The last two months have been eye opening. I remembered THIS POST and had to come to terms with what really made me write the words: For the first time in my life, typing “The End” felt like a huge relief rather than an epic accomplishment.
Now that I’ve worked with a professional developmental editor, and had a face-to-face chat with my publisher’s managing editor, I had to come to terms with how nicely they were telling me that my book wasn’t quite up to expectations.
And as I read over the editors comments, and read the manuscript again after a several month hiatus, I had to agree. What I thought I’d written, and what was actually on the pages, were two excruciatingly different things.
Luckily though, it was not the story that was a problem. It was the execution in some sections, and a missing link that made the crux of the story confusing. (Among other smaller mistakes)
Several times I’ve explained that my writing process is this:
- Write/finish book.
- Write/edit/finish something else to “cleanse my pallet” from book #1
- Then go back and edit book number one.
The reason behind this is simple… I need time to get away from a story so I can look at it objectively. I did not have this precious time for this novel. I wrote it in two months, and then immediately edited it and submitted it in order to make the tight deadline.
Even at that time, I was a little unsure about the novel. Something seemed wrong, but I was unable to step away and give myself the needed time to think it over … and it was glaringly obvious.
Getting ready for the overhaul
Knowing I was walking into a TON of editing work, I immediately asked for a one month extension (two months of editing time rather than only one—the same amount of time it took me to write the first draft!) This gave me the breathing room to go over all the suggestions and make easy changes in the first read through; make wider, more sweeping changes and rewrites in the second read-through; and then take a third read through to tweak scenes to make them more engaging.
After that third read, I must admit, I was smiling.
Don’t ever discount the value of a good developmental editor who is not afraid to tell you that there are problems… also, don’t beat yourself up over those problems … just look at them as an opportunity.
Looking back, I still wish that I’d submitted a much better manuscript to begin with, but now I know that with enough time, I can make sure that the words on the page actually relay the story that I intended to tell, and not just the story that I thought I’d told.
Finishing this edit did not feel like a “huge relief” as it did when I first submitted the novel. I feel accomplished and extremely excited by the FIRE IN THE WOODS series again.
And guess what? There are a couple of teenagers hiding inside me waiting to save the world at least one more time. And now I can say with a smile that I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble they get into next time.
You can find Fire in the Woods at all these awesome bookish places!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |
The fact that you felt extremely excited again is a good sign it was right!
And because a developmental editor is essential for the best book ever, I’m excited that my NaNoWriMo novel will get the benefit of one before it ever goes to M9B as a submission. I no longer think believe that I can bring the story to its best state as a solo artist. Which is the reason I pursued “traditional” publishing in the first place.
I totally agree, Sharon. That is why I also always shoot for at least three other sets of eyes on my work before I submit. Some books have had as many as a dozen people. Any problem you can find before publication is one less reason for a disappointed reader, and no one wants that.