All the Words Not on the Page
By Julie Rowe
The words you read in a published book are just the end product of a process that can take weeks, months, or even years. Every writer has their own method of getting their story down, revising, editing, and finally giving the go to say it’s done. No matter the process, there are still a lot of words the reader never gets to see. Words that are, nevertheless, part of the story.
Some writers need a detailed outline, a plan, or map of the story before they flesh it out with setting, character, and conflict. Others want no advance planning at all, preferring to discover the story as they write. They may edit and revise as they write, or wait until after the first draft is done before revising to tuck all the story threads away neatly.
I tend to write my first draft without much revision or editing as I go. For me, creation is a very different mental process from editing and revision. My experience of the story changes when I go from the first draft into the second and following drafts. I tend to write action and dialogue first, then add description and emotional context in successive drafts. I also have to read through the manuscript front to back for continuity – how many days have passed, secondary character names, who did what. Through all of this, words are being added, removed, or changed.
Before I send the completed manuscript to my editor, I print it off and go at it with a red pen; striking out, questioning, and adding words. Here’s a photo of my table covered in pages from Smoke and Mirrors, releasing Feb 26, 2018. Every pile is a chapter, full of red pen notes and post-it-note reminders.
So many words my readers will never see, yet the story wouldn’t exist without them. Character interviews, a multi-page synopsis, and editorial notes from a collection of editors who work on the book – the reader doesn’t get to see those either.
I’m curious, as a reader, which hidden words would you like to see?
Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “Fiction has to be believable”. Julie writes romantic suspense and romantic thrillers. Her next release, Smoke and Mirrors book #2 of the Outbreak Taskforce series will be out Feb 26, 2018. You can find her at www.julieroweauthor.com , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor