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Danielle Miceli

🎃 October 31st, 2020 🎃
👻 Happy Halloween! 👻

Overview:

What’s New?

Clearly the universe is trying to tell me that sending newsletters on the final day of each month isn’t working anymore. And you know what? I’m inclined to listen. Starting with the next letter, I’ll be officially sending these monthly updates out on the first of every month. So instead of hearing from me on November 30th, my next newsletter will slip into your inbox on December 1st.

I know this difference will likely be negligible to you, but for me, it represents embracing a greater mindset shift. When I first started writing newsletters two and a half years ago, my intention was to chronicle the steps I made each month toward my dream of publishing a book, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, acknowledge the ups and downs, and share everything I learned along the way. 

There will still be plenty of reflection and advice moving forward, but the overall focus of these newsletters is about to shift toward looking ahead. Less ruminating over what’s been done, and more revelations of what’s to come--more sneak peeks and early announcements and first access to exclusive opportunities, more things to look forward to and insight on what I’m working toward...all in all, I think it’s a healthy transition. 💕
  1. Changes on the Wind!: It’s funny, there are so many new developments I’m dying to share with you, but I’m also quite strict with myself when it comes to releasing good news prematurely. Several exciting professional developments took place this month, and I cannot wait to talk to you about them! Come 2021, I should be including a lot more news in these newsletters. I’m sorry I can’t say more just yet, but I assure you that you’ll continue to be the first to know about each new step of my author journey. 🥰

Writing Update

I do still have a couple of short stories on the backburner right now, but for these next few months, I’ll be diving headfirst back into my main WIP. I intend to chip away at those shorts as “breaks” from editing my novel. But we’ll see how that goes! 😅

  1. Organizing Beta Feedback: At last I have a list of overall feedback that’s trimmed and ready to apply to my next draft! 🎉 My compiled document went from 66 pages long at the start, down to 16 once I cut out all the praise, removed neutral information and fun statistics (e.g. ranking of readers’ favorite characters), combined redundant suggestions, and discarded the very few pieces of criticism I just couldn’t or didn’t feel right incorporating. Honestly, I think I tossed aside maybe 2 or 3 comments total? I rarely shrug off any feedback, thus, 16 pages worth of critique for me to consider. 🙃

    Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve committed to address every single thing left on those pages! Merely that I intend to try my best to fix, or at least mitigate, as many of those issues as possible. This week, I’ll begin reading through my book chapter by chapter. That’s where the hundreds of individual chapter questionnaires will come into play--I’m going to pop them open as I edit the relevant chapters, and use those critiques to supplement my overall editing outline.

    So how did I take 66 pages worth of feedback from over 20 beta readers and turn it into one cohesive editing outline? Here’s a brief overview of my personal process:

     
    1. Strip the names from all your feedback--make it anonymous. You’ve already had the chance to digest each critique in the context of who wrote it, now it’s time to remove your biases and view their suggestions as objectively as possible. Chances are, you’ll still remember exactly who said that one thing about chapter 11 that really hurt you, but you probably won’t remember everything else they wrote once you take their name out of the picture. This is ideal, because it allows you to take better advantage of their more tactful suggestions without feeling bitter.
       
    2. Categorize the information. Reason #74 to use Google Forms to collect beta feedback--it does this step for you! Otherwise, you’ll have to copy all of your betas' answers to each question you asked, and paste them in one place. Continue this until you have every answer by every beta reader listed together under each of your questions. 
       
    3. Delete every last bit of gushing, praise, and excitement (but do yourself a huge favor and save all this positivity in a separate document, for you to reference later when you’re drowning in doubt). Really savor and absorb each compliment before kicking it out--it has no place in your editing outline, because you most likely won’t want to change what you’ve done well!

      This is also the part where you get to delete the advice that just doesn’t sit well with you. I strongly encourage you not to ditch everything that makes you uncomfortable, or upset, or even that you’d hate to change--only what doesn’t jive with your ultimate vision for your WIP. What you feel you can’t change without sacrificing the heart of the story you wish to tell. 

      Also, feel free to cut black sheep opinions. I don't mean the qualms only one or two people shared (sometimes, only one or two people were reading carefully, or being fully honest with you), but rather, the lone wolves that directly contradict the vast majority of your other readers. For example: every single one of your betas repeatedly mentioned your characters are the greatest strength of your entire book, but one reader just didn’t connect with them at all. That really sucks, and it’s something to keep in the back of your head while you revise, but ultimately, if everyone else felt the exact opposite, it’s not worth a dedicated bullet point on your outline (unless you agree with it, or see obvious room for improvement).

       
    4. To the best of your ability, rearrange the remaining criticism in chronological order. There’s a time and place for editing out of order, but whenever major developmental changes are involved, you’re going to want to do at least one full pass from start to finish so you can trace all the ripple effects of your revisions, and catch any unintended ones. I divided my book into 5 parts, and tried to list my beta concerns in order of their occurrence within the story, to avoid having to jump all around the document while I edit.
       
    5. I’ve found that the best critiques ask a lot of questions. Answer them. It might be as simple as jotting down a single sentence describing your intended solution, or even just a, “yes, do more of this,” for advice you completely agree with. Other times, you may scribble out two paragraphs of changes, or pop open a whole separate document and rewrite pages worth of backstory that you can refer back to as you address recurring issues (ask me how I know 🙃). However you choose to go about it, try your best to brainstorm as many fixes as possible beforehand. And writing them beneath the criticism they address will keep your notes in an organized, chronological outline.
       
    6. Optional: For a cleaner look, you can then delete all the criticism itself and leave behind only your strategies for addressing it--granting you a clear game plan. (I personally choose to leave the original criticisms in my outline while I’m editing, because I don’t always have solutions to every piece until I actually start revising 🙈).

      Congratulations, you should now have an actionable, organized editing outline for your next draft! I by no means wish to imply this is the best or only way to go about sorting through beta feedback; it’s simply the way I handled mine. Take or leave whatever pieces of it you desire. At the very least, I hope it helps to see another writer’s process laid bare. 💕
       
  2. Tackling Draft 5: I need to make this next round of edits my top writing priority for a bit, so I’m hoping I can buckle down and channel the energy of everyone else’s NaNoWriMo spirit into my revisions. I toyed with the idea of discussing a few of the major changes I plan to make (briefly, since I don’t know how interesting that would be for people who haven’t read an early draft of my book), but if I do, it’ll have to wait for a future letter. I don’t want to debut a revision here, only to end up changing my mind about it once I actually sit down to make the edits. 😅

October Reads

Despite very much enjoying my current read, A Sorcery of Thorns, I made no progress on it this month. 😬 The only reading I managed to squeeze in was for my lovely critique partner, Lina. I finished Sister of the Stars, the second book in her Children of Lyr series. 

Lina is not afraid to dig deep and get dark in her sequel, delving into the places in her characters’ hearts they’d least want us to see. It affects even the most boisterous members of the Branwen and Mathonwy clans, creating a unique and haunting tone throughout the book--raw and unapologetic. Tragedy can be so easily mishandled, and I know Lina has worked her absolute hardest to ensure she explores it in all its gruesome complexity, without sacrificing grace or sensitivity. This book is so obviously a labor of love and of pain, and I am proud of her for putting it out there. Stories like these are important to share. I can’t wait to read everything she adds into the new draft. 💜

The hardcover edition of Lina’s debut, Daughter of the Deep, is available as of yesterday! Snag a copy if you haven’t already! The new cover design is stunning.

Next month, I hope to finish my current read. 🙈 I’ll also be taking on my last beta project for the rest of the year. While I so badly want to beta read for multiple amazing authors right now, I need to accept that I’m going to be extremely busy these next few months while I edit my own book within a much smaller timeframe than I’m used to!


                                                                  

Good luck to everyone who began NaNoWriMo today! I’ll be with you in spirit as I edit my way through the month with a similarly-aggressive target.

I will never stop thanking you for all the love and support you’ve given me. My inbox, DMs, P.O. box, etc. are always open to each of you!

💖Always,
Dani

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Upcoming fantasy author, new mom, D&D addict, Gemini, Slytherclaw, lover of brunch and afternoon tea, wants to be your friend. 💕

     
Copyright © 2020 Danielle Miceli, All rights reserved.


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