1. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    So I now have my draft... finding confidence

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by scribbledhopes, Dec 12, 2009.

    It took over two years and a lot of time and heart, but I have the rough draft of my Novel. Roughly 26 short chapters, it is far from a large book and should top off just under three hundred pages. Give or take.

    My wife is all excited as is her friend, who actually does some editing for some other published authors and she has been giving me some advice and has read the first ten chapters. She thinks it's very good and has a great chance.

    That's all well and good, and I appreciate the confidence in my ability to tell a good story. That's not my problem, that I can do. I can make a character so real you would swear they were standing next to you and care so much about them that if they died in a story you would morn.

    Many have that craft, it is in my opinion common. That is what being a writer is all about.

    Where my confidence wanes is in my grammar, being dyslexic it is a challenge at times. I have been studying up on my grammar, working hard, but still I miss things.

    My fears are twofold..

    First is that my skills are not up to the task of adding the polish necessary to my draft to attract a publisher's attention. I fear being discredited because of small mistakes that marks me an amature. I am fairly certain this is true and something I am working hard to avoid.

    Second, I fear someone is going to steal my work, my story. I know this is irrational, but it's there. I fear I am going to make some mistake and sign some contract, and give away two years for a song. I know that sounds strange. I want my book to be read and enjoyed by children, but if someone took it and put it under their name I would be crushed.

    How do I avoid these pitfalls?

    I am no fool, I know this book is far from ready. I am humble enough to know I have a lot to learn, and respect and honest with myself to take constructive criticism and to learn from others.

    I have beta tested a few chapters, very controlled studies with trusted friends and their children. My results have been encouraging, The children eat the story up like candy and just want more and more. I am careful though and keep the trials to the first four chapters, again the fear of losing my work. The idea of the trials was to see if it would hold their interests or did I have to modify something, and it did quite nicely.

    But children are easily pleased, I have been a story teller for many years and I know how to hold a child’s mind entrapped and excited. What I fail at is my word crafting, there is more to writing then idea's, and for some it's easy but for me it is hard. I struggle with verbs and adverbs, prepositions and clauses, when I try to analyze the sentence structure my head spins.

    Can I hire someone to do the finishing grammar for me, once I have the story right where I want it?

    Is that cheating?

    Would I be thought less of?


    Understand, I have had two very short stories published in magazines that are no longer in existence. That is extent of my experience, that's it, rather depressing.

    So by all means I am a rookie, and taking this in note
    ask politely for advice.
    Thanks, Dave..
     
  2. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Dave, hiring an editor isn't cheating, that would be like saying spell check is cheating. If I didn't have spell check my work would be riddled with typos and strange spellings of words that I should know how to spell. Hiring a proofreader, especially when you are challenged in that area, but gifted in another, is totally acceptable.

    As for the fear of someone stealing your work, yes it does happen. In theory 20% of people are honest and wouldn't do that sort of thing, 30% will always steal if given the chance, and the other 50% are a coin toss, could go either way. If you hire someone to edit for you, you do so with a contract and a purchase order of services, that way if the do try to steal your story you can take them to court. As for other people trying to steal it, well you just have use your judgment in that respect. Most agents aren't going to steal a writers work, if they are reputable. It would only take one instance of theft to put an agent out of work for good. Publishers, if they are not fly by night places, also have high ethical standards when it comes to copyright laws.

    Also, one of those fun little things that most word processors have, is a time stamp. So by having the ability to show that you had the work in it's completed form long before the other person had it, ou can sue them for theft of your copyrighted work. If your book was to be successful then the court costs would be worth it.

    And, it's not depressing that you've been published in print already, whether or not that magazine is still running now. It's freaking cool and you should be proud of it. You have something published under your belt. Now all you have to do is get your novel out there to the masses. :)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Hiring an editor isn't cheating, exactly, but it's not a great idea. It is really important for you to know spelling, grammar, and punctuation if you intend to be a writer.

    Also, the correction process does not consist only of inserting and deleting punctuation and replacing a misspelled word with its correct spelling (or the correct homophone). It will also involve rearranging and rewriting sentences, or even entire passages. If you lean on someone else for this, their voice will begin to insinuate itself into your writing. You lose an opportunity to further develop your own voice.

    One more thing. Editing is an expensive service, and it will not guarantee you any better chances at getting your work accepted by a publisher. You will still get rejections, and you will still need to make revisions as you receive comments from the submissions editors (if you are fortunate enough to receive such advice). The revised work will also need to be checked, and yes, you will introduce errors there. Possibly in greater density than in your original writing. So you will be spending considerable money with little likelihood of recovering your investment.

    Professional writers do make use of paid editors, but only when they have an advance contract for writing to be delivered. And they screen their editors carefully to find one who can make corrections while preserving the author's style. The editor who works well with one author may not be a good choice for another.

    So take the time to learn and become your own best editor. If you must spend money, spend it on a good writing tutor. Don't buy fish, pay someone to teach you to fish.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best way to prove that a story was written by you at a time prior to handing it to an agent/publisher, is to mail a hardcopy to yourself in a tightly cealed sign-for-receipt envelope and then NOT open it, but keep it in a drawer.

    Should your story be stolen, well, then you'll likely make more money on the lawsuit than you'd make on selling the book ;)
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    First, theft should not be a big concern. Any reputable publisher, agent, editor is not going to steal your work. Beyond the reality that it doesn't happen, ask yourself: Why would they? Thinking it through, what would their motivation be and what would they possibly have to gain in the long run? That's why it doesn't happen.

    If you post your work on the internet, such as in a blog, for all to see--and copy, well, that is a different story. But even then, such an occurrence is rare. (There are other issues with posting work on blogs or in open forums, but there are other threads on this forum that discuss that aspect of writing in detail.)

    Even though you have a higher hurdle to overcome than others might in getting the grammar and structure correct within your novel, if you can at all accomplish it on your own you should do it. There isn't a lot to add to what others have said, but to re-emphasize:

    1. It is a great cost with no promise of success. (Going cut rate with an inexperienced editor will likely do more damage than good. There are recently laid off editors from major publishers that could help you for a fee, and keep your voice intact and such).

    2. You won't learn the process and will be stuck in the cycle when you write your second novel for submission (realizing that the odds of a novel, especially a first one, getting accepted are quite long).

    3. If your manuscript is accepted, you'll be working with an editor that will recommend changes, which you would be expected to make. If you can't make them, you'll have to bring your hired editor again into the loop. Sometimes agents make recommendations for changes before they'll represent a manuscript. Again, you'd have to recall the editor into the process if you could not manage the requested revisions on your own. Note: There are often deadlines to be met and adding someone else into the loop to do the work for you and then you proof and revise with them before returning it to the editor...I think the added layer's potential effect could be interesting, if not complicating to the process).

    I won't speak to the part of the discussion of the readers. Everyone has their own method of determining if their work is good enough or of proper quality. And your concern about potential theft only complicates the matter. In the end, it is you the author, whose work it is, has to be comfortable with the process and security. Stress and worry can damage/affect writing and productivity as much anything else.

    Good Luck!

    Terry
     
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  6. scribbledhopes
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    scribbledhopes Member

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    Thanks all,

    You gave me much to think about.

    Since I don't deal with editors on a normal basis I now get the feeling they have more of an influence on design than I thought. Which means that the editor who decides to take a chance on my work will most likely have his fingers involved where he sees fit.

    I knew it would cost, but I am getting the feeling I don't have my hands around that final number.

    I am not trying to be lazy about it, Understand I am in a constant state of learning. I have picked up books on punctuation rules and I reread them all the time. I read a great deal as well, and as I do I watch how others phrase and structure, paying attention to form as well as to plot.

    The interplay of a second editor in the mix is a very good point that is a badminton game I hadn't imagined.

    That wouldn't work at all.

    I guess I will take it as it comes and see how I grow myself as I go, this site has a great spot for reading short stories others posts and comments and corrections recommended. I have tossed up a couple in the past and have learned more from those comments than a dozen books. I am of course in their debt for the time they took, for each bit of constructive tidbit, I grew a bit more.

    I know my fear is irrational on theft, I think it's because I put so much heart into it, and that it is a bit scary. I can't help to wonder if others had felt the same on their first book?. I am sure that will go away with time.


    I also know the chances of my first book to get published is slim, and taken precautions in my mind set not to get discouraged by rejection, it happens, it's accepted, expect it. I have every intention of trying though. I am not afraid of the odds, if anything it will be a learning experience. I will always write, it is just what I do. I hope as I shave the bark off this draft, maybe, just maybe, I will have gained enough skill at the process to squeak by.

    Yep, I am a rookie and I know it. I also know when good people are trying to lend a hand and also know to be appreciative of that time spent.

    and I am, Thank you. Dave..
     
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, yes it is...
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mailing a copy to yourself [known as 'the poor man's copyright'] has absolutely no legal standing in the us, though it does have some in the uk... you'll find info on this and all other copyright issues here: www.copyright.gov

    the truth is, theft of a story or book ms next to never happens... and when it does, it's not likely to be from hiring an editor... after all, if someone who makes their living by editing others' work would steal it, they wouldn't be in business long, would they?...

    despite some lazy typos [he really does know better, but types/posts too quickly, sometimes], cog's advice and observations on hiring an editor are valid and should be taken seriously...

    and btw, book mss aren't 'sized' by the number of pages, only by the word count...
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing to note is that editing is different from copyediting. The former has more to do with the overall picture, the latter has to do with minor consistencies, grammar, etc.

    Terry
     

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