Book Process, Razor-Sharp Editing

Editing

I started seriously writing about three years ago. I had an idea for a series and where I wanted to go with it. The first three books I wrote in a two year span, wanting to get all the ideas out there before I went back and polished them. Through that time, I figured out the best way for me, personally, to write. At first I would do whichever scene came to mind, writing them down on cards to then rearrange them. Afterwards, I’d bridge the scenes. Yep, that sucked for me.

My next try was to just write the entire story from beginning to end with no jumps. It was better, and the words flowed much easier. Except I didn’t have any outlines at all, just allowed it to go wherever it wanted to and ugh, that ended up as a mess in the end. Now I jot down plot points I want to hit, such as *fight with werewolves* but I don’t make it involved. I find that if it’s involved I try forcing it to follow a path it shouldn’t go. The characters and the situations evolve for me, and what I liked a month ago no longer makes sense.

I also wrote three novellas along with the three novels. Those I find simpler to write and yet so much harder. Trying to fit an enjoyable story, full of engaging characters, into around 20k words can be a challenge. However, I look forward to writing them. I love it. Getting glimpses into the lives of those who wouldn’t get a full novella, fleshing out the world I’ve created, and having time away from the main arc of the series are all so satisfying to me.

And then we come to my downfall. Editing. There are so many rules when it comes to the English language, many of which I just don’t remember. I try, I really do try! I published both Throwing Away the Good and Magic Resistant without an editor. Bad me, bad. The funny thing is, I wrote TWtG a year and half after MR, after I’d gotten three novels under my belt, all unpublished at this time. My writing style had undergone a serious change. TWtG was decent. MR, however, was not. *sigh*

After I had published TWtG and was nearing completion for MR, I had Elizabeth message me through Goodreads stating she liked TWtG and would be willing to beta read my next book. I wish I had taken her up on the offer for MR, but I was reaching my self-imposed deadline and didn’t want to wait any longer. I thanked her and decided to wait until my next book, Sylvia’s Torment was done.

I sent Sylvia’s Torment off to Elizabeth, expecting her to tell me what she liked and didn’t like. Perhaps she’d say this character was boring, or there was some plot holes. Nope, instead I received back a word doc FULL of red marks, and comments riddled throughout. At first I was stunned. I hadn’t realized how badly my writing sucked. Doubt crowed in. Did I really think I could write a book? What the hell was I doing? Maybe I should just quit. I admit for a moment I was crushed.

Then I read her comments. I giggled… a lot. I had to cover my mouth and hold in the laughter since I was at work and really, who cracks up laughing at work for no reason? Not only did she point out things that didn’t work –

“This sounds like a phrase Victor might use, but it doesn’t fit with Derek’s gruffer voice. Seems like he’d use something more vulgar here.”

“This part of the rescue plan bothers me. Wouldn’t they have planned on some sort of means of communication BEFORE storming the compound? The imp before and now this seems awfully sloppy. If Markus can cast this spell, wouldn’t he have done it before they set out?”

But also ones that did –

“Seamlessly integrated backstory. Love it!”

“Nice little sprinkle of worldbuilding here, very smoothly integrated with the narrative.”

Even better, Elizabeth had a feel for the characters and their personality. As you can see, she took me to task whenever they stepped out of character for no reason. The difference between the book I sent her and the book I published are nothing short of amazing.

Then she let me in on a little secret. Elizabeth loves editing. Adores it. I’m assuming she’s a little batty, but hey it worked out for me. 😉 In fact, she has an editing business. So far she’s been too busy with editing to gussy up her website, Razor Sharp Editing but if you send her an email, she’ll respond to any questions. I can’t sing Elizabeth’s praises enough. She helped keep me a little saner during this crazy process. In fact, I had her edit Magic Resistant. Ouch! That one was a mess, as I suspected. So come June, when I release Dawn’s Keeper, I’ll have an edited version of MR to go with it.

PS, when I received Dawn’s Keeper from her, I had a lot less red marks. Why? Because Elizabeth does such a fantastic job of explaining why she changed something and I developed better habits. Thanks, Elizabeth! And now I’m done my love letter to my editor. 😉

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2 thoughts on “Editing”

  1. From observation of another author I know and live with I can attest that the services of a good editor and an author who is willing to make changes based on the editors recommendations will significantly improve an author’s writing. Getting a good editor is the best thing any new author can do for themselves and their books.

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