Self-editing a Story: What it Takes

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Independent publishing takes perseverance, time, guts, and high self-esteem. It also takes money if you need to hire people for services such as book file setup, cover creation, and editing.

I’m fortunate that I work as a professional editor in my day job and that I have graphic design experience. Because of these skills, I am better equipped than some indie authors when it comes to setting up my own book files and creating my own covers.

Editing is a HUGE step in publishing a novel. Reader reviews can be brutal, and nothing spells amateur quite like publishing a book full of grammatical errors and typos. Of course, no one is perfect. Even major publications will have typos. It’s just inevitable. Thankfully, there are tools and strategies to help. These are a few things I’ve learned.
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Finding Inspiration

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A question writers (and other types of artists) often get is “Where do you find your inspiration?” I honestly get mine from everywhere. My family. My friends. My coworkers. My surroundings. My travels. My experiences. My fears. My doubts. My successes. You get the picture?

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As far as inspiration goes, everything you consume is material. Movies you watch, novels you read, music you hear, conversations you overhear, the human emotions and actions you witness. You can create a story for the situations you encounter.

Why is the man screaming at the store clerk? Well, maybe his father just died, and he’s having trouble dealing with it. Why is the woman crying at the bus stop? Well, maybe she just spent the last of her money on medication and doesn’t have enough money left to pay rent. There are endless possibilities with stories because no two authors will tell stories in the same way.

Good writing practice is to find a headline in a newspaper (printed or online) and retell the story with great details about what happened before or after the story. There are also some books with writing prompts that are helpful to get into the habit of writing every day if you need that kind of discipline. *I am not a writer to writes every day. I only write when I am inspired or have a strict deadline (in the case of writing for my day job at a university). I find that forcing myself to write when I am not inspired causes a headache and a lot of junk that I end up cutting out during the editing process.

Another good way to practice writing is to find a song that you love and write a story or poem to go along with it. How does the song make you feel? Who or what is the song about?

I think about things I’ve read and wonder how the stories could be different. I think about situations my friends have experienced and how their stories could be told in different ways. Many of my stories feature characters who have certain traits I’ve taken from friends, family, or myself. It makes my characters feel real to me, and hopefully to my readers. This is especially true with showing the characters’ flaws. In fiction, flaws make the characters feel real to me. It’s the flaws and human emotion conveyed that make me what to jump into the pages (or through the e-reader screen) to hug the character.

There is inspiration all around you if you look for it or let it find you. I keep a notebook beside my bed in case I get an idea in the middle of the night. So many of my ideas just come to me in my dreams, or while considering the “what ifs” of life as I’m trying to fall asleep after I’ve exhausted myself reading or playing word games on my phone.

For more information on the types of written content I produce, read more: Continue reading

For the love of travel (for work)

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One of the perks of my job at the university is the privilege to travel for professional development. During spring break (for the college students and my elementary school children), I attended the 2018 CASE Editors Forum in Seattle, Washington. Not only had I never attended this conference before, but I’d never been to Seattle.

Due to having to fly across two time zones (I live in Arkansas) and the start time of the conference on Wednesday, March 21, I had to travel the day before. It was interesting, to say the least. For the first time ever, I set off the metal detector at the Little Rock Airport. What parts of my body? My ankles and my right back pants pocket. Weird.

After a public frisking and bomb-residue test (firsts for me), I was on my way. It was also my first experience flying Southwest Airlines. It was odd not being assigned a seat but not unpleasant. The airline boards based on a boarding group number assigned at check-in. The earlier one checks in, the better the number. I was at the beginning, so I was able to choose a nice comfortable window seat near the back of the plane. I wasn’t in a hurry on the way over since I had a three-hour layover at Dallas-Love Field.

A delayed first flight cut into my layover time by 30 minutes, but it was no big deal. I had plenty of time to eat lunch and make a huge dent in the book I was reading on my Kindle app, Of Blood and Sorrow, by Christine Rains. A well-written vampire/demon urban fantasy story. By the time I boarded my second flight, which was much longer, I only had a couple of chapters left.

During the flight from to Dallas to Seattle, I read Broken Tomorrows, by KT Daxon, a book I’d been anticipating for a while. I actually won an autographed copy from the author through a contest on Twitter. I was thrilled to have it but didn’t want to risk losing the novel while traveling, so I bought the Kindle version to read during my trip. I read the entire thing while flying at 36,000 feet. The book was incredible. Check out my review on Goodreads. Luckily, I had brought along another book, The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson, which I started during the last leg of my flight and finished while flying home.

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