Author Topic: Is editing really helping your book?  (Read 4698 times)

Jake

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #50 on: October 04, 2019, 05:01:56 AM »
In school my teachers always said your first guess is usually your best guess. I followed that advice all the way through college and for the most part it was accurate.

I remember that advice. That was mostly for filling in those bubbles in multiple choice questions.

In writing that advice is TERRIBLE. With every revision your work should get better. It allows you to enhance your prose and add more layers of depth to your story. However, if you're self-publishing and trying to release regularly on a schedule it's usually recommended to just let it go. Spending weeks, perhaps months(years for some people), making the book 10% better will probably make you less money than just releasing the book as is and starting another book.
 
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Post-Crisis D

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #51 on: October 04, 2019, 05:15:12 AM »
In school my teachers always said your first guess is usually your best guess. I followed that advice all the way through college and for the most part it was accurate.

I remember that advice. That was mostly for filling in those bubbles in multiple choice questions.

In writing that advice is TERRIBLE. With every revision your work should get better.


"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

How would you revise that to make it better?  And would a second revision make it even better?  A fifth?  A tenth?

There's a point at which revision simply becomes revision for revision's sake and ceases making anything better.
 
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PJ Post

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #52 on: October 04, 2019, 05:57:33 AM »
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that some (by some I mean most) of our absolute best sentences are first draft ideas that we can't believe we just thought of. Reworking them is generally a really bad idea. Editing is for all of those parts in between our momentary flashes of brilliance.

 grint
 
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JRTomlin

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #53 on: October 04, 2019, 09:22:07 AM »
Unless of course only we think it is brilliant. That happens too.

I occasionally see someone tweet a line from a novel, apparently believing it is brilliant and I go... 🙄

Telling the difference is the trick and may be where an editor can help out
 
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OfficialEthanJ

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #54 on: October 04, 2019, 11:58:16 AM »
In school my teachers always said your first guess is usually your best guess. I followed that advice all the way through college and for the most part it was accurate.

I remember that advice. That was mostly for filling in those bubbles in multiple choice questions.

In writing that advice is TERRIBLE. With every revision your work should get better.

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

How would you revise that to make it better?  And would a second revision make it even better?  A fifth?  A tenth?

There's a point at which revision simply becomes revision for revision's sake and ceases making anything better.

Okay, I'll bite.

In that I'm not going to make the attempt, but rather tut-tut you for skipping past the lore of that famed sentence to play "gotcha".

Apples v. Oranges (2019), but I just watched a fine video called "How Star Wars was saved in the edit" (look it up on YouTube). It began with the opening crawl: I always thought Brian DePalma was credited with writing it outright, where he actually had a hand in trimming down the BLRPH of text George Lucas originally wrote to give us the crawl we all know and love today.

Thus, while the Hemingway anecdote is snappy and memorable, it's entirely possible it started out as, "I'm writing to inquire as to the cost of running an advertisement in your esteemed publication, with a heavy heart, for I must inform you that... (etc)."

Also: The challenge set enormous constraints (write a story in six words). Ah, but *which* six? Hemingway chose his well, and maybe there is no better answer. I don't believe the goal of revision is to have each sentence be One for the Ages™. Speaking from my own experience, however, something even as "minor" as moving one word elsewhere in a paragraph can have major impacts to the rest of the story.

/sips tea

But that's none of my business...
 
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Jake

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #55 on: October 04, 2019, 06:00:49 PM »
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

How would you revise that to make it better?  And would a second revision make it even better?  A fifth?  A tenth?

There's a point at which revision simply becomes revision for revision's sake and ceases making anything better.

:icon_rolleyes:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that some (by some I mean most) of our absolute best sentences are first draft ideas that we can't believe we just thought of. Reworking them is generally a really bad idea. Editing is for all of those parts in between our momentary flashes of brilliance.

 grint

That's very true. Reworking something that you already think is brilliant is a bad idea. But I doubt too many of us have written books where every single sentence is amazing.
 
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #56 on: October 06, 2019, 02:49:12 PM »
I'm reading book four in a series at the moment. The major character has just been introduced to a VIP, and we're getting her initial reactions to this other person. The internal monologue goes on about how she's always wondered what the person was like, and how she'd never met her or even seen her before.

Problem is, she already met that person in book one, where there was a pivotal scene where she read the VIP's thoughts and then fainted.

(I wasn't 100% sure I was at fault so I went back to check. Definitely the same characters.)


The author thanks his editor at the end of every book, but it goes to show something will always slip through even if you hire a pro.

 
 
 

 
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elleoco

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #57 on: October 06, 2019, 03:25:03 PM »
I'm reading book four in a series at the moment. The major character has just been introduced to a VIP, and we're getting her initial reactions to this other person. The internal monologue goes on about how she's always wondered what the person was like, and how she'd never met her or even seen her before.

IMO this kind of thing is the author's responsibility, not any editor's. Even if the same editor worked on all 4 books, it's not reasonable to expect her to remember what went on in Book 1 when there have been many other books to edit in between. The creator, however, ought to know his own stories, skim back over them, review outlines of prior books in a series, whatever it takes to get back in the groove of that series when adding to it.

I see a lot of these kind of errors, probably because I binge read everything in a series if I find one I like, and it's never occurred to me to think oh, look what some editor missed, but it always makes me think oh, there's an author who needed to review his prior books and didn't bother.

Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #58 on: October 06, 2019, 03:41:23 PM »
Yeah, I agree it's down to the author.  My point was that (in my own experience too) having an editor waiting in the wings can perhaps make the author a bit more lazy. 'We'll fix it in post' in other words.

Or, as a friend of mine says when we're renovating ... 'grout will fix it'

 
 
 

 
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dgcasey

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Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #59 on: October 06, 2019, 05:54:02 PM »
Problem is, she already met that person in book one, where there was a pivotal scene where she read the VIP's thoughts and then fainted.

I hope you're not talking about one of my books, where Lissette meets one of the apprentice wizards, cries out and falls into a coma. Oh wait, I haven't even written book three yet.   grint
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #60 on: October 06, 2019, 08:27:33 PM »
You have to admit, it's hard enough keeping facts straight across one book, never mind 5, 8, 10 or more.

That's one reason I introduce all new characters for every novel in my longest series.  Other than the 3 protagonists and one or two faves that is.

 
 
 

 
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Dormouse

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #61 on: October 07, 2019, 01:04:21 AM »
This is an excerpt from a review I just read. Not one of mine.
Quote
More importantly wrong grammar in the mouth of a news editor, "Marriage wasn't what her and Randal wanted it to be." And, "I had barely lived there a year," seeming to mean she hovered between life and death? No, an editor would have made that silly sentence read, "I had lived there barely a year."
FWIW

Yeah.
Some writers will always need editors. Or to aim at readers who have poor grammar themselves.
As a group they have done well from self publishing because they would rarely have been considered by traditional publishers.

OTOH that doesn't read like a review from an average reader.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2019, 01:45:06 AM by Dormouse »
 
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Dormouse

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #62 on: October 07, 2019, 01:44:07 AM »
I think the thread is conflating three different things.
  • Construction and review in initial writing.
  • Self-editing as a separate second or third phase.
  • Using  an external editor.

I'm always reviewing as I write. I don't try to perfect word choice, although occasionally I know what word I want and it doesn't come to mind & will then make an effort to get it. Sometimes i decide to start again from the beginning.

I do a lot of self-editing in separate phases. The aims vary. Sometimes it is simply to deal with dialogue. Sometimes it is tightening word choice or the story. Sometimes it is perfecting the sequence of different threads. Etc. I always correct and tidy when i see a problem. I find it much easier to have a single target for each phase.

I don't really need an external editor, but I find it helpful to have other people read as a final stage and I prefer to have that done by readers who are also editors and writers. I don't like to work with people I haven't met fact to face, and I know I'm lucky in being able to do that. The advantages are knowing that they will say what I don't want to hear and that I have a context for their perspective.

My feeling about first thoughts is that they're rarely best when it comes to structure but can often be for wording, especially in language led projects.

 
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Edward M. Grant

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #63 on: November 21, 2019, 02:12:55 AM »
"A film is made in the editing." - Sergei Eisenstein, the greatest of Russian filmmakers.  So, too, a book.

There's very little in common between movie editing and book editing. Movie editing is the equivalent of having someone else hand you a thousand pages of text in a random order, most of which are different versions of the same scenes, and you then have to cut-and-paste sections together to make a readable story. Book editing usually at least starts with what's supposed to be a complete story and not just a thousands fragments.

Not to mention that the story in a movie is often told with the cuts, not the action. See Mamet's famous example of the old man smiling and cutting to a shot of a giggling baby to make him look like a doting grandfather, or cutting to a shot of teenager in a bikini to make him look like a dirty old man... without a single change to the acting.
 
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Joe Vasicek

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #64 on: November 21, 2019, 04:08:32 AM »
I don't have much to add, but I'll throw this out there:

Of all the things I learned from my BA in Political Science (insert sarc tags here), the most useful thing by far was the ability to write clean first drafts. How did I learn it? By putting off all of my papers until the night before they were due—sometimes, even the day they were due. No editing. No rewriting. Because I was lazy, my grade depended on getting a clean first draft every time.

I didn't graduate with a 4.0 GPA, but I did get better than 3.7—and that after getting thrown out of a K-street internship and nearly failing the Washington Seminar program my senior year.
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #65 on: November 21, 2019, 04:20:35 AM »
I don't have much to add, but I'll throw this out there:

Of all the things I learned from my BA in Political Science (insert sarc tags here), the most useful thing by far was the ability to write clean first drafts. How did I learn it? By putting off all of my papers until the night before they were due—sometimes, even the day they were due. No editing. No rewriting. Because I was lazy, my grade depended on getting a clean first draft every time.

I didn't graduate with a 4.0 GPA, but I did get better than 3.7—and that after getting thrown out of a K-street internship and nearly failing the Washington Seminar program my senior year.
I've known a fair number of paper who could do a clean draft essay. However, I've also noticed that the longer something is, the harder it is to do that. A number of my students could write clean essays drafts, even under time pressure. Many of the same students didn't do as well with term paper rough drafts. I imagine the result would have been even dicier with something as long as a novel.


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Eric Thomson

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #66 on: November 21, 2019, 04:43:24 AM »
I don't have much to add, but I'll throw this out there:

Of all the things I learned from my BA in Political Science (insert sarc tags here), the most useful thing by far was the ability to write clean first drafts. How did I learn it? By putting off all of my papers until the night before they were due—sometimes, even the day they were due. No editing. No rewriting. Because I was lazy, my grade depended on getting a clean first draft every time.

I didn't graduate with a 4.0 GPA, but I did get better than 3.7—and that after getting thrown out of a K-street internship and nearly failing the Washington Seminar program my senior year.

I had a couple of jobs where I had to lay out complex issues in short, sometimes one page briefing notes, which had to be perfect in terms of grammar, spelling, etc, before they went up the chain.  Absolutely perfect, and mostly under time constraints.  It taught me to write well, and do it quickly.  Nowadays, my first drafts are, if not quite as clean, then clean enough that I do one revision for content, then run it through my editing tools before it goes off to my editor.
 
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j tanner

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #67 on: November 21, 2019, 07:24:58 AM »
I'm really new to this so I don't always get the way people work, but why write a book you don't like? I mean I can barely get down a sentence I don't like I usually end up erasing/deleting it and coming back to it when my mind sorts out the problem.

You know how you intend your book to come across to others.

What you don't know is whether you achieved it because you'll never be not you.

A trusted first reader (whether editor, beta reader, etc regardless of the specific method) fills that gap. Changes may or may not be necessary based on whether that person's thoughts line up with your intent.

Maybe you meant for readers to hate Character X and maybe you didn't. You won't know until someone other than you tells you what they thought of Character X. And Character X can be anything from a literal character, to plot points, theme, twists, setting or whatever.

Short answer: Get some outside feedback from an unbiased source, particularly in your earlier work. It will help.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 07:27:22 AM by j tanner »
 
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Maggie Ann

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #68 on: November 21, 2019, 01:08:59 PM »
I'm really new to this so I don't always get the way people work, but why write a book you don't like? I mean I can barely get down a sentence I don't like I usually end up erasing/deleting it and coming back to it when my mind sorts out the problem.

You know how you intend your book to come across to others.

What you don't know is whether you achieved it because you'll never be not you.

A trusted first reader (whether editor, beta reader, etc regardless of the specific method) fills that gap. Changes may or may not be necessary based on whether that person's thoughts line up with your intent.

Maybe you meant for readers to hate Character X and maybe you didn't. You won't know until someone other than you tells you what they thought of Character X. And Character X can be anything from a literal character, to plot points, theme, twists, setting or whatever.

Short answer: Get some outside feedback from an unbiased source, particularly in your earlier work. It will help.

Just had that problem with Character X as you described. My editor pointed out that there wasn't an obvious reason for her anger. Of course, I knew why she was angry, but I hadn't made it clear to the reader. Since she's the MC in the second book, I had to explain the reason for her anger a lot better. I'm working on that right now and I've found several places where I can put in little hints as to the cause.

           
 
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #69 on: November 21, 2019, 03:18:28 PM »
I have a question:

Of those who rewrite a lot, how many write their whole novel in a single Word document, or use other similar word processing software?

Of those who don't really change much after finishing the first draft, how many use novel writing software like Scrivener or yWriter? (Or use document outline features in Word.)

Just curious. Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.


 
 
 

 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #70 on: November 21, 2019, 04:12:34 PM »
I have a question:

Of those who rewrite a lot, how many write their whole novel in a single Word document, or use other similar word processing software?


 :mhk9U91:

I write in OpenOffice, and each book is a single .odt file.  Work in progress is currently at about 90,000 words.  No chapters yet; just scene breaks.  This makes it really easy to move scenes from Point A to Point B.  I add chapter breaks after I'm sure all the scenes are in the right places.


Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.


I use the word processor's "find" tool.  Works well enough for me.
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Lynn

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #71 on: November 21, 2019, 04:25:10 PM »
One word or odt file. I've been migrating. :D

I've tried all the writing software (even ywriter) and always ended up back in one word processing file.

I generally don't have trouble finding things, but I also make use of find when I need to track down a particular reference.

One big file is just how I like to write.
 
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cecilia_writer

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #72 on: November 21, 2019, 05:06:40 PM »
I do varying amounts of editing, depending on how the novel turns out, but I don't do anything that could be described as a rewrite. I have to have the whole thing in one Word file, otherwise I have a feeling I would lose the flow. But I tend to try not to check back on things too much as I go along, I just mark doubtful things up either with asterisks or highlighting and go back to them later. I suppose that's how the 'dog with 3 names' incident happened.
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #73 on: November 21, 2019, 06:26:30 PM »
I generally don't have trouble finding things, but I also make use of find when I need to track down a particular reference.


My problem with 'Find' is that it's only any good if I can remember a phrase or a pair of words I used in the paragraph.

E.g. I've never had much luck searching this forum or KB for a specific topic, because I remember the gist of the conversation but nothing else.

I'm much more likely to remember that something happened in a scene starting with occurrence X, and in writing software it's trivial to select the chapter then click scenes to preview the first couple of lines.

Back in the 60s and 70s computer programs were one long listing, with GOTOs jumping all over the place. Then came the idea of breaking these monolithic files into separate pieces of source code, and editing smaller bits and pieces at a time. I've written code both ways, and the latter makes it so much easier to manage even a modest-sized project. That was the idea behind yWriter back in 2001 or so - turning a novel into sort of source code.

Of course, the main difference is that source code won't run if there's a problem, whereas novels can have any number of mistakes that only a reader will find. That drives me crazy, and I wish there was a compile button for a novel...



 
 
 

 
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j tanner

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #74 on: November 21, 2019, 06:30:04 PM »
Of those who don't really change much after finishing the first draft, how many use novel writing software like Scrivener or yWriter? (Or use document outline features in Word.)

I'm generally in the don't change much group. My first readers haven't found major issues so far (knock on wood.) I've also written short stories for most of my writing years. I'm only on my second novel. I changed to Scrivener for this novel. I used Openoffice for the prior novel, and Word before it got annoying and went subscription.

Quote
Just curious. Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.

I haven't found Scrivener to be more search friendly than Word/OO Find was. (I'd be interested in knowing if there's some Scrivener feature I'm missing.) I do have a pretty good memory for exact phrasing I've used which makes Find work well enough with either product. I like Scrivener and don't expect to move back to OO, but this isn't one of the places I've found it to be strongly advantageous so far.
 
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #75 on: November 21, 2019, 09:01:34 PM »
I've never seen Scrivener running, but yWriter looks like this.  Click a chapter on the left, scene list appears top right with the first scene selected. Click a scene, and the content appears below right.

So, if I know the scene where something happens but not the precise wording (very common for me) I just click chapters until I see the scene in the list on the right, and then click it to preview the content below. (Or double-click to edit the content.)

I can still use search across the whole doc, I so don't lose that functionality.



 
 
 

 
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notthatamanda

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #76 on: November 21, 2019, 09:45:36 PM »
I have a question:

Of those who rewrite a lot, how many write their whole novel in a single Word document, or use other similar word processing software?

Of those who don't really change much after finishing the first draft, how many use novel writing software like Scrivener or yWriter? (Or use document outline features in Word.)

Just curious. Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.
I just use word.  I don't rewrite a lot, mostly typos and changing little things here and there, but if I do need to change something, I do okay finding what I need.  Right now I have the characters referring to meeting in their teens and meeting in their twenties.  I have to change one, but I haven't figured out which one is the right one yet.  I always have a hard copy on hand and I'm flipping through it and rereading constantly.  I don't know, my brain just recalls enough to find stuff.  I did fine on my last novel that was 150+K.   IRL people ask me to find stuff for them on the internet, or they'll just ask me random stuff figuring I know.  I guess I have a knack for narrowing down searches or something.   :shrug
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #77 on: November 21, 2019, 11:32:25 PM »
I do a Word .doc and date it and the next day I date the next iteration if there are major changes between versions. I almost never have to go back to an older file to reinstate a deleted bit, but they all exist.

Flow is important and I try not to shift scenes around because doing that can mess up the flow. My stories generally grow organically so the only reason to go back looking for something is if it needs to include foreshadowing or if the information or thought or action happened too soon in the story. Easy to find since Y can’t happen before X.
 
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Vijaya

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #78 on: November 21, 2019, 11:40:14 PM »
Since I was primarily a short story writer, I liked having chapters in separate chunks--I used yWriter long time ago :)

Now I use Word and use Styles/Headers that make an automatic TOC, which helps in navigation. I name my chapters in the working document so that I can find things easily. And the Find feature works great.

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Lynn

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #79 on: November 21, 2019, 11:51:32 PM »
I like scrolling. Sounds silly but all the clutter of scene and chapter lists annoy me and if I want to look at something from the scene before I don't even have to move my cursor. I can scroll back, read what I want no matter how far back it was, hit the spacebar and I'm right back to typing.
 
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Maggie Ann

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #80 on: November 22, 2019, 12:11:05 AM »
I have a question:

Of those who rewrite a lot, how many write their whole novel in a single Word document, or use other similar word processing software?

Of those who don't really change much after finishing the first draft, how many use novel writing software like Scrivener or yWriter? (Or use document outline features in Word.)

Just curious. Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.

I write on an Alpha Smart Neo then transfer my work into a single Word doc. While the file is transferring I can read it over and make any obvious corrections. I write four to five pages in a session.

I always add in scene breaks as I go, but never chapterize until I'm ready to publish. If I need to find something, it's easy enough to do using the search function in Word.
           
 
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elleoco

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #81 on: November 22, 2019, 01:31:06 AM »
I wrote my first 4 books in WordPerfect, and 2 of them were well over 100,000 words. However, I didn't have one all-inclusive file for those longer books. Not a file for each chapter either, but several for large sections. The other two (75,000 words for the mystery and 90,000 for the other romance) were in one big file.

I learned WordPerfect in my legal secretarying days and always thought you'd have to pry it from my cold, dead hands to part me from it. And I suppose that's still true as I still use it for everything non-book writing.

Anyway, my fourth book, 90,000-word romance, got unanimous beta reader feedback that the male character was just too hard. My romances have different scenes in hero/heroine POV, and to soften the guy, I wanted go through all scenes in his POV and wanted to have them contiguous so I could be sure to keep him consistent. Getting all those scenes into one file and then putting each back where it belonged in place of the original was a royal PITA.

Right after I finished struggling through that, there was a Scrivener discussion at That Other Place with users posting screen shots of how they used the program. Looking at those screen shots, I realized how relatively easy those revisions I'd struggled with would have been in Scrivener, how much easier moving anything in a draft around would be. So I tried Scriv and have used it ever since.

One problem I've had is that Scriv has encouraged me to move things around a lot since it's easy to do, and I was spending way too much time moving a scene from this chapter to that one. So for the novel I'm working on right now, I've stopped using the structure of chapter, scenes; chapter, scenes in Scriv. I started out with a single chapter as a folder and have all scenes within it. The theory is my scenes are already at the right level, so once the draft is done enough I'm no longer moving things around, I can put in more chapters and move scenes into them once instead of constantly fussing. Worst case it won't be that easy after all and I won't do it this way again.

RiverRun

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #82 on: November 22, 2019, 01:31:12 AM »
I tried Ywriter once and thought it was a great program - I still do. But once I was asked to think out analytical questions like - who are my characters? What scene am I on? I froze up and couldn't write a thing. I find it much easier to dive straight into a scene rather than trying to figure out ahead of time what I'm actually doing. I can't seem to figure that stuff out until after its written.

I write in one long document. I don't know why I remember what I've written - probably because I've re-written it a few times! It sounds horribly inefficient and I think it is, but it seems to be the only way I get anything done.
 
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j tanner

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #83 on: November 22, 2019, 02:27:45 AM »
I've never seen Scrivener running, but yWriter looks like this.  Click a chapter on the left, scene list appears top right with the first scene selected. Click a scene, and the content appears below right.

Scrivener is similar. But Word has Outline mode and OO has Navigator which achieve the same thing. Neither is quite as elegant  as in Scriv but that basic type of high level organization is there if you want it.
 
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Maggie Ann

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #84 on: November 22, 2019, 02:45:01 AM »
I wrote my first 4 books in WordPerfect, and 2 of them were well over 100,000 words. However, I didn't have one all-inclusive file for those longer books. Not a file for each chapter either, but several for large sections. The other two (75,000 words for the mystery and 90,000 for the other romance) were in one big file.

I learned WordPerfect in my legal secretarying days and always thought you'd have to pry it from my cold, dead hands to part me from it. And I suppose that's still true as I still use it for everything non-book writing.

Anyway, my fourth book, 90,000-word romance, got unanimous beta reader feedback that the male character was just too hard. My romances have different scenes in hero/heroine POV, and to soften the guy, I wanted go through all scenes in his POV and wanted to have them contiguous so I could be sure to keep him consistent. Getting all those scenes into one file and then putting each back where it belonged in place of the original was a royal PITA.

Right after I finished struggling through that, there was a Scrivener discussion at That Other Place with users posting screen shots of how they used the program. Looking at those screen shots, I realized how relatively easy those revisions I'd struggled with would have been in Scrivener, how much easier moving anything in a draft around would be. So I tried Scriv and have used it ever since.

One problem I've had is that Scriv has encouraged me to move things around a lot since it's easy to do, and I was spending way too much time moving a scene from this chapter to that one. So for the novel I'm working on right now, I've stopped using the structure of chapter, scenes; chapter, scenes in Scriv. I started out with a single chapter as a folder and have all scenes within it. The theory is my scenes are already at the right level, so once the draft is done enough I'm no longer moving things around, I can put in more chapters and move scenes into them once instead of constantly fussing. Worst case it won't be that easy after all and I won't do it this way again.

I'm with you on Word Perfect and I still miss it. I also learned it in my legal secretarying days.
           
 
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dgcasey

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Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #85 on: November 22, 2019, 03:18:21 AM »
I've never seen Scrivener running, but yWriter looks like this.  Click a chapter on the left, scene list appears top right with the first scene selected. Click a scene, and the content appears below right.

I tried to look at Scrivener once, but just couldn't see wanting to devote that much time to learning it. Scrivener comes with a thirty day trial period and it's thirty days of use, not thirty days from the first day you try it. I think I still have about 23 days left on the trial.

I started using computers (like a lot of us) back in the early 80's and the first word processor I used was WordPerfect. The DOS version. I wrote all my college papers and thesis on it and used it up until the early to mid-90's. Switched over to Word around 2000, because of work requirements and used it until about four or five years ago when I went to OpenOffice, then LibreOffice. I haven't looked back since.

I use LibreCalc to outline my stories, creating my own version of the Save The Cat beat sheets in the spreadsheets. I use a timeline program to hash out the original storyline and then I start typing in LibreWrite. One document from beginning to end. I'm 61-years-old now and don't see much reason to change my ways now.
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Gerri Attrick

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #86 on: November 22, 2019, 03:24:46 AM »
It was trying to edit in one long OpenOffice document (never had Word) that made me download yWriter all those years ago. That's when I discovered that I have a fetish for novel writing software - is there a group for people like me? You know, Shinythings Anonymous  grint.

I bought Scrivener, but whenever I try to move scenes around, I never get them in the right place and end up "losing" them and, although I love its Corkboard, it's word count display isn't a patch on yWriters. Then came The Novel Factory, and WriteWay, before I settled on StoryBox.

Whichever software I use, though, once I've finished my draft, I export to OpenOffice for a final read through and a global F&R for double spaces and such, before I send it to my proofreader (Him upstairs ;) ) and thence, after further corrections, to my beta readers.

I do write a fairly clean first draft - apart from fricking commas - but I correct as I go, and it's still a two-stage process between software and one long document.
 
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Vijaya

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #87 on: November 22, 2019, 03:28:35 AM »
Oh, yes, WordPerfect. I loved it. Learned how to do the chaptering/TOC and a hundred nitpicky things, like footnoting, when writing my thesis.
Word has all those features now.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
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Lynn

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #88 on: November 22, 2019, 03:30:00 AM »
I've never seen Scrivener running, but yWriter looks like this.  Click a chapter on the left, scene list appears top right with the first scene selected. Click a scene, and the content appears below right.

Scrivener is similar. But Word has Outline mode and OO has Navigator which achieve the same thing. Neither is quite as elegant  as in Scriv but that basic type of high level organization is there if you want it.

OO / LibreOffice also has bookmarks etc listed in the Navigator, so if I ever want to bookmark any spot to come back to (so I can finish a read through etc) I can see it at a glance. :D The Navigator is a very handy little thing and I have all the keyboard short cuts for it the style toolbar in muscle memory F5 and F11. They come and go as needed and I never have to look at them when I don't want to.

 
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Lynn

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #89 on: November 22, 2019, 03:46:02 AM »
It was trying to edit in one long OpenOffice document (never had Word) that made me download yWriter all those years ago. That's when I discovered that I have a fetish for novel writing software - is there a group for people like me? You know, Shinythings Anonymous  grint.

Oh, yes. No one can say I write the way I do in one long doc and use Libreoffice (formerly Word 2007 but can't stand Word 2019/office 365 version) because I've never tried anything else. I have oodles of half finished stories saved in writeway pro wwb files and yWriter all the way back to yw2/yw3 files. :D I tried Scrivener and a few other flashy programs too, but none of them worked for me either, in the end. I spent far too much time playing with the software and hardly any time at all actually writing. ;D (I have a bad habit of trying new things and reorganizing, etc, and ending up right back where I started.)

The big thing for me is that as I've changed as a writer, I've found that I hate having old docs in formats that aren't easily opened these days. Old doc and odt files still open with even basic software that's freely available. :D

And then I started finishing things, and I really discovered that I like having all my story in one place and that scrolling though the doc works for me.

But I fix things as I go, and I don't do big edits or revisions at the end. And I write in a mostly linear fashion. Skipping scenes just doesn't work for me. I have been known to go back and add a scene, but that's rare. Just did it on a novel I have in progress and I'm glad I did, but it felt really weird to need to do it! That's so not my usual process. I do add things into scenes, when I go back through any of the billion times I go back through the story as I'm writing, but that's not the same thing at all.
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #90 on: November 22, 2019, 04:08:41 AM »
I use Word and do one long document (though with tentative chapter breaks).

I've been using word for many, many years--long before I became an author--and I'm comfortable with it.  I suppose that's part of the reason I stick with it.

When I first started, there were a lot of people having trouble getting their Word document imports to convert well in KDP.  I started using Scrivener at that point because of how easy it was to convert the finished product to mobi or epub. (I've always thought that the less pressure I put on the distributor's conversion process, the better.) Anyway, I never had the conversion issues I heard people complaining about.

I switched back to Word when I got Vellum for my formatting and conversion needs. I hadn't been using any of Scrivener's special features, so returning to Word, where the editing was much easier for me, made sense.


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twicebitten

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #91 on: November 22, 2019, 04:09:43 AM »
I have a question:

Of those who rewrite a lot, how many write their whole novel in a single Word document, or use other similar word processing software?

Of those who don't really change much after finishing the first draft, how many use novel writing software like Scrivener or yWriter? (Or use document outline features in Word.)

Just curious. Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.

I don't content edit. I outline so I don't have to. All in one Word doc.
 
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HSh

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #92 on: November 22, 2019, 04:26:09 AM »
It depends what you mean by edit, of course.  By the time I'm finished with a draft, ready for what I consider edits (grammar, internal consistency, etc.), I'm not taking out or putting in any more scenes.  Period.  I'm also not removing or adding characters, moving around scenes, adding more sex or taking any single aspect out.  I make all those choices during the writing process and they're my decisions.

But that doesn't mean I think it requires no editing of the other sort.  :-)  That's just how I work.  I decide how my scenes and stories work.  Nobody gets to tell me anything about that part anymore.  As others have said, each writer has their own process.

These days I write mostly on a Neo 2 Alphasmart and then transfer into Word.  I've written lots of different ways, but this one seems really good for me right now.
 

idontknowyet

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #93 on: November 22, 2019, 04:30:20 AM »
I have a question:

Of those who rewrite a lot, how many write their whole novel in a single Word document, or use other similar word processing software?

Of those who don't really change much after finishing the first draft, how many use novel writing software like Scrivener or yWriter? (Or use document outline features in Word.)

Just curious. Personally I can't manage a document as big as a novel in a word processor, because it's a nightmare trying to find anything. I hit 25k in my first novel back in 1994 and just gave up.
So far I am writing each trilogy in one long word document. Originally I only had scene breaks, but because I don't write sequentially I was spending to much time transcribing scenes in the right spot. Chapters with titles help me figure out where I am. It almost feels like a small outline yet I'm avoiding outlining.
 

Jake

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #94 on: November 22, 2019, 04:36:05 AM »
I've tried Scrivener. I like the concept, but it's a bit much and I didn't really feel like having to learn it. I watched a really good Scrivener tutorial on youtube and it gave me a headache, it has a lot of options that I don't want or need.

I like word because I already know how to use it and it's what my editors use. I can integrate it with any of the cloud programs I use and I can write from my laptop, computer, or even my phone if I want to.

I write the entire novel in word. My current WIP is at 94k, and probably another 10-12 thousand words before it's done. I haven't had any trouble finding specific sections if I want to edit something earlier in the book. Find and replace helps immensely, but I wonder if everyone realizes that if you format the word doc properly using headers there is a navigation panel with your chapter titles and you can easily select the chapter you want to go to and even move chapters around that way. If your word doc is formatted properly at the start not only does it make it super easy to navigate within the word file but it also makes it incredibly easy to generate good looking eBooks for those who don't use something like vellum.

If I'm writing a series (which I am at the moment) I also keep an excel file with the names of every major character or significant side character. It list the characters ages, height, and details about their appearance. If I'm writing fantasy or something that requires a lot of world building i'll also include details about locations I've made up, etc. Basically everything I would have done if I were using Scrivener.
 
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #95 on: November 22, 2019, 04:41:23 AM »
Quote
The big thing for me is that as I've changed as a writer, I've found that I hate having old docs in formats that aren't easily opened these days. Old doc and odt files still open with even basic software that's freely available. :D

I used to use an Atari ST (1986 until '95), but fortunately I have an Atari ST emulator on my PC, and I still have a copy of all my files and programs from those days.  In fact, it's a direct copy of the hard drive so I can just run it and it's like I'm back in the early 90's.

From 1983 to 86 I used a ZX81 and a ZX Spectrum, but I don't have any files from then. Just the computers themselves... heh. To be honest, I transferred the only story I ever wrote on the Spectrum onto the Atari, and still have it. Talk about a backup nut - I have a copy of every word of fiction I've ever written, going back almost 35 years.

yWriter is up to version 7 now (and there's a mac one as well), but backwards compatibility is vital to me. Every version will load files from ywriter 2 and later. yWriter 1 was only for my own use, and it was really just a shell which opened Doc files in Word as you clicked them - one per chapter of the novel.

 
 
 

 
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Lynn

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #96 on: November 22, 2019, 05:01:23 AM »
The worst for me was the transfer from my old brother word processor diskettes to another format. Computer wouldn't read them of course so I ended up using Dragon Naturally way back when to get the printouts into Word files. :D I swear Dragon was better back then. I bought a new edition four years or so ago and I can't even use it. It was terrible. Or maybe I just had more time back then and didn't notice how much training it took back then to get it to work. I do have copies of everything. But I hung on to the originals too. :-) And ywriter at least saved rtf versions for me!
 
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elleoco

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #97 on: November 22, 2019, 05:09:29 AM »
I bought Scrivener, but whenever I try to move scenes around, I never get them in the right place and end up "losing" them and, although I love its Corkboard, it's word count display isn't a patch on yWriters.

I had the same problem moving scenes in Scriv when I tried to do it by drag and drop. Then I discovered the Toolbar buttons to do it, stopped trying to d&d and haven't had a problem since.

I tried Ywriter once and thought it was a great program - I still do. But once I was asked to think out analytical questions like - who are my characters? What scene am I on? I froze up and couldn't write a thing.

I had that problem after reading Libbie Hawker's Take Off Your Pants. Trying to follow her method stopped me in my tracks. So I gave up on all that and ignore things like beat sheets, character sheets, and all that kind of stuff. I work out a story in my mind with characters I think fit, do a minimal outline and go for it. Admittedly slowly.

I've tried Scrivener. I like the concept, but it's a bit much and I didn't really feel like having to learn it. I watched a really good Scrivener tutorial on youtube and it gave me a headache, it has a lot of options that I don't want or need.
***
If I'm writing a series (which I am at the moment) I also keep an excel file with the names of every major character or significant side character.

We're all different. I didn't find Scrivener hard to learn. I just stuck an old 3-chapter short story in it and played around. Admittedly I still only use the most basic features. Every once in a while I hear about something that sounds handy and incorporate it or go looking for how to do something I think it will do that I need at the moment. My total resistance is to learning Word or any spreadsheet program. I'm old enough I figure my odds of getting out of this world without ever having to give in on that are good.

RiverRun

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #98 on: November 22, 2019, 05:37:36 AM »

I tried Ywriter once and thought it was a great program - I still do. But once I was asked to think out analytical questions like - who are my characters? What scene am I on? I froze up and couldn't write a thing.

I had that problem after reading Libbie Hawker's Take Off Your Pants. Trying to follow her method stopped me in my tracks. So I gave up on all that and ignore things like beat sheets, character sheets, and all that kind of stuff. I work out a story in my mind with characters I think fit, do a minimal outline and go for it. Admittedly slowly.


That's kind of amusing. That's one of the only plotting books that was ever useful to me:) But I used it to rough out an overall big picture and then hardly ever looked at it again. I just had to be able to write it all down first. I also used her points to outline other movies and books I'd read, but I've always had trouble with plot and needed a lamp post for a while. I had always been a panster and realized that when people said they wrote an outline, I had no clue what that even looked like. Once I realized I needed something, her book worked for me.

And I'm finding it less useful now that I'm working on a second mystery. But in general, I agree with you. I learn things from those types of tools on occasion, but hardly ever actually use them to write.

Someday I think it might be useful to write the book, then put it into something like yWriter after, and sort of 'see' the structure of the book, so to speak. but I'm probably too lazy.
 
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Simon Haynes

Re: Is editing really helping your book?
« Reply #99 on: November 22, 2019, 02:26:57 PM »
Quote
Someday I think it might be useful to write the book, then put it into something like yWriter after, and sort of 'see' the structure of the book, so to speak. but I'm probably too lazy.

As long as the chapter headings are 'Chapter 1', 'Chapter 2' and so on, and you've used scene breaks like '* * *', you can save a doc to RTF and then yWriter will import it and split it up into a project.

I swear I'm not trying to turn this into a yWriter support thread. (I get enough of that by email and in the google groups list!)


 
 
 

 
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