Tag Archives: Sean Curley

When is “done” done?

By Sean Curley

One of the things writers ask me is how I know when a manuscript is done? The answer isn’t as easy as you might think. It can be incredibly difficult to just complete a novel. When you are done, however, you aren’t really done. The revision process can be long and harrowing. For me, the feedback I received from (non-friendly) reviewers of my first novel, Propositum – A Novel, prompted me to put the novel on hold for over two years while I improved my craft. Once that was complete, I re-wrote the book, not quite from scratch since I had a great plot, but close.

When that was complete, my editor and I went through a serious of reviews and edits. We started at a macro level and looked at plot and consistency. Then we looked at flow and transitions. Finally we went to paragraph structure and wording. You might think at that point that the novel is complete and ready to publish. However, each subsequent review yielded more changes that improved the book. From cleaning up the sound (try reading it aloud) to making it more concise to correcting outright errors (grammatical or semantic), every review found issues. In revising this novel my editor and I each read the book a dozen times or so. Each time it improved. By the end, after a couple of months of this, I decided I was fed up with trying to make it perfect and gave it to the publisher to generate a test copy. That would be my final review of the novel. I found that reading it in print yielded some surprising results. Issues were found that I had never seen when reading on a screen.

I suspect that we have all read books where there are many errors and been frustrated. None of us want to be the author of one of those books. On the other hand, there is a point of diminishing returns when continuing to review and edit means you are trying for a perfection that, in my opinion, isn’t necessarily worth it. Maybe if you want to publish a single “Great American Novel,” it would be worth the effort. But, in my case, I want to publish a number of novels and can’t afford to spend my life improving every single word in just one.

In general, I practice the following steps when revising a novel (don’t do this alone as your specific idiosyncrasies may cause certain errors to be difficult to discover; find someone who is willing to critique you at the right level – meaning point out real issues, but not try to rewrite the novel for you):

  • Let it sit for a while (after the draft is complete) and then read it again
  • Confirm the plot and story are complete and that the book flows and ends well
  • Review the novel for paragraph and sentence structure and for word choice
      1. Check for replication of unusual words
      2. Check for similar words too close together (within a few sentences)
      3. Check for year/location- and world-appropriateness of words
  • Tighten up the language and make sure it reads smoothly
  • Re-review the text until you are comfortable it is close (so repeat as needed)
  • Read it aloud as a final test of readability
  • Use a POD service like Lulu to print a single copy and review the hard copy
  • Call it good and be proud of it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sean Curley - Author Photo

Sean Curley (1961-) was born and raised in California. His Catholic upbringing shifted to Philosophy and Computers during college. Others have referred to him as a Renaissance man because of his diverse educational background in Computer Science, Philosophy, Management, Space Studies, and Creative Writing. He is frequently found speaking on diverse topics such as Humanism, management, parenting, separation of church and state, and religious history. He has published one non-fiction book, Humanism for Parents, and one novel, Propositum – A Novel. He is currently working on two more novels. Mr. Curley lives in Colorado with his children.

Viewing the World as a Writer

By Sean Curley

As part of my efforts to publish a professional-level book independently, I went back to school at the University of Denver for a graduate degree in Creative Writing. One of the concepts school tried to teach me was to view the world as a writer. I didn’t understand that for a long time. However, as my craft grew I began to see the nuances in writing all around me. I had just not been paying attention.

One key moment for me was while I was sitting at a Sting concert one evening. He was playing at the Red Rocks Amphitheater (the best venue in the world) with the London Philharmonic. The wind was whistling through the rock formations and the lights of Denver scintillated in the background. Part of the way through the concert, I actually lost track of the music for a while as I sat pondering the words and their hidden meanings. And then, I started to see how the music presented a mood to go along with and enhance those meanings. Of course, it helps that Sting is an intelligent person and writes complex, almost 3-dimensional, music.

After that, I started paying attention to the subtleties and the art of the written word. I saw it in posters and advertisements, on the sides of buses, in lyrics and speeches, in lectures and well-done movies. Sometimes, I even found it in casual conversation and wondered if the speaker knew how clever his/her statement was.

It also completely changed how I read books and possibly not for the better. Now, I tend to notice a word here or a phrase there and how they change the feeling of the writing. Poorly written books also annoy me more than they used to. Reading as a writer is improving my writing, but I think in some ways it has lessened my pleasure in reading because now I am as much critic and student as I am reader.

As I see it, viewing the world as a writer is one step in the journey to becoming accomplished at our craft. Each time we see the subtleties in how others form their words, sentences, and paragraphs, we improve our own writing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    About the Author:
Sean Curley - Author Photo

Sean Curley, Author

Sean Curley (1961-) was born and raised in California. His Catholic upbringing shifted to Philosophy and Computers during college. Others have referred to him as a Renaissance man because of his diverse educational background in Computer Science, Philosophy, Management, Space Studies, and Creative Writing. He is frequently found speaking on diverse topics such as Humanism, management, parenting, separation of church and state, and religious history. He has published one non-fiction book, Humanism for Parents, and one novel, Propositum – A Novel. He is currently working on two more novels. Mr. Curley lives in Colorado with his children.

Supporting our Independent Authors — RMFW Spotlight on Sean Curley and IPAL

By Sean Curley

Sean CurleyIPAL is the Independently Published Author’s List within the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization. Similar to PAL (the Published Author’s List), it is meant to be a cohesive group of people who have successfully published at least one book independently. As we all know, the publishing industry has changed a great deal in the last decade. At the forefront of this change is the ability to publish a book independently. This has brought both challenges and incredible opportunity. On the one hand, anyone (and I do mean anyone) can now publish a book without thought of quality or professionalism. On the other hand, we have access to an incredible diversity of writing that may never have made it to print (in the all-inclusive meaning) otherwise.

The organization was created through a collaboration of RMFW members who debated and defined the various entrance criteria (see below). Membership is permanent as long as the individual maintains membership in RMFW.

In order to become a member of IPAL, the author must:

  • be a RMFW member in good standing
  • have independently published at least one novel-length book of fiction, or equivalent in fictional short stories
  • The book(s) must have obtain at least $250 of income for both print and digital versions
  • Send a request to ipal@rmfw.org and provide a website or location where the book can be confirmed along with statements or evidence of $250 of income

There is no specific time limit on the income for the book(s). Income is defined as monies paid for the purchase of the book, independent of royalties or print costs. Direct sales of books (e.g. at talks or signings) may be included in the sales numbers if those sales are tracked.

There are numerous benefits of being a member of IPAL. These include:

“It’s a Book!” Mailer is the quarterly announcement to RMFW members, bookstores and libraries regarding new releases. This is a great promotional tool since the Mailer goes out to hundreds of bookstores in five states. IPAL members are eligible to have their book(s) included in this mailer.

RMFW newsletter is the organization’s newsletter. This is where IPAL members may write articles or promote their books. As a RMFW member, they should already be receiving this newsletter and should be aware of its value.

IPAL link on the RMFW website. The IPAL author’s name will be added to the RMFW IPAL list and optionally linked to their website. These are available from the RMFW web site.

Facebook Page Promotion. The administrators of the RMFW Facebook Page will be happy to push out notices for any and all book signings and similar events for IPAL members. The page has almost 4,000 members, which is a very good reach.

Twitter Announcements. Similar to the Facebook Page, announcements of book signings and events can be pushed out to the RMFW twitter account by sending the needed information to ipal@rmfw.org.

RMFW IPAL Yahoo! Group Membership: Please send a blank email to: rmfwIPAL-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. This will initiate a request to have you added to the Yahoo! Group. You will be able to send and receive emails to other IPAL members or to the entire group. You can use Yahoo! Group Settings to specify how and how often you would like to receive emails.

Colorado Gold Conference Book Sales. IPAL members have the opportunity to sign and sell books at the fabulous book sale at the Colorado Gold conference. They will also receive an “IPAL Author” tag to wear during the conference to show they are in the ranks of independently published authors.

Neither standard membership nor provisional membership is automatic. The author must contact the IPAL Liaison at ipal@rmfw.org and provide the needed documentation to be granted membership.

CurleyAs for myself, I have been a member of RMFW for about four years now and am the current IPAL Liaison. I was ecstatic that the organization decided to include support for independently published authors. My first novel, Propositum, was a five year effort that included taking time to get a master’s degree at DU in creative writing in order to improve my craft. I put a lot of research and effort into producing a professionally written, independently published book and love the opportunity to contribute to the industry and to RMFW through IPAL. I have lived in Golden for the past thirteen years and currently work for Oracle running a software development team. I have four children; three of them (mostly) out of the home now and the fourth in high school.

IPAL currently has about fifteen members with three more currently going through the process (of confirming their entrance criteria) and is growing at a steady rate. For more information or to join, please contact me at ipal@rmfw.org.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can learn more about Sean and his work at his website and the Propositum site (where you can also purchase his book at a discount)..