Saturday, July 2, 2016

Never Skip The Editor

I don't have any official set of Rules for Developmental Editors to share because I go on my own quirky authorial journey but professional editing is a MUST, and a step I'd never skip. The author will never perceive all the holes and things that could be done better in their own book because they're too close to the story and the characters and the words.

Some examples:

I have a tendency to be impatient and want to get to writing my favorite scenes NOW, so especially in early books, my editor had to make me stop and write about the journey the characters were on. I used to end up adding about 10,000 words each time. There are a few extra incidents on the boat trip in Warrior of the Nile, as well as in Magic of the Nile, and a dramatic river crossing in Mission to Mahjundar, none of which would have existed without the insistence of an editor. And the scenes aren't there to make the manuscript longer - I'm not getting paid by the word like Charles Dickens. They're in the story to help the readers connect better with the characters, to add details to the worldbuilding and to slow down my headlong rush to DRAMA. If you don't take time to do the buildup, the big scenes don't really pay off emotionally. In each case the editor of record made suggestions and then I wrote the scenes that came to my mind as the author.

I also have a tendency - because I know it's all going to turn out okay at the Happily Ever After - to let my characters become tourists a bit at key moments. I have one spot in a book I'm not going to identify, where a hero's life is in the balance and in the early drafts, I had the heroine and  the best friend admiring artwork in an ancient temple and speculating on whether certain ancient aliens had been there...and my editor basically said, "Are you KIDDING me??? The hero is dying, we don't know what's going to happen next, if he can even be saved, and these people are admiring the walls?!" Oh, okay, point made.

Then there was the invisible creature who left a visible trail....

I add in a child character every time - it's almost like a reflex with me, maybe because I'm a mother...and you just don't need a child in every book...if you can remove a character with no disturbance in the plot, you really did not need that character, cute or not.

I think I've confessed enough tendencies today LOL, gotta keep some of my dark secrets, but the point is, my editor makes me aware of these things and I've made progress in not doing them in the first place any more. She finds new things in each book though, and her suggestions make the stories stronger.

She also tells me what works for her and compliments certain plot twists and turns of phrase, which makes me smile and feel good, but I crave the other stuff, so I can make the book as good as possible before putting it in front of my readers.

And I owe her the next manuscript by the end of today, so I'd better get back to it!

1 comment:

  1. Admiring the art on the walls instead of saving the dying hero...I laugh only because I am also guilty of "too detached from the moment" editorial flags.