First – thanks to Karin for being my guest yesterday. If you haven't read her post, or left a comment (there's a PRIZE, gang), Go. Do. It. Now. Winner announced Thursday, so there's still time today.
As I mentioned, I got my edits for WHERE DANGER HIDES back from the editor late Sunday. I refrained from opening it until Monday; otherwise I might have been up all night, and done a sloppy job.
She'd said it was a very clean read, not much for me to do at all, and that I could probably turn it around in a couple of days. Feeling pretty good, I opened the document. My first reaction was, "Did she send the wrong file?" because I didn't see any markups. I scrolled down, and at the bottom of page 7, at the end of the first scene, was her first comment. It said, "Great beginning." I felt even better. The next comment came at page 16, and was a "LOL." I was stoked.
Then she got down to business. Although most of the comments weren't significant, there were markups of some sort on just about every page. Now, I wrote the book about 2 years ago, and since then, have written 2 others, revised one, and also tackled a couple of short stories.
Rather than immerse myself in the characters and story, I opted to make my first pass simply hopping from comment to comment. Many of them were word changes (she actually added 3 justs after I worked so hard to cull them!) adding italics, or other minor bits of construction—changing a pronoun to a proper name, or vice versa. At this point, I was ignoring the story and just looking at whether the sentence worked with her suggestions.
This is the same editor I worked with on WHEN DANGER CALLS, so I felt comfortable with her style. She always makes suggestions, never demands. All the comments come in via Track Changes or Comments, so I can see what she might have added or deleted. I can agree or disagree.
After the obvious (and yes, there were typos and omitted words, and calling Wendy Wanda, etc. No matter how perfect the book is when you turn it in…it isn't.) I looked at some of what I call second level suggestions. These were more than a strict grammatical rule kind of changes.
For example, she wrote: "This makes the sentence awkward. You might be able to just change the word “from” and make it work, or delete “from one of the dining rooms”. Your call."
Or: "This isn’t necessary, but if you want to keep it in, you can."
Or this one: "You can keep this in here as is if you want, but it’s hard to see Dalton thinking this way. Perhaps a different phrase would work better?"
She's not telling me what to do; she's telling me it should be better. I can decide how to fix it, or not. And I can leave a comment back telling her why I did whatever I did.
She notes inconsistencies, but she doesn't verify them. She'll say, "Wasn't he wearing black before? Please check."
The next level is the one that's going to require backtracking and re-reading scenes, because the comments deal more with the characters. For example:
Comments like these: "You might want this to be onscreen to add more emotion to the scene. It would be a nice touch!;-)"
And: "How would Blackthorne feel about Dalton giving Miri data? Do you think Dalton should comment on this, or perhaps think about it? This would just be another reason for him to get in trouble with his boss."
Or this: "Please review the scenes with Octavio as I think there may be something missing in the sequence of events. It seemed odd that Octavio was in control and then Dalton was in control so quickly."
Or this one, that should be easy: "Please add an endearment or name here for a more emotional statement." However, coming up with the 'right' endearment in my books is always a challenge. It can be a milestone in a relationship, and I struggle to decide when it's going to happen, and what the other character's reaction will be, and exactly what the endearment should be. A lot of this is probably based on my own biases—around here, "dear" is used sarcastically, as in, "Yes, dear, anything you say, dear." I've never liked 'baby'. And then, I try not to repeat them from book to book. I noticed one author used "luv" as her generic endearment term across all her books. It lost meaning for me, because it sounded like the author said it, not the character.
One thing I learned after my first book came out, was that wonderful as editors are, and as wonderful as you know your manuscript is, you can't turn it around if all you've done is scrolled through markups and comments and addressed them. So, I'll be reading the manuscript critically, from Chapter 1 to "The End". It's about 101,000 words, so it's not something I can do in an afternoon. But I have to get back into the story, into my characters' heads, so I can make the content fixes. It's kind of like what we're doing with the house.
We're changing things, but we're not moving walls or rearranging appliances. Everything is where it should be, but we want it to be better. Which is why we spent most of yesterday (and a heck of a lot of money) ordering things like new floors, new faucets, cabinets, sinks, etc. They'll go where the old stuff went, but when we're done, the finished product should be much better than it is now. So that we can look around and do the homeowner equivalent of my editor's final comment: Great story! Love it!:-)