LET’S TALK about oopsies and writing today. I mean, seeing as it is the prompt of the day and all…
I want to take this moment to dish out a little nugget of writing advice. But let me preface it by saying that this advice only applies to you if you are writing, or have written, a story that you want to publish in print, as an ebook or online. If you’re writing just for the joy of writing, you don’t need to worry about this. If you’re still in the process of writing, all you really need is to keep this in mind for when you’re done telling your story.
Ok, so say you have finished your draft, what do you do next? You self-edit. Some writers hate this, but it is immensely useful and like all skills, it’s something you get better at the more you do it. Comb through your manuscript, and look at each paragraph as a little island in an ocean full of exciting islands. Read it out loud and feel how it sits on your tongue. How it sounds to your ears. Is it easy to read out loud or are the words tripping you up?
If you haven’t already, this is also a great time to start a story bible. Make sure that you spell character names consistently. Keep track of details you’ve mentioned like eye colours, car makes, what kind of homes they live in, favourite drinks, the way they speak etc. You’d be surprised how often I see writers who keep spelling their main character’s name in different ways, making you wonder who you’re reading about. Or characters who drive a certain car all of a sudden driving a different make, even though they haven’t borrowed, rented or bought a new car.
In smut scenes, things often get really interesting. In ways the writer didn’t intend, I mean. Characters sprout an extra limb or two (!), engage in acrobatics that would impress the Cirque de Soleil crew, or do things that are impossible no matter how many limbs you have.
Here’s the thing, though. When you’ve finished your self-edit, you need a proofreader and an editor to go over your manuscript. Far too many writers skip this step, and the self-published market is flooded with books that are riddled with errors. And yes, that is bad! For all of us.
Think about telling a story the old-fashioned way. You’re sat in a ring around a campfire and people are taking turns telling each other a story. When it’s your turn, everybody starts making loud noises that make it impossible for people to hear what you’re saying. A text that is full of errors has the same effect on the reader, and that’s probably not what you were hoping for.
Yes, proofreading and editing services cost money and that is a problem for many budding writers. There are ways to deal with that though. The first is to start saving up when you start writing your story. Ask people to put a little something in your book savings instead of buying you gifts for your birthday. Put a tipping jar on your social media and tell people you’re saving up for an editor. Flog your stuff on ebay (we all have loads of stuff we don’t need.)
Alternatively, you can get yourself a couple of awesome writing buddies that you can swap services with. Maybe they can proofread for you and you can do something in return for them? Just make sure they actually know what they’re doing first.
Last, but not least: There will always be an oops somewhere. No matter how stringent your editing process or how good the people who proofread and fact-check and whatnot. My biggest oops to this day is a book where I have a principal instead of a principle. For years, not one single person (yours truly included) picked up on that until, one day, a retired principal who’d read the book told me it was there. It irks me, but it is what it is.
We may strive for perfection, but there will always be some little niggle in the weave. And that’s ok.
Now, if you think this is where I’m going to ask you about your writing oopsies, you’re spot on.
Please share the links to your posts using today’s prompt in the comments below so I can pop in and read them.
© Evalena Styf, 2021
Writing prompt from #NaNoWriMo Preptober InstaWrimo Challenge: 10 October, 2021. “Oops!”
The #InstaWrimo is a photo challenge for Instagram, but it works just as well as a daily writing prompt.
Here are the daily writing prompts for NaNoWriMo’s preptober challenge. It’s never too late to start, so let’s get into it. Together.