Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rough Drafts to Completed MS - 10 Step List

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'd like to talk about rough drafts and how many steps there are between that and a completed book. I'm elbow-deep in Melody and nearly finished with the last chapter. But that's my rough draft. So, how long will it be until the book is finished? That all depends on how busy my editor is when I'm done with my first two rounds of edits. Here's what goes into polishing up that rough draft:

Step one: Read for content and slash/add.
This is where I re-read all the books in the series and make sure things are matching up the way they should be. Yes, I have copious notes about facts, dates, events, and visions. But I still goof up now and then, as we all do. I just have to make sure those oopsies don't make it into print. I also cut scenes, add scenes, and re-write scenes.

Step two: Check for tension.
I read each chapter and grade it on a tension scale of 1-5. If it's ho-hum or boring, I add and cut until it has the punch I'm looking for.

Step three: Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation checking.
This is where I dissect every sentence and make sure there are no dropped words, errant commas, misspellings, or pronoun confusions. I also check each sentence and paragraph for repeated words; changing them when necessary.

Step four: He said, she said.
While this is okay to use now and then, many of them can be changed to action tags to move the story along, rather than letting it all go stoic and be bland on the page by two people just gabbing at one another.

Step five: Off to the editor.
This is when I send my work over to my editor. She goes through steps 2-4 and tells me if I missed something important or used the wrong word.

Step six: Application of suggestions.
I put her suggestions and changes to good use.

Step seven: Resting period/cover design.
I let the MS sit for a week while I design the cover, then proofread.

Step eight: Off to the proofreader.
My proofreader catches the little things (because that's what she's focused on).

Step nine: Formatting.
This is where I format the book for print and prepare it for digital distribution across all channels. I don't want to have to mess with formatting it ever again.

Step ten: Publication.
I upload and hit the publish button.

A lot goes into any novel before it's put out there for public consumption. If you're skipping one of these steps, I have to ask why. Are your reviewers commenting about it?

How many steps do you take?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Great checklist! I have a quick question for you, do you feel like you should always use the same editor for a series of books? Or do you think it would be acceptable to ask a new editor to read the previous books before taking on the project?

    1. Those questions are mutually exclusive. I think, if you have an editor you trust, that you've been working with for a while on a series, and you haven't had any sort of issues with them in the past, you should use the same editor. However, it IS totally acceptable to ask ANY new editor you hire to look over the past books in the series so they have a grasp of what's going on and can identify any hiccups in the overall plotline. Make sense? I think any editor worth their salt would demand to read the previous books when they take on a series. Thanks, Heather!!


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