Seeing Red …

The Red Pen is mightier ...

The Red Pen is mightier …

In a blog post last year, I said I’d be revisiting my books to produce updated or revised versions. Whether the idea works or doesn’t, I believe it’s all about knowing whether the book is good enough – or not.

In the case of the book I’m highlighting in this post, the story took me four months to write, and eight months to amend by using my method of leaving it aside for alternate months.

It has taken me two weeks of non-stop effort to revise what has been out there for a couple of years.

I posted a request for opinions on the Facebook page of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group. One of my quandaries was whether or not to produce a banner on the cover when I’d completed my revised work. The general feedback was superb, as expected.

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Revision – creates the impression the first version wasn’t good enough.

Edition – creates the impression there might be more in time to come, especially if a date is used in conjunction with the word Edition.

Decision? I’ve abandoned the thought of either Revision or Edition as a banner. I’ve annotateded the blurb with ‘revised and updated – 2016’

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Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

Ten Days in Panama was my debut novel.

It still holds a special place in my heart. The story was intended as a romance rather than a thriller, but during the many rewrites over the year it took to produce the book, action evolved as an underlying theme.

Knowing no better, I thought romance-based thriller might work.

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Amazon – Universal (Preview/Buy)

Booklinker (if your country doesn’t support Amazon – Universal)

 

How has it performed?

It suffered in the early days due to an amateur cover, and because it was my first novel.

I paid to have a professional cover designed which created sales and taught me a valuable lesson. Since publication it would be fair to say it still sells, but not in great numbers.

Three and a half years have passed since first publication, and in that time I’ve learned many lessons.

I’ve written several more novels and I believe I’ve improved my craft.

I enjoy writing other genre, including romance, but my natural territory is action and thriller.

Without doubt, one of the most valuable lessons is to listen to others. Fortunately for me this is something I’ve done throughout my life. It was listening to others which prompted me to read the book again last year, and look closely at the writing – not the story.

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How have I dealt with the rewrite of Ten Days in Panama?

As I said I would, I read and made notes from every review, and then amended small points to tidy-up the plot. I had a particular passage brought to my notice by fellow author Julia Lund for which I owe her my thanks. Suffice to say I removed three large paragraphs and replaced them with one small one.

The passage was intended to highlight a fragile aspect of a main character’s psyche, and nobody else had seen it (and reported it) the way Julia did. My amendment to the scene has made the character’s issue apparent, but in a more subtle manner.

Evidence in the form of reviews would suggest the story is enjoyed by those who’ve reviewed, which is great news.

The main characters are well-rounded, readers care about them and how they are drawn together.

The locations, circumstances and imagery appeal to readers.

While they seemed important and strong to me when writing the action scenes, the thriller aspects are undoubtedly playing a supporting role – because whatever my intention, it is a romance.

This particular aspect of the tale was highlighted clearly by an insightful review by blogger, reviewer, writer and friend, Paul Ruddock.

I printed the story to work from hard copy, and I’ve given it the same effort I would afford to a new piece of work. Superfluous words have gone, and there were quite a few. The style is closer to what I would regard as my latest.

Working initially from a printed manuscript I took two weeks to edit, revise and rewrite the story. I’ve remained true to the original plot, however I would suggest it now reads better than previously.

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Where do I go from here?

My revised version of the story will now be marketed as romance, rather than thriller.

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How will I know if it works?

The first indication will be sales, and then of course any reviews which follow after the re-release in the new genre.

Should I receive good reviews after the revision I have a feeling a sequel will be on the cards. I have ideas in the pipeline, but I’ll have to be sure the characters are strong enough to go on.

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I’ve never been to Panama, however during the writing of the story I had incredible support from scientist, writer and dear friend Carmen Lopez. Using information gleaned from Carmen to ensure credibility but avoid legal action, no single character or location is exactly as it appears in reality. As I acknowledge in the front matter, without the aforementioned help, the story would have remained an idea.

In the original version of the story, apart from Panama City and Santiago I replaced the town names with fictional names. At the request of some of the folk who live in the region where the story is set, I have now used the real town names including: Torio, Malena and Coiba Island.

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As always, thank you for reading and now without further ado, here is the link to Amazon, and for those unable to use Amazon – Universal – a connection to Booklinker.

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P.S. I’ve checked the new sample and found two things.

The first two chapters can be read in their entirety.

Once again, the sample shows the sub-headings in different font sizes, but I’ve seen this occur in many samples. The ePub formatting remains true. 🙂

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E … is for edit.

E[1]   is for edit. edit, edit, and edit again. We as writers, are all aiming for one thing when we edit our work; excellence. Okay, we may not reach that elusive goal, but we owe it to ourselves, and our readers, to strive for it.

My method isn’t going to suit everybody, but it works for me. Consider the document referred to in the following guide to  be a short story.

1. I write the entire document, from beginning to end as rapidly as possible, including excessive imagery, excess adjectives, bad grammar and scant regard for punctuation. I must get the idea out of my head onto the screen (or paper).

2. I spend a little time afterwards, reading it through to see if I’ve got the best intro. In the majority of cases, the ‘intro’ is somewhere later within the story, just waiting for me to discover it. The intro must have action, and I aim to have a hook within the first 30 words.

3. I save the document, and ignore it for a few days.

4. I open it again and read it through, and then deal with the excess elements, including words or whole sentences, that are not taking the story forward.

5. I print it out, then read it aloud and edit with a red pen.

6. Using the red pen edit, I amend the document on screen, save it, and leave it.

7. I wait at least a couple of days, or longer if possible and then get it out again, but this time, I do a diagnostic check with my punctuation and grammar programme.

8. I read it aloud, and if I’m happy with it, I publish it.

9. If it’s a competition entry, I double-check the Rules of Entry. I check that I’ve met all the criteria; word count, spacing, cover page, personal details, closing date, and so on.

10. I send the completed document / entry fee and get on with another project.

Novel writing is a different discipline.

I adapt my editing techniques to work on individual chapters of my novels. As a rule, I completely re-write my novels at least five times. Less than five drafts before publishing a novel equals laziness, and a lack of respect for the reader. The longer break that can be left between drafts, the better the end product will be.   What the F … ? You’ll find out tomorrow.

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