Last week I wrote about PC Editing, today is part II. First a quick review:
PC Editing (Proof Copy Editing) is a term I invented because an Indie author generally does the editing, copy editing, and proofreading themselves. PC Editing incorporates all of these responsibilities.
PCE is the practice of examining manuscripts from the earliest draft through the continuous copyediting until the final draft. Then proofing kicks in as the final draft is prepared for publication.
After posting the blog I received the following comment:
“Instead of the things that you list, mine editing tips for indie authors would be stuff like:
As the author of the chapter, you’re already emotionally invested in the characters and events. Pretend that your only knowledge of these characters and events come from the words on the page. Do those words engage you? Or do they bore you to tears? Do they make you care about the characters? Or do they bore you to tears? Are you excited to know what happens next? Or are you bored to tears?
Okay, so not much of a list. Just don’t bore your readers, which is the main problem I find with writers new enough to find lists like yours useful.”
My response: Interesting comment. I don’t oppose what you say, but bringing your characters alive is more than editing. I teach this prior to editing. The process of creating great characters begins at the beginning and carries through the entire experience. My blog was dealing with the basics of editing which probably should have included your points. So thank you for pointing that out.
I thought the writer was going to write more on the subject that I could include. But I haven’t received anything.
But he is correct. The characters need to be believable. It doesn’t matter if they are historical or fictional. Thus it is important for you to create characters that draw the reader in.
It is well to consider that your characters are human and humans have desires and flaws. When creating a character make him/her as real as possible.
For example, mankind has a perpetual desire to return to the innocence of the Garden of Eden. Some people believe this and some don’t, but all have it. Some even envision an idyllic world where man is at peace with his surroundings, himself, and with God.
How does this impact a novel? The truth is that every novel ever written or to be written is impacted in some way. The degree of impact will depend on the author’s understanding of that desire and ability to put it to paper.
The exciting thing is that your fictional characters start out with nothing and you can build on that. Then again, your character may be a real person. In the book Perished: The World That Was many of the characters were real, lifted right off the pages of the Bible. Therefore some characteristics or traits were already known. Even so I was able to take those few facts and develop the characters further.
In the case of Adam there was a constant inner desire to return to the Garden where he walked with God. But that was impossible. So what did he do? He built a small garden within his home and called it Little Eden. It was a place for quiet meditation or important meetings. That yearning was never really addressed but it expressed itself several times within the story.
The Yearning Factor
Your character is going to have strong and weak desires. Those desires will shape his/her expectations, experiences, and decisions as the story moves forward. So your first duty is to identify the Yearning Factor.
Basically the Yearning Factor is the primary desire of your character. So ask yourself, What motivates my character? How deep does it go? What does the character believe about him/herself?
Since your character starts out with nothing, you can start molding it right away. You can either tell (narrate) certain facts that reveal the character to some extent or you can let the character demonstrate it. Often you can do this by exploring the character’s past. Have there been broken hearts? Perhaps your character has desired things in the past and failed to realized them. Or perhaps your character has flaws that has prevented those desires from being attained.
The key is to know your characters strengths, and weaknesses. A well-written character grows from the beginning of the book to the end with constant, if not obvious, progress toward that goal. The character’s reaction to events transpiring in the story will both reflect and develop the desire.
So during the editing process take a closer look at your character(s). As the commentator said ask yourself some questions:
- Are you (as the reader) engaged?
- Do the characters bore you to tears?
- Do you care about the characters?
- Are you excited to know what happens next?
If you’re engaged, interested, caring, and excited then you probably have created characters that others will care about and get excited about.
Here’s a thought to consider: The end of the story represents the end of the quest. Your character never truly attains the goal or desire. In life we end up with a mixture of successes and failures. To be realistic let your character also experience success and a small degree of failure. Perhaps a victory doesn’t satisfy as much as the character anticipated.
If this character will be a part of another forthcoming novel let the character develop and expand in that future novel. You can even put little teasers in the first book that will be answered in the second.
Developing strong characters not only enhances your book but builds your voice.
What is voice? There are probably a dozen or more interpretations, but essentially your voice is:
“An author’s unique style and way of saying things. You should be able to recognize an author’s written voice the way you recognize a person’s spoken voice. In creative writing, one goal is to develop your written voice.”
This covers more than characters, it covers your entire story. As people read your stories they will learn what makes you unique and interesting. So having strong, interesting characters builds your voice.
As stated in the first blog, PC Editing basically finds and removes the most objectionable errors. The more often your manuscript is reviewed, the more often you will streamline your book. So don’t fall in love with a character or a scene or anything. Be ready to edit it or even remove it!
PC Editing is a process that you want to master. Put your own spin on it. The primary goal is to make your manuscript as error proof as possible.
PC Editing is a needful practice for the Indie Author. It is your responsibility to create an entertaining, gripping novel. If you fail to do this you will likely fail as an author.
One final thought.
Don’t worry so much about what others think of your book. What do you think and feel? There are always critics. Some will delight in tearing down your book and you. But if you can honestly say you like your books plus the characters and events in the book, then it is likely others will agree.
At the same time, don’t be satisfied. As you begin a new novel determine to make improvements in your characters and story line. You should learn and grow as a writer after each book is published.
Feel free to comment on this blog. As you can see I read your comments and may include them in a future blog. But whether I do or don’t, you can be sure that I will read it!
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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.