|Handwritten Page from Hope|
The writing stage of Hope (The World In-between, 5) finished earlier this month. As I type this blog post, the first editing stage is nearing completion. I usually go through three or four edits before I hand it off to my editor.
Since I handwrite my manuscripts (still), typing it into a workable manuscript format becomes my first edit. First drafts are messy. Mine are no exception. Many pages include scratch-outs, arrows, and words scrunched here and there. The main goal of a first draft is to extract the story from your head. I happen to find the pen a more useful tool than the keyboard for this process. As I type, I change things.
Writing isn’t always fluid. You stop and start, sometimes multiple times a day. You may forget bits and pieces of what you wrote previously. A certain word may get stuck in your head, and you end up writing it over and over. Or, you simply don’t vary the sentence structure.
When I type the second draft, I tend to go deeper. With every line, I ask myself, “Does this line work?” If it doesn’t, it gets changed. Sometimes, things need to be added or deleted to better develop places, purpose, or characters.
“Aye, nasty storm,” answered an old man at the next table. He sat alone with only a tankard keeping him company. “So, what brings agents of the Empire all the way up here?”
“Aye, nasty storm,” answered an old man from the next table. His weathered hand clutched a battered tin tankard. He brought it up to a mouth hidden behind a full, wiry, gray beard. His cloak told stories of blustery storms and wave-washed travel to distant shores. The ancient mariner sat alone, the ale his only company. “What brings agents of the Empire this far north?”
Subsequent edits involve more paper. I keep at least one piece in front of me as I reread. The top of the page has the book title and *EDITING*. The rest of the page is where I scribble questions. When writing a multi-book series, you need to keep things consistent from book to book. I make sure names, places, and words I invent are spelled correctly. If a character has light blue eyes in book 1, that must continue in book 5 (unless it changes via magic or contacts). I also write down chapter numbers, their page numbers, and chapter title suggestions.
The second edit tackles grammar, sentence structure, consistency, and holey-ness. Checkmarks on my editing paper indicate answered questions and resolved issues. The third edit reads for flow. I will sometimes read transitions and problem dialogue aloud to see how it all sounds. A fourth edit will check for typos. Then, I do a fifth edit where I read through the manuscript backwards, fixing typos and other errors.
After my editing process, I send this polished manuscript to my editor. Who will, inevitably, find things I missed. When all the editing stages end, the publishing stage begins. And I write another book.