Monday, August 3, 2020

Growing on Revision

I'm in revisions right now. 

To help you realize just how FAR AHEAD traditional publishing works, I'm just now revising the finished manuscript...of book #3 of the NEXT series.

Not the current series, The Brides of Hope Mountain.

The NEXT series, Brothers in Arms.
Braced for Love
Here is Braced for Love, coming in March 2021--Click to preorder
The book I am currently revising is releasing (I'd estimate) in November 2021.

Anyway, that's not my point.

My point is, when I'm writing a book my goal for a 75,000 to 80,000 word book, which is what I'm contracted for, is for the ending to kick off, (and by KICK OFF I mean the usual mayhem, chasing, shooting, screaming, black moment, all is lost, victory, true love wins over all!!!!) 
You know, THAT ending...starts around 60,000 words. 

Yes, it takes me about 15,000 words to drag every reader through the mayhem...you're welcome!

So the trouble with that is, often, I get to the beginning of the end...too soon.
Do you ever do that? Are you writing along and realize the story is coming to an end but your book isn't long enough?

Or, conversely, you're writing along and realize your word count is done NOW but the story continues on.

I've done both, but what I've found is, my books grow on revision. When I'm done...and I'm revising as I go...but when I'm all the way done, that's when I can go through it and yes, look for typos and substantive edits...oops, I gave him blue eyes until chapter five, at which point they became hazel!!??...I am also looking for things that can add a lot of words to a story.


Things like:
Scene setting.
Humor and sarcasm.
Emotional reaction beats tacked onto dialogue.
Developing backstory.
Wrapping up the ending.

Mostly for me though it's scene setting...which seems to be a weakness of mine. Not that I don't think I do it okay, but it's not natural to me. I rarely describe what my characters are wearing or what their hair looks like. 

It's not a Regency Romance you know. Most of my characters have ONE OUTFIT. Okay, maybe two. But why describe over and over the clothes when they're the same, especially the guys, but the women almost as much. Calico Dress? Hello? Stetson, black pants, six gun...everyone's got it pictured, don't they?

And sarcasm. Humor. I just keep adding and adding, sass, the reaction to the sass, sarcasm. I'm not sure why but the more times I go over it, the funnier it gets. So a lot of passes helps.

I've also read in reviews on Amazon and such places, a few times, that my books tend to end abruptly. It's one of those cases where an Amazon review, read without panic and grief!!! can actually help an author. 

I tend to try harder now to give the characters a nice, real, moment at the end of my books. Show them living their happily ever after. And this current book, more than most, the end of a three book series, can use that, and that's not in there. So as I work through the book finding (over and over and OVER!!) places I wrote 'I'd' when I meant 'I've' or 'it's' when I meant 'it'd', stuff like that, (I do that so much!) And as many as I catch I let far too many of them through.
So that's the basic revisions. 

But I'm also growing my book and hopefully making it richer, more visually colorful, setting the scenes better and making you all laugh a little more.

So this is a tiny lesson today. Not so much how to write anything. Just how I write things. How I've learned not to panic if the book starts ending on me too soon. It'll grow. Remain calm.

How about you? Do you write long or short? Do you like revisions or loathe them?
Do your books grow or do you find yourself cutting cutting cutting?

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for an Amazon gift card for $20.20.

And now I'm going to read through the blog post and revise it...and maybe it'll be 1000 words long when I'm done.

http://www.maryconnealy.com

61 comments:

  1. Mary, great teaching post. This is so true. Those revisions don't just polish, they layer, like adding another cake to the mix. I love the image of you sitting there, making it even snarkier and making folks laugh. And now I have to catch up on the Brides series (when farm season wanes) so I'm ready for the new series.... and I'm so excited that you've got THREE BOOKS in one year!!!!!! WHAT?????

    CONNEALY! THAT ROCKS FOR EVERY READER IN THE WORLD!!!!!!

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    1. Hey, Ruthy, not surprised you're commenting at FIVE O THREE AM. I think maybe you should dial it back, girl! Maybe when farm season wanes???
      Love you.

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  2. Thanks for a great look into revisions. While I tend to write short too, I've never loved anything I've written enough to really revise. I think my WIP is the one I'll love enough to spend the time to work on until it's right. These tips and ideas will help a lot. And I'm with you, descriptions don't come naturally for me either. But your revision process must work because your books are great!

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    1. Ah, thanks, Glynis. I love the revision process. One of the few things I remember from college is: The best writing is re-writing.
      I've always believed that. Keep pushing forward with new stuff if you don't like revising. But one of these days you should go back and look at the old stuff. You might be surprise to find places you now CAN revise and improve. You'll realize you've gotten better. And that's a terrific feeling.

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  3. Good post, Mary. I've experienced most of this at some time or other, whether it's cutting down an early unpublished book for a go at a publisher with a smaller word count, or taking a bare-bones story and trying to breathe more life into it. Currently in rewrite stage for my third "Western Dreams" book and experiencing both sides of the metaphorical coin. It's a saga and I have a little more room than I do in a romance, so I can pretty much do what I want as long as it's not a tea-drinking scene, thank you Janet wherever you are, but whatever I do has to be meaningful. I've got two different sets of villains, two orphan children, a man without a country and a woman with too much of a past, all roaming over the 1849 West. I have a big enough canvas, and now I have to make sure that all the characters are developed and all the loose ends are tied up, which is difficult in a "big" book. I like Mary's concept of "growing" the book.
    May be back later,
    Your Kaybee

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    1. Kaybee, I once wanted to cut 15,000 words out of a 65,000 book to make it fit a Heartsong. Remember those? Little 45-50K books from Barbour Publishing? I wrote four of those. And the thing I remember is how EASY it was. It was demoralizing to realize I could cut whole scenes and not change the book at all.

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    2. Yeah, demoralizing. I hear you. I remember Heartsong.

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  4. I don't write, I just read. I'm excited you write so much so I have more to read.

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    1. Hi CathyAnn. Thank you. And thanks for stopping in at Seekerville.

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  5. Hi Mary, thanks for sharing this information and I'm sure that many authors are taking notes or simply saving this whole post. I am commenting as a reader and I enjoy both novels and novellas but when I am invested in a character or series, I definitely want a longer read. I have been reviewing books in the past few years and this is where I struggle with revisions because I often get too wordy. I know some authors want brief---a sentence or two--but if I really love a book I tend to "gush"!
    I am really looking forward to your next books!
    Blessings!

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    1. Connie! Hi! Writing reviews takes revision, too!!! Thanks for coming over!

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  6. I'm not an author but I enjoy reading! Give me the sarcasm! Give me the humour. I agree, scene setting is super important. Keep writing!

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    1. Hi Arletta. I can't seem to stop the sarcasm. I'm not sure where it comes from. I have two perfectly nice, mild mannered parents. But it's been with me since childhood.

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  7. I don't mind revising, but I probably do it too much and at the wrong time. I strongly suspect I would be a lot better at actually finishing if I didn't revise so much during the first draft stage.

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    1. Rachael, I revise right from the start. I go over and over earlier work, work from 'yesterday'. But I do set a goal of 1000 words a day. That's increasing the length of the WIP by 1000 every day so there IS forward progress.

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  8. Mary, I live your sass and books. Good words. I agree the draft grows with revisions. Naomi c

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    1. Naomi! Hi. Thank you for the kind words. So many of my books are set in the western mountains. I get so I see it as I type but I don't do a good job of including it because to me it's so obvious! But that's no way to write a book. So it's a lesson I have to learn over and over and over.

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  9. I am so glad mom introduced me to you and your stories. I still recommend you to everyon. You had me at Beth and the runaway carriage.

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    1. Hi Stevie. Ah, Beth and the runaway carriage. That was so much fun. I haven't done a stagecoach catastrophe for a while. Maybe it's time!

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  10. Mary, my books have always grown on revisions as well. I always have to assume it will grow by at least 2k words.

    It seems crazy that you're working so far ahead! But it's nice to have all those wonderful Mary books yet to release!

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    1. It's the normal way...or rather it was...until indy publishing came around. Now you can publish so fast it's dizzying!!!

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  11. I write WAY long. For my upcoming January book, I wrote about 30k too long on the first draft. I then cut that by about 25k on the submitted version, hoping my editor would be so in love with the words, she would accept it.

    Um, that would be NO! So then I had to cut another 7k so I could add back in 2k to make the changes she wanted.

    It was painful, but I made it under word count.

    Then, on copy edits, I added back in another 1k.


    *sigh* I am wordy.

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    1. Hi Cate, I know plenty of people who write really long. That seems like a good thing, tough to cut words, I know, but you've got a big story to tell. I don't seem to have that problem. :)

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  12. Hi Mary, Thanks for the post.

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  13. A 1000 words. You are so funny. I absolutely love your books. I feel like I am right there with the characters and going through what they are going through. Thank you so much for writing this way. I for one truly appreciate it. I am not a writer, but I can identify because I quilt and certain things need to go into the process and certain things need to be revised along the way. Yes quilting can be very forgiving but it can also become a huge project if I am not paying attention. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts today. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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    1. Hi Lori. me and sewing! YIKES! I could never sew a straight seam...and it seems like everything else is based on that foundation. So I built my dresses on unstable ground!

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  14. I think revisions are my favorite part of writing. Getting the daily word count down tends to be work - but revisions are play. :-)

    I have to get busy reading to keep up with your new releases!

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    1. Revisions are play?! I like that, Jan. I think I'll remember that.

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  15. I love your books and recommend them often. I love the settings, the sarcasm and the characters. You paint such great word pictures that for me it’s like watching a movie as that’s how vivid my mental pictures are. Thank you.

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    1. Lilsis, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know this! God bless you.

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  16. I’m a reader but I enjoy getting a peek into your writing. Thank you for sharing. Blessings

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    1. Hi Lucy! Thanks for coming over and leaving a comment! You're in the drawing!

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  17. Here's my comment Mary… why do bees buzz? If somebody took your honey and nectar, what would you do?

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    1. Well, hello! Mr. Book Look Larry Craig stopped in! Thanks...and if I'm a bee and somebody took my honey, and I finished stinging them of course...I'd keep busy as a bee making more.

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  18. Not a writer but I love reading your books. When working on my masters I do recall a lot of revisions on the papers I had to write. Depending on the knowledge of the subject I was either too long or too short. 😂 Either way it was work…more research or a lot of red pencilling! Thanks for all you do to keep readers happy.

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    1. Hi Anne! Thanks for coming over! Masters, huh? Whoa! Cool. Good for you!

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  19. Great post, Mary! I don't include much about what my characters are wearing either. Of course, like your cowboys and cowgirls, my characters' Amish clothing remains the same. I'm often amazed that I start building to the climax at the right time for each book. Sometimes I think it's a bit too soon, but the story fills in and gets me to the desired word count, or fairly close to it. I can always count on adding words in the revision process. As Jan mentioned, that's the part I like best.

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    1. Debby :) the Amish and Cowboys...all dress the same.
      I can feel that build happening. And when it's too soon, I fret. Go back, give them one more obstacle first...or forge on and see how long this puppy is when it's all done!

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  20. I loved learning about your writing process! I've only heard of authors who struggle with having to cut the excess during revisions, so it was fascinating to hear about how you add and what you add, the way your story grows through revisions. Loved it!

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    1. Heidi, I know that's true, that a lot of authors write long. That's just NEVER been my problem. I'm all too eager to finish up and get going on the next book. Of course I write three book series and often there's an overarching story that's taking me three books, so who knows maybe I do write long and just divide it up???

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  21. Very good post today! I haven’t written since my college days, but the revision was always the hard part. I always put too many details and don’t know what to leave out. But I’m a wordy person in general, so... But I love your writing! I’ve read 2 of your series this year plus some novellas, and your latest two are sitting on my shelf waiting for book 3 so I can binge read. :)

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    1. Holly thanks so much for reading my books. I sincerely appreciate it. Are you going to go back to writing someday? The temperment to write is sort of inborn, the CRAFT of writing is all the study, work and writing. So if you love it, you can learn the craft.

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  22. Great post, Mary. Interesting to know where you start winding up. Having only written one book, I'm not real sure how I write. This one is probably too long, but also has too many short scenes that don't go anywhere. So lots of revising ahead.

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    1. Sandy, these days, with indy pub, you don't have to do anything except write the best book you can write. Chapter length and length aren't a deal breaker, except for me it's in the contract!

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  23. I'm not a writer, but I so love reading your posts, Mary, for the same reason I love your books! You have a fantastic sense of humor and your characters are such fun. I'm looking forward to reading Ursula's story soon.

    It's so interesting to hear about your writing process. I think editing would be hard for me to do. I'm good at spotting typos, etc., but editing scenes would probably drive me crazy!

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    1. Winnie, I have a very good (and long suffering editor) who weeds out so many typos. Thanks for coming over, Winnie!!!
      I was so glad to meet you at the last CFRR

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    2. Mary, it was a highlight of my time at CFRR!

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  24. I don't write....just an avid reader! Love your books as well as the other great Seekers authors. I appreciate that you use your fine talents to give us readers such great books to read. And your generous gift card....wow, count me in.

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    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for coming over!!! You guys are all so encouraging. In the very weird times we're living in, encouragement is badly needed!!!

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  25. I write short. In a first draft I do mostly dialogue and basic info. Its easiest to keep things moving forward. Once I have a foundation it's easier to think about description and storyworld.

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    1. TONYA!!!! A kindred spirit! Thanks for telling me!

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  26. Mary, I laughed out loud at the last line about revising your blog. Thanks for the insights about how you edit. I love reading about how other authors edit their books! I especially love reading about authors who have to add words and what they look for on revisions to make their story stronger. Thanks so much!

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    1. Tanya, Ruthy called it layering and...okay. I think I've sort of missed a lot of the lingo of writing because I've rarely if ever read a how to write book. Which is probably the HARD way, so don't be like me. Be like yourself.

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  27. The revision/edit process has been an eye opener for me. When I submitted my MS it was around 50,000 words. By the time we were done the second round content edits it had grown nearly 18,000 words! What??!! But the story is so much stronger for it and the edits weren't as scary as I anticipated them being. So for me, revisions are necessary and can be fun. :)

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    1. Lee-Ann this is a perfect example of learning to love revisions. It (for me anyway) is NOT scary. I love it. I get a second chance to make a first impression. Which is so different from real life.

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  28. It's fun to read how you write the books I love to read!

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    1. Thanks, Pam! I always wonder if what I say makes sense...in this blog AND in my books. :)

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  29. So your "tiny lesson" is not so small. Thanks for sharing this part of your process. I'm super excited to know there are 3 more Mary books in my future!

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    1. Pat thanks. :) Yep, they hits just keep on comin'. Three releases next year.

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  30. I have loved ALL of your books! Looking forward to the next one!!!

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