I'm delighted to welcome another fabulous author to my blog today, Carrie D. Miller, who's debut fantasy novel is coming out on April 1... JUST A FEW MORE DAYS! Woohoo! Today, however, she's telling you why working with her editor was the best thing that happened to her novel!
An Editor Can Be The Best Thing To Happen To Your Novel
Now, now, don't get upset at the title. It's your novel, I know, your baby. You spent countless hours hunched over the keyboard, or clutching a pen in your cramping hand. You poured your heart out onto the page, lost sleep, stressed and panicked, fumed and cursed. I get that, I've been there. I am there now, actually. But, my editor was the best thing that could have happened to my novel, aside from me writing it.
Everyone's writing journey is unique. However, the thing all authors have in common is the need, nay, the requirement, of an amazing editor. While there are several types of editing your book needs before you release it out into the world, I'm going to focus on the one particular type that impacted me the most: content editing also referred to as developmental or substantive.
By the time I was ready to send my novel out for editing, I knew it wasn't perfect but I could no longer see the problems. I knew I had timeline and consistency issues, but for the life of me, I couldn't find them in all those words. You reach a point where you have been so close to those words for so long, they become a part of you. You are so emotionally invested in those words that you can't see the flaws that are staring you in the face, literally. You need a detached, knowledgeable third party hound dog to find them. Enter the editor.
“Sometimes a content editor is like a structural engineer, showing you the weaknesses in your foundation and how to repair them so that your story is strong.”
When I got the email back from my editor after she'd reviewed my manuscript, my palms were sweating. I opened the attached document with closed eyes and peeked through one eye just to have my vision assaulted by a wash of red and long blocks of comments. My stomach did a flip-flop.
But it wasn't as bad as it initially looked. Not in the least. She did exactly what I needed her to do, and then some!
Through gentle and positive coaching, she detailed what areas of my story needed help, when and where the pacing lagged, and pointed out things I wasn't aware of, such as one of the early sub plots not being integrated as well as it could be with the overall story, and in some scenes (particularly at the end of a chapter), I went off the rails, rattling on and on, which lost the emotional momentum of the scene. She identified areas of concerns that I smacked myself on the forehead over. Duh! Of course, shame on me for missing those. (Leaves in August in New England would still be green, not turning to autumn colors. Smack!) Each line of her editorial letter and each comment and suggestion she had in my manuscript helped me see all those words in a new light and from different angles, which I sorely needed.
Something I really loved about my editor was her insightful suggestions to remedy whatever predicament I'd gotten myself into with a scene. Those suggestions proved invaluable. How the scene was constructed and how it flowed were so ingrained in my mind that I would have struggled dearly to find another way to retell it.
One key critique was that I had developed the relationship between the main character and the love interest a great deal in narrative and summary. Many of the scenes and details would pull in the reader more, bring the love interest to life better, if I turned that summary into dialog—have these scenes as conversations between the two, then the reader would be able to identify and connect with the character better. This proved to a be a wonderful suggestion. In creating the new content, I added more depth to the scene, more life and richness to the character, and had great fun doing it.
I think it's safe to say I took about 85% of her suggestions. I didn't let my pride get in the way. What matters most is having a strong, tight story, free of holes and inconsistencies that grabs readers and doesn't let them go.
To be honest, I was very nervous making all these changes. A part of me felt like I was violating something sacred. I lost sleep over what I was doing to the story I loved so much. Once I had finished and read through it all again, I loved the story even more, which I didn't think was possible. I saw how much these changes enhanced the story line and the characters, and how richer the scenes had become. It made me giddy with excitement.
My editor has become my partner—someone I can ping in the evenings or on the weekend with a question, a problem, or a thought to discuss or to simply tell her some good news. I can't say whether other editors do this as this is my first adventure into writing, but I can say without a doubt that having a relationship with your editor is critical. An amazing editor has invested a lot of time in your novel. They've pondered its problems, ruminated on ways to improve it, and worried about the characters' development and likability, just to name a few. An amazing editor can take your novel to the level of greatness it needs to be, that you want it to be. I'll never be without one.
In a former life, Carrie D. Miller was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although she’s written a great deal over the decades, read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for as much creativity as pouring cement. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream.
Carrie lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, with a man who can put up with her, a cat who hates everyone except Carrie (but only sometimes), and a goofy German Shepherd.
Her debut novel, The White Raven, is a contemporary fantasy story about a witch seeking to be free of the curse she's endured for centuries. It will be released on April 1, 2017.
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