So I’ve been doing this writing thing for a little over a year now. I’m in the midst of edits for my third book which I am aiming to self publish in February. This nice thing is that all of my beta readers have told me they like this one best of the others. I guess that means I’m improving with every book (although I feel like my first book may have set a pretty low bar. I hope to get back to that one and fix it someday. I was in too big of a hurry to get it out there).
Here’s the thing. I’ve been actively seeking ways to make my writing better. I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) which offers monthly courses on writing and a great critique group (which I have my fourth book going through right now). I’ve picked up many books on the topic of writing and editing. I’ve got more people reading proof copies of my books every step of the way to help catch errors.
But I find that there are so many contradictions in writing. I find this to be true in my critique group. One person will tell me one thing and someone else will contradict that first person. I find it in printed material too (both the reference books and books I’m reading just for the fun of it or to review). The one thing I struggle with the most is comma usage. My favorite reference book, the one I use the most often, is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ides. In this book, she combines both the Chicago Manual of Style and the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style in one easy-to-use guide.
When I had an editor go through my first book (yes, I paid someone who still missed all of those errors), the main thing she did was add commas to my manuscript. So, I’ve been studying up on these. Here’s the kicker. Almost every reference guide I’ve found has some kind of clause that tells the author to use their discretion with commas. There are rules but exceptions to those rules. I’m still learning, though. As I was looking up comma usage today, I realized I’ve been putting a comma before the word “too” at the end of a sentence and I should only do this if the word is in an unusual place in the sentence. Thank goodness for “find and replace” in Word.
This year I plan to read more writing reference books and even get to a writers’ conference. I plan to read at least as many books as I’ve read the last couple of years. Because a great reader makes a great writer (that’s what I’m told anyway). And I will continue honing my craft and tightening my writing.
How about you other indie authors out there? Any particular part of writing you struggle with?