Revising and the Indie-Author

I haven’t published a post for some time and for that I apologise.  I’ve been concentrating on my fourth Inspector Kirby book, which was not always going to be the fourth in the series, but that’s another story, literally.  Anyway, I’m in the process of revision, which is what’s prompted this post.  I’ve been asked how many times do you go around the whole revision process and how do you know when it’s ready to publish?  The answers are, as many times as it needs (for me that’s six, seven and upwards) and it’s never ready, it’s always a compromise.  Sorry, I know that’s not much help.

You see, I believe for independently publishing authors our revision process is even more important.  We don’t have a team of editors and agents scrutinising our work.  In one sense it’s good, it’s my story being told the way I want to tell it.  However, it does mean the onus is on me to get it right.  Yes, I have it proof read and yes, I have a small team of beta readers, who are great.  But still, all decisions are down to me.

Now perversely perhaps, to some, I enjoy the revision process.  I don’t know how others work, however, I tend to get the story down without worrying to much about the fine detail.  I find it flows better that way.  Occasionally, I go back over a day’s writing, if something specific occurs to me, but most of the time I just crack on.  When it’s “finished” I try to leave it to mature for a couple of weeks before going back to it.  It means in my first run through I’m seeing it afresh, looking for story quirks, areas that perhaps have been repeated, where something is missing or the story doesn’t flow.  Sometimes I’ll even move chapters around.  The other big one is noting where I need to include details early in the story to make sense of what happens later (because no matter what plan I have at when I start writing, it has invariably changed by the time I get to the end).

So, with the story hanging together (hopefully), the fun bit, for me, starts.  The next few revisions are “enhancing”.  I can add to, or add, descriptions bringing scenes to life.  I can try different ways of describing a scene to give more impact.  I can play with words, choosing better ones and sometime unusual ones which might make the reader sit up and go “Ooh”.  As humour is an important part of the Inspector Kirby books, I try to add to it, at the same time drawing out more of the characters personalities.  The difficulty is knowing when to stop, knowing when I’m just playing for the sake of playing rather than improving the text.

The last few run throughs are more about tinkering, looking for any remaining clunky bits of writing, changing the odd word perhaps.  At this point I’m also on the lookout for missing words, typos and punctuation (not my strong point I admit) before I let it loose on the proof reader and beta readers.  However, even at this point I’m not averse to adding bits in occasionally, or taking them out.

Author at work – thinking

Throughout the whole process I’m trying to improve and enhance the readers experience, making it more enjoyable.  I feel, if the revision process is fun for me, it can only be good for the end product.  I want the reader to invest in the characters and the story, so they can’t wait to turn the next page.  The way I ensure that is by investing my time and effort into the work and especially those revisions.  I go back to what I say in the second paragraph, as independently publishing authors I believe we need to be even more vigilant in our revision process.  We have more to gain and more to lose if we don’t get right.  A reader who enjoys the first of our books will seek out more.  If they don’t, you’ve lost them for good.  Spending time revising will ensure more of the former and less of the latter.

As always comments are welcome

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

2 thoughts on “Revising and the Indie-Author”

  1. As always, a very interesting and stirring, in the sense of activating, entry. The constant expanding/paring down of ideas marks a true author. I sometimes wonder what the writers of the classical past would have done if they had had access to technology. As a musician myself, I’m pretty certain that Beethoven particularly would have revelled in the programmes that are available to composers in our days. Please keep your blog posts coming, when you can.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I play guitar (for my own amusement and to annoy the rest of the family) and the amount of material / technology out there is staggering. Sometimes I’m seduced by it, other times distracted and over whelmed. The same is true for the author me. However, despite it all, for any author it’s what goes on in your own head that really matters.

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