Tag Archives: bad writing

Omigosh! This book stinks! [Gasp] But I’m the author who wrote it!

The last two months have been eye opening. I remembered THIS POST and had to come to terms with what really made me write the words: For the first time in my life, typing “The End” felt like a huge relief rather than an epic accomplishment.

Now that I’ve worked with a professional developmental editor, and had a face-to-face chat with my publisher’s managing editor, I had to come to terms with how nicely they were telling me that my book wasn’t quite up to expectations.

Yikes!

And as I read over the editors comments, and read the manuscript again after a several month hiatus, I had to agree. What I thought I’d written, and what was actually on the pages, were two excruciatingly different things.

Ugh_Back_to_the_drawing_boardLuckily though, it was not the story that was a problem. It was the execution in some sections, and a missing link that made the crux of the story confusing. (Among other smaller mistakes)

Several times I’ve explained that my writing process is this:

  1. Write/finish book.
  2. Write/edit/finish something else to “cleanse my pallet” from book #1
  3. Then go back and edit book number one.

The reason behind this is simple… I need time to get away from a story so I can look at it objectively. I did not have this precious time for this novel. I wrote it in two months, and then immediately edited it and submitted it in order to make the tight deadline.

Even at that time, I was a little unsure about the novel. Something seemed wrong, but I was unable to step away and give myself the needed time to think it over … and it was glaringly obvious.

Getting ready for the overhaul

PKO_0002742Knowing I was walking into a TON of editing work, I immediately asked for a one month extension (two months of editing time rather than only one—the same amount of time it took me to write the first draft!) This gave me the breathing room to go over all the suggestions and make easy changes in the first read through; make wider, more sweeping changes and rewrites in the second read-through; and then take a third read through to tweak scenes to make them more engaging.

After that third read, I must admit, I was smiling.

Don’t ever discount the value of a good developmental editor who is not afraid to tell you that there are problems… also, don’t beat yourself up over those problems … just look at them as an opportunity.

Looking back, I still wish that I’d submitted a much better manuscript to begin with, but now I know that with enough time, I can make sure that the words on the page actually relay the story that I intended to tell, and not just the story that I thought I’d told.

Finishing this edit did not feel like a “huge relief” as it did when I first submitted the novel. I feel accomplished and extremely excited by the FIRE IN THE WOODS series again.

And guess what? There are a couple of teenagers hiding inside me waiting to save the world at least one more time. And now I can say with a smile that I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble they get into next time.

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Fire in the Woods Cover

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Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #6: Belay that Opinion, Captain.

Your writing is not as god or as bad as you think. If you think you are the best author out there, you probably aren’t. If you are sure you stink, you probably don’t. (At least maybe not as bad as you think)

You are probably somewhere in-between.  Even published authors are not the greatest writers ever.  They just came up with something that resonated with someone.

If you love what you do, move forward with it.  If you are good, someone will stand up and take notice.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Wow. I hated this book. I mean, I REALLY hated it.

My son (the MMGR) asked me what I was reading yesterday.  I gave him the title.  He asked if it was good.  I laughed and said, “No, actually it is really bad.”

 

“So why are you still reading it?” he asked.

I smiled and said:  “I am taking notes to make sure I never write like this.”

I am going to save the writer the pain of giving you the title of the novel or the author’s name, but I thought this experience was worth mentioning.

I picked up this novel for free from the author.  It was one of those things where the author gives away book one, with a teaser of another book at the end, and links (in Kindle) to where you can buy the next four books in the series if you liked this one.

Did I buy the rest of the books?  Ahhhhhh…. No.

Giving away Book One is a perfectly sound practice to drum up an audience to buy more of your work and get your name out there… IF YOUR WORK IS GOOD.

This was so sad.  Really, it was.

This was a self-published novel.  Now, self-publishing is fine… IF YOU ARE READY.  This novel read like a third or fourth draft that had never had a beta read.  There were a few typos, missing dialog tags, etc.

I can forgive that.  The big problem here was the Show versus Tell issues.  I never really became immersed into the story.  I always felt like I was reading a book.  I never had a problem putting it down, because each page was kind of dull.

The story revolved around an orphan girl, who finds out on her eighteenth birthday that she is a witch.  A male witch takes her from her “normal” life to train her and teach her the ropes.  He is handsome.  You know what?  He is handsome.  Oh, yeah, did I mention… he is handsome.  That’s all I know because she never said anything else about what he looked like.

These two characters don’t like each other to begin with.  Then suddenly, out of the blue, he mentions that he’s engaged, and he doesn’t want to get married.  They decide (in one page) to pretend they’ve fallen in love so he can get out of it. The next page, in a big tell section, she falls for him, and then BOOM he says he’s fallen for her and they end up in bed together.  From dislike to bed in two pages.

Then in the last few pages the fiancée (I guess the bad guy girl) materializes and is ticked about the relationship.  Where’d she come from? I’d never even heard of her until about six pages ago.

This was a short story/novella.  If it was written properly, it could have been a solid novel, and very exciting.  I felt like I was reading an elongated synopsis.

Was the story good?  Well, yes, it could have been great.  It just was not ready for publication.

This is what scares me about self-published novels.  So many are just not ready.  If you want to self-publish, go ahead.  Good luck to you… just PLEASE pay your dues.  Get at least five hyper-critical betas and LISTEN TO THEM.  You don’t need to change everything, but get lots of opinions.

NOTE:  The betas CANNOT be your Mom or Dad.  Let’s be real, here. Get yourself an editor, too.  Get opinions on your story arc.  Develop you characters and your story.  Don’t rush things just to get something “out there.”

I feel bad, because this story had a lot of potential, and could have been great if it was actually finished before it was published.

If you are going for traditional publishing, the publisher will tell you if it is ready or not by giving you a contract.  For me, that nod is priceless, because I know then that my story is ready, and I won’t have someone blogging about me (and maybe not being as nice as me, and using my name **GACK**)

Please don’t get caught in this trap.  Give your story the attention and work that it deserves.  Pay your dues, and make sure you are ready.

And by pay your dues – I don’t mean that traditional is the “only way”.  I mean don’t skip the steps that will make the difference between a really bad review… and a slew of awesome reviews.  Give your novel the time and attention it needs in the editing phase before you publish.

Enough said.