I made it through my first “flow editing” of Destiny on January 3rd, 2016. If any of you are wondering what the hell a first flow editing is, it’s my terminology for looking at how the story sounds and the paragraphs flow together for the overall storyline of the book. Basically to make sure I’m happy with how everything turned out. That statement might sound a little odd for those of you who don’t write, but it makes more sense once you put it into perspective.
Planning a storyline for a book out can take months, and that’s after you’ve developed your world and concept. Writing the story itself takes a lot longer. Flight took me a year and a half to write. Destiny over two years and I still haven’t finished all of the corrections. Try to keep track of the entire flow of a story, the quality of the writing and have it all mesh together just right over that kind of time period. It’s not exactly easy. Add on top of that, with Destiny I chose not to re-read what I’d previously written. Why? Because I can’t properly look at the story later on clear enough to correct my mistakes when it comes time for editing.
Sounds crazy? Trust me, it’s not. Try reading a story twenty or forty times over as do your best to search for the mistakes you’ve made in the story’s flow and grammar. The first time you can see them clearly, but you still have missed a lot. The second time you read through the story you catch another batch of mistakes, but there are still more. The third time you read through the story you find mistakes, but it’s much harder. By the tenth time it’s nearly impossible. Your mind replaced the words that are there automatically without you even realizing it. By the twentieth time you are well past the time you need a second set of eyes.
This was my problem with Flight. I re-read the chapters so many times as I was writing the story, that by the time I needed to edit the story for final production I couldn’t hardly read through the text to see the errors I’d written. This isn’t only an issue with me. My friends who were helping me with the storyline and editing afterwards had the same issues.
With Destiny I tried a different tactic to combat this problem. Mainly I’ve done my best not go back to the beginning of the story to re-read what I’ve previously written, until I was finished with the overall story and was at the editing stage. I’ve also mostly have done the same with sharing out the story to my friends. After the first year, I shared out Destiny to some of my friends to see if they liked the general flow of the story to see check my material. Everyone liked what they read and wanted more, but I purposely kept the rest of the story private. From that first test read I was able to get enough feedback to know I was on the right track. I’d decided that the next time I share out the story it would be when it was finished and as cleaned up as I could possibly make it. Only in this way I figured could I get the best shot at getting my novel edited properly before final distribution.
If you haven’t used GRAMMARLY then you’re missing out. They even offer their basic program for free. That doesn’t mean the program doesn’t have issues or is perfect, because it’s not. Still it’s the cheapest editing help that you’ll ever get. When using the program you’ll want to save regularly. It does freeze at times and sometimes completely locks up and you have to restart the program. The worst part about the re-starts is that it doesn’t remember your previous ignores and such, so if you have to either just jump to the page the program locked up on at the point of your last save or quickly go through the previous texts and reselect ignore. Sounds easy enough, but it becomes more time consuming when you’re talking about 6,000 or 10,000 errors you’re trying to correct. Even with all of these small annoying problems, grammar’s program is freaking awesome and is the Poor Man’s … I mean Poor Indie Writer’s editor.
Even with Grammarly’s help, you’re still going to have pay attention. Not all of the suggested corrections the program makes is always right for what you’ve written. A mistake I learned the hard way when I first used the program on Flight. Later on, I had to go back and correct my mistake, which was time consuming on top of being a pain in the ass. Once you done your best and have re-read the story to the point where you can’t find any additional errors on your read through, that’s when you ask your friends for help. The goal from my own experiences and everything I’ve read is that you want to be able to read through your entire story and NOT find any additional mistakes. Mistakes are not issues where you could write a sentence one way or another and you keep going back and forth. Mistakes are misspelled words, grammar issues or false information, just so we are on the same sheet of music.
Once you done all of this you can decide whether or not you want to go with a professional editor. Going with a professional is something all of us would love to do, but the reality is that most of us simply can’t afford it. We just don’t make the return of profit with self-publishing to have this as a viable option. Still no matter what, you need to do your best to clean up your story. If not it really makes your work unreadable and opens your work up to attack, which is something you don’t want in your reviews.
No matter how good of a job you do at editing your work, Grammar Nazi’s are just a part of life when you’re a writer. I had one reviewer tell me that they would have gave me five stars if not for my Grammar mistakes, so instead they gave me two. Cruel comments like that is just a fact of life for Indie Writers. It’s something that makes me laugh, in a sad way, when other Indie Writers give nasty reviews about editing when they know you tried your best to clean up the story. Even worse is when you have a good story and you’re doing well as a new writer only to have someone who has been published and now has access to a professional editor giving you a hard time. Not that having a professional editor means you won’t have grammar or story content mistakes. I’ve seen both in professionally finished published products. Unfortunately, being attacked by these Grammar Nazi’s and jealous writers trying to put their competition down is just par for the course. Thankfully not all writers are dicks.
On a personal note, I have confirmation that my Kanchen has sarcoma cancer of the nose. No matter what, the prognosis is not good. My baby could have anywhere from three months to a year to live, but more than likely we’ll be lucky to get six months more with Kanchen. I heard about a chemotherapy pill treatment that might help slowdown the growth of the tumor. I’ll be meeting with the vet in a week to see if that’s truly an option and something we can afford or not. Also, I don’t want to give my baby chemo if it makes his quality of life horrible before his death. Right now, my wife and I are doing a kind of Hospice for him. Basically making his life as comfortable as possible with lots of walks and treats before he’s taken away from us. For now, he’s mostly happy and eating well. I try to keep his nose clean when the blood starts running down his face and hold him lots. Still, it’s a heart breaking situation. I’ve added a picture of Kanchen after his surgery where they released some of the pressure from the tumor growing over his eyes and trimmed back to tumor as much as they could.