Tag Archives: writing

Proofreading and Editing Your Own Work

1 May

Hello all. Today I though I’d write a follow up to my earlier post in which I confessed to some of the mistakes I made and problems I encountered in my self publishing journey. You can read the post here if you’re interested. This post is part update and part advice. I want to share my experiences and what I’ve learned in the hope other writers in my position will get something out of it; you can learn from my mistakes.

I’ve been looking at my options for future books and deciding if I can afford editing and proofreading. If I was still in my day job I might well have risked the investment this time but unfortunately things didn’t work out that way; as I had already committed to buying two books covers from an old college friend before I had to leave my job it might not be something I can afford to do, no matter how useful it would be. I’m considering my options.

This dilemma got me thinking though. I can’t be the only hopeful writer with a dream and a zero budget. So what can you do if you can’t afford professional services? Below are my tips, things I’ve found useful in my own work. Obviously I am writing from the point of view of a short story writer, which I believe to some extent makes things easier. Novel writers can still benefit from these but because a novel by its nature has more plotlines and characters it may be a more difficult task.

1) Get a good book on basic grammar if your skills are rusty. When I was studying creative writing at the Open University one book they advised us to get was ‘The Student’s Guide to Writing’ by John Peck and Martin Coyle. It has lots of good advice on grammar punctuation, and spelling. It also has sections on commonly misspelled words. It’s accessibly written and doesn’t try to complicate things. I find this one really handy when I get in a muddle and need to check something quickly. Ironically though its advice on quotation marks does contradict what the OU’s creative writing books teach. Incidentally the OU’s first creative writing book has sections on editing, which you may find useful if you can stretch to it.

2) Write your first draft by hand. I don’t mean write the entire book by hand first, just one story or chapter at a time, unless you really want to do it that way in which case go for it! I found this very helpful. In fact this made the biggest difference to me. I did this for ‘Mysterious Tales’  and, although I don’t claim it was completely error free first time, it certainly helped. When you’re in the writing mood the chances are your brain is focussing on the words and not the technicalities. It’s easy to catch the wrong key or to use a homophone by mistake.

When you are typing up your work from a handwritten original it’s different. (I don’t know why there’s probably some science behind it.) When you’re copying you’re having to take your time. You’re not caught up in the spontaneity of creating and you’re not staring at a screen full of sentences you’re too familiar with to see the errors in them; instead, you are concentrating on the practical task of copying. It is at this point that the clumsy punctuation or poorly arranged sentences really jump out at you. This method also has the advantage of providing your first edit. Obviously this wont catch everything, especially if you make substantial edits later, but it just might help.

There is of course something else you can try; it’s one of the first things most people usually recommend, to ask friends and family for help. This is ok, but I know it isn’t always an option. In my own experience I found that although there were some people happy to buy the book to support my efforts offers of help in production of the book were less forthcoming. This isn’t a criticism; people are busy with their own lives. Perhaps they don’t want the responsibility.

There is also another factor at work here; if you are completely clueless about grammar and punctuation it’s quite possible your friends will be too. When I was at school they really didn’t teach us about grammar. I even wrote a blog post on the subject. So finding someone with the skills to help isn’t always easy. If you have a friend or family member who is willing to help and has a good grasp of spelling, grammar, and punctuation take advantage of their offer.

Even if they aren’t so good at the technical side they can still tell you if parts of your story aren’t working or don’t make sense. Of course you should remember you can’t guarantee they will be as  brutally honest with you as you need  them to be, because after all they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

What are your tips for self editing? Do you find handwriting your first draft helps? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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K.B Goddard and The Time Eating Monster

12 Mar

A weird phenomena has occurred in deepest darkest Derbyshire. A silent, stealthy creature has slipped into being and devoured my daylight hours. When I went on sick leave from my day job I thought I can take some good from this and spend more time on writing and studying. Those are things I enjoy and they are therapeutic in a way. But something very peculiar is happening. My daylight hours have disappeared, my notebook’s pages are still blank and my course books are still unread. Yet I swear I have been busy all day; but then the day has only been 5 minutes long because I swear it just began. Where the heck did my day go. How can I be busy all the time and never have anything to show for it? I’m sure you’ll agree that the only rational explanation for it is some previously undiscovered survivor from the prehistoric period that lives off consuming our daylight hours.

Or I suppose it could be that I haven’t learned to adjust to a new routine yet. Which I’d better learn to do soon as this looks like being a looooooong term state of affairs. I wanted writing to be my day job. This is not how I wanted it to happen.

I still think it’s the monster though.

‘where’s your next book?’

‘Please miss the time eating monster ate it.’

K.B Goddard and The Time Eating Monster

12 Mar

A weird phenomena has occurred in deepest darkest Derbyshire. A silent, stealthy creature has slipped into being and devoured my daylight hours. When I went on sick leave from my day job I thought I can take some good from this and spend more time on writing and studying. Those are things I enjoy and they are therapeutic in a way. But something very peculiar is happening. My daylight hours have disappeared, my notebook’s pages are still blank and my course books are still unread. Yet I swear I have been busy all day; but then the day has only been 5 minutes long because I swear it just began. Where the heck did my day go. How can I be busy all the time and never have anything to show for it? I’m sure you’ll agree that the only rational explanation for it is some previously undiscovered survivor from the prehistoric period that lives off consuming our daylight hours.

Or I suppose it could be that I haven’t learned to adjust to a new routine yet. Which I’d better learn to do soon as this looks like being a looooooong term state of affairs. I wanted writing to be my day job. This is not how I wanted it to happen.

I still think it’s the monster though.

‘where’s your next book?’

‘Please miss the time eating monster ate it.’

Book Publication and What Comes Next

22 Aug

First of all I’d like to start off by apologising for not getting around to reading and commenting on everyone’s blogs lately. Unfortunately I have been very distracted lately and when I am the blogging is one of the first things to fall by the wayside.

However, I am here now and I am officially a published author! it’s all feeling very surreal right now I can tell you. I have published my book: ‘A Spirited evening & Other Stories’ .http://www.feedaread.com/profiles/5725/

spirited

I have had to comply with with this law called legal deposit, which sounds very formal and scary; what it actually means is that I had to send a copy of my book to the British Library to be stored for prosperity; apparently it’s been going on since 1662. That is a lot of publications! So now I’m waiting for my receipt for that.

I have also had to register as self employed on HMRC ‘s website; now that was scary. So I’m also waiting for confirmation from them and my shiny new tax number. This is all far too grown up!

Let’s see what else have I been up to? Oh yes, continuing my theme of being a grown up I have been promoting my official writer’s Facebook page, with Facebook advertising! How mad is that I’m advertising. OK you can probably tell that this is possibly one of the weirdest times of my life right now.

I have also paid to have my book put into bookseller distribution, which means big places like Amazon will be selling it in roughly 3-6 weeks. 

Let’s be honest, it’s possible my book is riddled with typos (because nobody I know is a professional proof-reader) and the cover hasn’t come out quite at well in print as I’d hoped. But whatever happens, whether it sells or not, I did it. I set myself a challenge and I did it. It may not be a perfect book, but it’s my book. Besides, this process has taught me enough to help me a lot with my next book, if I ever get around to writing it.

I have actually started work on that front and I have a few half ideas I’m hoping to develop. So fingers crossed and here’s to getting the next book done and making it better yet.

Book Release

19 Aug

Hello all, this is just a quick note to tell you all that my book is now out. It’s available here. It should eventually be available on Amazon and Waterstones once it’s gone though the distribution process.

Click Send, Then Proceed to Panic

6 Aug

Yesterday I decided enough was enough. I had proof read my book until my eyes hurt and I hated the site of the thing. The more I read it the more I convinced myself it was utter c***. So, I plucked up my courage and hit the submit button. My book is now being made print ready by the printers.

I now have to wait 10-16 days for feedaread to contact me and say it’s ready to go; at which point I will order a proof copy to make sure I’m happy with it. If I am I will let it go out into the world.

The problem is, as soon as I hit that submit button my brain started going: ‘You forgot to check this, you forgot to check that. You’ve probably made a massive grammatical error and everyone will laugh at you, and your book wont sell, and you’ll never write again, and everyone will say “I knew she’d never make anything of herself. Who does she think she is having dreams above her station”. ‘

So, yeah basically I’m now feeling sick and scared rather than excited. I’m beginning to think I must be crazy and I should have just stuck to retail.

Also not relishing the idea of going self employed. While I do like the idea of being a writer, I don’t like the idea of tax returns!

Blurb – Possibly

25 Jul

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking, planning and arranging things to do with the book and of course that means the dreaded blurb. I know other bloggers have been battling this one lately too. I wrote mine the other day but I haven’t decided if I want to make any changes yet. So, I’ve decided to put it on here to gather some opinions. What do you think?

“What is the source of the strange music that haunts an old manor house each night? What dark secrets lie between the pages of a mysterious book? and who, or what, is responsible for the late night knocking at the door of a country inn?

A homage to the classic ghost story; this collection of six Victorian inspired tales, is filled to the brim with vengeful spirits, mysterious maladies and wondrous happenings.”

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