Finally. Revision Help for the Hopeless Writer

Revising is one of the most difficult aspects of writing for many writers. The reasons vary from not having a good beta-reader or critique network, to lack of editing skills or lack of confidence in our own editing skills, lack of money to pay someone to do the job for us, etc. Like many of you, I’ve experienced those issues at various stages of my writing career. Not only do those problems cause stress, but they can delay the completion of a manuscript or result in the production of an inferior one.

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My published books in the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy took many years to complete, largely for the reasons mentioned above. At the completion of each book, the sense of accomplishment and joy I felt were immediately followed by terror:  What the heck do I do now, and how in the world can I afford it???

Recently, I’ve been attending various free webinars on subjects like book marketing and tools to facilitate the book writing process. Last night, I attended one on the basics of good revision called, The 3 Levels of Fiction Revision & Why You Must Know Them, hosted by Laura Backes and Jon Bard.

The content was great. Simple, concise, informative and also a good refresher. I learned to write not by attending creative writing courses or workshops by doing the work and learning from my mistakes. The lack of formal training has always been a source of anxiety for me, as it leads to constant second-guessing and a disorganized method of writing and revision. The webinar was helpful in putting a framework on what revision actually is and the essentials for doing it right.

But, then there was the introduction of a new revision tool they created called, Manuscript Magic. It’s only been out a few months, and it’s the first time I’ve heard of it. But it is an online program that takes revision to a new level for someone like me who learned on the go and is still learning on the go.

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The program breaks the revision process down from revising a chapter at a time to revising a scene at a time, which is more manageable and less daunting. There are teaching videos which elaborate on writing concepts, as well as checklists that point out specific aspects of your story to consider while offering change options. Ultimately, it seems to be a practical writer’s guide to editing and revision, or maybe better, a tool that teaches how to shift from Writer Mode to Editor Mode, and to do it with confidence.

So, I bought the membership. It wasn’t cheap but I’ve paid more than that for simple proofreads, forget about a full manuscript edit. And, that’s saying a lot because I NEVER buy the programs or tools or packages offered at the end of webinars. But this program interested me because it’s a once-time purchase not a monthly subscription and, if it works 1) it would drastically improve my manuscripts in less time that it normally takes and with less frustration, 2) could reduce the amounts I would normally spend on editing by presenting the editor/proof-reader with a cleaner manuscript 3) I can learn to become a better writer and reviser 4) it could help me improve and complete the other WIPs wallowing on the backburner these last few years. In other word, I might be able to write better, complete projects faster, and ultimately publish better books.

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I plan to start with the first book I wrote, The Eagle’s Gift. It was a passion project that got ruined after too many crits from the review site I joined resulted in a jumbled mess. At the time, I was too inexperienced and in love with the book to handle all the feedback. The story never recovered, but I am hopeful this program can help me identify the problems and fix them.

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So, is my gamble worth it? Can the program deliver? I joined up last night and all the promised bonuses (dedicated Facebook support, free advice and counsel from well-known editing professionals active in the business) for signing up right away were available. The Facebook group is small but active and people are posting about their positive experiences. So, good start. I’ll keep you all posted and let you know how it all works out.

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WriteOnSisters.com’s tips for writing a great manuscript

Having trouble figuring how to write your novel, or wondering how you can tell if what you have is any good? This article by WriteOnSisters.com can help.

Update on Wolf’s Bane and Excerpt

Here’s the update on Wolf’s Bane, the sequel to my self-published book, The Purple Morrow. The formatting for the ebook version is finished! The active Table of Contents is complete, chapter heads, and alternating Headers and Footers are working…OMG, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Here’s something about this process that I thought I’d share. Last week, as I was building up towards the formatted version, I realized I still needed help in order to finish the project right. As some of you know, this is an old manuscript: about 2 years old, maybe more. It has gone through so many revisions, rewrites and beta-reads I’ve lost count. I did manage to find a great proofreader. But something inside me still said, “Wait.” Now, I know no book is ever perfect–I’ve found errors in books published by big publishing houses, as I’m sure some of you have. Still, I want to do everything I can to make sure my readers have the best reading experience possible. So, because I can no longer see the errors, even obvious ones, I did something I haven’t done before: I asked for test readers. Three responded: one who read the first book and two who have not. It’ll be interesting to see the results.

Now, there are a few specific reasons I did this. To save time, I’ll just copy the message I sent the test readers, as I think it explains things well:

…There are two reasons I decided to host a pre-release (test) read/review of Wolf’s Bane. The first is for marketing, word of mouth, and publicity reasons. (i.e. I asked them to note sections that might be good for taglines, excerpts, citations, etc. I also asked them write a review which I can then post on my blog/website, press-releases, interviews, etc.).  The second is because I also need a little help with the manuscript. I’ll explain: This review version is the version I intend to publish. It has been proofread and I have made the recommended changes, but I haven’t reread the final version. There are two reasons for this: a) I have read the story so many times that, even though I love the story, I just can’t reread it again. By the time I will be able to, too much time will have to pass and I won’t ever get it published, and b) I am concerned that if I reread it now, I’ll start to change things, which, again, would delay the process. As you know, any story, even good ones, can be tweaked until Kingdom come, lol So, should you notice things that don’t follow (ex. words left out, or something that reads as though it might have been added at the last minute) please note them. I’m NOT looking for another proofread or edit, but things that just might read as out of place. Also, if you see any formatting issues I might have missed, please note those as well. After staring at 400 pages over and over, I just don’t see errors anymore…

Now, I might be taking a big chance with this; I don’t know. But, at this point, it seemed like the best way to handle the situation. Once I get the readers’ comments back, I intend to update the formatted version and upload that for publishing. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and once again, my super-talented illustrator sister, Amy Hands, is working on the cover art. See below for the painting of Jeru (main character) that she did for me. She is available for other projects!

Painting by Amy Hands

Painting by Amy Hands

 

The final stage after that, is for my also super-talented and dedicated husband, Samuel, to get to the graphic designing. He’s done both my current covers (The Purple Morrow and The Eagle’s Gift WIP), so if you’ve seen them you’ve seen his work. 🙂

And lastly, here’s an excerpt from Bane for you. In this section from Usurper (chapter 1), we get to know Oren, Kelen’s adoptive father, a little more, and are introduced to a new player in the game. Oren is on his way to a meeting when he pauses to reflect on an event that might tip the scales of fate in his favor…

From dustin.wikidot.com

From dustin.wikidot.com

Though he knew he was wasting precious seconds, Oren could not stop himself from taking a few more to reflect on what had interrupted him. The very thought of it sent excitement and a deep sense of satisfaction through him. Mid-way through his nightly meditations, he had sensed an old, familiar presence, one he had not felt for at least a year. The call had been faint, yet so surprised was he to hear it whispering at the edges of his thoughts, that he had ceased his incantations mid-sentence. Instantly filled with longing as well as a lingering hatred, Oren had thrashed his way through the scrolls and quills and a selection of prized books to the bottom of an ancient cedar trunk where he had found the crystal tuning orb.

 Once seated before it, he’d wasted only a moment to consider what he was doing and how many Seer laws he was breaking. But the presence called again, more insistently this time, so Oren pushed his reservations aside and set his eyes on the crystal’s clear, reflective surface. Calling up the appropriate incantation, he whispered the words, and soon, like struck crystal, the voice rang clear. Sweet and alluring to his soul as ab-clan honey to the tongue, it also exuded an undertone of discordant tension. This was fitting, for Oren both loved and loathed the Dark Master. As a moth is drawn towards the flame of his own destruction, he did not have the power within himself to refuse the Master’s call.

Lapi shuffled further out of Oren’s way to allow him a clear path to the door. The sound of his dragging feet against the floor drew Oren’s attention back to the situation at hand. He sneered at the nearly prostrate attendant, grabbed the edges of his crystal-embossed outer robe, and then crossed them one over the other before tying them down tightly with a red, tasselled sash. At the door, Oren twirled out of the room, but not before giving the attendant another withering look. “You are correct, Lapi. I do hate to be interrupted; however, not as much as I despise being late to meet the Naagra-Oni. Something I now must do, thanks to you!”

The door slammed behind him, its ringing most certainly heard throughout the entire east wing of the temple. Oren imagined the weak-minded Lapi trembling from his fury, or better yet, fainted on the floor. And smiled.

(excerpt Dyane Forde Copyright © 2014) 

Thanks for stopping by! Have you used test readers before? How are your formatting and self-publishing attempts going? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.