Update on The Curator’s Song; Bootstrap Publishing: Revision

I’ve finished the rough draft of The Curator’s Song. While I wait for it to cool off, I’ve moved on to another project, a space opera story I write under a pen name. I’m also back to writing this blog once a week. And, in the interest of sharing what I’ve learned after almost five years of self-publishing, I’ve decided to create a series of blog posts on bootstrapping a self-publishing business.

I may jump around a bit, topic-wise. Just so you know. For example, I’m starting with editing, which is the most important part of creating saleable fiction.

And now for the first post in this series: Revision.

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This series of blog posts is for those who have never published a book themselves and have also never had a book published by a publisher. It’s for those who have a novel they’ve always wanted to see written, or a handful of short stories that have either gone the submission rounds and not been picked up or have been in the virtual drawer. It’s for those who have written for themselves or put stories out on sites like FictionPress and Wattpad but who aren’t sure where to go from there.

It is NOT for authors who are already making serious money from their writing, especially those who are already making enough to justify paying others to do work for them. More importantly, it is not for authors who expect immediate riches, or for those who don’t care what they put out as long as they upload something.

It is definitely not for those who aren’t willing to put time and effort into making the best book they can before it gets published without spending more money than they can afford.

* * *

So, you have a great novel you’ve just finished writing. If you want to publish on the cheap and still have readers by the end of it, you’ll need to edit what you’ve written. That takes time. It takes energy. And it takes planning.

The first step is the revision.

I know there are some authors out there who are so insanely good that they don’t need to revise anything. You’ll know if you’re one of those. Skip this section. If you’re delusional and think you are one of those but aren’t, you’ll find out eventually. If you want to make sure you’re not delusional, get a beta reader or hire a developmental editor (more on that in my next post).

But for the rest of us, it would be wise, as a first step, to revise.

Now, some do their revision as they write. They cycle back through the story, adding and subtracting as they go.

Some make notes of things they think of along the way and put the story aside for a while after the rough draft is finished. They make their changes after a week or two (or three or four or…) depending on what they feel is needed.

In fact, there’s a number of ways to approach fixing your story. Because that’s what you’re doing. You’re fixing.

Do not think you have to make wholesale changes to a perfectly good story. Do not think you have to alter genre or plot-lines or anything when you first take a look at it from a fixing standpoint. Do not panic and decide it’s all garbage.

If you tend to do that with every story, don’t try to fix it. Just hand one raw draft over to a trusted Someone Else and see what they think.

For the rest of you, you’ll have to make sure you fix the story before you hand it off to someone else. The more mistakes you fix before someone else reads your story, the better the feedback you’ll get on the actual story. So, take the time and fix it however you feel comfortable approaching it.

Because there’s so many ways to approach fixing a story, I’m not going to go in depth about it. I’ll give some tips and resources that I’ve found useful in my own revisions.

Tips:

  • If you have the money, print out the story.
  • If you don’t have the money, put it in a separate document and track the changes. Changing the font sometimes helps, too.
  • Read the story through once before making any major changes.
  • Keep track of the scenes you have. Make a summary sheet or fill out notecards or something. Make it so that you can get a sense of the overall story.
  • If you haven’t already, distill your plot to one sentence.
  • Make a modified stylesheet to keep names and facts straight.
  • Timeline your story, especially if you have parallel events.
  • Read the story through once before making any major changes.
  • If you find you need to scrap a scene and write a new one, put in a separate document. Don’t write in the version you’re making notes in. I number any redrafted scenes and use that as a reference when I write my changes into the manuscript.
  • Read the story through once before making any major changes.

Resources:

Holly Lisle — How to Revise a Novel (short version)

Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Revision

Joanna Penn — Writing Tips: 9 Steps For Effectively Revising Your Novel

How To Revise A Novel: Taking Your Manuscript From Scruffy To Spliffy

Next week, I’ll cover what’s commonly called “developmental editing,” or, in other words, getting feedback on your story.

One thought on “Update on The Curator’s Song; Bootstrap Publishing: Revision

  1. Pingback: Bootstrap Publishing: Developmental Editing (or Getting Readers) – Amy Keeley

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