Monday 28 September 2020

Letting Your Book Sit - The After Process



Last week I talked about the editing process as a whole (piece found here), and I mentioned that there's a period where it's better to let your book sit after writing that first draft. I don't think it's anything I've really discussed on the blog, but I have mentioned it along the way. Today I thought I would go more into detail as to why it's a really good idea to let your book sit rather than rushing through into revisions.

A caveat, I am a full time author, and have a large backlog of books that are in various stages of revision. Therefore, I generally always have the time to let a book sit for a longer period than most because I have that backlog. I publish two books a year, and I draft about four new ones in that time. My process works for me, but it might not for you, and that's okay.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about what the idea is behind letting your first draft have some breathing room before you jump into revising it. The premise is simple enough, you're the author of that work and ergo, you know what's going to happen when, and you're not able to look at it with fresh eyes because you've just spent however long writing the story. You have the plan, if you're a planner, and if not, you still have a lot of knowledge about what happens from chapter to chapter. If you jump right back in, you maybe won't see glaring plot holes, or the like. You might just see your story as a whole because right after writing you are too close to be able to revise it.

Like I said above, a lot of people don't have the time to let their book sit before revising, and if that works for them, that's great. Personally, I'd advise at least a couple of weeks, or a month or two, if you're able. This is simply so that you have some distance and you're able to refill your well and maybe forget some parts of the story. That when when you go back to it with somewhat fresh eyes, you're able to see the story as a reader might.

The longer you're able to put between you finishing that draft and then picking it back up again the better. Like I said above, I do a good year between finishing and starting revisions, and sometimes it's longer than that. I'm aware that I'm in a very unique position and that's why it works for me. But I do have some tips if you're unable to put too much distance between the end of writing and the start of revisions.

Personally, I always like to have my books read to me at some stage in the revisions process. If I can have the document up and hear it read in a robotic voice, then it gives me a new perspective on the story as a whole. This can also be the case if you were to read it as an ebook, or print it out and read it on paper. Putting the story in a new format can let you get a different scope on it, and allow you to see things that you might have missed otherwise.

Similar to a new format, changing the font from what you usually use to something completely different is a great way to start looking at your project with fresh eyes. It's amazing how easy it is to spot mistakes when you're eyes are adjusting to a different style than you're used to. I've used this during revisions and it really does do wonders.

And finally #3 MAKE A NEW OUTLINE
This might sound like a lot of work for those who've already outlined during drafting, but this one is for the pantsers out there. I didn't use to do this, and then a couple of years ago I discovered that after I read the draft a few times, I started to connect the dots better if I made notes, and then made a detailed outline. I've done this for a good number of books now and it really does work. I know what's supposed to be happening in each chapter and I'm more able to see where there are plot holes I might have missed otherwise. It's better, for me, than simply reading it over and over again and trying to remember where things need to be added in. I keep doing this until I'm happy with the draft and then I move onto betas.

So there we go, why letting your book sit is a good idea, how I do it, and why you should try to do it too, and some tips if you can't get that same amount of space as you'd have liked to. If you have any tips, lemme know in the comments below!

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