My opening chaper for The Mulligan changed a zillion times. It changed several more times after my freelance editor got her hands on it and then the publisher changed it too. It seems I make a common mistake I should have learned long ago.
Last week I sent my current WIP to my editor for a quick sample edit. She sent me back the same advice she gave me with The Mulligan.
I keep the reader guessing too much so they are confused right from the start. Not intrigued.
But I thought I needed to do that with suspense? Apparently not. Once she pointed out my problem and I did a quick rewrite, I understood. A second time.
I'm not a fan of backstory and most writers know we need to give it in dribs and drabs. Not in the first chapter. But I also don't give any clear motivation about why my main character might act the way she does in those first pages. With The Mulligan, I had to write an entire scened to show her disconnect with her father before the book was accepted. With this WIP, I needed to throw in a few lines to explain why Eliza always shied away when men came up behind her.
Just enough. Not a lot.
As I get back my editing changes, I'll share some of them here with you. For now the other biggie is formatting. I tend to make crazy paragraphs and don't indent with tabs like I should. When you are sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher--it's important to have it as clean of errors, including formatting, as you can. In The Mulligan, I learned how to make chapter breaks. With this book, I'm learning about indenting paragrahs correctly. (Try Control/Shift/8 to see what your formatting really looks like.)
Again, more reasons to hire an editor. We can get caught up in the love of our stories and miss major flaws.
What have you learned most from edits?