Ok. I reached a new milestone today! Books 1 and 2 have just been sent to the copy editor. . . finally! I’m sure they could be better, but sometimes in writing you get to the point of diminishing returns, when your head just won’t work anymore.
Each time I do a re-write I realize how much I have learned in my writing efforts and probably have to learn still. But time marches on. When I started down this path over a year ago I had no idea how long a fiction book should be or could be. Several of my author friends suggested somewhere between 80-90 thousand words. Gulp! That many?
My PhD dissertation was relatively short at about 30 thousand. My non-fiction book was 49,500. My first draft of each of these two books was at or just short of 80 thousand each. Each one I turned in today were 87,600 and 87,300! That’s a lot of words . . . but consider I have re-written each one nearly three times. And, book 3 is sitting in the wings in its first draft at 79 thousand. To more experienced authors, that’s really not much. But it seems so to me at present. I just hope I can remember everything I’ve learned!
Some things are easy. For example, Microsoft Word Find and Replace is a great tool, but be careful. When you type in the Find word, it will find every word that has those same letters in the same sequence and replace them with the Replace word. If I want to find the name Van and do a find, other words come up like advanced, advantage, etc. If I pay no attention and Replace with Bob automatically, you end up with a bunch of adbobtage and adbobced. Not good, especially if you are looking through over 80 thousand words. So, the lesson is to go back and find all the Bob words and correct them individually. Ugh. Somebody will say out there that you can avoid this, but I haven’t figured it out yet. If you know, send me an email from my contact entry.
That was a minor lesson, however. Most are more difficult to a new author. One of my first pieces of advice from an experienced author was to add more emotion to my writing. In a limited way, I thought she was talking about happy, sad, crying, smiling, etc. But, no. What she meant to say was you need to add character introspection and even movement. Add to that what is going on around the character. Is it dark or light? Is it afternoon or morning sun? Then there are physical attributes. Is the character sweating or are goose bumps appearing on her skin? Lots of stuff. To some extent, that is why I recommended The Emotion Thesaurus a post or two ago.
There are smart writers out there to help you if you desire. Just ask them.