Of Edits and Editors

Well, my deadline has come and gone, and I’ve turned in my first set of edits on Soul of Smoke.

FYI, meeting a deadline is like barely avoiding being run down by an out-of-control semi. You don’t realized how stressed you are until you hit send and start weeping involuntary tears of relief.

the office animated GIF

Or maybe that’s just me and my time-wasting self.

I think the most terrifying thing about edits was tearing apart a story I had worked so hard to make internally consistent. Once I messed with it, I had to worry about deleting information, repeating information, losing character-revealing dialogue/actions, smoothing the transition between brand new scenes and scenes that have existed for years, messing up the timeline, and actually achieving what my editor wanted me to in the first place… ugh. So many things. I think it came out okay, but I just sent it in, so the jury is still out on that.

Back when I first decided to be a writer, I only had a vague impression of what editors are for. I mean, I knew they were there to edit the book, but I had no idea what that really meant. I think that’s sort of true for a lot of aspiring authors. I imagine there are some who confuse “editor” with “proofreader.” You think all an editor does is fix your grammar. I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I thought if I could just get my book to a publisher, an editor would swoop in and make it awesome for me.

The truth falls somewhere in the middle. Editors should be far more than proofreaders. However, they aren’t magical story fairies who come in and finish the work for you. Instead, a good editor points out the weak places in your story.  You discuss them, and the editor suggests a few ways you might fix them. But they don’t (as I thought/hoped) lay out a perfect plan and tell you exactly what to do. Ultimately, that’s on the author.

An example: In chapters 3-8 of Soul of Smoke, my editor pointed out that the action sort of dragged because I was taking time to set up the world and the characters without doing much else. She also pointed out that there needed to be more chemistry between my main characters. After some thought, I agreed. She suggested the leads spend a little more time together and that I add more tension to the beginning of the book. Other than that, it was in my hands. I’m the one who had to brainstorm a detailed solution then take a scalpel to my manuscript and rearrange its innards.

Granted, this is my only experience working with an editor. I’m sure they all have different approaches. Thus far, I’ve really enjoyed working with mine.

Here’s your dragon of the day!

Blue Night Dragon by creaturesfromel

Holy crap, this is SO gorgeous. This sculpture has sold, but the artist has a Deviantart gallery and an Etsy shop called Creatures from El. *swoon* Someday I WILL own one of these!



About Caitlyn McFarland

Mom of three girls, writer of fantasy novels.
This entry was posted in Path to Publication, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Of Edits and Editors

  1. Leah says:

    Fabulous article. And that sculpture is AMAZING!

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