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Time to Edit Your First Draft

Get Ready to Edit the First Draft

Every year in November, along with millions of others, I write the first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo. For nearly a decade, I have not failed to write at least the first 50 thousand words of a new novel in my Locket Saga series. I currently have four unfinished novels sitting in computer folders waiting for editing and proofing. I have three or four books that I would like to write into this series before I will consider this fiction project complete, but I did decide to put The Locket Saga aside to work on another more contemporary novel (I’ll discuss more about this novel throughout this blogging series.)

In addition to writing my novels, I also have several nonfiction books that I have written and are in various stages of writing. During this next year, one of my major goals is to write and edit the final drafts of these books and send them to my editor.

Since finishing my most recent first draft at the end of November, I spent December focusing on other things like the holidays and what I am going to do during this next year in various aspects of my publishing business. Now that the new year is here, I am ready to focus on editing.

If you have written your first novel in NaNoWriMo, before you even start editing, congratulate yourself. You finished the first leg of the journey from book idea to finished manuscript. You’ve developed the world where your story takes place. You’ve figured out what story you wanted to tell, and you have gotten to know your characters. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done a lot of work in a short period of time.

Now that you’ve patted yourself on the back, it’s time to get back to work.

The Editing Process

Editing a book that is fit for publication is probably more important than writing a first draft.

You can edit a book yourself or you could get others to help you edit it for you.

The editing process essentially occurs in three steps. One—Content editing Two—Line Editing Three—proofreading.

A writer could spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars getting someone else to content edit, line edit or even ghostwrite their books for them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Authors can and should learn to edit their own work to the best of their ability before sending the book off to have someone else edit their work for them.

Beginning today, I am writing a year-long blog series about how to edit a book from first draft to finished manuscript. For the next twelve months, I will be sharing my knowledge about how to edit your fiction book manuscript to perfection. Even if you are a complete novice, by the end of this year, you will have a novel that is ready to send to a professional editor or agent or publisher without spending thousands of dollars letting someone else do the work (and perhaps not even as well).

The Basic Stages of Editing

Basically, three stages exist in book editing. Those are content editing, line editing, and proofreading.

Content editing includes aspects of novel writing in which you work on developing the story line, the characters, both internal and external dialogue, maintaining point of view, developing the scenes, and tighten up the action. It also includes developing pace.

Line editing includes aspects of novel writing in which you work on paragraph and sentence flow and do final fact checking.

Proofreading should be done last. It doesn’t hurt to do regular spell/grammar checking using a built-in computer program after each editing session, but it’s not wise to spend more than a couple minutes every day at the end of each session over what you edited that day.

It’s important to start editing in the proper order. It would be foolish to proofread at the beginning of the editing process because more than likely you’ll be wasting your time. Imagine proofreading huge passages and deciding later that you want to get rid of that entire section of text. By proofreading too early in the process, you will have potentially wasted hours of valuable time that you could have spent working on improving the rest of the book.

Now that you know editing order, let’s get started.

The First Step in the Editing Process

The first step in the content editing process is to read through your manuscript. However, if you wrote your manuscript on paper rather than on a computer, your manuscript should first be typed out on a computer document before continuing the editing process.

You may want to print out your first draft onto paper, so you can read it more easily as you highlight. I never do this. Instead, I change fonts and font size to give me a different perspective. I like to use “Arial” because it is more like a handwritten manuscript, and it is easier to read.

Just read through the first time, making notes of obvious errors that you see as you’re reading so that you can fix them later.

After you have read through the manuscript this first time, look for the main story line and highlight it in yellow.

Read it again and do the same with other secondary story lines and highlight those as well, but in different colors. Note what story line goes with what color and write a brief description on this chart about each story line. You may need to read through the manuscript several more times before you find all your story lines.

This step is important because in the upcoming weeks, we will be revisiting each of these story lines to evaluate the storyline to determine its value to the overall story, its ARC, character ARCs and scene ARCs. Next week we will be discussing story ARCs and how important they are toward constructing a cohesive novel with no major story content errors. If you locate all the story lines that you have created within your novel this week, you’ll have a good start to your editing process and will be ready to quickly develop your story’s ARCs next week.

Get Your Copy of The Comprehensive Novel Editing Checklist

This is the first post in a series of blog posts about how to edit your novel. If you have a first draft that you would love to publish this year, be sure to pick up a copy of my novel editing checklist and if you haven’t already, sign up to make sure that you never miss a post of this editing series.

FREE COMPREHENSIVE NOVEL EDITING CHECKLIST WITH SUBSCRIPTION TO THIS BLOG


Advantages to Traditional Publishing

bookshelf

When I first thought about writing a book, I thought the same way that so many other would be authors thought. I imagined getting huge advance and being given the royal treatment when I went into New York City to meet my publisher. I imagined a limousine picking me up at the airport and driving me to an amazing suite where I would stay a week while I hit the circuit of going from television station to radio stations, to other interviews, having my own makeup artist and hairstylist, going shopping in the Fashion District and even seeing a Broadway show while I was there.
After my visit, the publishing company would distribute my book and put it in the front of the store in every major book seller in the country. I would be given a number of copies of my books that I could share with my family and friends, and I would “live the dream”.
Nice dream. Reality was far different. I learned later that advances were seldom given to new authors (although I have met one).

Disadvantages to Traditional Publishing

The first thing that I learned was that when an author signs a contract with a traditional publisher, the contract always benefits the publisher at the expense of the author. The contracts are written in legalese so if the author doesn’t have a lawyer to look over the contract, the author might have to do things that they didn’t realize was not to their benefit. I heard of one author’s contract where she had to pay the expenses for attending book signings in distant cities. She was paid a set amount per book, but the number of books that she was able to sell was not enough to pay for her expenses. I had another friend had to buy copies of his own books so that he could sell them at live events. He made more money selling at the live events than anything that the publisher did for him. In addition, the publisher wouldn’t allow him to sell his books in digital format at all. Both had sold their rights to their publisher so they had no recourse. I have heard of other authors who had sold all their rights to publishers. The author has to make changes in manuscripts, might have to use a title and cover design of the publisher’s choosing. The author might not have any say at all.
I also learned was that the traditional publishing process takes about two years before you ever get your book on the shelves. Afterwards, if you were one of the lucky few who were able to get an advance, you won’t get paid until you sell enough books to pay your advance.

Self-Publishing

While I was learning all about traditional publishing, I started looking into self-publishing. The differences were enlightening. There was no promise of any advance. Before I was ever able to sell a book, I would have to put out money for editing, formatting, and cover design.
Of course, there are other problems with self-publishing. There’s a huge learning curve and expense to self-publishing that doesn’t exist with traditional publishing. I would have to take charge of marketing and book distribution. Getting into major bookstores would be difficult and advertising would be on my own dime as well.
I found however that self-publishing has its advantages. As a self-publisher, I own my own work. I have complete control over the content of my book, editing, formatting and cover design. I have complete control over the creative process. I can decide how I market my books, both on-line and off-line. I can handle my own distribution by working directly with independent book stores. I can determine whether I want to go on a book signing or attend a specific event. I can decide what public relations I want to be a part.
As a self-publisher, I can set my prices and can earn 70 percent or more of the cost of the books that I wrote and designed. As a self-publisher, I am a creative and an entrepreneur.


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So, what is guest blogging? I’m glad you asked. Guest blogging is simply writing a blog that is posted on another blogger’s blog that offers another person’s view that the host blogger invites to the blog. According to experts, guest blogging is five times more effective for gaining audiences than posting new content on your own blog. 

Guest Blogging Builds Relationships

Since blogging adds content for the guest blogger, you’re helping that person get additional content. Guest blogging not only builds relationship with you and your host blogger, but it also builds relationship with your host blogger’s audience. In addition, you’re improving your relationship with Google search engines. Simply by including links from the host blogger’s site to your site and back, you’re building quality links to quality content, the search engines will love you and reward you with more opportunity for views.

 

If you want to increase your audience and potentially your book sales, guest blogging is a win for you and for the person to whom you share your post. Guest posting will allow more exposure for your writing and your blog. By sharing your thoughts with another author’s audience, these readers may their way to your blog and you’ll have other people liking and promoting your work. You have something to share that no one else can, so you might as well spread it around.

 

How to Get Started Guest Blogging

 

To gain more of an audience, search for blogs that write in your niche and then read that blog and get to know the author of that blog.  Your style may fit into what this blog’s audience wants and needs. As a guest blogger, you will want to be sure that you are a good fit, which is why reading their posts would be a good fit. Does this author think like you do? You wouldn’t want to waste your time on a blog in which your views are not aligned to some degree with those of the blog host.

 

In addition, be sure that you have a link from the host writer’s blog back to your own.

 

You Should Also Allow Guest Posts on Your Blog

 

You should allow guests on your blog for the same reason you should guest on other blogs. You’re paying it forward by allowing some people to have the spotlight. You’re helping to promote them and, in turn, they’re promoting you too. Readers from their blog are going to come over to your blog to check out what their favorite writer wrote.

 

This is a way that you can give your audience a slightly different viewpoint. This guest has a slightly different view of your niche than you do, so it gives your audience a change of pace and a different way of thinking as well as getting to know another author in your genre. 

Want to Guest Blog?

I am currently looking for other bloggers, especially bloggers who have recently published a book to either be a guest blogger or allow me to guest blog on their blog.

 

When I guest post for someone else, I will be linking the post from my blog, promote it several times on twitter, share it on Facebook, thank you for allowing me to blog on your site, and I will answer any comments on the post.

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If you guest post on my blog, I will ask you to do the same.

 

If you have a blog and would like more exposure to your blog, please contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com and let me know which type of blogging exchange you would prefer.

 


 

Imacon Color Scanner

Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812

 

This month we have gone over how I will be developing plot, primary characters, and secondary characters of the yet unnamed novel that I will be writing this November for NaNoWriMo in November. Now we are going to discuss the other main aspect of a book and that is setting.

What I know About the Place and Time

In a screen play, the setting and time are separated, but in my novels, I combine the time with the setting. In my yet unnamed book, I know my setting and that is Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1812 through 1815. I grew up in that county, so I know the terrain. The difference, of course, would be how man has changed certain aspects of the area and how people did things differently back then. The trees were old growth trees, some so big that it took two men to put their arms around them. The house I grew up in had been built around 1860 from old growth timber. The sawn lumber produced wide boards and you could see the two-man saw marks on many of the marks the handsaw made in at lumber. The stairs going up to the second story was and is still held together with square-headed blacksmith nails. It is not hard to imagine going back a few years further and imagining before when the houses were log cabins built using the same two-man saws and wooden pins holding puncheon logs together.
At the time, the growing villages of Erie and Waterford were starting to develop into sizable communities. Some of the homes in the area were already built as stick rather than log houses. It is a little-known fact that in Erie at the time, street lamps were already using natural gas to light up the muddy village streets.
A ship yard had been developed in early. During the War of 1812, President James Madison ordered the construction of a naval fleet at Erie to regain control of Lake Erie. Shipbuilders Daniel Dobbins of Erie and Noah Brown of New York led construction of four schooner-rigged gunboats and two brigs. Oliver Hazard Perry arrived from Rhode Island to command the squadron. His fleet successfully fought the British in the historic Battle of Lake Erie, which was the decisive victory that solidified United States control of the Great Lakes.

In addition, wild animals still prowled the area. Families worked hard and the fear of Indian attack was still a possibility.

The Back-drop for Character Activity

These pictures of life in this part of the Great Lakes Region give a back drop for the characters and events that I develop in this book that I plan to write in November. In the meantime, I have two other books to develop and ready for publishing as well as eleven other books to promote. I will let you know more about this book after I finish the first draft in November.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.
Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown

More from Cygnet Brown

Also read my guest blog post on Pam Young’s Blog

The Journey of a Self-Publisher is Paved with Good Intentions (5)

https://skatingthru2012.com/2018/05/27/i-could-find-ways-to-make-things-happen-on-my-own/

 

 


The Plight of the Unnamed Crew Member

galaxy quest

The Crew of Galaxy Quest with the unnamed crew member on the far right back of picture

Last week we discussed the main characters which include the protagonist, antagonist, and the love interest (Haven’t Read it? Here’s the Link) In addition to a protagonist, antagonist, and love interest, there are other characters in the story and these are called secondary characters. What you don’t want for secondary characters is what I call the “unnamed crew member” in other words, you don’t want too many of those people who are only there to serve the protagonist and antagonist. If you’ve ever seen Galaxy Quest, you’ll probably remember the plight of the unnamed crewmember is vaporized at the beginning of the episode to indicate that the idyllic planet that they were on was not so idyllic.

Secondary Characters are Not Just Props for the Main Characters

It is too easy to use secondary characters as simple props for the main characters. You wouldn’t want someone using you for their own gains, and I don’t think that secondary characters like being used that way either. Therefore, just as you develop the protagonist, antagonist, and love interests, you want to develop their sidekicks as well.
So how do you do that? To develop secondary characters, I create character sketches and work to get inside of their heads.

How to Develop a Character Sketch

A character sketch is a document that tells the physical, emotional, mental and social aspects of a character. It takes you from telling about the character and actually getting inside of his head.

What goes into a secondary character’s sketch? To create a character sketch, you want to have a number of things that you know about this character. First, you want to know a little about this person’s physical appearance, but you want go a little deeper than what color hair, how tall, and the color of their eyes. Does this person have any scars? How did he or she get it? Was the protagonist or antagonist there when it happened? Do they have any other physical defining characteristics? Did he or she have an illness as a child or older that caused other physical defects, limps or whatever? Does this person have any bad habits like smoking or drinking too much? How does this person relate to the protagonist and antagonist? If the protagonist is controlling, how does the sidekick relate? Does he feel intimidated? Does he resent the main character’s control over him? What is his or her history with the protagonist/antagonist/love interest? Have they always known one another or how did they meet? What kinds of things did they do together in the past? The more well-rounded you can get your secondary characters, the more well-rounded your story will become.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

 

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.

(Have you read Book III of the Locket Saga: A Coward’s Solace? If not, a copy May 22-28, 2018 at a discount.)

Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


prince madoc

Every story has its main characters. The protagonist is the good guy and the antagonist is the bad guy. In a romance novel there is also the love interest.

The Protagonist

I think the protagonist will be Joseph McCray, Elizabeth and Phillip’s youngest son. He is very much like his brothers and sisters. He is like his mother in that he likes adventure, so he goes with his Cousin Jonathan Mayford to Erie to work at the shipyard building the Great Lakes Fleet.

The Antagonist

If you haven’t noticed, most of The Locket Saga series does not have a lot of antagonists per se. If there could be an antagonist in most of the series, it would be the environment or perhaps the friction between the future bride and groom. Even the two books that are coming up, Two Rivers and Sunrise on the Mississippi don’t have any other antagonist than the environment and the struggle preventing the couple from being together. It is not that I don’t think they are good stories. I do, but I want to change that for the book that I write in November. I want to include a real villain.

In The Anvil, I put James in as a pseudo-antagonist where Robert thought that James and Judith had a love relationship, but that was an illusion. For this story, I want a real antagonist. Perhaps I could have a British spy set out to destroy the Niagara. This person could be someone who has an interest in the protagonist’s girl who finds the other guy charming, or maybe not. I will have to keep you guessing throughout the book. Don’t you think?

The Love Interest

So, who should this love interest be? If she is anything like the other female love interests of the series, she is a hardy female. No matter what situation she finds herself in she can handle the situation and the man at her side. She is sure of herself. She doesn’t accept the female stereotype of fragile female. Not even Lowri, the noblewoman of Sailing under the Black Flag, was able to stand up for herself.
The girl of this story also probably lives at the port in Erie. Imagine a girl living in a town along one of the Great Lakes knowing that at any time, the enemy, who’s territory is just across Lake Erie, could invade the secluded town. This, of course is just how I see this story might unfold. I won’t even be doing the character sketches until October.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.
Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


main street

On last week’s article, I discussed how a community could develop an anthology to promote the businesses in their community. (Read it Here) Such a book would not only help develop community relationships but could be a tool for new comers to get a better idea of what the community, especially small communities or specific communities within larger cities.

Promoting A Local Anthology

1. Before book is put together, as part of the submission project, include within the cost of the submission the cost of one copy of the book.
2. Include the ability to pre-order also at retail price, offer to sell them additional books for their family, or friends.
3. Give the businesses the option of buying more books to sell or give away when their supplies have diminished.
4. Once the book is written, published and copies are purchased, here are ways that a community can optimize its use of an anthology book written. Sell copies from your chamber of commerce.
5. Sell books at local and regional events where promoting the community would be beneficial.
6. Have a free pdf offered online from your chamber of commerce website.
7. Sell the book on Kindle and other online digital and print book sites.
8. Encourage business owners to sell copies of the book from their businesses.
9. Sell copies of books at the library bookstore, the local historical society bookstore, and at community events where people from outside the community may attend and purchase the book as a souvenir.
10. Sell copies to regional and State agencies that promote tourism of your area.
I am certain that there are probably other ways to sell your local anthology that could unify the community and benefit local tourism and business.

Explore Writing a Book to Promote Your Community

Write a Book and Ignite your Business_red

If businesses in your community would like to investigate writing an anthology for your community, please contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com for a consultation.
Intrigued by the idea of writing a book to promote your business, but aren’t sure what exactly would be involved? Check out my book: Write a Book and Ignite Your Business
Available in Print
http://www.lulu.com/shop/cygnet-brown/write-a-book-and-ignite-your-business/paperback/product-23373303.html#
And on Kindle
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076NWLTSP

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