Edits, Drama, and the Murder of an Epilogue

November 9, 2011

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.