Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 4 of 6)
STEP 6: ORGANIZE THE CHAOS
Now comes the fun stuff. NOT! This is when you must put on your suit of armor and wade into this travesty that is the first draft of the next best-selling romantic eBook. If you followed the steps laid out this far, you should know who your characters are and a general flow of what the story was intended to be when you started. The final draft may not resemble that yet and needs a bit of spit shining. To get a good grasp on exactly where you stand, do the following checklist check on this draft:
- Is the story in a consecutive timeline that makes sense?
- Are there any glaring holes in your timeline?
- What about the story? Does it make sense and flow organically?
- Does the climax or obstacle that the heroine needs to overcome for true love develop and deliver the emotional impact desired?
- Do the naughty scenes have the right heat level for the audience you are trying to reel in?
- Does everything flow – keep asking this because it is one of the biggest concerns you find in books?
- Copy and paste everything into a general cohesive timeline that moves the story at a pace you find more aesthetically pleasing to a reader. Put on that reader hat, and not critiquing overly the writing (there will be time for that).
- Ensure that everything is in the same font, spacing, and indention format.
- Clean breaks where chapters appear to have formed; make those more concrete with chapter headings.
- Do high-level punctuation, grammar, and conciseness check by word or whatever processor you are using? If you don’t have one, I like Grammarly. Please note this won’t take the place of a good edit but gets chaotic first drafts a margin more palatable at this phase.
Now, you feel you have done all the edits. You need to print this manuscript out, or if you prefer, a tablet on which you can make suggestions in the text. Take a deep breath, roll those shoulders to work out the kink. And start reading.
Where gaps come up, fill them in and expand areas that weren’t as developed our first time. You will find everything from incomplete sentences or sentences that run on for half a page. Put on your reader goggles at this stage of the writing, and test the story, plot, characters, and background elements how does it flow together. This isn’t yet the time to truly critique anything but the story. At the end of this critical phase, we should have this thing that looks like a manuscript for an eBook. By this time, you should also start being attached to these characters, and flaws in their development and interactions will become more self-evident (fill those in). Jumps in timelines that are jarring – sew them up nice and neat.
Work through this until you sit back from your desk and feel like you don’t have anything else to put on paper. With a big, huge smile, you will feel the accomplishment of this moment. As a reality check, we should be about 15 days into our writing journey to that 30-day sizzling eBook. Relish this moment because the next steps are the yucky parts, and you will try your reserve to stay on course. The little light you see at the end of this is called – published author. Bully through these next ugly processes.
When you do a format, check the document in a format that would be enough for publication. If you have a huge font, because you are nearsighted – maybe take it to a Times New Roman, 12 point or smaller, which is more standard for the general populous. Chapter headings, page footers, and the like should all be visited. At this stage, an initial title of the work is more than likely tinkering around the edges of your mind, so jot that down, and we will get feedback in future steps on that when we get some help on the meat of the book itself.
This step shouldn’t take more than a day at best, as we are again marching to a 30-day clock. Besides, this won’t be the final edit by any means; we want it in the clearest format possible to finish moving forward. You should have no major glaring mistakes in the plot, character development, or the like. If you feel that the character development is lacking or have too many players at the table and make the story untenable, kill them off with your pen. Paint scenes that are clean, cohesive, and flow. This is your chance to take all the previous steps and present a draft to yourself that now truly should resemble a book manuscript. Page numbers, chapter headings, and the like are all present. The flow is good, the punctuation is checked, and you are feeling cocky about your efforts. You think this is the next great American read that will get you out of that day job and on to a beach living your dream existence.
Calendar check – when you set the manuscript down and consider this first full draft complete, we should be sitting at day 18 or 19 at best.
STEP 7: OLD FASHION HIGHLIGHTER THEORY OF EDITING
Now the hard steps follow – read this new gem of a writing achievement critically as if someone else wrote it. Imagine your worst enemy in school had written this paper, and you are given one chance to tear it to shreds. Use that level of evilness and take a red pen to this manuscript. I’m not kidding. Forget how connected you are and truly read through this as if seeing it for the first time. Make a contest with yourself on how many mistakes you can find, and a reward is tied to the numbers. This is where I use my Highlighter Theory of Editing and use those bright, colorful highlighters we gathered in preparation.
For the highlighter colors, assign a reason for each color; for instance: green is for bad sentence structure, pink spelling concerns, and maybe yellow for areas you need to rewrite. If you are a sticky note person, I will use them to mark the pages in similar color formats that need attention on my printed version. The bright colors I find less off-putting than big red marks that traditional proofreading and editing use require many symbols and notes. This is a quick way to get through a minimum first critical edit quickly and efficiently.
At this step is when I normally take to a room all by myself because I have found that in addition to Editing for punctuation, grammar, and flow, reading this out loud points out a lot of opportunities to improve. As you give the manuscript life through words, clumsy sentence structure, dialogue that sounds stilted, and a host of other concerns with the overall cohesiveness comes to light that is just reading it in your mind’s eye don’t always find. The other thing that is reading aloud does is make you refocus on the words and hear them and see them.
You are fully aware that the more you look at something, the less likely you will find errors with it. Have you ever read an email three times, and immediately upon sending, a co-worker comes up chuckling about a verb usage or there instead of them? These oversights happen when you are too close and have read the same thing multiple times. Your trickster of a brain can make you believe it flows. Trying to read things aloud gives an entirely new perspective and finds those minute gaps in a text, grammar, and story flow.
After the Editing, of course, you should go back to the manuscript and make all changes. This is a rinse and repeats step. Continue to run through these editing functions until you are sitting in front of a screen as good as you feel capable of doing at this stage. As a good calendar check on our march to 30 days, we should be sitting on day 21 or 22 at the end of this step when ready to open your final product for outside inputs.
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