On Writing… edits

As I’ve mentioned before, my latest novel, The Ebb of Time, is now available over on Amazon and I’m getting fairly strong interest in it… at least insofar as people are reading it -usually in what appears to be one sitting!- and that, in turn, encourages me to think that perhaps I’ve written another book that those who take on get into and want to see what comes next…

I hesitate to use the term ”page turner” but that’s indeed what’s usually in the back of my mind when I write these works. I want people to be ”hooked” onto the novel and its presence and hopefully get so into it they read it all the way through and indeed in that one sitting.

I’ve mentioned before, perhaps too many times now, that I find Elmore Leonard’s writing advice quite fascinating and, of the items he lists, this is my favorite:

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

What he’s saying is that your novel/story should be a lean and focused work, one that doesn’t waste the reader’s time with elements which don’t add to the story in any significant way.

There are many, many, many works out there that I’ve tried to read but have stopped simply because the author does indeed go off on tangents, perhaps over-describing what characters wear or getting a little too detailed about silly stuff like what they eat (This, interestingly enough, is something I see far too often: Detailed descriptions of what a character is eating and/or orders at a restaurant).

Anyway, for me getting a good first or second draft of a book is inevitably only the first major step in getting it ready to be released. I wind up spending many hours going over the work, revising it and adding -at first anyway- elements that I feel might be needed or, conversely, removing things that are either repetitious or don’t really add much to the story proper.

The repetitious thing is a real head-scratcher for me. I don’t know why but sometimes I repeat story elements and its not until I get to the editing phase that I realize there are these repeated beats/concepts. No major literary crime, mind you, but an annoying thing I do without meaning to. Often I’ll consider these repeated beats and compress them together into one and choose where best they belong.

But even when you’re completely done with your work, it pays to have someone read it after the fact.

My wife did this with The Ebb of Time and she found, much to my shame, at least a half dozen minor errors I made which somehow made it through my editing process.

Most were silly things. I would call a character a different name. On one specific page, the main character was called -twice!- by a different name and for the life of me I don’t know how a) I made that error and b) didn’t discover it before giving my wife the book to read.

There was one paragraph, a small one thankfully, that was almost incomprehensible as written. Another oddity that it made it through so many drafts without me noticing it! My best guess as to how it made it there was that maybe I did some revision on that paragraph at the very end and simply got distracted and didn’t add in all the words I needed to.

Again, though, we’re talking about very minor stuff. The name changing truly was the biggest issue but it was limited to problems here and there. The one paragraph was a relatively small one halfway through the novel and easily fixable, and I believe there were also something like two very minor edits of improper works/tenses.

Regardless, I’m thankful to those out there who are checking the novel out.

As is often the case with me, I’ve taken a few days to relax… and focus on some rather serious things I’m about to deal with regarding the loss of my parents in Champlain Towers… but am already thinking about my next work.

As is always the case, it’s something I’ve wanted to work on for a while, a general premise that should allow for expansion into a hopefully suspenseful action/adventure/horror book.

We’ll see!