View Full Version : Week 3: Ending the Novel and Editing

Amber Grosjean
March 15th, 2010, 12:55 AM
I'm changing our schedule just a little because the publishing phase and marketing is just as important as the writing itself. So let's talk about ending and editing this week!

Remember that story question we had in the first week? Well, now we should be answering it for our readers.

Did the boy get the girl? Did your hero save the world? What ever question you created for your story, it should have an answer that makes sense and doesn't disappoint your reader. If you fail at that, you may never get your reader back.

How you accomplish this is up to you and your story. Remember to keep everything in the story in a steady flow all the way to the end.

Make sure you keep your information the same through out the story as well (more about this in the editing portion of this week). For instant if your MC was named Katherine, her name will still be Katherine in the end of the story.

If you are a beginner, keep your POV the same throughout the story. Once you have nailed this part of story telling, you're welcome to try other venues. POV is point of view, or how you're telling the story. This is usually as the main character. He or she doesn't know how other people feel and when he's/she's in another room, he or she isn't going to know what or who the other character is seeing, hearing, and talking to unless he or she can hear or see it too like through an open doorway or something. This is something I learned the hard way lol. It is important to know this.

If you aren't as new as a beginner then using more than one POV is fine just don't confuse the reader. Never switch POVs in mid-paragraph. Keeping one POV in a chapter is best. Always throw in hints to keep who's POV you're using visible at all times. This will decrease that confusion for the readers. Remember, you don't want to lose the reader at any cost. Here's a good rule of thumb, if you're lost so is your reader lol.

Tomorrow, we can discuss endings to begin the next book lol. Yes, you can have cliff hangers!


Amber Grosjean
March 16th, 2010, 11:06 AM
Cliff hangers can be a way to introduce a sequel to the readers. Its not a disappointment if done correctly. You still have to answer the story question though. Each book has to have a new question and they can relate. They probably should relate if they are working together as in a series lol. If the books are in a series, it could be an extended story but with a new trial for the MC. A new problem would be the new plot with its own question and answer.

Regardless of the cliff hanger or an actual end of the story, your MC must grow in the story. Something about finding his/her way to the end made him/her stronger as a person. If your character (at least the main one) didn't mature, you did something wrong. When you're finished with your ending, go back and look at your character. Ask yourself what you can do to make him/her better.

Ok, back to cliff hangers lol. What is a cliff hanger exactly. It is an action that has the stop right in the middle of it. That's where the ending is. The readers don't know if they live on after the story or not. That's where you come in--writing the sequel giving your readers the answer to that question. By the time they reached that part, they have bonded with those characters and want to know if something is about to happen to them. They want to keep reading. You should give it to them.

Can you have a sequel without a cliff ending? Yes, you can. Do you have to have a sequel? No, you don't. That's up to you as a writer. There are no rules that say you have to do this or you have to do that. Its up to you and your story how you end it. Never force it. If you feel it should be one way or your characters want it another way, the best bet is to listen to the characters. They are never wrong. After all, they are the ones writing the story, you're just their tool for getting it on paper. At least, that's how I feel about it lol. All of us writers, perform in different ways. I let my characters guide me. They are the boss. Either way you write, don't force the ending or the beginning (or anything in between lol). Let it flow naturally as the world flows. Sometimes you do have persuade things to move in the right direction and that's all right.

Ok, now here's an assignment for you. Write a cliff hanger. If can be for your own book or it can be unrelated to anything you're writing now. Think of any story question and come up for your answer and make sure you have your action going on at the same time. Find your correct spot to end the story. I say your spot because everyone is different and there's no wrong spot if it feels right. Then share it on the sharing thread for others to see and comment.

Have fun with it!


Amber Grosjean
March 17th, 2010, 08:37 AM
Before you begin the long process, it may be wiser to print the whole thing out. Reading it on paper will be a lot easier than trying to read it on the computer screen.

Now read the whole manuscript as if you're reading it for the first time like one of your readers would. Reading it out loud may even help because if you hear the mistakes, you may be able to see them better.

Do each sentence sound right? Does the flow work? Did you use all the right words in all the right places? Was "is" suppose to be "it"? Mistakes like that aren't going to be spotted by the spell-checker in your program so its important to check each word as you're reading it over.

Keep reading, checking all your grammar and spelling. Make changes directly on the paper. Don't worry about making a mess. You're the only one who's going to see this.

Now make a second sweep on your story, as an editor. Check for run-on sentences, sentences that are saying the same things, and sentences that just don't make sense. This can also be done while checking grammar and spelling.

Not all sentences should be short, some can also be long. If you can combine two sentences where they would sound better--do it.

Once the structure is completed, go back again and check the story itself. Are your characters real? As you're reading it back, can you see a vivid picture of those characters? How's the scenes work? Do they work with the story? Does it all make sense?

How about the plot? Did you pick up the problem at the beginning? Does it carry through to the end? Did your problem get solved in the end?

Confrontations between MC and the "enemy". Are they believable? Can you make it better?

Actions. Did you show instead of tell? Did you use tags in the right places? Did they show who your character really is?

Do the final sweep and then get back to the story and make those corrections. Second round tomorrow.

While editing, what major mistakes did you make? Share them with us on the sharing board. That's your assignment. If you're not quite at that level of writing, that's fine. You're welcome to print all this out so it will be waiting for you when are at this point.

Have fun with it! When you're enjoying the process, it works out better for you.


Amber Grosjean
March 18th, 2010, 09:35 PM
Congrats, you have finished the first round of edits. Its usually the hardest part. Letting go can be just as hard though.

Something else to learn.......You should never begin the editing part right after you finished writing your piece. Let a couple weeks pass before beginning the editing process to let your mind forget. Then let another couple weeks pass between each round of edits.

You can begin writing another book if you'd like. Sometimes that helps you forget.

Now the second round........

Each round is pretty much the same. First you read (printed version is always best but if you can't afford to print it out, use your pc screen but in less reading intervals). Then you check grammar, spelling, run-on sentences, repetition, and so on.

Some writers write the entire piece, some only add in the corrections--its entirely up to you how you want to do it. Which ever one works best, do that.

After the first round, you will be comfortable with the process. So now you can look at the story and find ways to tighten it for an even better story. They say a great story isn't written, its rewritten. That's true. You've come up with the base for your story when you wrote it the first time. You wanna make sure there's no inconsistencies within the story now. All the names you used for your characters should be the same. If a character has red hair, she or she should still have red hair. If its different, and you wanted it that way, make sure you have that character dying it or using magic to have it changed. Show it being changed so the reader can follow and not be confused.

Remember, if you're confused so will the reader. That's why its important to wait a short period of time before beginning each round. If its new to you, you may pick up your mistakes easier and faster.

Another thing to think about is finding "beta readers". This is a person (usually another writer) who will read your story and help in the editing process. As the writer, you always have the last say in any changes that are made. This is true for even after a publisher has accepted it. More about that next week.

Do some research on find beta readers. This person should be someone who enjoys reading the genre you wrote. Also the audience. If they don't read adult book, and that's what you wrote in their genre, don't hand it to them. Make sure they read in that audience as well. Some beta readers only accept trades which means, you read their work while they read yours. If that's the case, edit their work like you would your own but don't make corrections, suggest those corrections on the margin. Or highlight your suggested change.

You can take it like a grain of salt--either accept it and use that change in your own words or deny the change but always thank them for their suggestions. Be polite when turning someone down. Rude people are always remembered--in a bad way. People who are hard to work with are remembered the same way so always be polite, say thank you and please at all times when working with people. This will give you practice. Be professional now so you're ready for those publishers.

If you are in this stage, here's your assignment. Find yourself a beta reader and ask for some help in editing. Share your experience on the sharing thread.


Amber Grosjean
March 20th, 2010, 06:55 PM
Editing is the main reason why it takes so long to write a novel. Getting through the first part of writing the book may seem easy compared to the editing stage but it cannot be skipped.

Never settle for "Its okay." Dig within yourself and make it the best you can. And because you're always growing as a person, your writing in itself will improve over time as well. Its ok to think that you're the best in what you write because you should be after a while lol. Of course, your readers will determine that so don't let it get to your head lol.

Don't rush yourself. As you sit there at your designated area, take your time. Go through each line, one by one. Reading out loud will also help so be in a place where you can do that. If it doesn't sound right, something might be missing or you used the wrong word for that sentence. Go back and look at it, study it if you have to. Take out your thesaurus and keep it handy.

Get use to this part because when you get published, the editing will continue for another 3 rounds. Again, you still have the final word. We're going to talk about this in a couple days. Tomorrow we'll finish up with editing.


Gwyn Lacy
March 20th, 2010, 09:16 PM
Looking for a beta reader-lol. Mine is writing and editing!

Amber Grosjean
March 20th, 2010, 09:19 PM
Yeah, you should always be on a look out. I think a writer should start looking one after the 3rd round of edits. That way, its a cleaner version and you don't look unprepared. Plus the less work they have, the more they want to help out so keep that in mind lol.


Amber Grosjean
March 21st, 2010, 12:36 PM
First of all, there is no magic round of edits you should do. You're done when you can't find anything else to change to make it better. Always take into consideration what the beta readers say to you about your work. They aren't there to put you down or anything. Its nothing personal. Its only about the story. So if they happen to say its bad, thank them and get back to work. If they praise you, on the other hand, double thank them and pat yourself on the back.

Getting a beta reader is great practice for dealing with a editor with a publisher. If you can find one that's "free" keep him or her. You can also pay to have someone professionally edit your work. Just be sure to edit yourself first so you have the opportunity to learn. You do learn by doing.

Your story is your baby. You've put in a lot of sweat and hard work. You've underwent stress and heartache, now its time to polish it and let your baby shine. If you really want to know how good your story is, let others read it once you feel confident that its perfect. Don't ask them to edit now, just ask them to read it and let you know what they think about it. This can be a positive boost for your ego lol if the story is great. Never settle for just one person to look over your story. The power number is 3 (or more). 3 beta readers, 3 enjoyment readers. If they all say the same thing, you're on the right road.

The reasoning for this is one set of eyes is great, more than one is better because what one misses, another will catch. Like I said, this is your baby, you want nothing less than perfect. Perfection comes from hard work and getting all you can to help make that happen. But always work on it yourself first before asking others to help. Again, this is how you learn. Then when others are helping you, look at their comments with an open mind. Ask yourself why they said that or why would they want to change this or that.

The last round of edits are usually the easiest because you've already done all the hard work before this stage. A power of relief comes over you and you may feel exhilarated in some way. Pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to something nice as an award. Do this after you've finished each step of the writing process. When you get used to this, you begin to look forward to writing and its rewards. Just don't undercut yourself to get to the reward phase lol.

Writing takes 100% of yourself, body and mind. Don't ever give any less. That's why rewarding yourself can be important. It lets you unwind so you're able to take on the next book and do this all over again.

And now we're ready for the questions part of the seminar again. Please ask me anything. There are no stupid questions. I'm only here to make you better or help you get to the first part of growing. Good luck to you.

Tomorrow, we start talking about the publishing phase and marketing. If you're not at this point yet, you will get there. Just keep writing, editing, and writing until you're ready. Then this part will be waiting for you!