1. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    Finally finished my 1st draft from 2nd draft.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by 33percent, Dec 4, 2017.

    I posted a thread last April of this year, about finishing the 2nd draft of my book. Thanks to people on this forum, commenting on it, made me realize the first book(196k words) was way too long. I researched and noticed books like Harry Potter, Hunger games etc were under 100k words. They're readers out there that do read big thick, tiny word novels with ease. The general audience I'm aiming for is people who just have time to read a chapter or two while taking a #2 or flying on an airplane who like reading Sci-Fi, with a ton of action, adventure, and thriller. Even after revising it, would have still made it long. In the meantime, I took an English class at my local college to work on my grammar, which I'm still sensitive about.

    I went back to the drawing board and decided to take first act of my 2nd draft to be my first book. All I did was just extend it, adding more detail, characters, drama, subplots, and of course plot twist basically a giant detour. I finished it around 24 chapters little bit over 100k words, but this is without any revising. Just grinding, grinding, and grinding some more till I finished it. Technically at this point, I've written two books and haven't even got passed revising stage. It wasn't the plan but ended up that way.

    Even after revising, let's say I revise it till my fingers bleed which will be almost all next year. At what point, when do I know it's time to publish it? My friend said I could just send what I have to a publisher like http://www.penguin.com/publishers/daw/, and if they do accept it, will edit, snip whatever out for revising for the final product? Where do you even begin to find a literary agent? Any help would be appreciative.
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Congratulations on getting so far, and seeing what the final shape of your story will be like, and being willing to make major structural changes to the MS to improve it. That's a huge step forward.

    Have you had plenty of beta readers giving you feedback? If not, that really is the next step you should be taking, in my opinion. Revising is fine, but if you do it all alone, you might miss out on things that readers will catch.

    By 'catch' I don't mean just SPAG errors—and you still might be making a few in your story. For example: passed. In that context, I think you meant 'past.' Getting past something. You might have passed a test, but you don't get passed something. So be aware that there are still possible SPAG issues that agents won't want to deal with.

    However, beta readers can help pinpoint other problems. Plot holes. Places where the story drags. Stuff that could be taken out without damage to the story. Places where certain events don't make sense, or when which character is speaking is unclear to the readers, etc. Awkward transitions between scenes or chapters that leave the reader confused as to what has changed. These are all the kinds of things you might not notice yourself, because YOU know what's going on in your story. However, unless you're communicating perfectly, your readers might not be able to follow the story as well as you'd hoped.

    The very last thing I would worry about at this stage is getting published. It sounds to me as if you still have a long way to go. Even you seem to know you still have lots of revision to do.

    My advice would be to actually put the story away for a while. Give it out to a few people who are willing to read it and give you feedback, and don't do ANY work on it during that time. Let it settle, until you have almost forgotten what it was like to write it. When you go back to it, after you've had the feedback from others, you'll be better equipped to know what still needs work. If you just keep tinkering nonstop, you won't get an overall view of the thing.

    Later on, if you really aren't sure of yourself when it comes to catching SPAG errors—and kudos to you for actually taking a course in grammar, in order to learn—you might consider paying somebody to proofread it for you. Someone who would be looking only for these kinds of mistakes.

    Once you approach an agent with a novel, you can't approach them again. So try to make sure you don't give them any reason to reject you, because of mistakes you could have corrected before you submitted. If you submit a substandard work and it's constantly rejected (and they are unlikely to tell you why), you will have wasted ALL your writing time. And that would be a huge shame.

    ...............

    Penguin is a hugely reputable company, so it would be worth considering them once your MS is perfect. The good news is, it sounds as if they will be switching to digital submissions after the end of this year, so that means if you wait till next year you won't need to print and post your MS to them. Do keep that link handy.

    However, I don't see anything in that link to indicate that they are happy to get substandard submissions and that they will 'correct' them later on.

    Don't do it. Or, rather, don't do it this year. You're not ready for publication yet, and you know it. Don't burn your boats with Penguin or anybody else at the moment. Just keep working your story to perfection. You sound like the kind of person who is determined and willing to graft, so you'll get there. Just don't try to skip over the things you still need to do, in hopes that somebody else will do them for you. They won't.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  3. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I tried to get Beta readers, who are friends but just don't care or complain about grammar, not really giving me strong feedback on it. They just make excuses, after excuse one even said he couldn't read it online, wanted a printed copy but yet reads everything online like facebook. Even my own cousin criticized my story more on grammar than the story itself. Even after telling them it's the first draft. It's really discouraging when my own close friends who take time to read a few chapters. Spag error is a good point, I'll note that for future reference. I have long ways to go about it.

    I don't know where to approach an agent when the time comes. I did read something about digital submissions which is a good thing. I'm going to take a break from it, just to go over the story again and think more of it. Focus more on work and college atm, to pay off billse etc. I'm going to proofread every chapter, again and again. I got the first draft down, now it's making 2nd, 3rd drafts on it. It was my gaming friend who told me about Penguin who does alot of Sci-Fi publications.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If everybody is criticising your grammar, you might want to sort that out first of all? Especially if your betas are finding lots of errors. The fact that it's only a first draft doesn't excuse a raft of grammatical mistakes. I think you owe it to your betas to give them the best possible 'first draft' you can produce.

    I have personally stopped reading a few beta projects because the SPAG errors were so bad I couldn't get past them. I don't know if this applies to you or not, but unless your betas are only complaining about one or two errors per chapter, I'd maybe get the grammar stuff sorted first? I've noted quite a number of awkward patches in your two-paragraph post here, and if that's typical of the way you present your story to betas, I'd say you should work on getting the grammar sorted before giving it out to anybody. (Your OP is fine.)

    It is very hard to read and evaluate something that's full of grammatical mistakes. You might be unlucky enough to have chosen betas who really DON'T care, or are looking for excuses not to read what you've produced, but if they are all saying the same thing about your writing, you might want to take the grammar issues on board. And fix them. Get help with fixing them if you're not sure what's wrong or how to improve it. And then give the story to new readers.

    Unfortunately many people will not be keen to beta-read and will find all sorts of excuses not to—including asking for a printed copy, being too busy, not liking the genre, etc. That kind of rejection happens to all of us—and it can come from friends and family who actually DO love you as a person. Just sort what you can and move on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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  5. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I read the book the kickass writer, motivated me to write and write until I just finished it regardless how it looked. I'll admit when it comes to writing, my grammar isn't my best and never has been. I'm still learning and trying my best to curb my mistakes. Yes, you're correct there is no excuse for grammar mistakes in my first draft. I know my grammar wasn't perfect in my first draft but it wasn't supposed to be. I focused 100% just finishing it, regardless how crappy it read. The 1st draft isn't supposed to look pretty, I'm just puking it on a paper.
     
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  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh yes, that's fine. And I wholly support the 'puking on paper' method of producing a first draft. I believe the first draft is where you get the story 'out there,' in whatever form works best for you. HOWEVER ...that's not the stage where it's a good idea to pass it around for judgement. After you're done producing that first draft, you clean up the puke and THEN give it to others to judge. If you don't, your betas are only going to see puke.

    I do a lot of beta reading, and I know my heart just sinks when I realise that what I'm going to be doing is line-by-line editing, pointing out mistakes. It's impossible to concentrate on the story, when half the time I can't follow it because of the SPAG errors. I don't know who is saying what. I don't know what some of the words are because they are badly spelled. I can't follow the story because the punctuation is so bad I don't know where one thought ends and another one begins. It feels like a waste of time to try to read it.

    Mastering grammar is a prerequisite of writing well, in my opinion anyway. It's the basic tool of the craft. You aren't going to be a seamstress if you can't thread a needle or work a sewing machine—even though you might love wearing nice clothes. You're not going to be a chef just because you like to eat food. Love of food might motivate you to become a chef. But before you are a chef you need to learn the tools of the trade. You need to be able to boil water, cut vegetables, pick out good meat at the shops, etc.

    When you're a writer, you need to master SPAG issues. That doesn't mean you can't make a mistake every now and again ...everybody does. But if your mistakes are so numerous that they hide the story from view, folks won't be able to engage with the story.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Personally I deal with spag last after all the beta reads etc are done so I'm not doing line by line edits on stuff that's going to get deleted anyway .. all by alpha/beta readers know to leave the spag alone and just focus on plot/characters /setting
     
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  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I think first off, @33percent, you are due some big congratulations on finishing your work. 196K may be too long for a first time author, but still it is an accomplishment, and no small one. Many don't make to the end of one half or a third that size.

    Being by profession an engineer and someone who does a lot of technical writing, I take the opposite approach to @big soft moose... I immediately scan each paragraph when I hit enter, and fix SPaG then. I don't catch all of them, but I get most, and the first draft winds up a lot cleaner. I don't, however, go back and fix story line issues, as this leads to second guessing and endless revision that may keep you from finishing; you are past hat point! But that is my approach. My failing is to write really long run-on sentences, and my wife and editor in chief @K McIntyre insists that I have one period for every five lines. So demanding!

    I would suggest you look outside your circle of friends and family for beta readers. @K McIntyre and I have a good relation for editing each other's work, but I would expect her to look beyond my opinion before publishing, as she would me. Friends may be reluctant to criticize your work, or may be overly critical. However, a good friend specifically invited to help clean up SPaG, if that is a problem for you, can be very helpful. A stranger, especially one who has some experience in writing, can give you good advice and be more objective. I suggest you look at the local community college for a teacher or a student that may be willing to read your work. You can also find beta readers through writers group such as this one, or state organizations... the Maryland Writers' Association offers exchange readers to members. But I STRONGLY recommend that you clean up the SPaG before putting it in front of a stranger... they probably want to read your story, not correct what you should have already fixed. SPaG gives an unfinished feel to your work, and too much of it will cause it to be set aside, unfinished.

    Above all, do not forget this dictum: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Submitting unfinished work to agents or publishers is going to guarantee a rejection, and a rejection by one publisher or agent generally is permanent, you can't rewrite and resubmit. When you submit for publication, the story should be as tight and squeaky clean as you can make it, both for story line and for SPaG. A publisher's editor will tailor your story to the publisher's specific market, but will not put the work into the story that you did not. He will not finish your work for you. There is just too much good stuff coming in, to waste time on an unfinished product.

    And of course, this goes double, triple, quadruple, maybe more so, for self-publication!

    Anyway, again, congratulations on a job well-done, as we said in the Navy "Bravo Zulu". Now let's get it set up and ready to launch, the hard part is over, though the boring and tedious part of editing is yet to come!
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I would find it impossible to focus on anything in a work that doesn't have pretty thoroughly polished SPAG. This is going to have a pretty strong self-selection effect on your alpha/beta readers, and it could be a harmful one.
     
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  10. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    I have to agree here. There are some exceptions, yes @big soft moose ;) but you're not the norm. Your writing doesn't send me up a wall, even though I'm missing punctuation. Still reading btw!

    To the OP: In almost all cases when I read a work that I can't make heads or tail of because of grammar, I loose all will to even try to finish reading. It's not fair, because the underlying story might be a gem just waiting to be discovered, but it's hard work to read a sentence that's supposed to be clear and... is not. Multiply that by 80k or more.

    But I agree: Congratulations on finishing your book(s) :) You're ahead of me there!
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Aye, but be careful you're not straying into territory like, "I know the roast is burnt to a crisp because I forgot to set the timer, and I know I tripped with the pepper box which I won't do next time, but just tell me what it tastes like."

    Burnt pepper.
     
  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    That's what all girls say
     
  13. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    So, you were hoping for people to be more excited to read what you were "just puking it on paper" and offer positive feedback of any sorts for your writing that as you put was "just puking it on paper?" I think you owe it to yourself and future readers to get your novel as good as you can make it before you ask anyone to read it. Novels take a good amount of time to read and then you offer feedback. It's really not fair of you to ask anyone before you're ready, and you should really know when you're ready or you're probably not ready or you're just wasting everybody's time.

    I will say it again. It's really not fair of you to ask anyone before you're ready, and you should really know when you're ready or you're probably not ready or you're just wasting everybody's time.
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I will say again this is utter tosh - the point of alpha and beta readers is to help you get ready - fortunately a lot of people can look past a misplaced comma (or more accurately a comma in the right place but with a space before it) and tell you whether plot/character/setting works - which is what you need to know at that stage .... polishing comes last.

    I'd absolutely agree that you shouldn't publish until its as close to perfect as you can make it, but anyone reading for critique purposes should know that its not yet in a publishable state
     
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  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    If you choose not to polish before alpha/beta readers you can do that, but to apply "utter tosh" to the idea that writing quality might matter is pretty rude.

    For me, critique is about the writing, not just about plot and characters.
     
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  16. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I'm sorry, I don't know the underground unwritten rules of writers, that written material has to be perfect for readers as if I'm sending it to a publisher. I was never the best in English Class, goofed off the majority of the time, because it bored me to death. The only thing I enjoyed in English, was writing a story. Yeah, I regret goofing off in high school because now I'm still making up for it, still trying to learn grammar. I never asked for positive feedback, but more constructive criticism. I was referencing the "Puking it on paper" from the book "Kickass Writer" I posted a link to the book in one of my replies. I took his advice because the majority of writers are so caught up trying to make it grammar perfect and never finish it. The author has a great sense of humor for giving writers a different type of motivation, but regardless he helped me focus getting it done. I told them before they even read it, it is the first draft, even grammar is average on it and needs work.

    "1. Finish What You Start. A story is not a story without an ending, and so you must practice to that point. Plus, finishing a thing makes you feel good. It gives you momentum."
    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2017/02/27/a-very-good-list-of-vital-writing-advice-do-not-ignore/

    Yes, a Novel takes a lot of work, spending endless nights writing and writing but it is no different from any type of art. I love to draw, it is one of my best talents before I even start to draw, I vision what it will be in its final form. You start sketching, tweaking what it will be like, going back and forth until the picture you want takes shape. Then you finish it off with precise detail until you're satisfied. It is no different from a book, you have to get it on paper, to have a form. Then you go back chip away a thousand times until it's a masterpiece.
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Of course writing quality matters before its published - but it matters not a jot or tittle at the alpha reading stage since its going to be edited again (several times in all probability) before you publish it.

    As to being pretty rude - you elicit that kind of response by holding yourself up as an expert and "saying again" as if your opinion is some kind of rule for writers when you haven't yet finished your first draft
     
  18. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    WE enjoyed our English lessons, and WE find it ironic and offensive that the rough boys from remedial classes now feel ready, in middle-age probably, probably after years as an aircraft mechanic or a gas station attendant to come, sit among us with their boots on tables, spouting 'somebody should take a shit reading my book-book.' Also, for one thing I don't shit. Visit the lavatory during a discreet & appropriate interval in your chores. As if Jane Austen took a 'crap.' One reads properly in an armchair in the drawing room, goodness me, this thread disturbs me, and my writer's wrist has flared, again I have a migraine.

    Properly, I suggest seven years of secondary education, higher education diploma or degree in English literature preferably. Then a pamphlet or short story detailing your 'journey' from the streets. Otherwise, employ the services of a ghost writer. Not that there are not not exceptions but very rarely, and I wouldn't read them unless stood on the Classic shelves of WHSmiths, my little secret place, for your information. AND that's for all of you, not just Tufty.
     
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  19. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    But do you ask other people to critique your drawings before they reach the 'masterpiece' level? I never show unfinished work to anyone (which may be one reason why I haven't published anything), but if I were to start, I'd make very sure the draft I gave them was as good as I could make it, especially the mechanics like SPaG, which is the easy part for me. I've considered beta reading the work of others, but I, too, would have a hard time getting past a lot of grammar and spelling errors.
     
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  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think at the EOTD it depends on what we mean by a lot. I'd struggle if someone was barely litterate

    "i want u two rede tis buk i rote"

    but a writer sometimes putting a space behind a comma , as I tend to when I'm writing fast or missing the occasional apostrophe doesnt feel like the end of the world so long as its picked up at the proof reading stage

    Obvious not everyone feels the same - a member who is now on my ignore list decided to message me when I was quite new to say that "no one would take me seriously if I put a space in front of my commas" in forum posts. I can't help feeling that anyone who feels the need to police comma abuse in forum text needs to get out more.
     
  21. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Thankfully, the game's not linear, so we have great examples to inspire:
    upload_2017-12-27_11-45-5.png
     
  22. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, spaces before commas aren't exactly the kind of thing I'm thinking of (of which I'm thinking) when I say, "SPaG errors" (though I would never, ever do that). I'm more concerned with spelling errors, especially those which seem to be caused by auto-correct, and things like the "singular they". Any mistakes that pull me out of the story will eventually add up to a dealbreaker.
     
  23. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Your rudeness was to someone else. I was objecting to it. Are you now saying that due to your mistaken belief that I was published, a belief contrary to plenty of my posts, you are authorized to be rude to other people?

    Your mistake doesn’t authorize you to be rude to me, much less other people.

    Moving on, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want your alpha readers’ input on writing style, quality, coherence, etc. Those things matter.
     

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