isn’t afraid of giving criticism alongside praise. I’ve had beta readers before who think the process is only to tell me how amazing I am. I like to hear that, sure, but if something doesn’t sound right, tell me.
• Someone who actually has the time to beta. No one knows life gets in the way more than I do, but I’m going to anxiously await your feedback…not to mention your feedback is sought to help me get ready for publication. I’d like to publish in October.
If this sounds like something you’d enjoy doing, like I said, email me. I’d like to start sending chapters out by August 27th.
Until next time, my friends. Happy writing!