Work continues on the editing phase of The Well of Tears, the final part of my Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy. It’s taken me five weeks to get through the first edit, and I have to say that I’m really pleased with how the book is shaping up. I found editing my second book a long and exhausting process – nothing to do with the story or characters, more the number of stupid grammatical mistakes that I made in the first, and second, and even third drafts. I remember reading Black Hearts Rising seven times on my Kindle before release, which was far too much. The biggest change for the upcoming book was using Microsoft Word’s “Read Aloud” feature earlier in the process. Although listening to your words read back by a machine (not quite robotic, but hardly Stephen Fry) is tiresome in its own way, it’s amazing how many dumb mistakes you spot. I’ve found that the human brain is a fantastic editor for readers – replacing “or” for “of”, inserting a missing connective or article and even editing out the double “the” – but can sometimes be the enemy of the author. Read your own work and those little errors that will jump out at the reader are sneakily masked by your own meddlesome brain. Getting your computer to read your work aloud is a Godsend, and I now use it at three different points in the editing process: once when I finish writing each chapter; again when I’m reading through the whole manuscript for the first time, and finally during the first edit. Taking this into account, here’s a summary of my writing and editing process, as used on The Well of Tears:-
- Plan novel (months of jotting ideas down in an electronic notepad).
- Write each chapter.
- Run each chapter through Grammarly.
- Use Word’s “Read Aloud” feature on each chapter, correcting mistakes.
- Pass batches of chapters to my editor (youngest daughter, Rachel) for comments.
- Make any necessary changes to chapters, run through Grammarly again.
- Combine all chapters into a single document. First draft complete.
- Read each chapter on the computer, using Word’s “Read Aloud” feature to read the whole document, correcting mistakes (yes, there were fewer on the second read!). At the same time, make a note of the areas that need attention in terms of plot, character and general descriptions.
- Edit the chapters that need attention. Use Word’s “Read Aloud” on updated passages or chapters as required.
- Pass completed second draft to Rachel for full read-through.
- Edit entire book, correcting mistakes and considering any suggested improvements.
- Put on Kindle and read through.
- Correct any mistakes (hopefully few and far between at this stage).
- Repeat steps 12 and 13 until I don’t spot any mistakes.
I’ve certainly learned a lot about the craft of writing in putting together my trilogy. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding process, but can be tough at times, especially when being an author is essentially a hobby and you still have a full-time job and family life to think of. But I’m getting better at both writing and editing, and all of the hard work so far puts me in a good position to release my new novel early in the new year, probably mid-February.
But writing and editing isn’t the only thing happening around here. I’ve commissioned a cover for The Well of Tears, and once again, Olivia at Oliviaprodesign has come up with a stunning cover. I’ve asked somebody who’s been very supportive of my work if they’d like to feature the cover reveal on their website, and I’m hoping that this will happen soon.
Finally, With the January blog tour for Monkey Arkwright on Rachel’s Random Resources getting ever closer, I’m hoping that it’s going to be a great start to the new year for Lorna and Monkey.