Monday, August 11, 2014

What my editor shares with me

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?


Karen Lange said...

I agree - we get so caught up in what we're writing that we overlook things like that. I need to work on the chapter break thing. Cheering you on in the journey! :)

Lynda R Young said...

Because I do edits for other writers, I know that the lack of correct formatting is actually a common mistake. The perfectionist inside me cries a little on the inside. At least it's an easy fix.

Nikki (Sarah) said...

this is good stuff.Thanks Terri for sharing your experience and what you're learning.

Kenda Turner said...

Thanks for the tips and insight based on your experiences, Terri. Very helpful. I did not know about control/shift/8. I'm making a note of it :-) So much to learn as we go!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Thanks for sharing with us; it's always helpful to know we aren't alone in mistakes!

Editors are some of my best friends; they make me look smarter than I am!

Rita Garcia said...

Thanks for sharing, Terri! Great writing lesson. <3

Crystal Collier said...

It's a fun process, isn't it? All the lessons we learn along the way? I've learned so much from working with my editors, but mostly my own pet habits--the way I like to present the same scenes but with different characters, or how I cling to pet phrases... Here's to maturing as a writer and leaving those things behind!

carla stewart said...

I can relate, especially on the story opening part. Conflict and identification with the protag are so crucial. As for formatting, I have a template that has line spacing and paragraph indents figured in. It's easy to do in Word. Once done, you never have to worry about again. Page breaks, yes,, you still have to put those in or it really messes with the chapters being the right space for the top. So exciting that you' have a book coming out.