At the beginning of November, I received comments back from my developmental editor. This was the first time in six years of writing that I’d gotten far enough to 1) finish a book, and 2) submit it to an editor. When I got her comments–which included a letter with general recommendations as well as detailed line edits throughout the MS, plus a 1.5 hour Skype call–I sat back and processed everything she threw at me before making changes, and I’m glad I did.
But once I was done digesting, how did I figure out what to use and what to keep? I listened to my gut.
Just because an editor (or anyone) makes a suggestion, doesn’t mean you make the change. It doesn’t mean you ignore them, either. The rule of thumb I follow is this:
- If one person makes a suggested change, I think about it, weigh the merits, and listen to my gut.
- If one person + my gut makes a suggestion, I usually change it.
- If 2+ people make the same suggestion, my gut is usually quick to follow suit, and I usually change it.
I say “usually” because sometimes (really…rarely) there’s a compelling reason for me not to. If that’s the case, I’ll brainstorm with my critique partners to see if there’s a way to make a different change that remedies the problem or issue they pointed out. In general, though, if more than one person (or my gut and someone else) suggest something or point out a problem, I try to fix it. Continue reading
I am in the throes of editing my first novel. I’ve never done this before. I’ve written a first draft…numerous times. But I have never gone back through and cleaned it up to make it spit-shined, polished, and ready for the world.
My thoughts on the process? Editing sucks.
I finished my draft, read through the whole thing from beginning to end, and focused on the high-level changes that thought I needed to make. And about ¼ of the way into my first chapter, I was so overwhelmed by my perceived flaws that I didn’t think they were surmountable. I was ready to toss the whole story and start over. At a minimum, I wanted to play the avoidance game, doing such things as scrubbing tile grout or watching repeat episodes of The Queen while eating lots of chocolate.
It was bad. Continue reading
This could be me in March.
There I was, just whistling down the primrose path, working through the problems in my manuscript that I’d identified during a Revision Sprint class and the subsequent weeks of revision. I didn’t mean to do it. Really, I didn’t think it would happen! But as I updated the final scene sequence of novel 1 of my Victorian Romance series, the next to last step (last step being read-through/proofreading) before sending it to a content editor, I realized it had happened.
I am in love with my story.
Now, being in love with your story in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, during the long, dark days that try writers’ souls, sometimes the only thing that keeps us going is our love for our stupid, ugly, misshapen mess of a (kind of, sort of, almost) story. But to spin the story mess into gold, at some point most writers will want input from other smart people, fresh eyes on the story to catch what we who are too close to it just can’t see. Those other people might be individual critique partners, members of a critique group, or a content editor (as ladies Jeanne and Jilly).
For this particular story, I plan to work with a content editor. Sounds great, you say. Should help clean up the hot mess, you think. So what’s the problem? you might ask. Continue reading
I am doing NaNo this year. Sort of. I don’t intend to write 40,000 new words. I do intend to edit 40,000. In fact, I’d like to edit 100,000 words. I’ve been picking away at my first manuscript but haven’t been super dedicated so I haven’t gotten very far. I thought NaNo would be a month to re-focus on writing, but coming at it from the editing angle instead of the writing angle. Continue reading
A pretty heaving editing job on one of my scenes.
Take a look at that image to the left. Go ahead…click on it. Make it BIG. I’ll wait.
Done looking? Tell me, does it look familiar? Well, not familiar in that you wrote it or anything, but familiar with all the scratch-ups, rewrites, highlights, arrows, lines, numbers, and copy editing symbols? I’m going to assume, even if you don’t edit on paper like I do, that your answer is Continue reading
I took a page from Kat’s book (or a recent post, anyway) and looked back through my McDaniel Romance Writing class notes. I came across this checklist for self-editing a scene (from the second class). I did not create it. I got it somewhere else (it could have been Jenny or maybe Jeanne). I like it because it guides me with concrete questions that address conflict, motivation, character and story arc, and tension. It along with many other hints/tips/tricks is stuck to the bulletin board beside my desk. Continue reading
A few days ago, Justine wrote about revising her first draft. While she discussed her propensity to procrastinate regarding this daunting task, she has a handle on what she needs to fix. She has even divided her ‘to be fixed’ list into categories by the length of time and effort she expects to spend on each aspect. That is the beginning of a very good plan. It’s also a step (or twenty) ahead of my revision efforts. You see, I haven’t even identified the problems in my first draft. But I have a plan to get there.
I have been through the revision process with other manuscripts, and much like them, revising each one is a little different. Sometimes we talk about our books like children, and like our children, each one has different strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Continue reading
Last week, I wrote this post about finding out that Act II of my WIP had gotten away from me and ended up at 41k words, about 8k-10k more words than my target for the act. The length of acts is important for pacing, tension, and keeping the story moving. The prospect of cutting a quarter of the words out of this one before handing it in for a critique seemed daunting.
This week, I can report that I have tamed the beast! At least for first draft purposes. My target was to get down to 35k words or less. After my edits, I made it to just over 34k. I had to ‘kill some of my darlings’ along the way, not the least of which was a scene that I actually kind of loved. Continue reading
The ladies who are in the McDaniel workshop classes this semester have a big assignment coming up. By next Sunday night at midnight, we have to turn in Act 2 of our respective WIPs. For me, the good news is, thanks to NaNoWriMo and the fact that I’ve been working on this project forever and a day, I have a completed Act 2 (I am, in fact, close to writing the end of the story.). The bad news is, when I assembled my Act 2 scenes on Saturday, I discovered that I had run a little long. How long? Well, my goal for the Act was 30,000 words. My actual word count currently stands at over 41,500.
You might ask if the length of the act really matters. The truth is, in the first draft, it usually doesn’t. Continue reading