Tag Archives: Writing

Book Writing Series Part Five – Editing

Now you’ve written your book, or you’re almost done with it; congratulations! At this point, you’ve finished the second hardest part of your overall project, and you’ve done something that the overwhelming number of people in the world have never done. That warrants kudos on its own; but you’re not even close to being done.

The next step is the editing step, and it’s the hardest step of the entire process. It’s the hardest process because if you’re going to do it right, it’s going to take longer to edit your book than it took you to write it. First, you have to confront your own demons while editing it. This is when the gut check takes place, where your confidence is tested, because now you’re revisiting your own words, and some of them are going to look and sound alien to you. If you make it through the first edit, you’re going to be fine. But the first edit is crucial.

I know, you’re saying “first edit”? Yes, I’m saying first edit, because when you edit your book, you’re going to have to go through it more than once. I’m going to describe what I went through, so you can see what I’m talking about. I’m going to tell you my story; sound a little familiar?

After I wrote my book, Embrace The Lead, I knew I had to go through the entire thing again. Luckily, I had written it in Word, which checks your spelling as you go along, so I knew that all the regular words were going to be spelled properly. However, I had also used voice recognition software, so I knew there were going to be some alien-looking phrases that were going to stand out. And I knew one more thing; I was going to rewrite as I went along. Everyone rewrites, unless they can hammer something out in one piece and feel fairly comfortable with it. When it comes to something large, though, you’re probably going to rewrite something; it’s perfectly normal.

The first edit was painstakingly long. I’m a speed reader, so I had to change my own mode of reading and actually study my own text. I have to say that I did a pretty good job with the first edit. Word is a great program to use because it allows you to make some mass changes whenever you need to. For instance, there were many instances in the book when I used my wife’s first name by mistake. So, I was able to mass change the entire book from her name to “my wife” with one keystroke; that was great. I also noticed a consistent typo, where my fingers just wouldn’t let me spell this one word correctly, and I was able to make that change all at once.

The first edit of my book took me 5 days. I didn’t end up rewriting all that much, but I did end up adding more to many areas, trying to explain myself better. Still, after the first edit of my book, I felt fairly comfortable with it; but I knew I wasn’t done.

The next edit is something that couldn’t have been done in the past, but in 2002 it was something available to me, and it’s probably available now. I had downloaded a program where I could paste blocks of text into it and it would read them to me. As odd as this sounds, I felt it was important to hear what the book sounded like if it was being read aloud. This didn’t take as long as one might think, but I’m glad I did it because there were some parts where even I got confused, and I was able to fix those areas so that it would read smoother. I belong to a writer’s group that meets once a month, and whenever it’s my turn to present something, I always ask someone else to read it aloud so I can hear if it’s flowing properly. It’s also a rush to hear someone else reading your material, even if it is just a program on your computer.


Two Steps To Writing

Another thing Word can do for you, which became my third edit, is check your grammar. Although Word and I don’t always agree, I decided to change the settings and let it highlight what I’d written, just to make sure there were no major faux pas. It highlighted many areas, which I expected, but it also found some things that I decided to change, so I didn’t mind doing it.

The final part for me was asking some of my friends, those who I knew would read it and look for something critical, to read it for me and point out things they didn’t understand. I specifically told them I didn’t want them to critique the content, only the grammar, and whether they understood what I was saying or not. Debate can be for another time; what I needed was a critical eye only.

I have found that point to be one of the most important things I’ve ever had to do whenever I’ve asked someone for a critique. You have to tell people what you want from them. If you ask someone to read something and tell you what they think, you never know where they’re going to go, and you lose any value you might have been able to get out of it.

When I wrote my first business newsletter, I sent it to about 20 people and asked them what they thought. I didn’t get a single person who gave me anything that I could use. Instead, they wanted to talk about writing style, the layout, the word justification, the concepts I was talking about in the first article, and some just said “nice job”. That wasn’t helpful at all, but it taught me a valuable lesson; it’s one you should learn also.

Of course, at some point you’re going to want some people to actually read it and give you an honest appraisal, something you hope will come out sounding like a testimonial if they actually liked it, but not during the editing process. If you need to, tell the people you’ve asked to edit to write any other comments down and save them for when you’re ready for publication.

As I indicated, the editing process is where you grow up, where your book has its opportunity to mature, and where you’ll find out what you’re made of. If you’re actually lucky enough to get either an agent or a publisher to accept your book, they’re going to pick it apart even further, and you may not like it. But at that point, it means they’re serious about your book, and that may or may not be a good thing. I wouldn’t know, as you’ll learn in the next part of this series when I talk about trying to get published. See you next time.

Book Writing Series Part Four – Telling A Story

Proving that I’m good at internal linking, let’s quickly mention the first three parts of this series again. Part one talked about coming up with the concept for whatever it is you want to write about. Part two discussed how to plan the steps you want to take before writing your book. Part three talked about determining when you wanted to write and what method you were going to take.

Emily Ackerman at Mortified
92YTribeca via Compfight

Those were the steps to take before actually putting a word down on paper. This next part actually talks about putting something down on paper, and it’s the only part that will cover that.

Every person has to write about whatever it is they want to write about. However, whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, the truth of the matter is that whatever you’re writing, you’re telling a story about something. If you’re writing a romance novel, you’re telling the story about love and intrigue and sex, and hopefully you’re telling your story in a flowing manner, something meant to draw the reader into the story. If you’re writing an article on how to make money online, you’re trying to tell the story about things you believe in, have tested or read about, and hoping to convey it to your reader in such a manner that it’s actually touching them and they’re understanding it, because we all know if people don’t understand us, they won’t come back.

Every person I’ve ever met knows how to tell a story. Even those people who say they have absolutely no idea how to tell a story can tell a good one if you ask them something about themselves and their lives. Storytelling is one of those things that’s come down through history, and even the quietest people have a story to tell, and when you give them a chance, they can usually tell good stories, whether you care about the subject matter or not.

Let’s think about it in a different way. I believe that you write for yourself. This means that the story you’re telling is initially for you, whether you’re going to share it or not.

If you’re going to tell yourself a story, how do you do it? If you’re imagining a story, how do you tell yourself what’s going on in your imagination? Do you see in your mind that you walked out of a door and got into a car? Or do you see yourself walking up to your front door, which is painted white and styled in a Victorian manner, turned the brass knob, stepped outside onto the porch of the front of the house, which faces a set of small ranch houses of differing colors, turned around to lock the door, then you proceeded to take a step down onto your sidewalk, which curved around on your lawn towards the driveway, where your red Mustang sits waiting for you to get in and drive to the store?

The second one may be a bit much, but it’s an indication that when one dreams and when one tells a story, there are elements in the telling of a story that helps to set the tone and the mood of the story being told. Yet, I’ve noticed that when many people start writing, they leave out things, and therefore may not quite capture their audience, even if the audience is themselves.

I used to write two business newsletters. Many times I tend to tell a story that helps me highlight the point I’m trying to make. I find it helps people relate to those articles and also helps them remember what I’m talking about at the time.

Obviously, the art of telling a story can be applied to more than just books, but when it comes to writing a book, even a serious one, it’s a very important step to think about. I mentioned detective stories in the first part of this series because I love those types of books. Some writers give you every single beat you’re expecting, every spoken nuance of each character, in vivid detail. Some writers will tell you more about what someone is thinking than what’s being said. Some writers will capture the surroundings in finite detail, hoping that you’ll be able to visualize the surroundings exactly as they have laid them out.

It doesn’t matter how detailed you want to get. Tom Clancy writes some very long, detailed books because he loves to establish every single detail of something, even if he’s only going to allude to it one more time, for only a couple of pages, later on in the book. Someone else, like Clive Cussler, likes to get right to the point, and doesn’t bother with too many extraneous points; action is his realm.

When you’re ready to write, and while you’re writing, think about the story you’re trying to tell. Think about entertaining yourself first, because if you can hold your own attention, you’ll be able to hold the attention of someone else. That’s all for this step; next time, your book is written. It’s time for editing.
 

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How Do You Write Your Blog?

How do you write? I find it an interesting question, especially for blogs, because, for most of the time, I tend to write pretty quickly about pretty much anything. I don’t concentrate on length or anything like that; I just write until I feel like I’m done; kind of a blogging Mozart. lol


by Charles J. Danoff

I know that some people take a lot of time to think about what they want to write about, then write it over the course of a few days. I remember Steve Pavlina saying some time ago that he likes to take two or three days putting his posts together, but he tends to write posts between 5,000 and 7,500 words. Of course, he’s not doing that right now, as he’s doing some test with some kind of drink and talking about his results on a daily basis.

Darren Rowse of Problogger fame said he likes to write at least one post a day on all of his blogs, and these days it’s much easier for him since he’s pretty much turned himself into a corporation, so that when he’s on the road someone else steps in to write posts for him. However, if you look back into his archives (which I did, of course), you’ll find that he used to write multiple posts a day, very short posts where he’d state a topic, write something relatively short, then have a link to the person where he got the idea from in the first place.

By the way, I find it oddly comforting that it took him about as long to start getting visitors and readers to his blog as it’s taken for me, and he also had many posts at the time that got either very little or no activity, just as I sometimes do now (although I am pimping this post of mine again because it was pretty personal, and I’m thinking someone should have commented on it for some reason).

Even when I’ve researched something first, I tend to write pretty quickly afterwards. But you have seen some of my really long posts, and every once in awhile I’ll put up something that’s pretty short, just to communicate something. For instance, the day I posted the quick little blurb about the end of BlogRush, which I got to post as kind of a breaking news story (posted after immediately being written by John Reese himself) was one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written, and it still got a lot of comments.

That proved a couple of things. One, current news counts a lot if you can be one of the first to help break the story. Two, sometimes you can spend a lot of time on something, or put your heart into it, and it won’t merit nary a comment; WordPress doesn’t tell me how many page views, so to speak, a post gets (but Google Analytics does, and that’s a shame; y’all go back and read that post!). I wonder if there’s a plugin for that, and if it would separate how many times I saw it myself. And three, sharing information that someone else comes up with can be greatly appreciated, which is why I’m going to share this page that has a lot of information on page rank, something that a lot of you have been talking about a whole lot lately, which means it’s not only something you seem to care a lot about, but also says y’all need to find a new topic (check this one also). 🙂

Enough of this for now. So, how do you write? How do you decide what to write about? How often do you write? Share with us; who knows, maybe there will be a car as a prize for the most creative post,… nah!

Lava Lamp Pens






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