I posted the following yesterday to the historical authors’ blog, Writes of Passage, but decided it was worth putting up on my regular blog as well. Sorry for the repeat for those who read both blogs.
I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday at the IDAhope Christian Writers Conference. It was a smaller, more intimate affair, and on Saturday, I was very busy, doing a keynote address, followed by leading two workshops. It’s always fun to be with other writers, from wide-eyed beginners to long published folks.
Newer writers are often surprised that contracted manuscripts still go through an extensive revising and editing process. Beginners are told that manuscripts have to be as close to perfect as possible to get a “yes” from an editor. There is some truth in that. But perfect enough to sell doesn’t mean perfect enough to publish. An author is too close to the story after months and months of writing it and then rewriting it and maybe rewriting it half a dozen more times. A good editor’s trained eye can find many little ways (and some times quite a few big ways) to improve an already strong story.
What’s the process like? Usually something like this:
- After a manuscript is turned in (whether contracted before it was written or the acquisition of a finished novel), the revision letter arrives. This round of editing usually deals with the bigger picture of the story and on the ways an author can strengthen the manuscript overall.
- Line edits. A closer, more focused look at the story. An editor (usually someone different from the editor who did the revision letter) goes through the manuscript line by line, changing or suggesting changes.
- Copy edits. An editor looks for the small but important items. Prose. Punctuation. Fine-tuning. Queries to make sure the writer doesn’t have an error in facts (does that river actually run north? how long would it take a train to reach the Pacific coast from point A in that year? etc.).
- Pages proofs/typeset galleys. The author’s and proofreader’s last chance to catch mistakes that have slipped through previous rounds. Using “their” when it should be “there.”
Last week, I began revising my November 2009 release. No major changes were requested by my editor, but her suggestions are making the story better and I’m loving implementing them. And, of course, as I work my way through the manuscript, it’s giving me an opportunity to spruce up my prose. (Don’t all writers tweak and tweak and tweak every time they read their own work?) If all goes according to my schedule, I should be finished by the end of this week.
I can’t say that I always revel in revisions. I know a few authors who do, but I’m not one of them. How I feel about revisions depends entirely upon what needs to be done, how long it will take to complete them, and how much my head and eyes will hurt as I follow any changes through to the end of the manuscript.
I must say that the best part about my current revisions is that I’ve been reminded how fond I am of my hero and heroine, and I can’t help believing readers will take Cleo and Sherwood to heart as well.