Making Your Novel B-E-A-U-Tiful!

If it scares you,it might be agood thing to try.

This is the step that I find myself with Purpose. Today, I’m going to cover the reason I’m using Beta Readers, questions I’m having them answer for the polished and ready to publish version of my novel, the Blurb for the back of your novel, and the cover. These are all necessary steps to take prior to getting your book published. 🙂

First of all, why have Beta Readers? What are they? Well, Beta Readers are a select, handful of people who you choose to read your final draft for gaping plot holes and content critique. Make sure you don’t have too many Beta Readers, though. Less than 5 people is more than enough.

I have 3 Beta Readers. I wanted people of various backgrounds so I could get different perspectives on the questions I pose to them. My father, my husband, and my aunt-in-law (if that’s a thing???). They are all honest with me and always have been. My father and husband have an obsession with fiction, specifically fantasy. My aunt-in-law loves to read and can pick out any large issues with little effort. One is more detail oriented, the other two see the big picture. Things like this are important if you want a well-rounded critique of your novel.

The following questions that I have listed below are pulled from various websites/blogs around the internet so please enjoy!

  1. Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? If not, why not?
  2. Did you get oriented fairly quickly at the beginning as to whose story it is, and where and when it’s taking place? If not, why not?
  3. Could you relate to the main character? Did you feel her pain or excitement?
  4. Did the setting interest you, and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
  5. Was there a point at which you felt the story started to lag or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Where, exactly?
  6. Were there any parts that confused you? Or even frustrated or annoyed you? Which parts, and why?
  7. Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, or other details?
  8. Were the characters believable? Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likeable?
  9. Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters? Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? Are any of the names or characters too similar?
  10. Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?
  11. Did you feel there was too much description or exposition? Not enough? Maybe too much dialogue in parts?
  12. Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?
  13. Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
  14. Did you notice any obvious, repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors? Examples?
  15. Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?
  16. Would you read the next two books in the trilogy based off this one? If no, why not?
  17. Which parts resonated with you and/or moved you emotionally?
  18. Are there parts where you wanted to skip ahead or put the book down?
  19.  Which parts should be condensed or even deleted?
  20. Which parts should be elaborated on or brought more to life?
  21. Which characters did you really connect to? (None is acceptable)

Other Questions/Comments:

Use as little or as many as you like! This will help make the finishing touches on your book (if you need any at all)! Value critiques, whether or not you decide to actually make the changes.

 

Next is the Blurb and Cover:

I have already posted my Blurb for Purpose but I’m posting it again for reference. Try to keep it under 200 words if you can. Mine is 138 and I had done about 5 revisions on it. I also had my Facebook group vote on which of 3 options that they liked best and this was the winner:

The only remnants of the Old Times are crumbling cities and desolate streets. Their tales, all but lost. Five hundred years have passed since the Old Time Wars, nearly causing the extinction of all humans.

Descendants of the few survivors have since rebuilt. Power, weaponry, and skill in battle now rule the region where Eva Calloway resides. She protects a colony of Rovers from the two largest Gangs in the region, desperate to atone for her own bloody past.

Everything changes when she rescues brothers, Jake and Tommy McAvoy, from a mysterious vault that has not been opened since the wars. With each step closer to finding the boys’ missing father, the ghosts of her past begin to reappear. Now, Eva will be forced to fight her way out of the darkness or else be consumed by it.

Remember: This is the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT part of your book. This is what grabs the reader to buy your book compared to the rest on the shelf. Aside from the cover, this is extremely important. Ask yourself a few questions when forming your Blurb:

How do I encompass the entire book in a few sentences?

What important information do I want to convey?

What parts of the book will grab the reader?

How much do I want to give away to the reader in the Blurb? (Is there a plot twist I want to keep secret?)

How can I write this concisely yet cover enough to describe my book properly?

Try writing a few paragraphs at first and then narrowing down and combining sentences. Give yourself a few options and have your fans/family/friends choose the best one. Which one would make them want to read your book? Good luck with this 🙂

 

And Finally… *Drum roll* Your Cover!

There are about a thousand different places that you can have your cover created. If you are talented in the visual arts (or Photoshop), you can design your own. Since I am neither, I have to find a different route.

If you outsource your cover to someone else, you have a few options. But first, make sure you have a good description of how you would like it to look (if you’re picky). At the very least, a description of your book so the artist can play around with images.

  1. 99 designs – This website is in the middle in terms of pricing. A book cover design will run you about $299 or more. Basically, you set a price over the minimum amount and receive dozens of designs from various artists. Then, you choose your favorite and they receive the money. They seem to be very high quality, but I do believe there you have to pay separately for an ebook cover.
  2. Canva – This website is helpful if you want to design your own cover. They have templates to work off of, but make sure the photos that you use are stock photos. Otherwise, you may have to pay in order to use them. Canva has a few that you only have to pay $1-5 per photo.
  3. Freelance Artists – you can find a few of these around the internet with their own websites. They tend to charge quite a bit, but have years of experience and produce high quality covers. It really just depends how much you are wanting to spend. If you know a few colleges in your area, you can snag a student working on a portfolio to design your cover for ~$50.
  4. Book Printing Companies – Online Book Printing companies sometimes offer Cover Design and Editing services as well as printing hard copies of your novel. These usually run a bit, but most websites have a fleet of artists and it is well worth the $$$ if you have a design stuck in your head. (#3 is a good option for this as well)
  5. Fiverr – This is the option I’m using. Why? Everything starts at $5! There are a few people who design quality book covers (ebook is $5, but hard copy may run you $50ish). The one downside is the wait time. Since there are a few artists on this website, they have other projects in queue and may take a little bit to get your design completed. If you don’t have a set deadline to release your book, or if your deadline is a few months away, this is a great option!

So there you have it! Hopefully, after these final steps, you have a beautiful polished document ready for print! Stay tuned for the benefits of Self-Publishing 🙂

 

Don’t forget to Follow this blog to be the first to get insider info on my Novel, Tips, and Prompts!

Weekend Writing… Again!

I’m using my own writing prompt today. Comment below with your stories for this prompt!

Writing Prompt.png

I’m not sure whether any of these have been done before, I’m just rattling off a few!

Death toll unknown.

My diagnosis? Cancer.

An empty bassinet.

I no longer love you.

“Daddy? Where’s Mommy?”

I took the whole pill bottle.

I died in Science class.

“I’m sorry. You’re barren…”

“No one could love you.”

“If I don’t eat, I will be pretty.”

“Mommy. Am I going to die?”

Left at the altar. Buried him at the same church.

It doesn’t matter how many die. Nothing’s gonna change.

“You will never reach your dreams.”

New license. Totaled car. Unfinished Text.

“Guilty.”

“I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had enough.”

Flowers for the headstone, “Merry Christmas, Dad.”

I play the voicemail when I’m lonely.

“They called me “loser” one too many times.”

Dishonorably Discharged.

“He hits me because he loves me.”

 

Now it’s your turn, comment below! Try to keep it under 10 words.

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Writing Prompt and a Bit of My Novel!

Why hello! I haven’t had a chance to post since earlier this week, so I will be posting a quick bit today and another writing prompt tomorrow. I have been finishing up edits (Chapter 14 of 19! WOO!) so I haven’t had much time to post here. Enjoy! 🙂

Writing Prompt

 

And here are the first 2 paragraphs from Chapter 1 of Purpose. Stay tuned for it’s release THIS Summer!

     Dim, hazy lanterns lined the steel walls of the massive, single-room building. Smoke billowed and stuck to its high ceilings. The source, small fires underneath boiling pots of food. At the door, a line of people waited to be served their second and final meal of the day. Both the cooks and their hungry patrons were clad in mismatched ragged clothing. Dust and mud-caked figures carrying small knives and blades, grabbed their stomachs and licked their lips as they neared their dinner. These people, who called themselves Rovers, were farmers who worked tirelessly through the day. Next to the queue stood a bar. Glass bottles of different shapes and sizes brimming with clear alcohol, lined the warped wood. A few of them laughed loudly in a slurred, drunken stupor. Their kin paid them no attention. Merchants bartered with one another for clothing and supplies around the edge of the room. It was hard to believe that this was once a large, boisterous town. Today, the population filled only half of the hall. Enslavement, murder, and famine had plagued the colony for over a decade. Now, everyone spent their days living in fear of when the Gangs would strike next.

     In an unoccupied corner, at a lone table, sat a young woman. She was silent. A hood concealed her face as she ate.  The Rovers did not pay her any attention. The wide berth they gave her was intentional, not out of fear, but respect. She preferred to be alone, but was listening to the voices around her, studying the formation of vegetables in her soup, when they came bursting through the door. Two gunshots rang through the food hall. The murmur of voices silenced. Small children whimpered. Each bullet had met its mark in the body of two innocent men, killing one instantly, and leaving the other writhing in pain. And yet, the woman in the corner did not stir.

So You Finished your First Draft… Now What???

If it scares you,it might be agood thing to try.

Congrats! You finally finished that first draft. The mountain you thought you could never climb is finally conquered. Even though you cried about half the time, your tears were not in vain. And, most importantly, you didn’t quit! 🙂

As I mentioned in the previous “Let’s Write a Novel” post, your first draft isn’t going to be the best. It doesn’t have to be! That’s what this next phase is for, editing. And that is what I am covering today!

DISCLAIMER! You can get an editor to check over your work. They can be pricey, but I am fortunate that my cousin-in-law has an English degree. So she has been my editor.

This is the way I have been editing my novel Purpose, so feel free to adjust to what fits you the best! I feel that focusing on one aspect of the content with each edit makes it a higher quality than trying to do everything at once. So Enjoy! 😀

1st EDIT

BEFORE you get your hands dirty, give yourself a break. I took a 2 week break. Trust me, it may be difficult, but it gives you a pair of fresh eyes to look at your work. I spent that time outlining my next 2 books in the trilogy, working on questions for my Beta Readers, and the Blurb for Purpose. That took about 2 weeks or so.

Now that you’ve taken a break, it’s time to get going on the least fun part of writing. With the first edit, I read the entire book, chapter by chapter, searching for grammatical and spelling errors. These are difficult to find, especially when you know what you want to say. You may have doubled a word or forgot a comma. Perhaps you meant to say clothes and typed cloths… or he instead of the. Errors like this may completely miss your careful combing, but it will stick out to readers. And if you are a stickler for good grammar as a reader, then you may put a book down if it contains errors like these. Hold yourself to as high of a standard that you hold other authors.

The easiest way to edit for grammatical and spelling errors is by taking each paragraph separately. First, start with the last sentence of the paragraph and read it out loud. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there any words that are misspelled that Spell Check did not catch?
  • Does the grammar make sense? Are you consistently using the Oxford Comma or not?
  • Does the dialogue make sense and sound natural?

 

Why edit from the last sentence of each paragraph first? It makes it easier to catch mistakes when you aren’t reading the sentences how they are meant to sound. It also keeps you from doing content edits or prose edits which comes later.

 

2nd Edit

Once you’ve fixed up the grammar and spelling, time to move onto the content. Keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Flow (NOT to be confused with Prose – which is the 3rd edit) – Do any sentences end abruptly? Are there unintentional run-on sentences? Any unintentional fragments?
  • Do the paragraphs make sense in the order they are written?
  • Do the chapters make sense in the order they are written?
  • Do the chapters convey the outline well?
  • Are there any outlying chapters/paragraphs/sentences that need to be removed?
  • Are there chapters/paragraphs/sentences that need to be added?
  • How are your descriptions of settings, characters, etc? Do you need to add or remove any content there?

DON’T worry about having to delete things. I know that this novel is your baby and you have watched it grow up and graduate school, 🙂 but you want it to be the best novel that it can be. Sometimes, in order to reach it’s full potential, things have to be taken out.

3rd Edit

To me, this is the most important edit. The “Prose” edit. The definition of Prose is “written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.” However, we are going to edit for metrical structure here as well. And yes, you can do both.

Now, you are going through each of the remaining chapters and checking for more than just flow. Metrical structure, or the tempo of the words/sentences/paragraphs, are used to convey the mood of the scene. Is the protagonist and antagonist fighting? Then you want short sentences to convey the quick blows from either side. Having a long, run-on, descriptive sentence here wouldn’t make sense. On the other hand, if the character is meditating in nature (for example), then you would want a more poetic, descriptive, feel to the paragraph.

As for prose, you want to focus on how the paragraph sounds as a whole. Are you using the best word placement for the sentence? Should any words be changed to something more or less descriptive. Is the structure correct?

 

Once you’ve done these 3 edits, feel free to read through again if you want to see how everything turns out. It’s really up to you how many times you want to go through it! Good luck with this step. It is arduous! It takes time! And it is not as glamorous as writing the draft, but it has to be done and it is a crucial part of the process.

**Another quick note. If you do decide to hire an editor, remember that you do not have to make every change that they suggest. They may not know why your character does a specific action or the purpose of a specific scene. You may be adding in bits of foreshadowing. Whatever the reason, don’t feel like you have to make every edit that they offer. They understand!** 🙂

And don’t forget. KEEP WRITING

Weekend Writing Continued!

A CONTINUATION OF THE PROMPT YESTERDAY. Don’t forget to Follow my blog for more prompts, tips, and updates on my novels!

The men with the guns lowered their weapons. The room was silent when I stood up and opened my mouth with my response. Who would I choose? Peter, the spy who got us into this situation. Or Tyler, the man who put a hit out on me for some unknown reason. What they weren’t counting on was that I knew more than they thought…

“I choose.” Peter was silent. Tyler was staring at me. I could feel their eyes on me but I did not lock onto their gaze. “Neither.”

The room was silent. Tyler’s mouth was wide open. Peter gasped. It wasn’t until the armed men walked over to me that the men began to understand.

“You see.” I cleared my throat. “I did not want these things to be true, but I found out what you both were doing a few days ago. These nice men gave me a letter from my father who works as a spy for the country. Ever since my mom died mysteriously, he has kept an eye on me… his only child.”

Peter rose a brow. I continued.

“When my father found out Tyler had put a hit out on me, he had his men keep a close eye on me. And Peter… he knew you were a spy for a foreign country for quite sometime. But he wanted me to be happy. Happy, but safe. When he knew that both of you had it out for me, he stepped in.”

“I..I..” the boys were speechless.

“It’s just sad to me,” I motioned for the men to leave. “That both of the men I thought I loved would do something so heinous. But I’m not as low as both of you. I wasn’t planning on killing either of you. Was it worth it gentlemen?”

“You want the truth?” Peter walked towards Tyler and put his arm around him. “Tyler and I are in love. You were holding us back. I mean… you tried and keep each other a secret while you cheated on us with one another…”

And that was the last I saw of them. They stood up and walked out. Tyler had his sister return to my house to get his things. Over all, I suppose that I couldn’t make the choice between the two. I’m happy the decision was made for me.

I hope you enjoyed the ending! Here is another writing prompt for the weekend. ENJOY 🙂

Writing Prompt