I see that it was on February 25 that I announced the completion of the first draft of Book 4 in the Frank Adversego saga. Back then, I hoped the finished book would be available in May. Hmm. Well, better late than never. In any event, I can now say with assurance that you can look forward to seeing the finished product, seven drafts later, within a couple of weeks. Here’s a brief recounting of what happens between a first rough, and a final finished, draft of a book by an Indie author.
The work flow of every author is somewhat different. Some authors do detailed outlines of the entire book before they begin, and a few, I’m told, actually keep to them. Others write the whole book, set it aside, and then write it all over again from the very beginning. Some revise as they go, and a lot more race through the first draft without looking back in order to take advantage of the momentum. Then comes the hard part of turning that first rough race to the finish into a finished project worth reading.
I wrote my first book (The Alexandria Project) in serial form, posting a carefully revised chapter a week at my blog. As a result, I didn’t have a lot of heavy editing to do at the end. I wrote The Lafayette Campaign in a single draft, and tried to manage all of the several plot lines simultaneously along the way. That was probably necessary, as the various characters and subplots were heavily intertwined and interdependent. I wouldn’t say that it was a miserable experience, but it certainly was a heavy lift, and I’d think twice before I’d write a book that way again.
For my third (The Doodlebug War) and fourth (The Turning Test), I took quite a different approach that made the process much more bearable. In the first draft of each book I laid out the main plot and characters, and only then overlaid the main plot with sub-plots and themes. In some cases, this involved fleshing out first draft characters, coming up with new ones, adding themes, and in both cases, laying in the personal arc for the main character. Along the way a number of fun twists and scenes came out of the woodwork fortuitously, and I’ll give an example of one in a future blog post.
After everything was in the book that needed to be there, I begin the laborious process of refining the writing – removing everything that could be removed; turning passive sentences into active ones whenever possible; making scenes more visual; making every sentence into a better sentence; eliminating over-used words; catching gremlins, typos, and other inconsistencies and issues; and adding in new ideas as they come along. I’m greatly indebted to my beta readers for their assistance in this process, not only for the catches they made and passed along, but because they were willing to read a far less enjoyable book than the one that resulted from their assistance.
I also tried using two software tools this time, Hemingway Editor and NaturalReader. The first has a variety of modes which it highlight things an author might want to change, and the latter is just what it sounds like – a reader that helps make issues obvious that you might not catch proofreading, or reading out loud, yourself. Both are worthwhile.
Now I’m into production and promotion. I sent draft eight of the book text off to Kelly Hartigan at XterraWeb last week for proofreading and general problem spotting. Hopefully, Kelly will have the text back to me this Friday, and I’ll finalize the text over the weekend before sending it off early next week to StreetLight Graphics for formatting. Glendon Haddix there has once again come up with a great cover, which I’ll share with you shortly.
So there you have it. More to come detail wise, but if you’re looking for a good beach ride along about the Fourth of July, I hope you’ll opt for Frank’s latest adventure. Stay tuned.