Edits, Drama, and the Murder of an Epilogue

Song of the Day: Rolling in the Deep by Adele

Edits. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

I think most of us have heard of revision hell. Conversely, we all know that someone who so rock, their editors have nothing to refine. So when my time came to be professionally edited, I had no idea what to expect.

The past few weeks I’ve been working on rounds of edits with my editor (I never get tired of saying that – my editor). Denise is fan – flipping – tabulous. And thus far, I’ve enjoyed the editing experience.

I look pretty good as a brunette.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not strolling through a field of poppies, barefoot and fancy free. I’m not one of those authors who so rock. No, I completely short circuit over doing revisions on a deadline and I’m convinced that Murphy’s Law requires that life heads into upheaval at the same time. Let’s face it, 14 days or less for revisions translates to 14 hours or less for this mom of a rambunctious toddler and ever-dramatic preteen.

I'm not being overly dramatic, am I?

Add in the momentary lapse of sanity with shameless sobbing, fist-pumping, and foot-stomping when I had to delete my entire epilogue. My epilogue that ties everything in a neat, pretty bow. My epilogue that hints to what’s to come in the next book. My epilogue that so rocked! Noooooooooo…

Other than that, I’ve been lucky, or maybe I just fake it well. My edits overall have been rather painless.

Action, adventure, romance. Check

Good grammar. Check.

No plot holes. Check.

Flowing sentence structure and pleasing cadence. Check.

Clear logistics. Check.

Drool-worthy libertine pirate with insatiable appetite. Check.

Tee Hee

My editor (giggle, snort, giggle) encouraged me to dive deeper into character motivation and helped pull the ropes tighter in my writing. Together, we spit-shined my novel squeaky clean. God love her, she found my amorous scenes hot and well written, and even asked that I add another. Gladly. Can’t have too much lovin’ to make your toes curl.

That woman’s got an eagle eye, too, picking out repetitive verbiage and phrases. Apparently, I have an affinity for certain words. They magically appear over and over in my book, this despite that I am usually very cautious about repetition. Still a few slipped past. Damn you CPs! *shakes fists*

Listen up, authors. She says she literally sees the following phrase, or variations

Even the dog is narrowing his eyes.

of, in every single manuscript that crosses her desk. She narrowed her eyes. Confession. I did this five times in the novel. Five! Everyone was narrowing their eyes. Ugh.

I’m not unique. Every author does this. We’re so wrapped up in conveying thoughts, emotions, and actions just right, we simply do not notice we’ve been repetitive. In an 80-100K book, it’s easy to overlook the same phrase or word.

Just when I thought we were finished, the copy editor sends it back. Writing historical fiction has its own challenge by way of proper words usage, terminology, and dialect. I have done extensive, exhaustive research on words, trying my best to avoid anachronistic terms. Imagine my surprise when the CE sent my novel back full of flagged words. *sigh* It’s times like these I wonder how I made it this far.

So how do we avoid these pitfalls? Get a good editor. Employ awesome critique partners. Besides that? Well, reading aloud works. Doing a ‘Find’ in Microsoft Word for any word you favor or think you’ve used more than once will help, as well. Do your research. And just be vigilant. No one is perfect. That’s why we have a team of peeps saving our asses.

Dear epilogue, you will be missed.

Now, please. A moment of silence for my dearly departed epilogue.

How about you? Do you have any favorite words that sneak into your manuscripts time and again? How about editing? How has the editing process worked for you? I’d love to hear from you.

22 Responses to Edits, Drama, and the Murder of an Epilogue

  1. Yep. I hate editing. Edit is a four letter word you know. I think running with a good editor could be like using novocain though, you get the bad out, but it’s not quite as painful. Maybe that’s similar to, misery loves company? (I’ll add my own *snort* here):)
    I have a problem with repetitivenss also. The glory of my situation is, it changes faces and names every time. YAY! No way to track the thing. Just READ, and CRITIQUE repetitively. Let’s see now how many times I can use repetitive in here…nuther *snort*.
    I hate that you had to bury your epilogue…those things don’t go down easy. For some reason, we always adore them. I don’t know why that is, but we do. It’s sort of like, we’re married to the manuscript, but that sweet interlude with the epilogue holds its own fascination. Possibly because it doesn’t linger long enough to drive us mad with the details. (Definitely like marriage;) 😉
    That’s the best analogy I can come up with at this time. It’s dark-thirty, and I’ve had no coffee. If you’d like, I’ll share a few words at the funeral! (One last *snort*…I can do that, my hubby isn’t up yet to hear this unladylike conduct!:)



    • jbrayweber says:

      LOL! Love your analogies, Lo! And yes, misery certainly does love company. One thing about editing, no matter how many times you read and reread, you always find another mistake or something you want to change.
      I would be honored if you *snorted* a few words for my beloved epilogue. Oooh…maybe a seance would be in order!!


  2. OK- I’m a sick puppy! I love editing! I’d much rather work on edits and making something better thans taring at a blank page I’ve yet to write.
    I’m still not sure if I totally agree with your editor about killing off the epilogue….I thought it sounded wonderful…..but maybe that’s why she’s the professional and I’m not!!


    • jbrayweber says:

      I love the editing process too, for the most part. It gives me a chance to really dig deeper, making the story oh-so much better. FWIT – my editor thought the epilogue was wonderful. But she didn’t think it added value to the story as a whole. I disagree 100%. But, like you said, Stacey, she’s the professional. 🙂


  3. William says:

    Alas, dear Epilogue, we knew you well…..

    I’d go on, but I don’t want to be repetitive….:)


  4. Kristen says:

    Okay, I must admit I do have an old-school fondness for the epilogue. Just desserts served please. I pretty much imploded when they skipped it in the Michael-Fassbender-is-so-dreamy-this-is-perfect-except-for-the-end-version-of-Jane-Eyre. It’s what makes P&P. And who doesn’t love the comedic sum-up in movies like Stripes?

    Sorry about your epilogue. It didn’t happen to have octuplet pirate babies with wooden swords crying Aarrgh, did it? Because if it did, I say fight for it! hehehehe

    Dear Stacey,
    What is your address? I’m ready to FedEx several manuscripts for your editing pleasure. 😉


    • jbrayweber says:

      All my stories have an epilogue. I suspect the story she’s editing now will also see the demise of it’s epilogue, too. *sigh*

      And just so you know….in the epilogue, yes, there was a SPOILER ALERT!!! LOL! Just kidding. I’m going to have the epilogue available on my website at a later date. There are things that happen in the epilogue that are little nuggets for the series as a whole and will culminate in the final book.

      P.S. I’ve noticed you have a slight fondness for Michael Fassbender. Should we be seeking you help?


  5. Kristen says:

    No, just a date. 🙂 Actually, he’s just cover–I don’t want to come off too stalker-ish and scare away Jeff the Salty Dog…hehehe.


    • jbrayweber says:

      The first sign of addiction is denial. We’ll get you started on that 12 step program, pronto!

      *tee hee*

      I think Jeff enjoys your company.


  6. jeff7salter says:

    My brother (and beta reader) tells me that epilogs are dead … but I refuse to concede.
    As a reader, I love a good, short epilog. And as a writer, I need that device. Wrapping up everything in the course of the story takes too many scenes and shifts. In an epilog, it’s two pages. Boom.


    • jbrayweber says:

      Oh, I agree Jeff. To me, an epilogue is like a bonus. The cherry on top. The awesome package with the pretty, shiny bow. I don’t necessarily have to have one as a writer, but an epilogue has to serve a purpose. And yeah, Boom! (or in my case…boom chica-wow-wow)


      • Putting my hand over my mouth, and whispering…”I have a prologue for The Image (WIP) bobbing and weaving from any tomatoes thrown my way. I like epilogues AND prologues…and ambiguous endings…OMG…think perhaps I’m a King or Rice fan? 🙂
        I bet your epilogue was killer…consider it one of the walking dead…that puppy may rise again;):)


      • jbrayweber says:

        Oh…I’m a huge King and Rice fan. Love Koontz, too. Maybe that’s why I like you, Lo. HA!


  7. William says:

    All joking aside, I loved the Epilogue. It was a nice twist on things, and the perfect setup for the next book. Ah, well…. I’m hoping she’s right. You know I don’t agree; personally, I love Prologues AND Epilogues and all that.


    • jbrayweber says:

      Thanks, William. It was a hard pill to swallow. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. The epilogue will be available to read after the book comes out in March 2012. (shameless plug) 😉


  8. Susan Muller says:

    RIP Epilogue. You could always turn it into a short story and put it up yourself. That should show them.


    • jbrayweber says:

      I am going to make the epilogue available on my website. There is some information, I like to call them nuggets, that hints to the other books and the culmination when ‘all hell breaks loose’ in the final book. My editor agrees this will be the best way to handle the demise of my epilogue. Did I mention she is fan-flipping-tabulous?


  9. Tess says:

    I think the best thing I’ve found in my last edit is having the computer read it back to me one last time in one day! That helps me catch the lingering repetition and errors! CP’s usually don’t read it all at one time and don’t catch that…not really their fault. As a matter of fact, I’ve held off releasing to go through books one more time–of course I’m a bit obsessed about it all. Good luck, sounds like you’re doing great!


    • jbrayweber says:

      Having the computer read the story back to me would certainly eliminate my dyslexia difficulty. But then i might just sit back and enjoy the story instead of listening for the problems. LOL! Still, worth a try.

      Thanks, Tessy!


  10. Robin Yaklin says:

    I’m guilty of overwriting. Spent last night, due to also being Maassified and abundant with latent energy, editing a short story. It’s now shorter. And, it doesn’t include ‘gut-wrenching’ or an eye squint. Thank you for the reminder, Stacey. With more readings through, I’m sure I’ll make other improvements. *sharpening pencil, pouring more coffee, and putting out the latest version of the story*
    *sigh* Here we go again!


    • jbrayweber says:

      Oh gosh, I know the feeling, Robin. It almost seems that the story will never be finished.
      I’ve been known to overwrite, too. I think it’s easier to overwrite than to not give enough in terms of editing.


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