Editors- a love & hate relation

They’re really important!

I did it!

I finished writing my book!

I’m gonna publish it and all will be great! Mission accomplished and another target to cross off my bucket list!

Or so I thought until I got feedback from people I didn’t know. Initially it was beta readers who were on the whole very positive, adding to my pride. What I didn’t quite expect was the harshness of my editor when reviewing the book. She was kind enough to warn me first with a shit sandwich.

When I did get the manuscript back, there was so much editing and criticism that at first I was annoyed that she didn’t see my vision. Clearly she couldn’t have been that great despite her 20 years of experience! Having calmed down, I was able to go through her edits and realise that she did in fact have a point. She’d also provided me with 35 pages of actionable commentary on how to improve and the resources to learn more.

“You’ve got the bones of a really cracking story here, we just need to push it up to the next level.”

As I set about writing a book, I knew it would be hard because of the motivation involved to bring my imagination to life. I’m used to writing proposals that outline often complex solutions for my clients. They highlight the benefits of my products for their organisation, often across different territories globally that each have their different needs. What I didn’t consider is the very different styles involved between writing for business and writing a fantasy novel. It’s not enough to point out what’s going on, it’s the involvement of all of the senses. My editor asked me to concentrate on how I can transport the reader into the world and allow them to get lost. I’m told that many writers get stuck with telling rather than showing!

“‘Showing’ or ‘scene’ involves describing the sensory data that allow the reader to experience the illusion of actually being ‘on site,’ perceiving the story unfolding. The reader can draw his/her own conclusions about what is happening from this sensory data.”

What showing in the business world compared to fantasy is thus very different.

Whilst I’ve been following her advice, going backward and forward to change my writing style to make my fantasy story more accessible to the reader, I realise how right she is. There are better ways to bring my characters and their world to life.

What has this taught me?

  • I should have created a plan. I know to do this in other aspects of my life.
    • I feel that if I’d created a chapter outline with all of the different arcs mapped out, I’d have mitigated the initial feedback she gave me. I started out with 120k words, edited it down to 98k words and I’m still trying to trim the fat.
  • The skill and art of writing is much harder than I anticipated.
    • I love my fantasy books, but I once read a book so bad that I couldn’t get beyond the first few pages. This author had managed to get multiple book deals. Based on a promotion along with the synopsis I bought a fair few of them. I was so annoyed that I decided then and there that I too would write a book- if they could do it so can I. What was bad about that book seems to be the very traps that I fell into when I started out this writing journey!
  • Motivation is fleeting.
    • I didn’t quite realise how much I procrastinated. In my mind, whilst living out the idea of a writers life, actually getting down to writing and finishing the book is hard. It doesn’t end there, there is so much re-writing and editing. Structure, like everything else in life is the only way to progress.
  • If I’d gone ahead and published without an editor, I wouldn’t be able to put work out that is the best of my ability.
    • The structural editor is the first phase. Next will be proof, followed by copy and then line editors to bring my book to as professional a level as my novice self can do.

I’ve told her, my editor, that I hate her in my melodramatic way. She laughs and then makes me work harder.

“We will need to have all of these questions answered by the end of this story. Otherwise it’s just a mad tangle of brilliant ideas rather than a story with a satisfying arc.”

There has been so much learning, it’s been brilliant and terrible. Is it worth it…I hope that when my book is released properly, it is appreciated.

Those just starting out though, check out the following by Alexa Donne on YouTube or Hugh Howey. This would have been helpful had I taken my usual approach of creating a plan.

Alexa Donne: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfwTRhTSM2NyJImC8HeUd1Q

Part 1 – Writing: https://hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-one-becoming-a-writer/

Part 2 – Drafting: https://hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-two-the-rough-draft/

Part 3 – Revising: https://hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-three-the-revision-process/

Part 4 – Publishing: https://hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-four-publishing-your-book/

And last but not least, an overview of different editors: https://www.bkacontent.com/12-types-of-editors-and-what-they-do/

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