Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What it sounds like in my head during "official" edits

Quick update: we just finished content, or "overview" edits of the Moonlit sequel, which is currently called "Windswept." That means the plot for the sequel is pretty much set in stone (sqquueee!!!) and that we're moving on to inline edits, where my editor comes after my sentence structure and word choices like they owe her something. And, in fact, they do. She makes sure every word, every sentence, deserves a place on the page once they're finally printed.

In my head, the whole content editing process sounds something like this:

1. Right after I've submitted the manuscript to my editor: I can't wait to see what she says! I can't wait to get started and tear it apart and make it better better better!! (then, this tiny voice says: what if she LOVES it and there's nothing to do? Bwahahahahaha. Hilarious.)

2. Once I've received the edits, I typically glare at the screen - not at my editor's notes, but my own words. How could I have thought this was any good? Why in the WORLD did my publisher accept this novel? There is EVERYTHING to do. Then I dig in and rearrange, shore up holes, apply pressure to the bleeders. Things get better, but aren't sewn up just yet, the fact of which really ticks me off.

3. I submit the first round, and then I avoid my laptop at all costs for fear I'll delete the whole manuscript on a whim and attempt to pick up a new hobby. True story: A week ago I got a puppy because I couldn't handle the down time of two weeks (fyi - that's like super insano lightspeed in the publishing world) between round one and round two. I am an idiot, a busy idiot who is now training a very energetic 4 month old dog.

4. I received the second round of content/overview edits. While the second round is usually lighter, I have found that with Moonlit and Windswept, they make me dig deeper. The first round merely made incisions in the body. The second round probes for the source of the bleed. And boy howdy does it bleed. Everywhere. You'd think by the second round of edits the major cuts were over. Nope.

5. And then, the best feeling on earth: Here it is! This is the giant traffic jam/plot hole to nowhere/personality disorder my manuscript is suffering from. And this is my favorite part, because now that I've identified the offender, I can seek and destroy it faster than that very energetic puppy can rip up a pair of undies. In Windswept, Tanzy opens the sequel with an axe to grind and a very large chip on her shoulder. That big heart of hers was nowhere in sight. The original opening not only made Tanzy practically unlikeable, but also foiled her emotional development in the rest of the story. Tanzy's journey in Windswept has a lot in store for her, and if she's already burned up inside by page 10, we have no where to go. Once I realized I'd plugged the wound in Tanzy's bleeding heart with my own southern-born, grudge-holding, short-fused temper, it was an easy (and lengthy) fix. The story is so much better now that I've taken myself out of the equation

When my editor - who I adore, okay worship... possibly stalk... anyways, when she suggested I soften Tanzy I thought: had she forgotten how Moonlit ended? Wouldn't she be royally brassed off if someone had pulled the pin on the grenade of her life and walked away? In truth, I have no idea how my awesome editor would handle the situation in reality, but I'd also forgotten how Tanzy would handle it, and put too much of myself in the opening chapters. There's a reason I'm not a heroine in a book somewhere.

We still have work to do. In truth, I was a little intimidated by the sequel as a whole. I have fans - actual, legitimate, they-don't-know-me-outside-of-this-book fans. What if Windswept doesn't deliver? What if I'm not good, I was just... lucky? The story line is so different, the pace so blinding... Then I think back to the state Moonlit was in pre-edits, the holes, the weak places, the choppy sections, and I realize we're right on track with Windswept. We still have work to do, and I'm sure I'll stumble around a few times and eat my way out of a writer's block or two. But I'm finally learning all of those steps and feelings and frustrations and breakthroughs are just par for the course.

Sharing is caring: what tips do you have for an author in the editing stage? Tell us about what you're up to, too!




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