Authors seeking an editor can find themselves in a world of possibilities to bring magic to their manuscripts. The difficulty lies in knowing what type of editing is needed when and for what manuscript. It’s important to clarify the type of editing you require and […]
Month: February 2017
Okay, maybe you aren’t all that confused about Alpha and Beta Readers. Maybe you’ve got an awesome team behind you. Great! But a quick internet survey clearly indicates there is confusion abundant for new and veteran authors and those readers who might be interested in […]
Writer’s Digest(WD) is a great resource for authors, editors, and writers at any stage in their journey. I see WD advice and articles Tweeted, posted on social media, and referred to across writing and editing blogs. It’s one of my favorite go-to places when I need more information about the writing or editing industry.
I have stumbled upon a number of Brian Klems articles which have provided accurate and invaluable information for authors. But the other day I came across 10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You—But Should. Overall Brian hits the nail on the head again, but one piece of his advice really stood out to me: “avoid the temptation to hire someone to edit your first draft”.
As an editor, coach, and author, this edict has solid logic behind it, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.
An editor’s job is to make your writing piece as good as it possibly can be. In my experience, starting early, say after a first draft, offers that much more time for the author to get there.
While I am not saying an author should provide that rough draft to an editor right away without looking at it, I think developmental editing goes a long way. A developmental editor is a team member behind your manuscript who can help get you unstuck through constructive criticism about what you currently have by looking at structure, content, flow and can even begin before the manuscript is created.
A developmental editor may even help you flesh out your outline, point you in the direction or at least point out where more research may be needed, or help you with constructing characters for your work. Developmental editors are like communications consultants for your specific writing project – and often they are heard of more in the non-fiction or business industries. They might recommend appropriate formats to communicate in, they can assist with rewrites, and they can copy edit too. They are particularly helpful in identifying content gaps.
In fact, developmental editing is one of my favorite types of services I offer. Why? Because I get to really connect with the author of a work, understand what they are trying to do, and help them get there. Both editor and author benefit with this shared exchange. Some of the most satisfying results come out of first-draft developmental editor-author collaborations, both in my own writing and as an editor for others.
On a side note here, I have an amazing editor who does 2-3 passes through each of my novels/novellas, as well as, Beta-Readers who do one pass. At every stage there is some developmental editing that goes on. However, as soon as I’ve done a rough draft and it has been read through lightly once to make sure those times I fell asleep on the keyboard aren’t messing with flow, structure, and word count, then it gets turned into my ‘first draft’. That’s when I usually send it to my editor who waves her magic wand (I mean hours and hours of squinting at my manuscript) and offers insightful and valuable recommendations.
As many eyes as you can get on the project will help you get better faster. It’s very difficult after you’ve written anything to remove yourself from the work. Your brain automatically fills in what should be there or what you think you mean or missing words – you stop seeing the work as it is and see it as it should be. Preliminary developmental edits can offer sobering perspectives that make you see the work anew. As does second, third, and Beta-Reader edits.
It is rare that a writer’s work is ever ‘done’, it is often just published due to deadline or just because it has reached the point. You could forever change and shift a manuscript into something better, something different, and it could become a cyclical snare if you strive for perfection as an author or as an editor. But just because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it can’t be the best it possible can be.
This is why I believe that not hiring someone to edit your first draft isn’t always the soundest advice. Yes, sit with it, look the draft over, make some notes and changes, but you don’t always have to do that alone. A developmental editor can offer expertise, perspective, and sober, helpful criticism to make your work that much better. They’ll help you see in ways that your hours of work that left your mind fuzzy can’t. And, you’ll get to a more cohesive, reader-friendly version quicker. When it comes time to publish that work be it a blog post or a novel, you’ll at least feel that it is the best it can possibly be because you started early with a great team member – your editor.
So on this one, Brian Klems, I’m going to have to disagree with you – I think denying developmental editing can be a serious gap in a manuscript’s workflow.
P.S. If you are interested in working with me as your editor, Alpha/ Beta Reader, check out some of the services I offer here or email me directly and tell me a bit about your work, your goals, and your audience.
Take care and I wish all of you writers’ success.
Juggling multiple jobs, family life, and additional responsibilities (school, charity, elder-care, etc) on top of being self-employed as an author, editor, and consultant means a regular balancing act. I am no expert, but I have achieved a working peace with the Work-Life balance I have in […]
Nine ways to conquer your writing stress from thesis to novel to essay and everything in between. Come to think of it, these nine things apply to just about all types of stress… 1. Retrain Your Brain You obsess about not writing and are […]
Stories are medicine.
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Our lives are filled with challenges, changes, and problems to be solved. These difficulties can become great crucibles, when we get stuck thinking or feeling. Perhaps, like me, you are faced with an event so traumatic that your mind and body relive it in the attempt to process, solve and prevent. When you are thinking and feeling and reliving, sometimes you get caught in an unhealthy cycle too close to the issue and can’t move forward.
As a form of escape, my young self took up story making. I turned people, problems, and events in my life into dragons, magicians and mermaids, castles, oceans, and valleys. I turned problems into journeys and fairy tales. It helped me to heal. The process of fictionalizing gave me a new perspective: one where I could escape a tumult of thoughts and emotions, create order, and find solutions. One where I began to see stories everywhere and that led me to my passion for writing. It wasn’t until recently, I discovered that many native traditions, spiritualities, religions, therapists, and counselors often use similar techniques in their practice to inspire growth and promote healing.
Creating stories may come easily to you, or it may be a struggle. But hopefully, I can guide you through a few steps to get your creative mind working and help you on your path to health and balance.
First things first—embrace your imagination. These stories are your own creations. They don’t have to be shared with anyone; they don’t have to be “good” or accurate. They don’t have to be written, they can be drawn, or just imagined. They can be stick people, they can be bullet points. They are a way for you to remove yourself from the situation and imagine it from multiple perspectives.
Creating stories is an act of mindfulness. Focus on the task at hand and accept without judgment what you create. Make sure you have a few minutes to brainstorm and create quietly and uninterrupted. Maybe during a coffee break, late at night when you can’t sleep, early in the morning, or even while you are in the shower.
You need a character or maybe two or three. These characters should have differing personalities and can have strange ideas about the world. Writers often use stock characters, or characters that they can continuously rename, reuse, or rewrite. For example, you can most likely recognize the superhero, the villain, or the damsel in books, movies, and other stories you encounter. Try creating your own stock of characters. You can also turn animals or inanimate objects into characters. Maybe you have a favourite type of tree or a pet that would work well.
Next you need a problem to solve or place to go. How do they get there? What type of solutions might a pirate come up with as opposed to the class-clown, hero, or villain? Imagine how your characters might react—how would lettuce negotiate with the rabbit that is consuming it?
To be a story, you must start and end. But you don’t have to start at the beginning or end with a solution. It could start in the middle and you could discover, as I have, that perhaps the only solution is there is no solution and the issue should just be left alone or left behind.
This is your healing journey; be gentle with yourself. Often we can be the worst critics of our selves. This isn’t something you have to do, have to do well, or have to do a certain way. This could be a need for you, a desire, or simply a curiosity to create a story. Treat it like it is just something to do. The less you expect of yourself, the more open and creative you may become. And here is a trick I have discovered over the years. Our minds naturally create stories about what we are doing, what happens to us, what the weather is like, coming up with whys, could-haves, should-haves, and what-ifs. It’s like fighting fire with fire, except with stories.
What stories can you come up with? What stories has your mind already created? Have fun with the process and don’t forget to infuse a little humour into every tale. And if you feel comfortable, maybe invite others into your story-making process. Make a family night of starting and finishing each other’s stories. Children are amazing at adding twists and turns and new characters to a tale and they infuse child-like humour into many fictitious encounters. You’ll be surprised what you uncover and learn!
A recent article by the Encyclopædia Britannica identified 6 fictional languages. As a nerd, my reaction was How cool! But why learn an additional language, fictional or not? And for that matter, what does it take for masters like Tolkien to create languages? While I don’t have […]