I’ve now written hundreds of poems, and my short stories are well into double figures, but my latest passion is novel-writing. We all like to think our writing is to a high enough standard, but as I embark on my next story, I find that I’m still critical of every word.
Typically, I find I will write at least four drafts of anything. On many occasions it has gone on to be the eighth or ninth, before I publish my work.
The ideas are easy enough, and once the writing is underway, it only takes a few pages before I’m able to get rid of the opening paragraph, and replace it with something better. My spelling has always been reasonable, and punctuation is okay most of the time, but grammar is an area where I tend to worry.
Formatting an entire book is laborious, but I find that relatively easy in comparison to ensuring that my punctuation is correct. Everything from word choice to sentence structure is important, if we want to sell our writing, so it’s good that it should be an area to make us fret.
If I was drawing a portrait for somebody and charging money, I’d expect to spend many hours getting it as good as it could be – and though I use the same theory with my writing, I admit my grammar could be improved.
Why am I being so ultra-critical when I’ve already managed to sell copies of my first two e-books? In recent months, in support of fellow indie writers / publishers, I’ve bought five e-books. Three of them had serious issues with grammar, punctuation, and formatting, so I decided I would revisit my own work.
I took the unprecedented step of buying a proofreading programme to help me improve my writing structure. I was delighted to find that within a 3,000 word chapter, my spelling only failed me twice, and my punctuation was wrong five times. My grammar was my worry and in a series of checks on my chapters, I had the grammar 84% right. I thought that was good, but it’s not good enough, so from now on, every chapter will be checked with my new programme at every draft.
The system I’m using shall remain nameless until I return and report my progress in about a week. My reason for waiting, is because I am presently halfway through the second chapter of my new novel, ‘Amsterdam Calling’.