Editing

After I’ve spent months writing a story and even more time pouring over it and editing so each sentence, each paragraph paints a vivid emotional picture for the reader, I send my story off to a beta reader.

I usually have one person reading for typos and misspellings (shhhh … don’t tell anyone, but this writer is the world’s WORST speller) and grammatical errors and a second reader checking for pacing and general story problems.

After all that is done I send it off to my editor.

I have to admit. When I first started writing, once the story was finished I was done with it. I didn’t want to look at it again. I felt I’d already done the best I could developing a scene and moving the story along. I know, silly, but it’s how I used to feel.

Now it’s different. Sooooo different. I LOVE editing. I thoroughly enjoy taking another look at that scene and discovering a better word, a unique turn of phrase that will resonate with the readers.

I’m currently working on edits for “Bonded Souls”. This short novel has already been published and been out in the world. I’m very proud of it. But now it’s with a new publisher. It’s back in my hands and I’m getting an opportunity to make it even stronger by adding more layers to my characters, Jayda and Cole who also are in the story “Bonded by Need”. I’ve discovered more about them and I can add that to this story.

It’s fun. I love it.

I know sometimes writers find this part of the publication process difficult, but not me. I’ve had “easy” edits with nothing more difficult than changing a word here or there. And I’ve had major edits where I totally forgot to tell the reader about a character flaw in my hero. Still … I enjoyed the process.

But really, I get a total kick out of saying … I’m working on edits. Because it means another story is on its way to publication!

Okay, so my idea of what’s acceptable as far as editing errors in a published book has changed since I started writing. It’s not like I haven’t seen errors in NYT Bestselling books in all genres and mostly I thought … sheesh, they couldn’t catch that? Because the fact is, something missed in editing whether it’s a typo or an incorrect use of a word … just throws you from the story.

On the one hand, I’m a little more forgiving. Come on let’s face it. First I write the book. Then I spell check. Then a reread beginning to end looking for continuity (and yes, typos or wrong words). Then I have at least one other author do a pass and catch more. Then my editor gets her hands on it. More spell checks, grammar and word usage. Then I look at it again. Only this time completely out of order one scene at a time. Yes, every word, every book. And then last but not least … it goes through copy edits.

Still, errors get through. It’s disheartening.

So I cut the author lots of slack. I don’t think editing errors are their fault.

BUT, and this is a biggie. I’m feeling the publishing world is exploding. With authors and publishers. But there aren’t anymore of the reader’s dollars. As a matter of fact, with this economy, there are probably less. Which means more competition all the way around. I think there’s a push to get books out to the public. On the market.

Which means (and this is totally my opinion), that there may be some skimping or rushing on the part of the publisher to push through the editing stage. I think more errors are making it into print from NY pubs and small epubs. It’s happening everywhere.

Now, if the story is good, I let it pass especially if it’s only one or two in a rather clean book otherwise. But trust me when I say … it totally pulls me from the scene and interrupts the flow of the moment. I’ve actually given up on a story when there are errors every couple of pages. I’m not talking commas (I have no clue where they belong) but flat out in-your-face typos or word issues.

I LOVE my editor. She’s amazing. She finds my typos and “their” for “they’re” (which I’m terrible with regardless of how many times I read a scene) types of issues. But still, errors sneak through. I’m not sure where to lay the blame. Me? The final copy edits? The publisher in general?

And maybe it’s not an issue for you as a reader and I’m totally off base. But I am curious how you’re seeing the situation.

Okay, I’m going to admit it in public. I love editing. Don’t hate me and please don’t throw things at me. I do. It’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process.

I’m pushing through a first draft at the moment. And when I say pushing, that’s what I mean. I force myself to get up and write the scenes my characters are begging me to put down on paper. I don’t know why it’s not working, but it just isn’t. It’s hard. There is nothing fun about it this particular time around. But I persevere because I know when I get to the end I’ll know exactly what happened and where the villain came from and how my hero and heroine came to their “happy ever after“. 

Once that’s done I can go back and fill in the missing red herrings for the suspense portion of the story and beef up the romance. It’s easy because I know what I want to accomplish. It wasn’t always that way. When I wrote my first books it was the original draft that revved my engine. Plodding back through it seemed like such drudgery. But I think it was because I edited as I went. I don’t do that anymore.

This week I’m expecting edits for “Shadows of Fire“, my May 2009 release from Liquid Silver Books. (Edits for “Divine Deception” are completed and the book is just waiting for release.) I can’t wait. Part of it is that I haven’t really looked at this book since I signed the contract last August. I love these characters. Editing gives me the opportunity to revisit them and fall in love with these vampires all over again.

Of course my editor will ask me to “tighten this” or “add more here”. I don’t mind. It’s a challenge to make my writing the best it can be. I love it. I can’t help it. I do.

Of course it’s probably the thrill of knowing my story is another step closer to publication. And only the thrill of getting emails from my readers beats release day.

So bring on those edits … I’m ready!

So, I’m at it again. Editing my book, Blue Moon Rising.

I don’t know if I’m odd for a writer, but I will admit … I love the editing phase of writing a book. Blue Moon Rising is the fifth story I have had to plow through and fix.

I’ve heard rumors that some authors don’t care for this process. That they actually detest getting the edited manuscript back. But (knock on wood) not me.

I’d like to say I’ve been fortunate so far and haven’t had to do any rewrites, but the fact is, if I really think about it–I did. Arranging Love, the final book in the Tilling Passions series required some “tweaking”. There’s an interesting dance between what appears to be happening and what is truly happening in the story. In order to mislead the reader (sorry people, but that’s what suspense is all about *rubs hands together* Mwahahahaha) I worded things a particular way. But the first time around, it didn’t work quite right. So I rewrote several scenes, choosing my words more carefully.

The senior editor then passed the book onto my editor. A lovely woman, Jean Cooper, who scrutinized each line of dialogue in these pivotal scenes veeery carefully. Then there was more rewriting and back to Jean. And so it went back and forth two or three times until everything sat just right with both Jean and me.

It was an amazing process and one I know made the book stronger. It was also a wonderful learning tool that will help me make my writing better.

I trust my editor completely. After three books together, she knows me and my writing. When something just doesn’t ring true, or the quality is lacking … she calls me on it. And I could kiss her for it. (Jean’s also forgiven me on my total inability to have a clue with commas. To make her life easier, I should just stop using them and let her just add them to my manuscript. She basically does it anyway. They’re never in the right place. Ah, but I digress…)

We’ve now started edits for Blue Moon Rising. Are there problems? … you betcha! Does it mean fixing scenes and some rewriting? Oh yeah! Am I the least bit insulted or hurt that she doesn’t quite like the wording in this dialogue or the way a character is thinking through the scene? Not even sort of.

I love rising to the challenge of making my stories tight, steamy and with a flow that keeps my readers coming back for more.

With my editor’s help, I’m not slapping on a bandaid and glossing over the problem. I’m stitching up the manuscript to make it … alllll better!  😀

All I can say is thank you for editors like Jean. I can’t imagine where my stories would be without her!

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