Legend, my WIP, is coming along. The way I’m doing it is a little weird, though. I’m editing and writing at the same time. While I know that’s not the commonly acceptable or advised method, there is some sanity behind my madness. The book, as a completed manuscript, has been in perpetual edit mode for a while now, so I’m not sure what draft I’m on.
At this point, I have about half of the book in Word, and half in Scrivener. Scrivener helps me get my ideas down and organize them. Word lets me edit with formatted pages and provides access to ProWirtingAid, a grammar checker I decided to use after extensive experimentation. What I like about PWA is its suggestions are more along the lines of highlight the error and giving great explanations as to why it’s an error. It also forces me to take a closer look at my work, so I pick up stuff that both it and I missed. Do I blindly do everything it tells me to do? No.
Spirit caused me to look at my writing style, and gave me some insight on what I need to do in order to write better books:
- Balance the details so they don’t screw up the pace of the story – A better way to say this is avoid the tangents and let the readers discover things as the characters in the main part of the story do. In Spirit, I didn’t do so well with this. While I created a book that was unpredictable and non-formulated, I did so at the price of piling a lot of things on the reader. In Legend, there are fewer secrets, so we shall see how it turns out.
- Introduce and use only the needed characters – The reason I published Spirit instead of Legend first is that I have characters from both the 21st and 26th Centuries in Legend. Spirit allowed me to focus on the 21st Century ones so people could have a backstory for them before having to deal with a whole other century of new faces. Now, in Legend, I’m looking at every character and wondering if their story needs to be told or continued. So far, I’ve eliminated one new inductee and minimized the roles of others. I’m also expanding and changing the roles of previously introduced characters to continue their story lines from Spirit.
- Make sure character names are unique and memorable – I have a lot of “J” names in my series. Don’t know how it happened other than the fact that I had large families and it sounded right at the time I wrote them. Now that I have a ton of material and have gotten used to knowing the characters that way, I’m hesitant to change them. Instead, I’m going to start putting a cast of characters in the back of the books to help minimize the confusion.
- Eliminate the nice to knows or save them for later when they are more appropriate – In going through Legend, I’ve found a lot of trivia and technicalities that weren’t doing enough for the story. In fact, some of the stuff caused me to scratch my head in confusion. There were also a couple of cute sentimental and forced humor scenes that really didn’t do as I intended either. Other parts of the same scene or chapter worked, though, so I moved them to other chapters and put the rest in my snippets folder for later reference.
- Get the book formatted sooner rather than later – I wouldn’t recommend this for the first five drafts, but as I said I’m way beyond that point. Also, I’m only doing the print version and it’s mainly to eliminate one word line enders and three line chapter enders. I know that the e-book formatting is going to be different, and might even cause some of them, but I’ll deal with that when I’m closer to publishing the book.
- Write, edit, wait, edit some more, and then turn in – Other than the fun creative bits, writing is a process and should be treated as such. I didn’t do that with Spirit. Every time I got the book from the publisher, I found ways to improve it more. Thing is, that was the wrong time to do it. I should have just gone with suggestions and patched things as they guided me, not tried to re-write whole chunks. With Legend and the rest of the books, other than the excerpts or other requests for feedback, no one is going to see it until I think it’s as perfect as it can be.
Revising Spirit is on my list of things to do, but I’m going to wait until Legend is closer to being published. Rewriting it based on what I’ve learned is not going to be a quick turnaround. The process will impact the time I have to create new stuff and get my name out there. Also, Spirit has already made its presence known, so I don’t want the book unavailable for more than a day. Finally, I want something to go by. Spirit helped Legend get back on track, it’s only appropriate that Legend do the same thing for it.
One final note that really has nothing to do with writing, but is important to me… I want apologize to those of you who are waiting for some promotional gifts from me. When I made the commitment to do them, I had the means. Right now, I don’t. Not sure when I will as I’m dealing with a couple personal issues that are preventing me from fulfilling my obligations. Know this, though, it will happen.