I’ve been eyeball deep in edits and revisions for DEADLY BONES. My editor returned my manuscript on Thursday, dripping red Track Changes notations and comments. Because I’m working against a tight deadline, plus I’m getting ready to go to the NINC conference on Wednesday, this will be short.
I’ve worked with this editor on four books, and we both understand that it’s my name on the book, and I’m I I’m not obligated to change things. I also know that she wants the final product to be the best it can be, and she makes her comments with that in mind.
Here’s a screen shot that shows what her markups on my opening paragraphs look like. (I don’t know if clicking on the image will enlarge it — hope so)
The balloons on the side are either changes or comments. The changes are specific things she’s suggesting. Those are edits. The comments might be questions or suggestions for more than words or punctuation. If they’re questions, I need to figure out why she’s asking them. Is it because what I wrote wasn’t clear? Here’s where you have to be able to step back and accept that what she’s seeing is likely what a reader will see. And having a reader wonder what’s going on because you didn’t word it, or explain it well enough is going to pull them out of the book. On page 1, it’s likely that they’ll just set the book aside and move on to another one.
My first pass will be dealing with the changes. These are usually the ‘easy’ part—dealing with technical fixes. Typos, punctuation, word choices—these can usually be dealt with in a day, going through the manuscript and accepting, rejecting, or modifying the details.
Next, I’ll look at all her comments. She suggests adding “Colorado” to the opening sentence. Makes sense to me, so I’ll add it.
Some of her comments are more “general”, such as later on, when she’s said, “This needs more showing.” There’s no “replace” function, or “accept/reject” option for something like that.
And lastly, she sends her notes. These are the ones where you might see “There’s not an emotional connection to your characters.” (ouch!) Or, “You’ve dropped the following threads.” Or, “Your timeline is off.”
You’ve already written the manuscript, you think the story holds together, and now you have to add those “intangibles.” It’s kind of like trying to add the chocolate chips AFTER you’ve baked the cookies. Adding something to chapter 1 can have an impact on things all the way through ‘the end.’ Is it better to throw out the imperfect batch of cookies and bake new ones, or melt the chips and use them to frost the original batch?
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society