Like you have no idea why. But I will repeat it, nonetheless. Again, and again, and again. (You are welcome to beat me up later.) If you're looking into self-publishing, you must MUST MUST have an editor, even if it's just a friend who is good at catching things and is willing to lend you an extra pair of eyes. Scooped out, on ice, in a glass container. No, really. Editors catch things you would never catch in a million years because you're blind to them. I have had the fortune and the luck to work with amazing editors, my former editor Colleen M. Albert who very gently taught me to de-confuse my writing (there were many run-ons and repetitions), and my current editor Sarah Grace Liu who has seen things I typically struggle with, like the following:
- I make my characters shake heads, raise brows, nod, and whisper in disproportionate exuberance. This is something I was not aware of, and by suggestion of a fellow writer will read The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. See if that helps me break out of this pattern. Also, will pay closer attention to this when reading.
- I tend to color the sky in hues of purple. Whatever happened to blue?? I think it's because I'm afraid to sound "conventional" (come on, sky is always blue) and have gone the other route, which led me to overdoing it. Oops.
- When writing drafts, I put in placeholder flat dialogue and then forget about it, or get puzzled at it in later drafts, sometimes not exactly sure what I meant to say. I'm learning to write carefully, because in later drafts these snippets throw me off. I think I have meant something to say, but I don't remember what it is, and I get anxiety.
- My plot reveals sometimes suffer from poor timing. They either show up too early (most of the time) or too late, both for the readers and for my characters. This comes from the fear of burdening readers with too much detail, and, again, I went the other way and overdid it. Isn't it amazing how many of these problems stem from fear?
- I switch POVs too often, making my reader dizzy. And my editor. Need. To learn. To slow down, dammit.
- In general, I tend to go too fast, omitting explanations in fear of thinking my reader will become burdened, when the opposite happens. My reader gets confused. (Fear again!)
- Overall, I'm still a bit neurotic in my writing and simply need to slow down. Partly it's due to my schedule of writing as many novels as I can before I run out of money that I'm making with my ghostwriting, because I'm not making enough money writing novels yet. Partly it's the internal fear of being okay with taking my time.
What's interesting is, these problems have changed. It used to be a completely different set two years ago, when I was starting out. It gives me hope, hope that I'm improving, but it also is showing me my growth. And that is exactly what a good editor helps you do as a writer—helps you grow.
There are other thing that have been caught my beta readers, like I used to describe distances in fives or tens or twenties—5 miles or 20 feet or something along those lines. There was more, I can't remember now what.
I'm telling you all this to show you that even someone not trained as an editor can pick up patterns in your writing. So if you can't afford an editor and are thinking about self-publishing, try to get some of your friends to do a few editing passes. The things that they'll catch will never occur to you, and they will only make your book better. Because, unless the person you're giving your book to is an absolute and despicable asshole, people will want to help. So.
Offer your drafts on your website.
Post them freely for anyone to look at or download.
You will suffer a bigger chance of never being discovered as opposed to someone stealing your idea or your work. It's what I did, and I have grown as a writer faster then I would've if I have never done it.
Sure, I could write in a vacuum. Sure, I could do it all myself, but it would've taken me more years to see my pitfalls if not for my beta readers and my editors.
Okay, enough about me. What are your vices? What do you know you tend to do a lot of in your writing and need to improve? Spill your secrets. YOU WILL GET A GOAT.