After the story is written…the editor shows up
Written by Em Epe
Writing and completing a story is a fulfilling experience for any writer. Once that’s done though, a considerable amount of work remains and that’s when you blossom as an author.
You love your masterpiece and send it off to a publisher. Whether you’re new and a first time author, or a seasoned one, there is still the waiting period to see if your manuscript has been accepted. If you’ve written a good plot with strong characters and used the tools needed to show instead of tell, your baby will find a home. The email accepting your finely crafted book gives a wonderful sensation no matter how many contracts you have. It solidifies your efforts.
As we have all heard, then the hard work begins. What? We say to ourselves “I worked very hard and polished my story until is shines like a diamond”. Well, yes, that’s true. However, an editor will go through your manuscript.
When you open that first round of edits, it can be shocking. Sometimes it is lit up like the strip in Vegas. Defeat and fear can settle in but really take a look at what has been suggested. These are professionals who want what you want, a sellable book. They want you as the author to be proud and to show off your very best work to readers from your mutual publishing company. You’ve now become a team.
You will notice for the first time that you have repetitive words and phrases that you didn’t see before. My editor from Still Moments Publishing asked a very important question, what does “it” mean in the second sentence. Jane stared in horror at the shattered glass on the floor. It gave her a shiver. At first, you might think “it” is referring to the mess on the floor and that may very well be the case but does your reader know what you’re trying to convey? Ok, you revise: The mess of shards on the floor gave her a shiver.
Next round of edits come through. Did the shards give her a shiver or was it what caused the shards on the floor that caused the response? Also, where did she shiver or how did it feel? You may sigh or moan because you realize, you expected the reader to read your mind. You revise because you know it was the cause of the broken glass that gave a shiver but you didn’t show the reader. Additionally, you need to address the sensation of the shiver. This is your time to go back to your creative abilities, let go of your baby for a moment and really show the reader what’s going on. Put yourself in the room of your character, look at the scene, and bring your reader and editor with you.
Jane kicked the door shut behind her while she read the mail. A crunch under her foot stopped her cold and she looked down. Shards of glass covered the maple-planked floor. Her gaze lifted to the window. The large pane of glass was destroyed. A shiver of fear prickled up her spine and pooled at the base of her neck. Who did this and why?
You might be saying, this adds so many words. Yes but if the new material is important to the story and in this case we will assume it is, then it is worth the extra words. Believe me, there will be other areas to trim and the end results are often amazing. I personally have added several pages to my book Somer’s Rising because I simply didn’t describe enough. In Somer’s Rising, the main character, Somer, was taken captive by her brother whom she didn’t know. Somer found this to be unacceptable and decided to escape. I knew the struggles and near misses she encountered during the escape but I failed to include enough details. I skimmed over the escape and summarized later in her thoughts.
My editor from Eternal Press guided me. She said, “Take me and the reader with you. Let us see what happened, don’t just tell us about it.” That took me several pages but I liked the results. I was also able to cut the later reference and it began to balance out.
In another spot, she said, “I would have loved to have been there for this.” I had to shake my head. I had “told” by summarizing. To “show” what happened, I moved the passage to an earlier location, made a few changes and additions and voila, it shined and I loved it. The issue here was a repetitive error. The reason was because I knew what happened and apparently, I thought my readers would just know. How can they know if I don’t bring them with me? That is what an editor does for you. She or he can help you show your reader and in many cases, let your reader become the character.
Isn’t that wonderful when you read a good book? For that time you squeezed out of your busy day to enjoy a novel or novella, you left the stress of life and became a woman in the Scottish Highlands or a powerful woman in the dog eat dog world of business? Perhaps you actually felt the pain or pleasure of an emotional moment in the story? If you did, the author is doing the happy dance because that was exactly what the writer intended for their reader.
Not all edits consist of show versus tell. There may be dangling participles and modifiers. Your editor may find an overuse of certain punctuation or too many pronouns or adjectives. I’m guilty of all those things. Sometimes, I feel embarrassed by those errors but when my book is published, I’ve learned so much. Your editor will help you develop into a stronger, more efficient writer. The next time your manuscript lands in their inbox, you will have learned a few new writing tips to help with the mechanics which will help the process go much smoother in the future.
Will my next book need fewer edits? I certainly hope so and if you’ve had an open mind about your editor, yours will too.
Keep in mind, as you look back at books you’ve read in the past, each and every one of them has been edited. The plot wasn’t changed, it was enhanced. The characters weren’t rewritten, they were brought to life. Authors don’t forget your editor dug in deep with you to bring an amazing book to your readers. Readers, remember your author loves their editors!
About Author Em Epe
Em Epe invites you to visit her at emeperomances.blogspot.com or for a chat at facebook.com/emeperomances. Her books can be found at all your favorite sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance Ebooks as well as her publishers, Eternal Press and Still Moments Publishing.