So You Want to Write
Continuing the Steps to Writing Success
A few posts ago, I gave you the first five steps, let’s continue on –
Step 6. Don’t just write, but also take the time to develop your writing. Study other authors’ writing styles, read up on grammar, take a creative writing course, or better yet, take a grammar course – sounds boring, I know, but in the long run you will benefit from it. Join a writing group for support, but make sure they are like you, otherwise you may have to endure language and scenes that’ll make you uncomfortable. (If that happens, don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from that group and find another.) The writing craft must be continuously developed, and if you are serious about becoming a writer, you must be willing to learn the ropes.
Step 7. You’ve got a few chapters written – even your whole book. You’ve been networking with another author or a writing group – you’ve honed their ideas and their suggestions. You’ve gone through your novel a second and third time revising and editing as you go. What’s the next step? Well, now you find authors or really good readers to become your beta readers. Beta readers are generally not paid but agree to read your work because they are super nice and maybe even hope you will return the favor with their next book. Set a date for your beta readers to have their notes back to you.
Step 8. After sending your novel off to three or four beta readers, what’s next? Start your next writing project – begin back at the beginning and keep writing.
Step 9 When your beta readers return your manuscript, go through their notes one at a time. Pay serious attention to things that match up in their observations about how the story flows, and where it stops for them, or confuses them. Be prepared to rewrite to make that scene clearer or more interesting. What if they point out a writing flaw you need to work on, like point of view? Then, you must immerse yourself in point of view and learn all you can about it, and then go back and fix it in your book. Don’t despair – you probably will only have to learn that particular thing once. After awhile, your writing will reflect your learned skills, but you must take the time to develop the writing craft.
Step 9. You’ve revised and edited from your beta reader’s suggestions – by the way, you don’t need to take all of their suggestions, but I take at least half of them or more. Now what? If you are self-publishing, you definitely want to hire a professional editor – I’m not kidding. After all that you have done, and your beta readers, you still need a professional edit. Ask around – especially in writing forums – look at the work editors have done. Ask them to edit a page for you to see what they can do. Again, while your professional editor is giving your manuscript a final edit, go back to your other writing project and keep writing!
Step 10. You’ve got your edited manuscript back. What now? You have to go through it yet again. Take a good look at the professional edit and go through each correction one at a time. You do not have to accept all of the editor’s corrections, but probably most of them.
You’re finally ready to format your book, and that is the topic for my next several posts. See you then!