Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What My Editor Did for Me.

Several writers have asked me what it was like working with my editor, Leanne Flett Kruger. First of all, even typing the words my editor sends me into a grinning frenzy. Secondly, the reason I hesitated to blog about my experience was because I did so little of the work. Leanne was the one digging in and reading Broken But Not Dead over and over again. Every time I sent her revisions, she re-read my manuscript. She made the entire experience a breeze.

To begin, she did a close read. She took notes, paying close attention to the structure. In the end she looked for stylistic issues and helped me clarify the meaning by smoothing the language in a few rough spots. As Leanne put it, "Every concept, every sentence and every word in your story should have meaning and purpose within the story."

Here's what she suggested I change:
- I had labelled some of my characters with different names depending on who was speaking to them. With Brendell, sometimes I had Bren, Dell, Professor Meshango, and Doctor. I changed most of them back to Brendell. 

- In one scene in my book, a character refers to another character as Mister, yet she knows him well. I had completely missed that, but lucky for me, Leanne hadn't. Of course, I changed it to his first name.

- Upon Leanne's advise, I combined a few characters into one, making the story tighter. How many times have I read a book only to complain that there were too many characters to keep track of? Too many. Dang, I should know better.

- On Leanne's suggestion I changed the inconsistencies of my chapters length to approximately 5 - 10 pages. I had a few under 5 and one over 15 and another over 20. I looked for spots where a more natural break would occur to shorter the long chapters. I merged two smaller chapters into one to accommodate the 10 page length.

- Lastly, I fixed a choke scene. I'd forgotten to show my protagonist struggling when the antagonist used a pressure point to knock her out. It's only commonsense that when we're being choked, we'd struggle and try to break free. I'm embarrassed that I missed that the first 20+ times I read the manuscript. 

Wish I could say there was more to it than that, but that was it. And now I wait ... oh, almost forgot, my novel Broken But Not Dead is due for release by Theytus Books in July 2011. I'll post a copy of the book's cover as soon as it's chosen.


Meanwhile, here's a story from my neighbour:

   A woman was eight months pregnant with twins when she was involved in a serious accident. For 6 months she lay in a coma. When she finally woke, the first thing she wanted to know was how her babies were. Her husband, who had sat by her side the entire time, assured her their son and daughter were safe and sound with her brother.
   That news shook the new mother because she thought of her brother as less than reliable. Yet, she decided not to reprimand her husband and asked,  "What did you name our children?"
   The father shook his head. "I was so worried about you I let your brother name them. I couldn't come up with anything."
   "What! You know my brother's an idiot. What were you thinking!" But really, her babies were okay, and her brother meant well. She took a deep breath. "Okay, what did he name our daughter?"
   "Denise."
   "Denise? That's not so bad." Maybe she had underestimated her brother. "What did he name our son?"
   "De-nephew."

15 comments :

  1. Isn't this an exciting time, Joylene? Editors are fabulous! It sounds as though you've got a good one. It's amazing what a fresh set of eyes will pick up. I sometimes wonder if editors get as tired of a story as what we, as writers do, once we've read it through so many times. I'm so excited for you!!!

    Can hardly wait to see the cover for your book!!!

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  2. Cool. I've chosen a different publishing route but I am working on finding a freelance editor for my latest folly. Cover art - I'm up to version number 11, close but not there yet. Happy for ya.

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  3. Great article, cool experience, I can only envy you! Please let us know when you have the cover art ready, or more news. Cheers!

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  4. Hi Joylene,
    Well there certainly is some excellent advice here. Maybe I should get an editor. They would have to be very, very, understanding.
    They would have to be very patient. They would have to console me as I broke into a flood of tears as they said Gary, you must not, ever, ever, ever, do a run-on sentence, ever!
    I bet you are well excited about the release (was it being held captive?) in July 2011, of your novel, 'Broken But Not Dead'.
    Funny little story at the end, Joylene.
    Have a great week and thank you for your comments on my um rather confusing blog. I read my own stuff, very occasionally and grimace.
    With respect, Gary :-)

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  5. @Laura, thank you. I didn't want to sound flippant when describing my relationship with Leanne, but at the same time I didn't want others to think it was difficult. Because it was anything but.

    @Dave, I chose the same route for my first book Dead Witness. But this time it was so different that I felt like a newbie. Go figure. Version 11, eh? Sounds logical to me.

    @Joel, hi! I'll definitely let you know when the cover art is done. I'm be the grinning fool in the corner.

    Gary, thanks. And honestly, reading your blog is a breath of fresh air. You never fail to make me smile. As for the release, I'm thrilled. I was a bit worried they'd release it in the winter and make me drive the terrible highways.

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  6. My editor is worth her weight in gold. She has helped me so much with my first two novels, and not just with my writing, but with how I approach my own editing obligations.

    My advice to any first-time author is to really take to heart what his/her editor suggests, and see how to apply the lessons learned in subsequent manuscripts.

    My best authors are the ones I see improving from submission to submission. I love them to bits and they make the hours slogging over a manuscript so, so worth it.

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  7. Thank you so much, Nerine. I know for a fact that Keith Pyeatt is still raving about the work you did for him on Stuck. Thanks for stopping by. It's always wonderful to hear from you.

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  8. A good editor has to be such a blessing! Jessica Morrell gave me input on an earlier story and I learned so much. Putting the advice into practice is part of the writer's growing experience... and I'm still growing!

    Oh, and "Denise and de-nephew"??? I'm still groaning over that. ;)

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  9. Of course I'm always indebted to Keith for leading me out of the MS Word Dark Ages.

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  10. Hi Carol. I'm glad you're groaning. LOL.
    When I'm still feeling guilty over Leanne doing all the work. All I did was accept or decline her changes. It was that easy. She even passed it along to a final reader because she knew I was sick of having to read it again and again. I'm not able to say yet, but she even contacted one of my favourite writers to see if she would do a blurb on the back cover. I've been sitting on pins and needles ever since.

    Nerine, I feel the same way. Keith has done so much for me and my writing. We've been working together since the mid 90s, when we were both still kids. LOL.

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  11. Joylene, yes I imagine saying 'my editor' is a great feeling.

    This is a great post. Now I know a few things to check before sending a manuscript off.

    Congrats on the new publication.

    I love the neighbor's story. Very cute.

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  12. I enjoyed this and can only say, 'Thank God for editors!"

    Congratulations on the new release!

    Loved Denise and De-nephew!

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  13. @Cher, because I'm not sure every editor-author relationship is the same as mine was, I'm hoping you'll write about your experience when it happens for you. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Carol -- thanks for stopping by, and for adding the kind words!

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  14. Can't wait to see the end product. I love your writing, your characters, and your stories.

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  15. Keith, the way our careers have been going, I feel like we're twins! LOL. Seriously, hasn't it been a wonderful ride.

    Happy trails.

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