Three rounds of back and forth with my content editor over the past two months.
What I’ve learned:
Don’t ever think that you will be able to edit your own work. There’s just no way to look at your writing from an outside perspective. You love your characters, you can picture them perfectly in your head… the setting, the clothing they are wearing, what the room smells like. But, an editor… an editor will let you know when all of that stuff is still in your head and truly hasn’t made its way to the page to be shared with a reader.
Don’t look at your writing for a while after a major edit. Let me rephrase: you may want to look at your writing after a major edit, but you won’t make heads or tails of it. Nothing good will come from it. You need to step back, let it go (no, I haven’t seen “Frozen” yet—my husband and I may be the only two left on the planet who haven’t). You won’t help yourself any by trying to make more revisions after you’ve hit send and it’s gone into the ether for your editor to “Track Changes” all over it. I’ve taken the opportunity to work on writing another story while I wait. That seems to be the best way to keep my mind off of my editor’s reaction when she reads my comments and retries (and hopefully isn’t cringing).
Understand that constructive criticism is a wonderful thing. My editor has let me know that I use certain words… a lot. She’s offered suggestions or reminded me that the word has popped up numerous times. Here’s the thing: it’s OK to use the same word over and over when you are writing that first draft, or maybe even second or third. It’s when you get down to the meat and potatoes of editing that you need to put on your big girl pants and find the right word for that sentence or scene, so that it truly helps to convey the emotion or set the tone. And, I have to say that my editor is very professional… but, I just can’t help and laugh when I read comments on sex scenes (my favorite was something like “I don’t think tongues can do that”).
Overall, I’m really pleased with the evolution that my story has taken over a few months. It has been altered quite a bit. But, the soul of it is very much the same and it’s now something I am truly proud of. Remember, unless you are Shakespeare, you need a little help to make your work shine. (Did he have an editor???)
My story is due back on 11/20 to the publisher and then (fingers crossed) final edits begin! Will keep you posted.