Editing and Other Priorities

I’m in a rather exciting and motivating stage of my writing career.

I have two novels I am working on. They are in two different genres, so that breaks up the monotony of it. But the thing of it is, they are both being edited and re-written by me. Don’t get me wrong, I will have it done professionally later. But that brings me tho my first point.

Through the experience of writing, I discovered that writing is not in any way a “solitary island” event. It takes a group of people to assist the writer in getting a blockbuster of a book into the hands of readers.

The first of these people are going to be the Editors. There are several types of editors and they all have their own specialty. I’ll mention each one briefly:

Managing Editor- This is the person who is the conduit between the editors and publishing. Not all publishing houses have a Managing Editor so they use a contractor or freelance person to do this.

Copyeditor- This person is cleaning up the typos in your manuscript. Making sure all punctuation is correct, no misspelled words are in your manuscript and the things that can make you book annoying to read.

Macro Editor- This person is the one who will make suggestions to you and give you something to think about to strengthen your story. I like to call these people “the ballsy ones” They try not to make it sound like they are telling you how to write your story. Just keep in mind two things; 1) they are trying to help you, 2) you shouldn’t be sensitive or touchy about these brave souls doing their jobs. Always think about what the Macro Editor has to say and weigh it.

Line Editor- This is a job for a person with the patience of a saint. They go through a paragraph several times to make sure there are no mistakes in your manuscript.

Then there’s the one that falls entirely on you…

Self Editor- Go over the story yourself. This is where you learn the business of editing on your own. It’s where you learn what your own voice is like. Because if what you wrote doesn’t sound good to you, the reader isn’t going to like it either. When you are editing your story, always ask yourself; Am I showing and not telling? I ask myself; Do I like that line? Do I think that is the right word to use? Is it too snobby? Not the right tense? Is there a better word to use?

For example: If your protagonist is standing on the edge of a cliff looking over and watching the waves slamming against the cliffs fifty feet below his feet, I wouldn’t describe the protagonist as; He was nervous… What is going on with the guy? Were his knees feeling like gel with every step he gingerly took? Were his hands shaking like a paint shaker? Were there beads of sweat rolling down his face, stinging his eyes?

Let the reader feel what he is feeling. They will get the idea he’s a bit nervous.

Chances are, the first editor should be you. But I never trust myself to do it right. I will always have a professional go over it  and give me their feedback. These are the people who have the real experience and education to get a story right.

But whatever you do, write. Read and learn something from what you read on how your mentor did his job and try to duplicate that in your work. I look for NY Best Seller authors. They seem so relaxed in what they do and I learn how they structure and make stories flow. It’s an incredible thing to see.


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