Keep an Open Mind ~
Before you begin the editing process it’s imperative to first understand what your goals are for this piece of writing. If you’re writing just for you and don’t give a damn about going traditional or making sales based on your work then by all means, ignore me right now. However, if you even remotely plan on turning a profit (meager or mighty) then consideration of your audience and potential publishing method is vital to your editing plan.
Yes. In order to shape your writing into the best version of itself, you need to consider very carefully other peoples expectations of your work.
I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories about editors “not getting” the story, cutting and slashing content that nearly rips the heart out of a piece… and those stories about books from readers who had a hard time following the plot, couldn’t connect with the characters, or felt inundated by irrelevant information (or poor grammar and spelling) and simply couldn’t get through the piece.
As a writer, we don’t want either of these scenarios happening – we want editors to understand us and readers to fall in love with our stories. Period. But in order to have that happen, you need to understand why those horror stories crop up in the first place.
First off there’s the obvious bad editors and readers who don’t understand your story or your genre.
Moving past that we come to…
The possessive writer.
Yes, as much as you don’t want to hear it, sometimes it’s your fault that your books don’t sell.
(ducks down to avoid the rotten tomatoes and small metal garbage cans full of discarded and crumpled writing)
I’m being brutally honest here. Sometimes we’re so attached to our work that we can’t take any kind of constructive (or in our view negative) criticism. My editor (with a traditional publishing house) said she loved my story but would I be willing to cut about 17,000 words to tighten it up? If I had said, “No. It works fine just the way it is” I would have lost the contract with the publishing house and the opportunity to make my book better. Funny side note – while I did eliminate those 17,000 words I also added 24,000 new ones! And it made all the difference.
Basically, what I’m getting at is if a beta reader tells you they don’t understand something or get lost in half-formed plots or an editor suggests you delete chunks of your hard-wrought work keep the following in mind:
1) If you’re getting these kinds of comments then something isn’t working the way it should. And, while you may not agree with the suggestions provided, you can take a fresh look at what you’ve written to make sure what you actually intended is happening in the story.
2) Often when someone suggests to cut sections from your writing those parts are not needed in order for the main story to be told. They could be repeated bits of information, chunks of back story, or simply distracting tangents. Don’t ignore this advice – keep an open mind and go back into your story and read it as if for the first time… try leaving those sections out, try modifying them… then see how that effects other threads in the story.
You may just surprise yourself.
Happy Editing 🙂
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