What is Depassion and Why it’s Important
Okay, so you just finished your first draft and you’re in complete love with your work. I get it, because when I finished the first draft of Northern Knights, then called Once: The Lost Book, I was thrilled, and ready to share it with the world.
I was so ready to hit the publish button and share the work with the world.
Then, I decided just to be safe, I should conduct some research.
Rules of Writing
Thank goodness I did, because when I went through Northern Knights in a first edit, I found at least a dozen plotholes, multiple character descriptions of the same people, throat clearing, on-the-nose writing, slowing down the story in every which way possible, and omniscient point-of-view.
What’s funny is I didn’t even realize I broke all these “rules of writing.” Furthermore, I used adverbs everywhere, used far too many adjectives to describe just about everything, and used just about every single dialogue tag then-known to man.
Wow…it was bad. I mean, the story was good, because of my underlying message, but man, the writing was so bad a good story is deemed worthless.
Sure, perhaps my tenth-grade English teacher would’ve loved it…the witch…but man, to the average, everyday reader in 2018, where we all have an attention span of three to five seconds, we’d have put the book down a few pages into the first chapter.
I wouldn’t have, because it was my story and I loved it, but I came across the greatest piece of advice ever given to me…. write with your reader in mind.
See, I wrote with myself in mind, thinking there are a lot of Todd Matthews’ out there just raring to buy such a masterpiece.
But no, nobody will want this piece of work; it’s downright abysmal. Maybe I’ll share it one day, just to show all of the what not to do when writing.
So, I had to buckle down, and buckle down fast.
Another bit of advice? Depassion the work. We need to be real with ourselves and tell us our first draft sucks. And when I say it sucks, it sucks more than the 2016 and 2017 Cleveland Browns combined.
In other words, you better have a great editor on hand or learn to become a ferocious self-editor and be ready to edit the work about fifty times, focusing on one to two writing mistakes with each edit.
I chose the latter route because I knew professional editing costs thousands and, well, my budget is still very tight due to being in the first year of this thing!
So, I hunkered down and took a nice, long time to edit Northern Knights, which later became Days of Gaia: Uprising, then Age of Columbia: Uprising, and finally Northern Knights: Lord of Columbia Episode I.
Want to know when I sat down for my first edit?
Want to know when I hit the publish button?
Sure, a professional editor is going to save a lot of time, but I’m always a fan of learning one to two other crafts in the writing field, and being my budget wouldn’t allow a professional editor, I learned to edit myself.
Someday, I’ll likely create a Second Edition of Northern Knights with a professional editor involved, but that day is likely not going to happen until at least 2020. However, unlike most going through a career change, I’m relatively young, only 27, so time’s on my side as I’ve read stories of the majority of authors, traditional and indie, making such changes in their late-30’s, early-40’s. But I’m a creature of habit, and I know if I didn’t pursue this child’s dream while I’m still young, it likely never would’ve happened.
How to Depassion Your Work
So, what do you need to do to depassion your work?
1. Get an editor or self-edit ferociously, and it means learning how to from a professional, as I did in the Jerry Jenkins’ Writers’ Guild.
2. Become a micromanager. You know, that micromanager at your job. Become them. Become that person who looks for things to criticize. You might have to read your manuscript a few times before you can micromanage, because of the law of diminishing returns. This basically means you’re going to appreciate your work less and less with each read, until you finally have had enough of it, by which time you’re ready to start looking for things to critique.
3. Did you make a cover? Yeah…don’t do that unless you’re a professional graphic designer or happen to have a very strong background in art. Buy a premade cover if you’re a poor rookie like I am, or if you can, hire a professional who will create you a custom design. Again, I plan on doing this one day, and I may even portray my main character if I’m still young enough.
4. Is your point-of-view deep enough? Are you using a lot of dialogue tags? If so, perhaps create beats or use other forms of action to depict who’s talking. I did this when editing Northern Knights and it took me a freaking month, but once the hard work was finished, it read so much better and, despite the fact I’d read it about twelve times already, was exciting to read, meaning the passion in the work was returning.
5. Everything makes a full circle. What’s funny is you’ll have that same passion for your work once more after you’ve conducted such a ferocious edit, and I’m not going to lie, it might take a year. However, these days for me, time goes so fast that a year really means nothing at all. In fact, I can tell you exactly where I was this time last year; sitting in an RV and conducting presale for a new gym in Wexford, Pennsylvania while editing Northern Knights and walking to the local Walgreens across the street whenever I needed food.
So, when you rediscover that passion for your work, after admitting the story is good but everything else needs to be overhauled, you’re ready to publish. However, it might be wise to get some beta-readers and if one’s a proofreader, that’s a bonus, just in case you missed something. Sure, a typo or two or a minor plothole might still happen, but (most) readers will let this go, as even Big Five Bestsellers contain these. But, if you minimize this to an amount you can count on one hand, you’re definitely in the clear.
I’d like to thank all of my readers for coming across My Freedom Flame, please come back soon.
And if you’re curious in Northern Knights: