For a new author, the thought of publisher edits can be intimidating. Review, re-write, re-plot, re-align subtext, and forget if you have action scenes.
My first round of edits reached me while I was getting on a plane at the Las Vegas airport. Paul and I were from a great vacation. The shows were spectacular. I was excited to see what my editor, Denise Nielsen, had for me. I tried, without success, to read her edits on my android phone before I had to turn off my phone. I would have to wait another five hours.
Once back home, I read the message and instructions, made a large pot of coffee and dug in. To start, I read all the track changes and comments to get an idea of what lay ahead for me. After 13 days (one day ahead of deadline), I got the edits back to Denise. I found I worked hard, got frustrated, made changes, had several aha moments, and fell in love with Arik, Rebeka and their story, Knight of Runes, all over again.
Here are the top ten things I learned from my first round edits. Go get your coffee and enjoy.
10. Well meaning friends, who are ‘in the know,’ sometimes don’t know. The advice of a good friend and published author was to remove irrelevant words in order to stay in the action and make things sound crisp and immediate. It’s the way to hold your reader attention. Not, however, when you splice commas. Words such as and, but, are essential, not extraneous.
9. Cut extraneous exposition and let the reader see it. What some people see as extraneous exposition (which I went through and deleted) my editor said was necessary to set up the next scene or action.
8. Don’t give your editor (and reader) a headache by head hopping. Head hopping, I mean real leaps in the same scene, may work for Nora but not for Ruth. Ever.
7. POV is an art. If your POV character can’t see it, hear it, and doesn’t know it then it doesn’t exist. Unless, the other POV character says it or (this was an eye opener) thinks it in his head. Cool heh.
6. Edits are a learning experience and my editor is a fabulous, and patient, teacher. I learned to see patterns, hear echoes, and feel rhythms. It only took the first 100 pages to get there.
5. Immediate voice is much more powerful and compelling than passive voice. Chop
ping ‘ing’ to make s the action sound immediate. It’s is essential, although, passive voice has its place, but only occasionally.
4. Filler words do not move a scene along. These words can usually be eliminated without changing the meaning and will also make it more immediate.
3. Questions in the readers mind can be provocative. Some of Denise’s comments were questions that were answered in the next paragraph or scene. I made my reader think. Not bad!
2. My deepest apologies to Mrs. X. My high school grammar teacher must be spinning in her grave. I won’t embarrass her by mentioning her name.
The number one thing I learned from my first round of edits…
Call me crazy, but I enjoyed working through Denise’s track changes and comments. She made me think, make decisions, see opportunities, and ultimately she helped me make the story the best it can be and isn’t that what we both want.
Come on Denise, I’m ready for round two.