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Developing The Novel

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Hi Guys


I thought I would ask everyone a question: primarily the mentors.


What is your process after you have created a 'first draft' and have had it edited and beta'ed.


What is your next stage if you want to improve a text?


I have a text at the moment which is 53k and i'm about 5/6ths of the way through and I can see it being a 'novel' at around 65k. Now, i've had it edited along the way and have been posting it but whats the next stage?


I also have another text at around 50k, which is a full story in its own but I know there are further stages that it can go.


Any answers would be appreciated :)

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I don't quite understand what you mean. You have the story, it's been betad and edited and you've posted it. Do you mean what do you do to get it published, or post it on another site, or revise it? Can you make your question a little more focussed?

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  • Site Administrator

Hi Johnathan~


I guess it kind of depends on what you want to do with it. If it's just a minor revision, then I just go through chapter by chapter. Read through each chapter, mark the spots where I go WTH! and work from there. For a major revision, it gets a little more complicated, for me anyways. I'm going to use my story Puppy Love as an example.


When I first wrote Puppy Love, I thought it turned out great. Now, as I've grown a bit as an author, I go back and read it and just cringe at some of the mistakes that I've made in it. My first step in this was getting a group of people and having each of them beta read it. I created a questionnaire for each chapter for the beta reader to fill out. Questions such as: Were the characters believable in this chapter? Did you notice that there were things that really seemed to have no relevance to the story as a whole?


While I have not started the revision on it yet, I still have all the comments that the beta group gave me. Plus, I can go back here and look at the reviews. Andy left me a wonderful review that pointed out that a characters actions were completely OUT of character for him, so when I go back, I'll take a closer look at that part. And it helps that another review agrees with Andy's take on it.


This is the way I do it, but before I even start, I have to ask myself WHY i want to do a complete revision. Do I need to "build" the characters more? Does the plot need to be tightened up? What exactly do I NOT like about the story? It's only when I know what I need/want to fix that I really start thinking about the revising process. Hope that helps a bit and wasn't too rambling.




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Apologies Posted Image


I mean, what is your revision process? How do you take your text and make it better than it was before.


Some of the authors I know here have been published, how did you get it up to a publishable standard?


I didn't. That's what editors are for. And I STILL don't agree with everything she says.


I guess it's a matter of having a 'feel' for what you do, for when it sounds right and what sounds wrong and being strong enough to stand by your work, including being prepared to acknowledge faults.


The thing is that, no matter how technically perfect, if you submit to a publisher their editors will have more of an idea of what their readers are looking for a are likely to change.


For example, my editor is SO fanatical about short sentences she chops up the long ones even when some of the cut sentences don't make sense when they stand alone. We are also in a running battle about sentences beginning wth but. For me it' s a huge no no but she's peppered the bloody thing with them.


Moral of the tale. No matter how good you make your work there will ALWAYS be someone looking to improve it whether rightly or wrongly.


Once you have had your work beta'd and edited, and have gone through the edits and sent it back to the editor to look at the revisions there really isn't very much else you can do.

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I'm a bit confused about the sequence of writing/editing/beta'ing here.


First, I don't think the author's first draft should go through the beta process, let alone the editing process. With some of my authors that I edit for, I don't see a draft until the 6th, 7th or higher draft.


Second, I think there should be an "alpha" review in which the author asks the question of the reviewer: is this at all a promising story? Once that level of review is done and, if necessary, a new draft written, it's time for the beta review.


Third, the beta review should look for plot line, inconsistencies, major holes, etc. -- the larger problems that a story might have. After the beta review, the author should go back and be ready to produce another draft -- with perhaps another cycle of beta reviewers.


Fourth, the new draft is made available to the editor. As an editor, I find nothing more annoying than working hard on a work that doesn't survive the next round, so beta reviewing should be virtually complete before editing begins. Of course, the editor may find some further stuctural problems that need to be pointed out and fixed.


Fifth, I would recommend that the author seek a final editing process. In particular, edits sought in the previous step may require significant changes in writing -- the structure and plot lines should be fairly solid -- and in making those changes, the author can introduce new editing errors. The final editing should be thorough but should not be used to suggest major changes to the manuscript.


The notion of editing and final editing comes from my experience on a newspaper copy desk. The city, sports, and features desks will have already worked on the copy of the reporters before sending it to the copy desk. The copy editor's role is to do a final polishing of the story. I remember once rewriting the first paragraph of a features-desk piece that was truly awful. The head of the copy desk caught hell from the features desk, which had caught hell from the prima donna reporter, but he was mild on me because I think he agreed with my changes. In fact, the reporter was more careful in his future work, so I felt vindicated. The point is that the final editor is not there to make major changes except in extreme circumstances.


If the author doesn't follow an orderly sequence, I think the editors, beta readers and the author will be stumbling over each other and possibly making for an unpleasant writing effort.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Site Administrator

Great answers, everyone. I think this also comes down to something many of us who are 'online authors' are guilty of... wanting to post everything we write, as we write it. I'm guilty of the same as well, though not with every story I write. It also goes along with whether or not the author posts as they write each chapter or if their overall story is finished first. I'm leaning more and more toward finishing every story before I post it. It would take a lot of the stress away of longer novella/novel length works though I'll have to work harder on personal motivation to finish.

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