Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Editing Has Begun on Royalist Rebel

My groups may miss me for a while, well I hope they do - because that thing I have been fretting over for the last three months has finally begun - editing my upcoming novel!

I have handed my manuscript to someone who will take it apart and analyse the way I approached each scene, piece of dialogue or historical event in a certain way. Do I justify, explain and hang on by the skin of my teeth to the way I see it, or make the changes suggested because the editor knows what appeals to the reader?

Rationally, I accept this close attention will make the final product the best it can be, but it's still worrying. Part of me acknowledges that there are areas where what I am trying to convey may not come across correctly and an editor knows how to remove misunderstandings.

I don't yet know if she - and all my editors have been she - will handle both aspects of the process, i.e.content and copy, nor do I know how much re-writing there will be - i.e. whether she will ask me to 'remove all instances of the word xxxxx' or 'this chapter needs a total re-write from a different perspective.'

For those to whom this is confusing, a Content Editor goes through the manuscript  looking for mistakes, not just in grammar but plot weaknesses, story arc, historical facts, etc. The Copy Editor handles the formatting, i.e. missed commas, typos, incorrect tags etc. It depends on how clean my manuscript is as to how many times it goes backwards and forwards to my editor - then I'll receive a galley, which shows how the book will look in print.

From editing my previous books, that part is tough, because after reading and re-reading the manuscript countless times, I have to do it again, because anything I miss this time stays missed!

It's important not to allow this process to become adversarial, and that staying true to my ideas may not always be the best way to go. In the past, an editor told me my heroine's attitude was old-fashioned and made a suggestion for change I didn't agree with. It turned out this was because she worked mostly with writers of contemporary fiction, and when I pointed out the story was set in 1880, we agreed the scene was appropriate.

Editors are a fresh perspective, their job is to find the problems and make recommendations on how to correct them. My job is to address their concerns without taking it personally. I have to keep telling myself that if the story was rubbish, it would not have been accepted in the first place.

I know I am not alone in finding this process difficult, are these aspects other authors like/dislike more than others?

5 comments:

Petrea Burchard said...

I've never worked with a professional editor in this way so I can't answer your question. My "editors" have all been readers--good ones, with good suggestions--but ultimately I have had to be the one who is toughest on myself. So far.

Diane Scott Lewis said...

I've worked with editors and usually can get them to see my POV. Unless it's house rules that we are dealing with, such as we can't start sentences with the word "But." A silly rule that only this publisher seems to follow. But, oh well.
I'm still hoping a big publisher will discover me some day. They allow all the "Buts" you desire.

SolariC said...

Interesting post! So far I have been the only editor of my work, but I have worried about a time when perhaps I will answer to a professional editor. It's hard to imagine feeling comfortable with someone else asking for large changes to my manuscript, but to prepare for that, I try to train myself to be extra critical of my work. That way I can hopefully avoid too many changes being necessary later on!

Reading that you were able to convince your editor of certain things that needed to stay in the novel was quite reassuring. Thank you for posting this.

Anita Davison said...

Thank you Petrea, Diane and Solari - I am feeling more confident now as my editor is lovely and assured me she will not ask for any changes or major rewrites - but I do hope she'll help me make this novel the best it can possibly be.

Jen Black said...

How is it going? Do tell!

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