"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft"
-- H. G. Wells
When striving to become published, what everyone who has been down this route before will happily tell you, literary agents and publishing houses receive hundreds of submissions every day, so yours needs to stand out, be technically as perfect as possible and grab the ‘reader’ in the first few lines – or all that work you poured into your manuscript will be wasted. That writing a novel is consistent, repetitive and analytical hard work.
Editing is worse!
An acquisitions editor *may* give your chapter a two-page reading before consigning it to the slush pile. Many are tossed after one paragraph. Writers Digest 2008
Agents and acquisitions editors read so many opening chapters, their brains immediately focus on the basic mistakes we all make when we begin to write. They will not:
· Look beyond it and consider the work as a whole
· Assume any technical errors can be corrected during a later edit
· Take into account the writer’s novice status and ignore the grammatical errors and typos
No, no and no, – they will toss the manuscript.
Having a wonderful story and even the talent to tell it is not enough - it's the basic errors that will stand out to a publishing professional because they are trained to home in on them.
It’s a common problem that a writer overlooks mistakes when they proofread, because being emotionally tied into your creation means it’s hard to be objective about your own writing.
A professional book editor can and will recognize the repetitions, inconsistencies, clumsy phraseology and all the other problems the writer simply doesn’t see.
All this I have to take into account to edit my latest novel for my agent [how many times can I get those words into one post?] to ready the manuscript for a sales pitch. It’s nerve-wracking, in that every sentence I alter, each phrase I simplify and every modifier I check is correctly placed, I think, ‘Have I changed this for the better, or is it simply change for change sake?’
I have specific parameters to follow, like begin the story at a different point, and change the title. These are relatively simple instructions, however, when I have ‘finished’ the edit on a chapter and read it through, sometimes it has no impact on me whatsoever. Then the panic sets in that I have killed my story, stripped all the life and colour from it in an effort to be technically perfect, and rendered my characters two-dimensional.
At this point I often go running to my wonderful critique group to get a second opinion from someone who knows what they are talking about.
Has anyone got a formula [magic or otherwise] for seeing their way to doing this right?
And for a Tuesday laugh - take a look at this: Publishing 911 it's hilarious and compliments of Nixy Valentine, who I am sure wouldn't mind me passing on the link.