Thursday, September 27, 2012

Major Editing: Read As A Reader

I recently received major edits back for my upcoming romance release with Crimson Romance.  Although I have published erotic romance stories before, I have never edited a full length manuscript.  It was an experience.

Give It Time

Usually, my first and best piece of advice for editing is to give your work some time to breathe.  Like a fine wine, you need to let it rest, undisturbed, for a period of time to allow the full flavours to develop.  And to try to ensure that you no longer are 'in love' with every single letter you've written.

Of course, in this instance, I'm assuming that you haven't seen or heard from your manuscript in weeks, even months -- that's the time in takes to hear back from the publisher, to sign the contract, and to wait for the first edits to come to you.

So, step one -- done.

Read As A Reader

My first tip, and the method I used for this edit as well as for unpublished manuscripts, is to read over the entire piece once.

The way I do this is to print out the entire manuscript.  Yes, onto real paper.

Sure, maybe you read faster off of the computer screen and you really hate killing trees, but the point of this part of the process is to experience your book as a reader would.  An old-fashioned, Kindle-free, reader.  Trust me, if you've written your book on computer (which we all do nowadays), having a physical copy in your hand will immediately distance yourself from the writing process, giving you a precious bit of objectivity.  Hint: this will come in very handy during major edits.

Don't Pick Up That Pen!

While you're reading your work, don't make a single mark on those pages.  You are trying to recreate the reading experience, how an eventual purchaser of your book will see it.  And, in another sense, you're trying to see your work through the eyes of the editor.  You've already seen their comments and, chances are, they will be on the pages you have printed as well.

Read the comments.  Keep the tips in mind.  But don't make any changes yet.  Not even correcting the typos.

The point of this exercise is, one, to see your book from different eyes, and also, two, to put into your subconscious what needs to be changed.

Now that you have your editor's feedback, it will be lodged in your brain as you read through your book this time.  You will likely see why they made the comments and suggestions they did.  Or, if you don't quite see their point, you can at least look at your work as objectively as possible and see their argument, as well as formulate your own -- if you need it later.

Now that your work is back at the forefront of your mind, along with the comments from your editor, it is time to go to work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Performing Major Edits

Over the last few weeks, I've been editing my forthcoming romance manuscript for Crimson Romance.

It has been a challenging experience.

I've edited several short stories for publication in the recent past, namely my erotic romances for Total-E-Bound: Captive Angel and Country Hearts.

Perhaps because they were for far shorter works, those edits were relatively easy.  Yes, I had to change fairly major aspects of the pieces, such as tweaking the death of a character or changing a sex scene, but these were discrete scenes that required specific thought, not a major overhaul.

These latest edits were major overhauls.  I was tasked with revisiting the pasts of the characters, questioning the heroine's characterization, and changing an overly sweet ending.  I struggled with the edits for the entire two weeks I had to rework the manuscript.

Eventually, I got the edits done -- early too! -- but it was pretty much the only focus of my life during that time.  I didn't work.  I didn't write.  I barely spoke to my family.  It felt like all I did for two weeks was think about this book and make changes to it.

From out of my experience, I have put together a few tips to help anyone who might be facing their first novel length editing process, which I will be posting shortly.  The key, I think, is patience and planning.  Procrastination in editing is definitely your worst enemy.  This time, I dove right in and I think I did a fairly good job.  But we'll see when I get my next round of edits back.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Chapter of The Dating Lesson Now Available!

I've done it!

I just submitted my first chapter of a Harlequin Romance to the So You Think You Can Write Contest.

Read my first chapter of The Dating Lesson! And remember to vote for my entry beginning October 2.

Good luck to my fellow writers who have taking the plunge and submitted to the contest.  Fingers crossed for us all :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

So You Think You Can Write Contest

Once again, Harlequin is holding it's So You Think You Can Write (love the name!) contest, seeking new romance authors for the chance to win publication of their work.

I am a lifelong fan of Harlequin/ Mills & Boon (my mother apparently read nothing else when I was in it must be an inherited trait) and I love the idea of seeking unknowns to become the next published author in their line up.

Please, try putting up your first chapter in the last week of September--the contest opens on the 23rd--and join me in the nail biting.  You know I will be working on my first chapter in the weeks to come.

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Editing Process: Give It Time

Over the past few weeks, I've been editing a manuscript that has been sitting idle for the past year.  Yes, you heard that right.  One whole year...that's how long I've been procrastinating on this process.

Why?  Well, let's say that editing takes a lot out of me.  It's a different story when I get back notes and suggestions from the editor at a publisher, as I have done with my first two erotic romances.  Then, I've been able to step back and neutrally assess the suggestions and I have generally found them to be right on the dot.

But editing myself is a whole different endeavour.  Let's face it, we think what we write is pretty darn good.  Not stellar, perhaps, but usually passable.  Right after I've written something, I might indeed think it is stellar.

What's the solution to being unable to see your own flaws and mistakes?  Like good wine, a story needs time to mature.

After some time (many experts suggest a month or so but I don't think anyone has ever suggested a whole year), you gain perspective on your writing.  The key first step to editing a manuscript is being able to read the piece again as a reader.  Very difficult, if you've written the thing!

After a year languishing in my computer, my manuscript has seemed like a new novel.  I don't remember most of what I wrote and I certainly didn't remember the plot details, which I am now scrutinizing very closely (and finding holes!).  Reading my manuscript after that gap of time has allowed me to gain precious objectivity which I would not have possessed had I started editing it immediately, or perhaps even the usual month later.

Most writers don't have the leisure of a year to park a story.  Deadlines and other pressing matters force them to pick it back up quickly.  I suggest giving yourself as much time as you can to be away from your writing.  Take a break.  Start on your next piece.  Let your story breathe a little.