Phase 2: Writing & Editing

Writers each call the steps of creation something different but like a story, the process has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. The four phase system I’ve adopted is from Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sterling & Stone, an amazing book for writers that I recommend.

How do I write a book?

There are thousands of books on how to write a book, so, it’s superfluous to repeat here what has been covered by much more experienced writers than I. Speaking from personal experience, I have at least seventy or eighty books on my e-reader at any given moment (that I’ve read) all on various elements of writing, and that’s a fraction of the books that I’ve read over the years, borrowing from friends or libraries or books once owned and now lost/discarded. In other words, there are TONS of books available. Go find one and let me write.

The editing process

There are several types of editing a book may need, including (but not limited to):

  • Developmental editing (aka “book doctoring” aka “I’m having second thoughts about my claims of being a writer”)
  • Structural editing (aka “something doesn’t feel right with how the book reads/flows”)
  • Line editing (aka “now I’ve got the rough feel of the book, I can work on sounding like a pretentious arse”)
  • Copy editing (aka “polishing my prose for my editor”)

If you flunked spelling and grammar or you didn’t major in English, you might want to consider hiring someone else to do this for you. In my case, I hate editing so I would look for an outside editor, depending on what I am specifically wanting to target in my prose. Remember, a polished manuscript matters.

During this process of writing and editing, there’ll be a great deal of revision, where I’ll go back in and change the original draft (which I refuse in general to show anyone) until, hopefully, EVENTUALLY, the material reaches a point that it’s now close to a publishable form. That’s where beta readers come in.

Beta readers are passionate readers who give the author a “fresh set of eyes” on their work. They spot things like plot holes and inconsistencies in descriptions. They can act as editors (but don’t necessarily expect them to do so) and point out flaws where bits of the story don’t feel right or seem believable. If you luck out with a reader who has an extensive background of reading your genre, they may even be able to recognize tropes and incorrect facts (if it’s a period piece).

I haven’t yet used beta readers for my own writing, but if you decide to go this route as an author, I’ve heard other writers recommend that you give your beta reader(s) a survey of specific questions of areas that you want addressed. The Write Life covered this well, and author Jami Gold has a beta reader worksheet that you can download.

Beyond this stage is Phase 4: Post-Production.