Thursday, 23 April 2015

Short Story - Bad Gone Good

Bad Gone Good
Original Image: Flickr | Troublemakers Inc.(Text added)
A while ago I entered a short story contest for The Toronto Star. Today the winners were announced and unfortunately I was not one of them.

While I might not have won the contest, I can at least publish the short 2,500 word story I wrote here.

The story is about a man who, try as he might, cannot commit a proper crime to save his life.

Please enjoy, BAD GONE GOOD:

prison; that’s where Jeff Meyer wanted to be two weeks after the divorce. Not locked up behind bars with all the murderers and true convicts, just somewhere local with minimum security. Apparently those places were run sort of like a one-star country club. From what Jeff had read online, inmates even had their own dorm rooms and access to classes like wood carving and computer studies.
It didn’t sound perfect but it sounded a lot better than being homeless, which was exactly where Jeff was headed considering he was jobless and his bank account was dangerously close to zero. Jeff’s friends had always warned him that Nancy was a gold digger and it turned out that they had been correct. She had dug him straight into a pit of poverty. The most pathetic part was that he still missed her. How on Earth had Nancy managed to secure alimony on top of getting the house and car? Especially considering that she was the one who had cheated.
The system was truly corrupt. Knowing that though made it possible to understand that the system could also be bent and twisted like a wet sponge to work in his favour.
Jeff’s plan was simple; commit just enough crime to be locked up, not behind bars, but behind a wooden door in a cozy dorm room. That way the rent and food all came out of the Canadian government’s pockets and not his own.
On top of the divorce, nearly three months of fruitless job searching, and celebrating his thirty-third birthday alone made life pretty miserable. This was the best idea Jeff felt he had come up with in a long time. The sheer idea of committing a crime made Jeff feel alive in a way he hadn’t felt in ages. In a way, he felt a little bit like he was Walter White from Breaking Bad.
With that to motivate him, Jeff left his rented single-bedroom apartment with a big smile and headed downtown, expecting a day quite unlike any he had lived through before. He didn’t have the slightest inkling just how right he would be about that.
The plan was simple. He would pull a fire alarm in Toronto City Hall. He had never pulled a fire alarm before and had always wanted to. Maybe it was the type of thing that every kid wanted to do growing up, but how many ever really got the chance? Fire alarms were like the big red buttons in any action movie, and every kid, heck, probably every adult secretly wanted to pull one at least once. This was like a dream come true. A small dream perhaps, but a dream nevertheless.
At fifteen minutes past nine, Jeff Meyer walked through Nathan Phillips Square towards Toronto City Hall, scarcely able to contain a grin that wanted to consume his entire face.
Careful Jeff, careful, he thought as he nervously approached the front doors of the small building between the large curved towers that made up Toronto City Hall. He wore a ragged white t-shirt and jeans with a hole above the left knee. It was probably best to already look like someone who was deliberately out to cause trouble.
Stylish men and women hurried past Jeff and pushed their way inside. The curved buildings loomed over him like titans, watching and judging his every move. Jeff took a deep breath and then confidently strode through the glass doors, following an important looking man who was yelling at someone on his smartphone.
A few people glanced at Jeff as they hurried past, but no one paid him any real attention. That was good. In the centre of the room there was a large white rotunda. A glass display case flanked by two flags stood at its base upon a blue carpet. Jeff walked along the marble floor and past the centre, keeping an eye on the walls for a fire alarm to pull. He found one soon enough near a bathroom. Breathing quickly and sweating profusely he leaned against the wall and began to count down from ten.
“Ten… nine… eight…” None of the dozens of busy people passing through paid much attention to the man who was about to evacuate the building. “Three… two… one…”
Jeff wrapped his fist around the alarm’s handle and yanked hard. Alarms immediately screeched as loudly as music at a nightclub, and people glanced around, mostly looking confused. Minutes later sirens blared from outside Toronto City Hall, and a police officer escorted Jeff from the building after multiple people had pointed in his direction, giving him up as the alarm-sounder. Once they were in an area quiet enough to talk, the young officer spun around and addressed Jeff.
“Sir, several people indicated you are the one responsible for sounding the fire alarm a few minutes ago. Is this true?”
“It is, officer. I take full responsibility for what I’ve done,” said Jeff, holding his arms up in front of him, with full anticipation of being handcuffed.
To Jeff’s surprise, the officer grasped his hand and shook. “Then on behalf of the Toronto Police Department I would like to personally thank you. I don’t know how you noticed the gas leak so early but we’re glad you did. You saved a lot of lives today.”
The officer let go and then walked over to talk to his team near their squad car. Jeff’s mouth was hanging open in disbelief.
“You have got to be pulling my leg,” he said.
Out of all the rotten luck, how could there have been an actual gas leak inside Toronto City Hall on the day he had decided to pull a fire alarm. Before Jeff even had a chance to escape, a journalist and camera crew fell upon him. By the time he finally got away it was nearly eleven.
That evening Jeff’s face was plastered all over the news and he was branded as a local hero and celebrity, which wasn’t exactly a good way to land himself a spot in prison. Jeff was watching from an old recliner in his apartment, nursing a dying bottle of Bud Light. As soon as the segment about the gas leak ended, his phone rang.
“Hello?”
“Jeff? Oh my gosh, I just saw the news. Are you okay?”
It took Jeff a moment to pinpoint the voice in his tipsy state. “Nancy?”
“Of course it is. What on Earth were you doing at City Hall today? I can’t believe you saved all those people.”
Jeff smiled. His chest glowed with an unexpected sense of pride. “Yeah, I guess I did. I’m a hero.”
He went to sleep feeling slightly better about himself, but one phone call of praise from his ex-wife wasn’t enough to change the reality of his financial situation. Tomorrow he would put stage two of his plan into motion. Aggravated assault without a weapon; it was surely a guaranteed way to land himself a cozy spot in low security.
Early afternoon on Tuesday Jeff nervously strolled the downtown streets. He wore the same ragged jeans as yesterday and scoped out pedestrians for a suitable target. Jeff wasn’t a violent man. In fact, he was quite scrawny. However, he had taken karate classes when he was younger and at least had a basic idea of how to fight. The trick would be to pick a target who looked defenseless but also strong enough to not get seriously injured. Finding someone in their twenties, thirties or early forties seemed ideal.
It was almost 1:30 on the dot when Jeff made his decision. Sitting on a bench outside the Roger’s Centre was a white collared business man who looked to be around the same age as Jeff. The man had a briefcase on his lap and was glancing around as if he was waiting for someone. Across the street was a parked patrol car. It looked like the prison gods were smiling on Jeff today.
As Jeff approached, he was extremely aware of how hard his heart was pounding. Adrenaline surged with the knowledge of what he was about to do and he was drawing short rapid breaths like he had just finished running a hundred metre sprint.
“Hey, buddy,” Jeff said to the businessman as he came within talking distance.
The businessman spun his head and before he had a chance to react, Jeff snatched the briefcase out of the man’s lap.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Give that back!”
Jeff held it out of the man’s reach. “Want it? Come get it then.”
The businessman nervously glanced towards the patrol car and then stood up. Jeff charged at the man and pushed him over, which caused both of them to topple over backwards.
“Stop what you’re doing!” a voice in the distance shouted; probably the officer.
The businessman lunged for his briefcase and Jeff threw it backwards. It opened mid-air and bags full of white powder flew out and scattered across the ground in all directions.
“Wait… what?” Jeff said, turning and staring in stunned disbelief as the massive assortment of drugs flopped onto the pavement.
Using Jeff’s distraction to his advantage, the drug dealer struck Jeff hard in the face. Jeff cried out in pain and rolled off of his target. Moments later the drug dealer was struggling as an officer put him in handcuffs, while Jeff accepted a cold water bottle from a cute brunette and pressed it up against his face where he had been hit.
“Aren’t you that guy who was on the news yesterday for saving City Hall?” the brunette asked. “That was amazing! Can I have your number?”
That evening, Jeff hardly knew whether to laugh or fume. He had never done a heroic thing in his life and now for two days in a row he had made the news. Once as a local hero who saved City Hall and then the next day as a vigilante who had assisted the police in a major drug bust. Nancy called again after watching the news that evening.
“Were you just hiding this side of you while we were married?”
“Maybe I was,” Jeff replied, definitely feeling in higher spirits, with his mind on the brunette who had asked for his number.
Although his life was looking slightly better with a new hope for romance, it didn’t change the fact that he would soon be homeless. There was still one failsafe option Jeff had in mind to get arrested; grand theft auto. Stealing a car was stealing a car. That was a crime regardless of what anyone thought. Much like pulling a fire alarm, he had occasionally wondered how it might feel to steal a car, but never dreamed pulling it off was something that he would ever actually attempt.
Wednesday morning Jeff decided that this would be his last shot. If he couldn’t get arrested after stealing a car then there truly was no hope for him. This time Jeff was determined to get caught. In order to deal the criminal cards in his favour he elected to steal a vehicle near Jane & Finch, an area of Toronto that was infamous for its higher crime rates. It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for. Parked in a plaza just outside a Bank of Montreal was a black Honda Civic with its passenger and driver doors wide open, and no one inside. To make this theft even easier, the engine was already running. This was extremely convenient because Jeff just realized he had no idea how to hotwire a car, which was sort of a major flaw in his plan.
Two days ago Jeff would probably have been too scared to actually go through with this crime, but after the fire alarm and the assault this was merely like climbing the next rung on his ladder of villainy. With a purposeful stride, Jeff entered through the driver’s side, and then reached over and slammed the passenger door shut. He floored the peddle and grinned an almighty smirk as the vehicle sped off through the plaza.
“YES!” he screamed, elated after finally committing the perfect crime.
Police sirens were already blaring and getting louder; they were like a crescendo as they approached from Finch and turned directly into the parking lot. Jeff’s heart pounded like the bass drum at a rock concert now, and he slammed on the brakes as three squad cars approached… and sped right past him.
With open mouthed disbelief, Jeff turned and looked through the back window.
“What the heck?”
The cars stopped in front of the bank and six officers got out. Five of them crouched behind their cars and pointed their guns towards the building. The sixth officer, a black woman, pulled out a loudspeaker.
“Put down your weapons and come out with your hands behind your heads! We have you surrounded!”
That was when it dawned on Jeff why the Honda Civic’s doors had been open and the engine had been running. He had just stolen the getaway vehicle to an armed bank robbery.
Jeff Meyer, prison inmate wannabe and thrice local hero. He was asked by the Toronto Police Department to interview for a job on the force. Lucianne, the girl who had wanted his number called and asked him on a dinner date. Friday morning Jeff was presented with an award by the mayor for outstanding civic duty, and was also gifted with a cheque for $25,000. After the ceremony ended, Jeff received his final surprise as he departed Nathan Phillips Square and prepared to return home. A gentle hand grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around.
“Jeff, you were amazing! I’m so glad I found you. I had to fight my way through the crowd to get to you.”
“Nancy, what are you doing here?”
Nancy grabbed Jeff’s hands and cupped them in her own. “I want to give us another chance.”
Jeff’s face flushed. Here was Nancy, the woman who he had fallen in love with, who had cheated on him, broken his heart, and taken nearly everything he owned, saying she wanted him back. Sadly enough, one week ago he would have done so unquestioningly. But he was alive now. Her sudden desire to rekindle their romance was questionable at best and downright suspicious at the worst.
“And why would I want to do that?”
“Jeff, honey,” said Nancy as she let go of his hands and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Don’t you still love me?”
Jeff gently lowered Nancy’s arms and pulled away. Nancy’s face contorted; it was as if she wasn’t sure how to react upon not getting what she wanted.
“Dear, for the last three days absolutely nothing has gone the way I wanted. Perhaps for the first time ever, I am taking control.”

Jeff grinned and walked away. After all, he had $25,000 and a date. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Ultimate Guide for Editing Your Novel

The Ultimate Guide for Editing Your Novel
It's done.

For one full year, plus a few days, I have been editing my first novel, Elementalists: Burning Desire. What a process! Fortunately, it was long ago when I read step #7 on an article called 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author, which helped mentally prepare me well in advance for the editing process. The advice was simple and brutal:

"REVISIONS ARE NOT COPY EDITS; THEY ARE MAJOR SURGERY AND THEY SUCK"

It would still be months until I was fully able to comprehend what this meant. Right around December 31, 2013, I finished writing my novel at 131,000 words. On January 5, 2015 I finished my editing. All of 2014 was spent editing - almost every single day. In that time I went through four complete drafts of my book. In other words, I started on page one and edited all the way through to the last word, and I did this four times from cover to cover. The word count peaked at 179,000 but settled closer to 155,000 in the end.

There are A LOT of things I learned during this time and my ability to write proficiently grew phenomenally during the process. Below are my biggest learning points, and hopefully, points that will help serve you as your ultimate guide for editing your novel.

1. Pick some good music and bloody enjoy your editing.


Not what you were expecting for point #1? Tough. This is the most important item on this list.

You're going to be spending A LOT of time editing, so you'd better damn well enjoy the process. Find some music that you like, preferably something without lyrics so you won't be distracted. Amp up the volume and then get to work. By the way, music improves your productivity, so there you go, science and stuff. Don't work in dead silence, because it sucks.

Need suggestions of what to listen to or where to listen while you edit? Here are a few:

Artists to listen to while you edit:
- Lindsey Stirling (Techno/violin)
- God is an Astronaut (Post rock)
- Mogwai (Post rock)
- This Will Destroy You (Post rock)
- Explosions in the Sky (Post rock)
- Hans Zimmer (Epic movie music and more)
- Two Steps From Hell (Epic music in general)
- Playlist of the music that I found the most inspiring while writing my novel

Have more suggestions? Leave a comment on this post.

Where to go to listen to music while you work
- Youtube (but ads are annoying)
- Pandora - Pay $4.99 or whatever the cost is for a monthly subscription. If you live outside of the US like me and can't access it, install Zenmate, and BOOM, problem solved.
- Spotify - I don't use it myself but I hear it's awesome.
- Never Ending Playlist - It uses YouTube to generate endless playlists of an artist you want to listen to. Free.

2. Use a text to voice program.


Try Ivona. Someone linked this on Reddit's /r/writing subreddit at some point. I tried it and fell in love with it immediately. Editing without Ivona's minireader app is like trying to master figure skating while wearing shoes.

Here's the thing, when you read your draft in your head you miss stuff. Your brain simply isn't programmed to read every single word on the page. We see words as groups and as wholes. When I started using Ivona and listening to what I wrote, read out loud, I was absolutely blown away by the number of duplicate and missing words in my story. Not only that, but there were countless sentences that sounded fine in my head but had something wrong with them that only became apparent after being read out loud by an external voice.

Here was my method for using Ivona.

First, I would edit either a sentence, a paragraph, or a page; whatever felt right at the time. Then, I would have Ivona read it back to me. What often sounded fine in my head had a completely different vibe when verbalized, The software spoke the truth and put my lazy mind to shame. It was almost like it was chastising me, saying, "Really? Are you sure that you're satisfied with that pile of rubbish?"

Ouch.

Once I finished several chapters, I would load up Diablo 3 on one monitor (awesome game) and set my draft and Ivona to the other. Ivona would read my entire chapter out loud while I played and listened. If anything sounded off, I would pause the game, minimize and make the changes. Rinse and repeat.

Yes, Diablo 3 was part of my editing strategy. And you know what, it bloody worked. Don't judge me, or do. I don't care.

3) Suck it up and make big changes.


Rip your draft apart like you're a starving wolf ravaging its lifesaving meal.

This means cutting entire scenes; entire chapters even. This means tons of rewriting. This means moving sections around and making things flow better.

EDITING IS NOT ABOUT MAKING GRAMMAR AND SPELLING EDITS.

I mean, it's a part of it, but a very small part.

Your first draft is going to suck. That's not an 'if' or a 'maybe.' It's a guarantee, especially if it's your first novel. That's okay though, it's normal. What's important is that you can shove your ego aside, recognize that your draft sucks and then edit the crap out of it so it doesn't suck anymore.

I completely rewrote my first two chapters on my first run through of edits because they were so cringe-inducingly terrible that I wanted to stick toothpicks in my eyes after reading even a single sentence. Don't believe me? Check this out:

“Have a good day!” she told him when he was almost ready to leave the house, providing him with a motherly kiss on the cheek.

(I'm so sorry you had to see that.)

My entire first two chapters were like this, and the writing only became slightly better as the book progressed. After a year of editing however, I am happy to say that I am quite pleased to show off anything from any chapter now.

4) Avoid writing's biggest pitfalls.


Let's start with deus ex machina.
If you don't know what this is (it's okay, I didn't when I started), it essentially means you're getting the protagonist out of trouble by saving them with the power of coincidence. In short, bad storytelling.

As one clever Redditor once said (I'm sorry, I don't remember who you were), "It's okay to get your hero into trouble because of coincidence, but it's not okay to get them out of trouble with it."

Example:

BAD: Your hero is being held up at gunpoint. He is saved when a meteorite smashes into the gunman and kills him.

GOOD: Your hero is being held up at gunpoint. He saves himself by putting his extensive years of martial arts training to use.

I was fortunate to not have a lot of deus ex machina to fix, but I did have some. Story time!

In one chapter of my book, one of my protagonist's artifacts used a mysterious power that neither the reader nor my character had any knowledge of at the time, which saved him. In my head it made sense because I knew the artifact could do this, but this power basically came completely out of the blue for both the reader and the hero.

I fixed this issue by having the protagonist learn about his artifact's power, as well as how to use it in a previous chapter. Then, when my hero was in trouble he was able to use its power to save himself. No more deus ex machina, instead it was replaced by foreshadowing. Much better.

Now let's talk about overusing your thesaurus.
You might have noticed that I don't use a lot of big fancy words in this article. My book reads a lot like this too.

From what I've seen by participating in Reddit's /r/writing subreddit, especially with new writers, they commonly feel the need to prove something by using a lot of big words. It's almost like an itch or a desire, which entices them to want to show off their vastly superior intellect.

Making the reader have to constantly refer to their dictionary doesn't make you come across as smart though, it makes you come across as pretentious. That's probably not what you want.

Prove your talent by doing these things instead:

- Create interesting stories.
- Create interesting characters.
- Create interesting dialogue.
- Make the reader curious and want to flip the page (or scroll down).
- Make good use of foreshadowing.
- Etc.

Avoid using the passive voice.
Honestly, I still have a bit of trouble understanding exactly what the passive voice is, but I do understand that it's generally a bad thing.

I'm not going to go into detail on this matter, there are already plenty of resources on the passive voice. So here is a summary instead:

BAD: The store was where he went. (Passive voice)
GOOD: He went to the store. (Active voice)

BAD: His attitude was not something which she was impressed by. (Passive voice)
GOOD: She was not impressed by his attitude. (Active voice)

Eventually you start to recognize when the passive voice is being used just by seeing it written. It sort of stands out after a while. Personally I find the best way to find it is by looking for a sentence that seems... overly complicated. Again, go for simplicity.

5) Learn keyboard shortcuts.


This might sound basic, but learning keyboard shortcuts can be a huge time saver. Here are some of my favourites:

- Holding CTRL and then moving left or right with the arrow keys lets you move the cursor by entire words, instead of just letters.
- Holding CTRL+SHIFT lets you highlight entire words at a time.
- Holding CTRL+SHIFT then pressing up or down lets you highlight entire paragraphs.
- CTRL+Z lets you undo the last change you made.
- CTRL+C copies whatever you have highlighted.
- CTRL+X cuts whatever you have highlighted.
- CTRL+V pastes whatever you have highlighted.
- CTRL+S lets you quicksave. Hit this ALL THE TIME. Also, work within Dropbox or another cloud program for extra caution.
- WINDOWS+D lets you minimize everything and go straight to the desktop.

Have other favourite keyboard shortcuts for writing that I didn't include? Leave a comment.

6) Understand confusing grammar issues ahead of time.


I thought I knew grammar quite well, and to a point I did. When I started editing however, I quickly discovered there were a lot of extremely specific grammar points that were confusing.

Start with the Oatmeal. Their comics are fun, well-written and educational:
- The full grammar guide
- Who versus whom
- Flesh out versus flush out
- What it means when you say 'literally'
- When to use i.e.
- How to use a semicolon
- How to use an apostrophe

Below are some of the more intricate and annoying grammar points that I struggled with, as well as how to handle them:

When to use commas:


And/or:
Use commas in two situations:

1) When writing a list of three or more items.
2) When linking together two independent clauses.

There is also something called the “Oxford Comma,” which is the last comma at the end of a list. This comma is generally avoided, although there are some good arguments for its use.

The Oxford Comma

As:
Using a comma before 'as' was something that I found to be potentially the single most confusing and debatable time of whether or not it should be used. As best as I've been able to tell (although this doesn't seem to be concrete), if an action follows ‘as’ then use a comma, if a description follows then do not. I went through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to find some examples.

‘said Harry as quietly as possible.’
‘said Slughorn, as Ron collapsed.’

Because:
Generally you do not use a comma. Exceptions may be made when using 'because' after it follows a verb that has been used in the negative. This is done to avoid confusion.

Example: He wasn't happy, because of the temperature.

In the above example, without the comma, the meaning of the sentence would be confusing. Was he happy for some other reason? With the comma it becomes clear that the reason he wasn't happy was because of the temperature. You can find more info here.

But:
Only use a comma before ‘but’ when it is part of an independent clause.

Examples:

My cockatiels are messy but cute. - Part of the same thought so there is no need for a comma.
My dog is also messy, but at least he's not as bad as the cockatiels. - Two separate thoughts; use a comma. 

More info here.

Cockatiels are awesome.
Cockatiels are awesome.

Which:
A while back I heard the advice – always use a comma before ‘which’ and never use a comma before ‘that.’ While this may be largely true, I later discovered it isn't always true.

The rule is as follows: when whatever follows ‘which’ adds something that is necessary for the reader to know in order to understand the context, use a comma. When whatever follows ‘which’ just adds some extra colour to the scene, a comma is not necessary.

Eg. He went into the room which was painted red. (no comma)
Eg. He went into the room, which little did he know was exactly where the murder had been committed. (uses a comma).

When to capitalize.


Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter, Sister, Brother:
When specifically referring to the person, as if your character is calling them by name, capitalize. Otherwise, don't.

"I'm back, Mom! Is dad home yet?"
^- Mom is capitalized because she is being referred to directly. 'Dad' is simply being asked about. He is not capitalized.

Sir, Mam, and other titles.
Only the normal rules apply. Capitalize if they are at the start of a sentence.

Directions: North, East, South, West
Capitalize them when they specifically indicate a region or are necessary in order to understand the full name. They do not get capitalized when they are being used to only indicate a general direction.

They walked to the city's South Temple. (yes)
They walked south. (no)

7) Show, don't tell.


It can take a while to understand this one, but the basic premise is that you want to avoid writing descriptive adjectives and adverbs, and visually create an image in the reader's mind instead.

Example time.

BAD: He was extremely angry about the results of the hockey game and went on a rampage afterwords.

Why is this bad? Because it's boring. It's bland. It's not even vanilla ice cream, it's just milk. It doesn't create an image inside of the readers mind. 'Extremely angry,' what does that even mean? 'Went on a rampage?' C'mon...

GOOD: His pulse was racing and his veins were throbbing after the hockey game ended. His rage was bubbling dangerously close to the surface. It was almost like he was about to have a seizure because of the convulsions. The rampage started when he picked up the remote and threw it into the television set, smashing the screen into countless shards. He roared and threw the coffee table over, causing its glass to shatter everywhere. By the time morning came, the house looked like it had been burglarized by some particularly ruthless vandals. Whoever said that Canadians weren't violent?

There is no fast and easy solution to figuring out how to show instead of tell. In fact, for your first draft you probably shouldn't even worry about it that much. Only when you start your editing do you concern yourself with making the transition from telling to showing.

Try to start by recognizing words like 'angry, sad, happy,' etc., and thinking about how you can make the reader visualize your character's emotions. Physically describe what the character is doing instead. Here is the article that first helped me understand this concept. I was fortunate enough to discover it early on.

Stuck on telling instead of showing? Here is a  useful resource:
Body language cheat sheet.

8) When are you finished editing?


Perhaps this is the biggest question of all. Is it enough to go through your draft from start to finish only once? Should you do it twice? More?

The only question you need to ask yourself is: are you satisfied with what you've accomplished?

Because I'm a nerd, I look at editing like leveling up in a video-game. When you begin your first draft you're a level 1 writer, and when you finish that draft you're a level 10 writer. That means that the writing at the end of your draft is going to be much better than the writing at the beginning.

So you start your editing on page 1, now as a level 10 writer. By the time you get to the end you are now a level 20 writer, which means your beginning isn't quite up to par with what you are capable of now.

Back to page 1 again.

Keep doing this until you feel reasonably satisfied that your proficiency in writing and editing roughly matches up from page 1 until the last page of your book. Like any video-game, it's easy to level up in the beginning but it takes more time to reach the higher levels. Eventually your writing and editing start to even out.

In my case, I went from start to finish four times. I also had one round of what I call 'super-edits' for each of these drafts. This is where I loaded up Diablo 3, activated Ivona, and let it read my entire chapter to me while I carefully listened for anything that felt off.

In conclusion...


Editing is an incredibly grueling, tedious and mind-numbing process. But it's also one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.

Last night I met with one of my beta readers to receive the first-ever feedback for my novel. She is a huge reader and absolutely loved my book. She initially said that she would read it over two weeks, but it ended up taking her only four days. That's a great feeling, and certainly not something that would have ever happened without proper editing first.

Beta Reader Screenshot

Writing a novel is like building a house, and turning your word-vomit draft into a masterpiece that you are proud of showing off is worth every single second of the effort that you put into it.

When it comes time to pitch your novel to agents, they will thank you too.