Those of you who follow me on other blogs know that I’ve been in jail lately. Book jail. Imprisoned behind the bars of my own words and convicted of criminal procrastination. I have good news to report. I’m paroled!
This weekend I committed to finishing the book, even if it killed me. And it very nearly did. The woman who is writing this blog has had three hours of sleep since Friday. Yes, that’s right, three hours of sleep out of the last seventy-two hours. Am I tired? Heck yeah! Do I feel good? What, you can’t see me doing the Snoopy Dance For those of you who are math nuts; I wrote 11,000 words during that time. Most of those words between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. I’ve always been a night owl. Lucky break there, don’t you think.
The recidivism rate for writers is high. We can’t seem to help ourselves. There will be another book, there will be another deadline, there will be another time spent in book jail. And I will love every minute of it. Right after I finish cursing about why I waited so long this time, and you would think I should know better.
What happens next? In my world, the end is similar to the single woman’s battle cry: NEXT! No, I’m not starting another book, at least not until November 1 when NANO starts, and I have a lot of work to do before that. The end of every book is the beginning of editing. I’m in the editing process now. Every writer edits differently. I try to clean up my writing as I go. Each night I try to finish a chapter, then I skim it again the next day. That serves two purposes; it refreshes me in the story, and it lets me see any errors in grammar, plot, etc. Make that three purposes. It gives me a leg up on the editing process.
I write in Scrivener, so each of my chapters is a discrete file. I copy those files and paste them into something called ProWritingAid. PWA analyzes my chapters and warns me of overused words, grammar errors, vague words. In short, it helps me strengthen my writing in the first pass. After I’m through that, I print the whole danged thing and read it in five chapter increments, from back to front. You’d be surprised at what you find when you do that. If for some reason, I don’t want to read in reverse; then I read line by line using a clean sheet of paper to cover what’s coming up. Again, wonderous things appear. Most of them I wouldn’t want to share.
That done, I read the five chapters out loud to help me pick up on bad dialogue. “Hello, Hayden. How are you?” SNORE. Then I read the five chapters straight through. Just as I would read any book. That’s where I find out that Sally in the first chapter has morphed into Stella in the third. And oh yes, the dead guy, well, he’s moved from around a bit! I continue that process throughout the book, and I try to do it in seven days. See note above about three hours of sleep in every seventy-two.
The heavy lifting part of my job done, I send the book out to my stellar editors. I’m lucky to have two and each catches more mistakes than I thought possible. I make those changes, read the book through again, and then send it to beta readers. Beta readers are first readers. And a good one is worth his weight in gold. Guaranteed they will find plot errors, truncated storylines, unresolved red herrings, and name changes that escaped everyone else. After I get over wondering how I screwed that up, I make the changes and…Send it to the publisher. Time for another happy dance! A short one, followed by rinse and repeat. More simply put—NEXT!
Kait Carson lives in an airpark in south central Florida with a pilot husband, seven tropical birds, and six rescue cats. By day, she’s a practicing probate and litigation paralegal, in the evening, legal pads give way to a keyboard, and she spins tales of murder and mayhem set in the tropical heat. Kait writes two series, the Catherine Swope series, set in Miami, and the Hayden Kent series set in the Fabulous Florida Keys.
Kait loves to hear from readers, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on Twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.