I love to read. Nonfiction, novels, articles, anything really. They're all good! But, naturally, some…
I recently revised a proposal. This particular proposal had already been sent to a valued member of my writing team, who suggested I change a few plot details. I did, and then another person requested a different set of revisions.
Sure, I get nervous waiting for feedback on my work, but when it’s from my critique partners, my agent or my editor, I know anything they say will make my book stronger and more likely to sell. What a blessing!
Anyhow, I have a revising system, which I pretty much repeat every time changes are needed.
- Tackle content (story issues) first by brainstorming how to address them, then apply any changes.
- Print a copy of the revised piece, red-line and type in the edits.
- Read the book (or proposal, synopsis, etc…) out loud.
This means I already did a content edit, red-lines and read the proposal out loud before it was sent to anyone. Then I repeated the process after feedback from the first person. I gave it another go-round based on the second person’s thoughts.
Reading a novel out loud takes many hours. Since this was a proposal (roughly the first 50 pages), it only takes me two hours. But by the third time I’d revised the piece, I questioned whether I needed to read it out loud.
I’ve already read this thing over twenty times. I’ve read it out loud twice already! Do I really need to do it again?
I asked myself how I would feel if I sent it as is, only to come across a glaring grammar issue, misspelled word or a phrase that made no sense later.
Sighing, I popped open a Coke, took a deep breath and began reading it out loud again.
A few hours later, the proposal was on its way to submission. And I felt confident I’d done everything I could to make it shine. Could I have sent it without the final read-through? Of course! The things I caught were minor. But my goal is to put 100% into a project. Your 100% will look different than mine. You might never read your stories out loud, and that’s okay! We all have that one thing we do that goes above and beyond our efforts.
For me, taking the shortcut was not worth it.
If I was on a tight deadline, or my editor needed a quick turnaround on revisions or something like that, I would probably not read the story out loud. My 100% would look different in that situation. It’s important not to be too rigid with our own “rules,” but it’s equally important not to get complacent about our writing.
My hope is to become a great writer as time goes on. It takes experience, good advice, working with trusted professionals and a solid work ethic. We only have control over so much, but the things I do have control over, I’m not going to skimp on!
Have you ever regretted taking a shortcut? On the flip side, have you ever taken a shortcut that turned out to be the right thing to do
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Have a fun weekend!