Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

Laying Bricks(1)

“You cannot build your hopes upon unstable foundations and expect a product of longevity.”

– Audrey Prim,

Quote From heyygurrlheyy.wordpress.com

Sure, there are other things we’ll need to do: paint the walls, add furniture, and hire professionals but not now, not while laying bricks.

Execution is vital in going from an idea to something that is actually tangible. Goals are great, but alone they’re not enough. Written down, they are merely plans. Plans are awesome. But a plan that is not backed by action becomes fruitless.  Laying bricks is excellent, but it is not enough. No, you can’t just write, sorry. I wish it was that easy. Wait, actually, it is!

It is if you take your time. If we are to build a strong house, there are other things that we must do with these bricks besides lay them. In our first unofficial episode, we spoke about focusing on one brick and how to lay it properly. We got through the laying part but if the brick is not held together, then the entire foundation is weak and the house will crumble.

Applying Mortar – Revisions and Feedback

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Writing the story is important. It is your guide, your first brick. But we have all lived long enough to know that you can’t just stack bricks, you need something to hold them together. As much as we’d like to all just have fun, this is a business after all.

Safety Tip: When working with mortar, always wear gloves and a mask or respirator.

Before applying mortar, you’d need to protect yourself. This just means you’ll need to be prepared to battle self-doubt and rejection because this step requires revisions and feedback. If your first brick is the story, then how do you know if that story is any good? Surely we cannot depend on our own selves to determine the quality of work. I mean, are we brilliant? Yes, of course. But we are also too close to the work.

I’m not going to pretend your first draft isn’t everything, it is. It took lots of time and research. It is everything, but it’s not EVERYTHING! See how exciting the last everything was? First drafts are like the play-dough you just want to play with and get all “authorly” and say stuff like “yaasss”. However, we can’t just give readers dough now can we? We have to mold it into something and to do this properly, you’ll need a little bit of help.

Discover the tools you need to apply a generous amount of feedback to each layer of the brick. This may require:

  1. Beta Readers
  2. Advanced Review Readers
  3. Writing Critique Groups
  4. Facebook Writer Groups

Click Here for 40 Places to Find a Critique Partner

Who Will Help You Improve Your Writing

I know. It sounds funny speaking about revisions so early on. The truth is that no first draft is ready to be published. The truth is that your manuscript will need revisions. But, how do you know what needs to be revised?

The job of these people listed is to provide constructive feedback. When it came time to participate in The Curiouser Author Society’s Critique day, whew! Nervous is not the word, I was terrified. However, when I finally did upload my novel’s first chapter and allowed this group of people to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Sure, I thought it was good but could I really depend on my own critique? Not really. Now that others read it and provided feedback I knew it was good. Granted, it wasn’t great (at this stage you don’t get to great yet… there were things I needed to fix), but I was confident that it wasn’t poor either which boosted my confidence as a writer. I’m telling you from experience, it is enough fuel to finish the book indeed!

Here are a few things to look for during revision:

  • Contradictions  – Usually writers start off strong in the beginning but then you get to the end and its like, “Where they do that at?” Look for contradictions in your characters behaviors or setting or anything. Is she wearing red shoes? I thought she hated red tho? Stuff like that.
  • Flow and Pace – If you skip it, chances are it needs to be skipped.
  • Destroy – I’ll speak more on this in the next episode but it is part of the revision process. To fix some things means you have to break it down to build it up. So if the shoe fits, yeah, some parts of your story will need to be utterly destroyed. Recently, I just had to cut an entire chapter from my WIP. Ouch.
  • One Thing at a Time – So is the whole point of this series. We’re not focused on the in depth stuff. In this series we’re focusing on the basics. When you perfect the basics you can build upon what you build. On the other hand, without a strong foundation none of the other stuff will matter. So, back to it. Revise in stages, fixing one thing at a time. Don’t rush. Remember, this is  a process. We’re not building a straw house. We’re building  a brick house.
  • Show and Tell – Check for moments you told instead of showed and vice verse. I won’t elaborate here since I plan to publish a separate post on it, but just be sure you understand the difference between telling vs. showing. Personally, I think good writers show and tell. There’s an ongoing debate in the writing world about Showing vs. Telling but here’s the secret: don’t show us everything! As a result of the show vs. tell debate authors are now showing us everything but their booty cheeks. That’s not what show vs. tell means and makes the story sound just as boring as my example. It’s called Storytelling for a reason. You are supposed to tell a story. The difference is in balancing the amount of telling and showing. Straight action doesn’t work no more than no action. Your characters just can’t be running all over the place, they need quite, emotional times too.
  • Grammar / Punctuation – This is last not because its not important. It’s just that this goes more into the next episode. But, there are still mistakes you can catch during your revision you may not have seen before. Especially those caught by your betas.

Sure, everyone’s opinions are just that, opinions. Additionally, opinions vary for each person. Still, it helps to have an extra set of eyes to validate some things for you as you revise your script. If you think you can really do it all yourself, then maybe you are not ready to build a house. (Ever watched those home reconstruction shows? Do you see how much work that is? Now, imagine one person doing it. Sheesh). The extra set of eyes are not to dictate your script, change the vision, or slam your work.

The extra eyes are just to help you along the revision process before you go in for the edit. So, “butter” that brick with mortar by recruiting additional sets of eyes to read your manuscript. They may be useful in locking each brick into place and to release any unnecessary plot bubbles that may be underneath all the glitter and glam.

Next– Removing Excess

Next, we’ll talk about removing the excess in your Self-Pub brick laying process. Find out what to do when you get your scripts back from readers. After you’ve gotten the book critiqued, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first episode? See Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

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17 thoughts on “Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

  1. Great post as usual, Yecheilyah. Very clear use of analogy here. I was nodding during the “Show vs Tell” part. The key is the line between each, and many writers have a tendency to cling to “The Rules”. The same problem happens with the Adjectives and Adverbs debate. Indeed, there may be many places where showing would be more effective than telling– that’s how we get deeper into the character’s mind, deeper into the setting and symbolism. But telling is not a crime either. It may be stylistically advantageous for the writer to pull out of a single POV and tell the audience something from an omniscient viewpoint. I often use this a lot in my own work. So I’m glad to see another writer highlighting this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed. You are spot on. I’m drafting a post now on the show vs. tell to further highlight these points. Like I said, I believe good writers show and tell. We must create a balance so we don’t sound like we’re over doing it. There is such a thing as being too fancy and losing the reader.

      Like

  2. What I leaened early on is that you NEED someone else’s look at your story. We never know how close we are to it and so how many things we take for granted.

    I like to tell a story about this.
    In my current WIP, one of the main characters’ name is Blood. In the opening scene he appeares unmoving on a busy street as he intently listens to something.
    I went through many revisions of the opening scene (that’s a nightmere and it was my fault, but that’s another story 😉 ), some of my writing buddies read the hook and gave some feedback, but I still felt that the hook wasn’t as strong as is should be.
    So, when during NaNo I found a forum where people would critic your hook, I posted it.
    Two people asked me whether Blood was a dog O_O
    I would have never ever thought of it. Because of course I know Blood is a person and it never crossed my mind that someone would think differently. And most of the friends who critiqued my first chapter also knew Blood is a man, and so if I hadn’t let strangers critique my hook, I would have never known that in the opening scene it was uncler, untill a few para in, whether one of the main characters was a person or an animal.
    Seriously I was shocked, but I’m so happy that I asked for the crit, and this is one of the resens why I always recommand writers to let strangers read their stuff. You only have to gain from it 😉

    Is it scary? Yes, especially at the beginning. But then, that’s another reason why being part of the group is good: you get used to be critiqued. Your skin thickens. You learned to discern good advice from ill advice, personal opinions from objective critiques. You learn to handel negative crits.
    With time, this process becomes so natural, that receving a crit is just part of writing and it doesn’t hurt anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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