Confessions of an Over-writer (Recovering)

So, I decided to re-release my first book over the summer… My initial inspiration was to update the cover, and my favorite stock photo site was having a sale. I found a great pic (see below), and I’m pleased with the sexier tone of the new cover.


Before (the old cover)…


And After! (the new cover)










While I was at it, I thought I’d update the formatting—a simple, quick task, I figured. Then I started skimming the first chapter. Oh… wait a second…

I’m one of those authors who can find something to tweak every single time I read through a document. I’ve had to learn to let go, to accept that no manuscript will ever truly feel “finished.” But in the case of this story, I just couldn’t leave it as it was. A good story should fly, not sink under its own weight.

I released this particular book three years ago. I still adore the characters and get jazzed about the plot. But HOLY COW did I over-write this thing! When you can shave 30,000 words without any significant alteration to the plot… yeah, it was over-written. You know that sound of concrete scraping against concrete? That was my poor manuscript, dragging along. Egad!

So I hunkered down and got to work. For the several weeks, I pored over each chapter, practically cross-eyed by the time I finished for the day. Sometimes I used a jackhammer, prying off big grey blocks of clunky, descriptive yet unnecessary text. Other times, it felt more like sewing a crazy quilt, moving sentences around within and between paragraphs to improve the flow. I identified (and eliminated) so many redundancies (kneel down, for instance—“kneel” implies “down,” doesn’t it?) and crutch phrases (some of mine were/are “once more” and “at the moment”) and passive voice (any verb phrase starting with “was,” for instance) and dialogue tags (oh, I am sooo guilty…).

The good news is I’m a MUCH better writer than I was a few years ago, and re-visiting this first book proved it. I’ve learned so much, and I keep learning more with every scene I write. And because I’m self-published, I can “fix” all that over-writing with a quick upload of a corrected file. Voila!

I’m pleased to report that, finally freed of all that weight, my manuscript now floats, if not soars. The dialogue shines through, now that the grimy crust of all those tags have been cleared away. The action zips along at a much brisker pace. Jamie and Mel’s romance is once again the best I can make it.

At least, until I re-read it a few years down the road…

Old Enough To Know Better‘s updated ebook version is now available to download from Amazon. The updated paperback version will be available from CreateSpace soon!