I always knew writing a book wouldn’t be easy, wait…scratch that. When I first decided to write a book, I didn’t know writing it would be the easy part.
A few weeks ago I received the first set
of notes from my content editor and when I opened the file to discover the 670
comments she’d made, I nearly passed out. After taking a deep breath, (and possibly
indulging in an adult beverage, okay I didn’t really, but I thought about it) I
began going through her notes and comments one by one. What I found was that
about a third of the comments were things she liked about the story or things
that made her ‘LOL!’ Another quarter to a third of the comments were simple
things, like changing a word or using a different expression. But the remaining
comments were things that would actually change the entirety of the manuscript,
not necessarily the outcome of the story, but certainly how I arrived at it.
I learned long ago that when I get notes
back from a critique partner or beta reader, I really need to let them sit for
a day or two (or three) until my brain has had time to mull over the
suggestions and decide if they are something I need to consider, or something I
can disregard. Sometimes I will get notes from a beta read that are so bizarre,
I wonder if they’ve actually read my story.
Once I’ve given myself time to let the
notes sink in and contact the CP, Beta, or now my content editor with any
questions I have, I re-open my manuscript and start to work. In this past set
of edits, I went through and tried to find a reoccurring theme to what my
editor was telling me, things like using more description and not using body
movements as a crutch. The next thing I did was find things that stood out,
like overused words or phrases (You would not believe the number of times my characters
nodded. They’re bobble-heads I tell you!). Lastly, I looked at the things she
liked and tried to sprinkle some of that throughout the entire story.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that
editing is fun, because it’s not and you have to really, truly love the story
in order to go over it page by page, line by line, until your brain feels like
The hardest part, though, is when
someone wants you to cut something you love or add something that doesn’t feel
right to you in the story. Now, cutting something is always hard because these
are your words and how dare someone tell you they need to go. But sometimes
even the most beautifully written passage no longer works with the other things
you’ve changed, or you’ve managed to move things around so that you don’t need
those words anymore and cutting them really is the right thing to do.
Adding things to your manuscript is hard
for a couple reasons:
One, because you’re lazy, there, I said
it. You know there are places in your story where there is lazy writing because
you just needed a little filler to move you to the next big thing. But these
filler moments need to have purpose just like everything else. Every word you
put down needs to serve a purpose to the story.
Two, because it’s a difficult task to
get what’s in your head on to paper. You’re MC may be standing in a field in
the middle of nowhere, but is it a corn field, or a soccer field? Adding the
descriptive things are what take the book from good, to great, to awesome!
Do you have any tips of tricks for
getting through the editing process? I’d love to hear them.
(As a side note, be sure when your MC’s
eyes get angry, that they fill with fury, and not furry.)