Last week, I attended a free online fantasy writing conference hosted by ProWritingAid. It included topics that applied to the stage of my novel that I presently face. (Yes, there were a lot of sales pitches for the products that were showcased, but I’ve learned to say ‘no.’ The caveat being that I took advantage of the deepest discounts offered to participants.)
The topics that attracted me the most were the ‘How to Self-Edit’ your novel, and world-building webinars. I downloaded the slide shows and transcripts before all the material goes behind a paywall at the end of the week. That way, if I don’t make it through all 20 or so presentations, I’ll at least have the materials. I’ve learned a lot by just reviewing some materials. The idea generator in my brain has been churning out ways to improve my prose and plots.
Each month, I find several articles in the writing magazines I subscribe to that apply to what I’m currently working on. I’ve been reading one magazine for at least 25 years, and I cringe every time I think about all the back issues I lost in the fire. As much as it hurts, there is nothing I can do about it except move forward and look for my information elsewhere.
I am now a third of the way through my third edit. Mostly, I’m cleaning up the language, tightening the prose, and looking closer at the amount of dialect in my story. A few of my characters speak the common language with heavy accents, so I find the speaker’s cadence hard to convey when they frequently drop the last letter of many words. I’m working on it, though, and will let my beta readers tell me where and when it’s too much.
When I have finished this edit, I will be ready (as I’ll ever be) for the next step—looking for beta readers. That’s where I’ll hand it off to someone I don’t know, and (in an ideal world) they’ll read it, then provide constructive feedback to help me improve my story. I’ll learn where I left big gaping holes in the tale, and where I need to buff up the descriptions. Which will lead directly to edit number four.
The setting and characters in this story have been living with me for four decades. I know them all well. My readers, however, do not. And I can’t see where I fall short in the descriptions of my world, or the motivations of my protagonist and the supporting characters. My alpha readers have given me invaluable feedback already, but these are people who know me, and like almost anything I write.
Now comes the hard part, sharing my creation with a select few to ensure it’s ready to be released into the wild.