When is a final draft
a final draft?
So you have drafted and drafted, edited, cut and added and
spell checked. So you have your final draft. You’re happy with your work and
just summoning up the courage to cast your ‘baby’ to the wolves of the
Stop right there.
I have discovered no matter how many times you read the
manuscript you have always missed something.
Don’t send you ‘baby’ out there with its shoelaces undone.
My advice put it away for a week. Then look at it again.
Read it aloud, again. You might be surprised how many bits you change, typos
you missed or when you used a passive voice. Read it out loud, feel the pacing,
rhythm and nuances. I know you will be thoroughly sick of it by now. You might
never want to see it again, but do that last review anyway.
Have you checked for?
How many times have you used ‘was’
Or your favorite words—mine are smiled, shrugged
Use the ‘find’ tool to check it out. Some
versions of word will give you the number of times you have used the same word.
Have you checked for ‘independently moving body
parts? Like ‘his hand covered hers’ instead of ‘he covered her hand with his’
Have you checked for adverbs – slowly – use
ambled or quietly instead try tiptoed. Make sure you are expressing the nuances
you mean to.
How are your paragraphs – too short – too long
What about your chapters – have you broken at
the right place.
How about ‘began’ – your characters should just
do things – ‘he began to walk across the room’ use instead ‘he walked across
‘Feel’ – ‘when he kissed her she felt her
breasts tingle’ try instead ‘When he kissed her, her breasts tingled’.
‘and then’ – editors usually prefer either ‘and
Have you followed the submission guidelines to
Have you tidied up loose ends – are all your
characters and material items accounted for? Like she had that sword in chapter
10, but where is it now in chapter 13 or at the end.
Punctuation, grammar, spelling – read up on the
rules if it is not your forte.
Have you checked for passive writing
Have you checked for ‘show not tell’?
Watch for POV- do not head hop
Watch for redundant words – ‘she waved her hand
at them’ should just be ‘she waved at
Check the scene choreography – make sure that
fight or love scene is physically possible.
What out for slang or dialects
Do the bits that should make the reader cry or
laugh make you cry or laugh.
And before you press ‘send’ make sure you have
attached the files.
I am sure I could add to this list, but as long as you have
done your very best, get it out there. No manuscript will get acquired by lying
in the bottom of the drawer or in an archived file.
See how my manuscripts, my ‘babies’ are now published
Daughter Book 1 The Scorpion’s Heart
Upside of Down
My Journey to Publication
The journey to become a published writer can be a long and
In the beginning, as fledgling writers, we look at our first
manuscript and think we have a best seller on our hands. It is a rude
awakening when it is rejected without reason or explanation by the publisher we
sent it to with great anticipation.
So we begin our education as we are forced to either give up
or to look critically at our work - we have to criticise our 'baby'. It hurts.
It tears us apart, but must be done if our 'baby' is ever to reach the great
heights we have in mind for it.
We seek advice from the more experienced, those with thick
skins and a drawer or two full of rejection letters, just like ours. We work on
our writing skills and polish them up with workshops from those experts willing
We try again. Not ruthless enough, even yet. Rejection comes
calling once more. We develop a callous where the worst of the hurt lies - in
our heart, soul and pride.
We learn some more. We hone, we polish, we re-write and
re-write. Now we are ruthless. Now we are looking at our precious words and
know they are not indispensable, even that
favourite paragraph that describes the landscape to a t or
tells the reader allabout the protagonist's history, her mother's
and her grandmother's and is full of cliches.
Now we are truly ruthless. Gone are the repetitions, the
long descriptive paragraphs and the information dumps. All that is left is well
polished prose telling a story of worth that the reader can enjoy. Finally the
writer is talking to the reader through their words - conveying the story, the
emotions and the meaning through lively, well crafted characters that jump off
the page and become real as the story unfolds. Now you know you are a writer, and
so does the publisher you send that precious manuscript to for
Time for the next step in the journey. There is more to
learn, more to achieve and all the time there are readers out there just
waiting for you, the writer, to share your story so they can enjoy.
On May 31st 2013 I took an enormous step forward on my
journey as a writer. Silver Stream Press accepted my manuscript entitled The
This manuscript was a long time in the making - 18 years in
fact. It has come from a raw, enthusiastic, unpolished collection of words to a
concise, energetic, colourful fantasy story that will draw you away into a
magical world all its own. If I enchant you, the reader, I will have fulfilled
my dream of speaking to you, personally. You the reader, I welcome you into my
magic world of storytelling.
More Books...no writers block haunts me
With a release date now
set the excitement builds - so you can all share my story and find
entertainment and stimulation from within the pages.
With two books now in
the process of publication it is time to begin another journey. A new book, a
And where do the ideas
come from for these books. I am often asked by friends and strangers alike how
I come up with the ideas for the stories I love to write so much.
It is a difficult
question to answer in some way but it isn't in others.
I suppose the most
important source of ideas is life itself.
As we live and grow we
experience many things in life. Some are full of joy - like the birth of a
child, falling in love, or picking up a puppy or kitten to become your life
long companion. There are too many to list here, but you will know what gave
you joy in life.
Others a life's painful
lessons - the death of a loved one, a break up, a child's sickness, bullying,
victim of crime or depression and suicide.
We learn from them all -
we come to develop empathy for others through our own experiences.
A writer has a gift -
the ability to share that which they have learned through personal experience.
Yes research if required for the mechanics of the plot, location and the
correctness of incidents, but the richness of emotion comes from within.
As a writer if you can
catch peoples interest, touch their soul, soften a prejudice or even just get
them thinking and debating issues in society you have achieved much. It is a
privilege to be taken seriously when planning a new book. What do I want to
More books...but what about sales
So you have written your
book and it is getting published - you have communicated with your audience,
telling a wonderful story to entertain, relax, puzzle or advise. But .... your
audience doesn't know it yet.
Now you have to
communicate to your potential audience that you have written this wonderful
story...that you want to communicate it to them.
Word of Mouth is
considered one of the prime ways to get your message out there and positive
referrals. But what is word of mouth in 2013. What is word of mouth to my
potential audience - not face to face conversation but conversations comprising
Facebook status updates, sms, websites, twitter.
So I must learn to speak
the language of my audience and the methods of conversing.
So I take a fork in the
road and begin to communicate in the way my audience understand. Website -
tick, Twitter - tick, Facebook - tick. But I wonder still if I am reaching my
audience. Only time will tell.
To be a writer and be
content to plan, develop, research, write, edit and polish your work is
wonderful. You can beaver away alone in your office, spend time day dreaming
and plotting in your mind and finally have some contact with an editor -
usually via e-mail.
But comes the day when
you book is accepted.
You have set up your
website, your blog, your twitter and Facebook accounts to communicate your
book's presence in the world and to essentially communicate its joys with your
But wait there is
more... your book, your precious creation, needs to be launched, it needs to be
marketed and it needs to be talked about.
Do you have the skills
as a dedicated writer to market you book, to launch it and to talk about
To achieve this you need
marketing skills and public speaking skills and event management skills.
Let's start with the
Launch: Event management - venue, decorations, catering, invites, people
management and the biggy for most people making a speech.
Public speaking - many
people would rather die than get up in front of a crowd and make a speech. Well
embrace it fellow writers, for this is a must.
Marketing - Not just for
the launch but marketing you book - radio interviews, meet the author nights
and writers festivals.
So if you do not have
these skills I would suggest you develop them - become competent at least
before your book is launched on the world. Because with its launch comes your
launch as an author and you want to make the best first, middle and every time
impression on you readers.
No matter how you write or why you write you can always use
My desktop tool box includes a number of items.
A dictionary: they come in all shapes and sizes and they get
regular updates because the English language, the pivot of our work is
constantly evolving. Often foreign languages influences our language as we take
on new foods, sights and sounds from our global village. Or there is new
technology. I mean when I was a kid of tender years I had never heard of giga
bytes and a mouse was a furry rodent that my cats chased. And more recently of
course we have the words, nom and amazeballs - invented by our gen y and x and
beyond. The thing I find is a dictionary is often useless for helping with
spelling - if you can't spell the word how can you find it in a book with words
listed by spelling but it is useful for giving a meaning to a word.
A Thesaurus: these also come in all shapes and sizes and get
updated regularly for the same reason as a dictionary. I personally like the
Roget's the seventh edition. I find it easy to use to find the exact word I
need. the only problem I have struck is when I have used colloquial Australian.
For me sometimes there is just one word that is right and it just happens to be
a fair dinkum Aussie word.
The third book I keep handy is a baby name book with the
zodiac characteristics listed. This book helps me do a number of things.
The first and most obvious is naming my characters
The second is to use a star sign and help me decide on their
personality - very important for their development within the story.
The third and most unusual is to help me develop names for
my creatures in my fantasy words. Some of the baby names are interesting to
speak and spell and have meanings. I like to find a word that appeals when I
say it out loud, then alter it slightly to make an appropriate sounding name
for an unknown creature.
I also have a book on Aussie slang - seeing I am an Aussie
Another book that is not far away is the 'Book of
Beginnings' - helps with cliches, meanings of certain sayings and the source of
habits, old wives tales, rumors and historical facts. It is also a very
interesting reads for the inquiring mind.
these book are wonderful, but of course one does
not forget Mr Google or the good old fashioned practice of asking someone who
knows the answer to your question.
Cliches, interpretation and colloquial language (Aussie
Cliches are deeply frowned upon by writers, readers and
editors alike. What is a cliche? A cliche is a trite, stereotyped expression,
idea, practice. Example: a stitch in time, raining cats and dogs, trials and
tribulations. We all know them and use them. They are familiar and to some
extent comforting. But not in your novel.
Colloquial language is defined as: appropriate to or
characteristic of conversational speech or writing in which the speaker or
writer is under no particular constraint to choose standard, formal,
conservative, deferential, polite of grammatically correct unchallengeable
words, but feels free to choose words as appropriate from the informal,
slang, vulgar or taboo elements from the lexicon.
To put it simply the speaker or the writer uses whatever
words seem right at the time to flavour their communication. These are fine in
your novel, but remember if you are writing for an international audience they
may not know what gluggy, bouffy/boofy or ratbag means.
Which brings in the issue of interpretation. You don't want
your readers reading experience jarred by an unfamiliar word so do you not use
it or do you supply a glossary or leave it there and hope it makes sense. For
me as a writer it would be best to minimize the slang, but then sometimes there
is only one word to use, the only one that feels right on the tongue of the
writer. Just like gluggy, boofy and ratbag.
There are plenty of others sidewalk vs footpath, fawcett vs
tap and I could go on...