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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Tag: editing

Help! The Editing Process Has Me Stumped!

For many of us writers, the editing process can be and is a drag. It’s the part most of us don’t look forward to, and we just wish we could write and upload first drafts to Amazon all day and all night, making a full-time living off passive income from now until, well, whenever to be honest.

The tips I’m going to give you today actually makes the editing process manageable, if not fun. It’s a fun process because for one, it allows you to read the story you created time and again. While the Law of Diminishing Returns eventually sets in after you read your story for the fifth or sixth time, rest assured that you will have a clean manuscript ready for publication.

In fact, if you can’t afford an editor, the best of which cost four-figures, you’re in even more luck, because this editing process is foolproof and one that I’ve tried for Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny.

Best yet, I managed to eliminate most if not all typos, plot holes, and even the teeniest of errors. I’m not saying my manuscript is error-free, but it’s as close to being so as possible.

 

Step One: Correct Major Errors

Okay, you’ve written your first draft, so now we’re looking for ONLY major plot errors. If you’d like, you can make grammatical corrections and even that of minor errors, but you’re looking for the major ones.

If you tend to write your entire manuscript without a next-day edit, which in my opinion is part of the writing process, you will find a lot of these.

If something like peoples’ names, places, geography, weather, ideas, and claims don’t match up here, you want to change them as soon as you get a chance.

Also, don’t freak if something doesn’t match up. Just look back into the story to find consistency. Keep your manuscript on a Word document and use the ‘Find’ tab if say, you suspect the same place or character has two different names, or if a character or even your narrations contradicts something previously.

Also, don’t read through your manuscript once. Do this TWICE, as it’s likely you will have missed a few major errors. For some odd reason, when we read through our own manuscripts, we can and will miss things, so don’t leave anything to chance and read twice before moving to Step Two.

 

Step Two: Correct Minor Errors

Okay, now you can move on to correcting minor errors. Some of these could be a character acknowledging another by mistake. For instance, in Missing in Columbia, Micah assures Cain of something, but just a few paragraphs later, Cain erroneously states, “Like Jed said.”

As you can see, going through Step One, I missed this crucial point since I looked for major errors. The example here is a minor plot hole.

Things such as character moods are big here as well. For instance, if Cain’s uncertain about something in one sentence but is confident in the very next, it can also be an example of inconsistency. Minor, obviously, but it will make more readers pause than you’d think.

If it’s hot out and Cain’s dripping with sweat one minute before being fully recovered the next, it’s another minor plot error. If Cain’s right-handed but is doing things with his left, it could be another error.

Jerry Jenkins once stated he had his characters wearing winter clothes in the Sahara during one of his drafts and it was only after going through his initial steps of revision did he spot it.

Read through your manuscript at least twice, and if you still find a good number of errors, read through one more time. I like to live by this rule: When you think you found your last error, read through your work again. You’re bound to find another.

 

Step Three: Grammar Errors

Here’s the fun part. Grammar errors.

Now, the good news is you might have spotted a few errors while reading through your manuscript, and if you have, great.

A lot of us will find and correct grammar errors while searching for both major and minor plot errors, myself included. As I said, feel free to fix them, just remain intent on the actual purpose you have of going through your manuscript searching for plot holes.

Now that we have most, if not all plot holes out of the way, grammar errors are the main attraction.

Always look for these words in general:

1. There, they’re, their

2. Your, you’re, you’ll

3. Its, it’s

4. Have, had

5. Is, are

6. Any word that describes possession. If something belongs to multiple people, the apostrophe is always after the ‘s’. If something belongs to one person, it comes before the ‘s’.

 

Step Four: Grammar, Part II: Omit Needless Words

This is a biggie, because every author thinks more is better. They couldn’t be more wrong. Less is more. Less is power. So make sure you reel in that power.

Omit the following words unless it makes sense to keep them:

1. Only

2. Just

3. That

4. Very

5. The

6. Of

7. Like

8. As

9. Suddenly

10. Had

11. Did

12. By

13. Be

14. Being

15. Was

Most of these words either contribute to passive writing or describe a verb that can be remedied by using a stronger verb.

‘That’ should only be used to clarify something. For any sentence with ‘that’ in it, eliminate the word and see if the sentence still makes sense without it.

Like and as are similes and should be eliminated.

Suddenly can be replaced with an author just stating what happened. The reader will know that an event suddenly happened.

Ditto for only. If there’s one, the reader knows there’s only one. And double ditto for just.

Had comes before verbs in passive writing. Eliminate it. ‘If someone had told Cain’ is passive. ‘If someone told Cain’ gets the same point across.

 

Step Five: Eliminate Adverbs

Anything ending in ‘ly.’ Seriously…..there is always a stronger noun or verb for your lazy adverb.

Cain ran quickly sounds terrible.

Cain darted cues the reader that he’s running faster than usual.

I like to use adverbs when a character speaks in dialogue, as it adds to their voice.

 

Speaking of which: Bonus Step: Add Voice

Yes, the final step is to add voice to your characters. Make sure your characters all sound different, to the point the reader can tell who’s speaking.

Don’t let your characters talk like you.

Instead, give them their own language.

Let them use certain words, phrases, and speaking styles.

Give your characters variety.

You might have a character who possesses attitude. Show it in their dialogue.

Another character might have a deadpan persona. Again, show it.

A third character might be the king of one-liners. Again, and again, show it.

Characters might have a short personality and will emphasize words and phrases often.

Give your characters voice and swagger so the reader knows who’s speaking and when.

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How to Depassion Yourself from Your Book

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.

 

Depassion Yourself

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?

 
July 2017.

 
Want to know when I hit the publish button?

 
Last week.

 
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:

Print: https://amzn.to/2vA7GPj

E-book: https://amzn.to/2KkkyOZ

The Writer’s (Not So) Easy Life

Any Writer’s Slash Storyteller’s Life is Anything but Easy

Let me be the first to tell you I’m only six months into this pursuing my passion for writing journey, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. While I wrote the first drafts of Comeback Kid and Lord of Columbia over the past three years, it’s only been my number one priority for a few months.

 
Before that, it was to become one of the most well-known fitness trainers out there, but I had to admit to myself the obvious: I wanted to make a living from writing more than I did from fitness. Nothing wrong with fitness, but after studying what I study (Deep State, new world order, globalism), writing just seemed the more humane path for me.

 
However, since embarking on this path and slowly morphing my life from 100% trainer and 0% writer in 2014, to slowly changing my guard (75/25 in 2015, 50/50 in 2016, and 25/75 in 2017), all the way to “pretty much” 100% writer in 2018, I’ve learned two things:

 
1. I definitely made the right choice, despite considering 2018 my “rookie year.”

 
2. The lifestyle of a trainer is definitely the easier of the two, but I love complexity, so bring it on!

 
And that’s what I’m going to touch up on today: The Life of the Writer.

 

Pop Guys are Dumbasses

Sorry for the harsh title, but what’s funny is no one’s been a bigger critic than my biggest “follower,” the Pepsi Guy. I wish you could all meet him, as I’ve written about the dude several times. Long story short, he’s one of those arrogant minds who believes he’s right on everything.

 
Here’s his real thought process: If you’re not punching a timeclock and working your ass off, you’re too lazy to work.

 
Oh, really, Pepsi Guy?

 
Or perhaps you’re just too ignorant to see through your own stupidity.

 
Any writer would back me on this one.

 
Any writer.

 
Hell, even as a trainer, I’m not making ends meet unless I give my heart and soul to my clientele.

 
Either way, like I just mentioned, the writer’s life is tough, especially just starting out.

 

Fun, yes, but beyond tough.

 

What Writers Do

Okay, so for one, in this fast-paced day and age, you better be coming up with new material. Therefore, I’m releasing Lord of Columbia: Northern Knights a month earlier than planned, but on KDP Select for three months before rolling it over into open publishing.

 
I’m doing this because come November 1st, Book Two (working title is Swords of Destiny) will be released, again on KDP Select, while Northern Knights goes into the open markets. Come February 2019, Book Three will follow the same path, before I do away with KDP Select come Book Four unless it provides strong dividends in return.

 
Also, I have Comeback Kid, a much smaller novel, getting released around Decemberish…okay I totally made that word up.

 
Needless to say, not only am I coming out with new material, but different genres, and a lot of books.

 
Why?

 
For a few reasons.

 
But the primary reason is this: I’m an indie-author and I better look at myself as an entrepreneur more than an author, and so should you if you’re going this route. What attracted me to being indie is this: I can run my own business and if I succeed, I can reward myself. If I fail, I only have myself to point the finger at.

 
Also, owning a business (indies are business owners), we need to learn the business, study the market, and drive our product toward the way customers are buying product.

 
What if they stop buying e-books and go audio, as some charts have implied?

 
We better have our books out in audio.

 
What if people like box-sets more with branded covers?

 
We better be morphing our products into box-sets with branded covers, as I plan on doing if Lord of Columbia makes it. I’m thinking giving each book their own unique identity before creating a box-set and branding them, which I’ll be hiring a graphic designer for rather than buy premade covers, which I’m doing now.

Traditional Author or Indie-Authorpreneur?

See, here’s the score: If you’re traditional, it means someone loved your work so much that they’re going to pay you in royalties to publish it. However, you’re selling your rights, letting them set your prices, they’re choosing the cover, title, and description for you, and everything else.

 
Though you’re still doing most of the marketing.

 
As for an indie, you have full control, and it’s like having your own business…it is having your own business. You’re an entrepreneur, which some in the industry call authorpreneur.

 
So, are you molded for traditional or indie?

 
Are you an author or an authorpreneur?

 
Are you just writing-minded or do you have an entrepreneurial mindset?

 
This is where my training background comes in, as being a trainer was like me having my own business. I could set my own hours, and train people at my own discretion…that’s until 247 became so corporate they cracked down on us trainers and measured our talent by monthly sales numbers in favor of, oh, I don’t know…. changing lifestyles?

 
Now, as an indie, sales numbers are of utmost importance. However, I’m not employed by anyone but myself. I have no boss to answer to but me. I can measure my own success in favor of a company measuring success for me, especially at the amount they were paying me.

 
Again, For me, indie wins out.

 
But, if you don’t want to worry about cover design, editing, description, title, or any of that, traditional may be the way to go. However, if you’re indie, and you’re successful to have a nice, little budget, you can always outsource much of the work.

 
I like to keep the writing (obviously) and editing to myself. Many will insist on outsourcing editing, but the Jerry Jenkins Writers’ Guild helped me leave my pride at the door and become a near-perfectionist when it comes to self-editing, something he terms: ferocious self-editing. It’s funny, because when I’m in the library doing my editing, I’ll usually grab one of the Left Behind books he wrote if I get stuck and skim through for an example to make sure I’m editing the same way Jerry would.

What Makes the Writer’s Life a Challenge?

For one, if you’re like me and embarking on your own, you better get used to working without making money early on. Sure, income is going to flow in, slowly at first, heck, perhaps at a snail’s pace at first, but money’s made while you sleep…literally.

 
Money isn’t made while you’re working, so you can make money while you’re sleeping. You want to make money while you sleep without punching a timeclock? Own a writing/author business.

 
When Lord of Columbia: Northern Knights is released, the goal is to start working toward a livable income.

 
Note, I didn’t say the goal is a livable income. That takes time, but start building toward it. When Swords of Destiny comes along, I’m hoping to be partially there. When Book Three comes along, six months from August 1st, I hope to be closing the gap. Meanwhile, Comeback Kid will be in its first stages, too.

 
It’s all about building slowly.

 
Remember, the Houston Astros lost 100+ games three years in a row before they built a decent team and eventually won the World Series.

 
So, if you want to be a full-time writer, something I’ve learned in Year One is to be patient, patient, patient. Make sure that product you’re selling is pristine. Too many writers fail to do this, and now companies like Amazon have noticed and are trying to put a stop to it, as I read an earlier article about them axing less-than-perfect product in the e-book and book market. Good.

 
Take pride in your product and make it as close to perfect as you can.

 
I’d like to thank all of my readers for coming across My Freedom Flame, please come back soon.

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