For those of you that read this blog (a number so immense as to be greater than one, including me), I am making serious progress on my second novel. I've actually finished Book 2 of the "Abyssal Void War" series ("Let Slip The Dogs of War") and I'm now deep in the throes of editing. In point of fact, a new editing process which I will explain more about below. I recently signed up for Grammarly Premium which has added a new dimension to my writing, for a while I wasn't sure whether that would be good or bad even though I felt that it should be good. I have now decided it is good simply because it acts as a checking mechanism and [hopefully] allows my beta readers to concentrate on my storytelling rather than being constantly pulled out of the moment by stupid and entirely avoidable mistakes. My writing/editing process, which assumes that I know more-or-less what I plan to write and that I have done my background preparation, now involves six stages:
- First Draft: This is where I do my initial writing, express my ideas; in essence the aim is to get it down on "paper", shaping up the basic story. As all the writing guides say, "Just Write!"
- Second Draft: This is my rewriting stage where I check my first draft looking as critically at it as possible attempting to discern any flaws and making sure it makes sense in the greater context of the story I am trying to tell. In my opinion is best done with paper and pen i.e. print it out, read it and write all over it in pen. Then, of course, make the required changes. To my mind it is also better done in sections smaller than the entire novel but larger than a chapter. In the "Abyssal" series I have so far written in "Acts" so that works quite well. On the minus side, using paper makes this a somewhat environmentally unfriendly stage so I am currently looking in to other ideas.
- Third Draft: This is a check & rewrite exercise and is where Grammarly comes in. I do it in chapters because doing it as a whole novel or even in acts is somewhat daunting. It appears I have a tendency to use "passive voice" in my writing and Grammarly picks me up on that allowing me to rewrite sections to eliminate it. I also write longer, "hard to read" sentences so it allows me to break those up somewhat. This is also what I call a "double-dip" stage inasmuch as I also use the free version of ProWritingAid to check my changes using Grammarly. The only difference I can tell between the free version and the paid for one is that I have to work in a web browser rather than a separate application and, if I could afford it, I would absolutely pay for the app, unfortunately I have yet to make a name for myself. On the subject of Grammarly (which I am told is now the recommended tool of its kind for UK university student support) I do wish more authors used such tools; even some of my favourite authors make some very avoidable errors in their books.
- Fourth Draft: This is another stage that I feel would be better done with paper and pen but this time, in an effort to avoid environmental unfriendliness I have decided to migrate it to my kindle so it becomes what I call the "MOBI check & Correct". I do this stage in larger sections (acts perhaps) and, clearly, there are disadvantages to this approach since a kindle is not an ideal way of making notes on ones writing however it can be done and offers the advantage of looking at my writing from a more-or-less readers eBook perspective. In essence, I read through a section of my work, highlighting and sometimes making notes and, once complete, take it back to edit those comments in my master document.
- Fifth Draft: This is the beta review & edit stage. I send my work, in sections, out to my beta readers who then [hopefully] send me back their comments. My new checking process (again hopefully) means they can concentrate on my writing and not on mere grammar and spelling corrections. When I receive those comments back, I decide what impact that has on my work and edit accordingly.
- Sixth Draft: This is effectively my final editing stage; essentially an editor's review & edit stage when I send my completed book to an editor and await comments again, correcting much as I did in the fifth draft stage.