Editing with an Editor

Sometime after you get ‘the call’ you’ll have to edit your manuscript to an editor’s specifications. Each publisher and each editor have their own preferences. The traditional way is for the editor to make their comments, send the manuscript back to the author, the author makes their changes then it goes back to the editor. This process will repeat until the editor is satisfied. In some cases, the manuscript will then be passed on to another editor for line edits.
Most of my manuscripts go through 3 rounds of edits with the editor, but one of my publishers does tandem edits. For a scheduled period every night, I sit at my computer looking at each chapter in Google Docs while my editor is at her computer–looking at the same file. We instant message each other, plus there is a side bar for other comments. For large rewrites to be made notes can be inserted and emailed to both of us in case the changes will take too much time.
Although much of my time is spent watching the grammar glitter (punctuation and stylistic preferences) being added/changed, I usually take the opportunity to try to learn something.
On occassion, I have to consider word changes, or if I don’t agree with them because of my own preferences, we find a happy medium there. Case in point, Fiona’s story, the second sequel to Ghost of a Chance, is a Victorian-era novel set in London. I used words that were accurate at the time, but my editor had me remove them for the sake of a modern reader’s clarity. On the one hand, I hated having to remove the word because it was a neat historically accurate factoid that gave the flavor of the period, but… The object of writing is to transport the reader to another time and place, not educated them or stop them on a small detail that might throw them out of the story.
Which leads me to the point of this entry–clarity. An editor is really an uber-critique partner. While I have had many critique partners that have ignored my advice, an editor is different. You’ve sold the story to them, they have the right to change it and correct it.
I’ve never had an editor force any changes on me –the process has always been collaborative never dictatorial.
In rare cases where I want something the way it is, I explain my reasoning and, if necessary, present facts in support. All of these things are straight forward. Only rarely, do issues come up and usually this revolves around clarity–I actually don’t understand what the editor wants to see that they think is missing, or more precisely, not presented in quite the manner they expect to see it.
As a writer, this is my biggest hurtle to overcome.
While the manuscript is being edited in tandem, this can cause a serious delay. But it also provides an opportunity. You see, I don’t think like most people. When something is spoken or written, I usually interpret things in multiple ways and not always the most obvious one first. So sometimes it takes me a while longer to process, sort, and understand what my editor sees as the problem. This usually involves lots of back and forth while I discern what we agree on and what we disagree upon. This is a very BIG benefit to IM and tandem editing-no lag time between emails.
Then there’s the quiet time, while I process, analyze and decide how to solve the problem. That usually takes about a minute after I think I understand what the editor wants. Last night’s problem was resolved by deleting 3 lines of narrative and adding maybe 6 lines more. Not a big deal, really. And, bonus, it clarified the conflict, added a little more depth to the characters and wove a little backstory in to boot.
So the lesson is this: if a critique partner or editor says something about your manuscript that you think is in the text, you may want to ask questions to find out what they expect to see and the form they expect to see it. I find this happens a lot if I hid important points in the middle of a paragraph–moving it to the end, usually makes certain the detail isn’t skimmed over.

About Linda Andrews

Linda Andrews lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, Arizona. When she announced to her family that her paranormal romance was to be published, her sister pronounce: "What else would she write? She’s never been normal." All kidding aside, writing has become a surprising passion. So just how did a scientist start to write paranormal romances? What other option is there when you’re married to romantic man and live in a haunted house? If you’ve enjoyed her stories or want to share your own paranormal experience feel free to email the author at www.lindaandrews.net She’d love to hear from you.
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