GUEST POST: Writing for Yourself vs Writing for an Editor, by Steven D’Adamo

At least one guest post today and tomorrow, as brain melt starts to set in.  Steve’s good people.  Be nice.  


Bio: Steven D’Adamo is a writer based outside of Baltimore, MD. He co-founded Red String PaperCuts with a friend and fellow writer to discuss books, music, and poetry, and argue about life from their armchairs. His fantasy adventure novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, will debut at the end of 2017. To catch a glimpse of his fantasy universe, check out the dark fantasy horror, “Wolf’s Moon Night,” published by Five on the Fifth. Aside from his website, you can find Steven on Facebook, Goodreads, and NaNoWriMo (dia820).

For Whom Do You Write? (Hint: it always changes!)

Most of us say that we only write for ourselves, that it doesn’t matter how the outside world perceives our stories because we poured our hearts and souls into creating them – that’s all that really counts!

Most of us are at least partially lying.

As I spent months upon months crafting the first draft of The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, it really did feel as though I was writing it exclusively for myself. No one laid eyes on my “alpha” draft until it was finished. I wrote it the way I wanted to, and I was proud of what I had accomplished.

I sent the draft to my alpha readers to have a look, knowing that they would critique my story and send me feedback. But my four alpha readers were close friends and/or family; people I trust with my life who I knew would accept my story as a labor of love whether or not it was any good.

Why the Second Draft was not for Me

The good news is that most of them liked it even it needed a whole lot of work. (And boy did it!)

But then I started writing the beta draft, and suddenly I felt the weight of my readers over my shoulders. I wanted them to see my story as fully fleshed out as it appeared in my head, without all of the plot holes and shoe-horned character development.

I accepted this change in mindset as an evolution; I hand-picked these four readers to open my story up to, and they deserved to read the best version of it I could create. I owed it to them to make WoEM the best damn story I could. Their opinions were all that mattered to me.

Critical Consumption

Four weeks ago I began working with a proofreader to review and revise my beta draft. She is also a friend, but as a high school English teacher, she actually has a ton of expertise in critically reviewing literature, the nuances of grammar, and stringing together beautifully constructed sentences.

We agreed to have a “test run” for her editing services to figure out what kind of project she was getting herself into. I scrolled all the way up to the top of my beta manuscript to read through the first few chapters before sending them to her.

I was immediately more concerned than ever about the little things that I knew would need to be reviewed or corrected eventually, but which I had passed over in my attempts to just write the damn story:

  1. Minor in/consistencies such as the precise ages of my characters, their years of birth in relation to important events in their lives or the story at-large, and even obvious things like how a made-up fantasy word was pluralized
  2. Use of adverbs and gerunds. Every writer’s blog ever harps on cutting down on this type of language. I took these suggestions with a grain of salt, because many sentences just sound unnatural without the occasional ly or ing. But knowing that I was sending this thing to an English teacher, I became hyper-sensitive to these words.
  3. Use of inner character monologue versus normal narrative to convey a character’s feelings/thoughts. Okay, so my editor actually brought up this distinction after reading my few batch of chapters. We had a long discussion about via email trying to agree when inner character monologues were appropriate. We came to an agreement, but it was such an Aha! moment for me that it changed the way I wrote my narrative in the final chapters of my beta (which are still in the works).

I am sure there will be many other instances of this as I review my beta to send to my editor. These are changes I would have had to make anyway to make my book appropriate for public consumption. But in my head, these were eventualities.

Hiring a proofreader has expanded both the real and potential audiences for my story from people who love me enough to tolerate my fantastical nonsense to people who will analyze and dissect every piece of my writing ability.

Fortunately for me, my editor is doing this in an effort to improve the beta manuscript.

Once the final version is published, no one else will do this for me. The stakes have been raised.

An unfortunate announcement

to-do-list-learn-goal-failure1.jpgOkay.

I discussed this a bit the other day, but it’s official now: Sunlight is on hold, and when it comes back it may not be Sunlight anymore.  I remain deeply unhappy with the manuscript as it currently exists, and it badly needs a massive restructuring.  Basically a page one rewrite.  There are bits of it I can salvage, but even those are going to need restructuring and moving around.

So I’m putting it aside for a while.  The new goal– and I think this is possible, but y’all know how I am about hitting my own deadlines– is to have the next Benevolence Archives book available by IndyPopCon in June.  That’s going to be crazy tight, I’m not gonna lie.  But I’m already 1/3 of the way to my target wordcount for it, so it’s not impossible.  I still want the Skylights sequel out in 2016, but it’s going to have to be later in the year.  I need to put it away for a while to get a clearer perspective on where I want the story to go.

The good news is that I’m really happy with the stories I’ve written so far for Tales from the Benevolence Archives.  This is good stuff.  You’ll like it.  I promise.  🙂

Two things

I had an idea for a blog post today, and as soon as I remember what it was I’ll write it, but for now, be aware:

  1. Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 is free today, and is in fact free for the next several days.  Scoop it up, read it, and review it!
  2. A reminder from yesterday: Authors!  I do freelance editing and formatting now.  Keep me in mind if you need help with anything.

On what’s next, and #Hugoawards eligibility

open-window.jpgLet’s start by ripping the band-aid off: after spending the entire day convinced I was going to throw up at any moment, I went in to school yesterday afternoon after the kids left, resigned, and cleaned out my classroom.

I’m done.  It’s over.  I’m no longer a teacher.

(Five minutes of staring into space.)

I’m still in much the same emotional place where I was last night: part of me wants to call everyone I know (especially the teachers) and have a huge party, and the rest of me wants to crawl into a corner and cry for a week.  I let a lot of people down yesterday.  Knowing that didn’t prevent me from doing it, and I don’t precisely feel bad about it, but it’s definitely a thing I did and I’m cognizant of it.

I suspect what I’ve done is gonna hit me really hard sometime next week.

Until I have another job, I’m a full time writer.  I’m still looking; nothing has changed since my most recent #Weekendcoffeeshare post except that now it’s Tuesday and I’m really hoping for that phone call.

Anyone wishing to provide me with financial support during my period of unemployment is welcome to buy and/or review a book, obviously.  🙂  I highly recommend the print editions!

(Have I mentioned that The Sanctum of the Sphere is eligible for a Best Novel Hugo this year?  No?  It is.  And Warrior Jayashree and the Young is eligible for Best Short Story!  Neither of them have a chance to win but it’s fun to play pretend sometimes.)

But book sales aren’t going to pay the bills– well, maybe they will, but I’m gonna have to abruptly get really lucky.  Maybe I’ll get nominated for a Hugo somehow.

But.

Until then:  this is a thing now, (he said, burying the lede) as of right now this exact second.  The website is still bare-bones, but Prostetnic Editing Services is available for anyone who may happen to desire book, story, or essay editing services.  At the moment I’m just offering copy-editing and formatting, but if you need something else, let me know.  I work relatively cheaply!  And since I don’t have a damn thing to be doing right now, turnaround is pretty quick too!

What major life changes have you made lately?

ANNOUNCEMENT!

If we talked about you being an alpha for Searching for Malumba, you probably ought to check your email right about now.to_the_internet_mlp_by_gcrebel-d586z4c