I’m in the middle of four works in progress: one is with the editor for the second round of her magic, another is near completion and will be sent for edits next week, the third continues on because the characters have more to tell, and the fourth is all plotted out and over half written. Whew!
People ask me how I can keep all the stories straight in my head. Truth is I can’t. I stopped trying to do that a heck of a long time ago. Instead, I let the characters tell their story, whenever they speak up. They don’t always tell me everything in order. No that would make sense. My characters are like my mind—all over the place.
If I try to force them to tell me their tales from start to finish, they clam up. ALL of them. It’s not until I relax and simply act as their secretary do they open up and share all. It’s like listening to a favorite old relative describe an event from their youth. They don’t start from the moment of their birth, but instead with that particular moment in time. My characters do that. They’ll give me an ending and then abruptly switch to a scene in the middle then back to the end one more time before deciding to share the beginning.
I jot all these notes and scenes down in little spiral notebooks and then organize the scenes in some sort of timeline. Then I set it aside and work on something else using the same process. Back and forth I go until one of stories grabs hold of me and won’t let go until I have the first rough draft. I print this off and then go through it with my red pen. I then go through and make the changes and additions before printing it off again. I repeat the process over and over again until I have the final manuscript to send to my editor.
While she works on that one, I tackle the others until another is complete and ready for her to tear apart…errr…help bring out my best work. Some authors hate edits. I love them. Seriously, I love every single minute of them because I’ve had the best editors. Each one has taught me so much, but none more than Amber. She gets me and my writing style and has the uncanny ability to point out the exact spots that had rubbed me wrong but I didn’t know why or how to fix it. She tells me how the scene works or doesn’t work for her and that alone will open up the flood gates in my head. I can usually rearrange and rewrite and the entire story is better for it.
Of course there are times when I have to mull it over and the first rewrite doesn’t quite accomplish the task, but by the end of the third round, I have it exactly the way I saw it all in my head. None of it would be possible if I didn’t have the help of Amber and the other editors who work with me and all four of my pen names. Without their help, I would have a hell of a time catching the repetitive phrases. Because I write the scenes out of order, there are times when I do repeat myself. Once i put the scenes in order, I have to go through it several times to catch these instances. Even so, there are still some I miss. That happens when you’re too close to the project and why another set (or two) of eyes is needed.
There are some authors out there who feel that self-editing is more than sufficient to make a manuscript ready to publish. They feel they’re well versed in grammar and language and are the best person to judge what they’d intended to convey to the readers. Why should they pay someone to read through their work when it’s perfect as it is.
Nothing and no one is perfect. All we can do as authors is to put our best work out there. We can’t do that if we’re too blind to see the forest through the trees. In other words, if we believe our own tall tales and refuse to acknowledge there’s ALWAYS room for improvement we might as well keep our stories inside our heads. Why? Readers will see right through it all and call you out on it.
Why not save yourself the embarrassment and have your work professionally edited. While it’s no guarantee your book will be a best seller, at least you can rest assured you’ve given it your best effort. If you do that, readers will find you and tell their friends. When that happens it’s a wonderful feeling—one that never grows old. After ten books now, I still get giddy when a reader tells me they enjoyed one of my stories.
I’m finally living my dream. It may not be the same path as yours, but I’m having the time of my life just the same!
Until next time,