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Late Tuesday afternoon, I got my first round edits from my new Five Star editor, for ROOTED IN DANGER, my 3rd Blackthorne, Inc. novel. So, it’s back to editing. And back to Track Changes.
First step was to go through all the ‘insertion/deletion’ points, which were virtually all things like punctuation. I did notice that she’s a ‘sparing use of comma’ person, whereas I tend to use them more liberally. Those are easy enough to accept.
Then I read through her comments and dealt with the easy ones first. I like her eye—she pointed out several places where I’d used the same word more than once in a brief passage, or was inconsistent with usage, such as having both R&R and R and R in the manuscript.
My heroine came from money, and I’d referenced the “Society Pages” in the manuscript. My editor questioned their existence, and I had to stop and poke around a bit, to see if newspapers still reported on the social scene. They do, but it meant a bit of tweaking to get the wording more up to date.
In several places, she thought a word or phrase I’d chosen didn’t suit the character or situation, but she merely pointed that out, and didn’t suggest more appropriate wording.
Here, I had to come up with a better word or phrase. Shouldn’t be difficult, although at this point it hit me that I have no clue about this book anymore. When I went to my very first file, I realized I’d started the book in mid 2008, and finished it in January of 2009. Then it went through the submission process, and was accepted for publication in February of this year. Since then, I’ve been busy writing other books.
So it’s not a matter of simply finding a better word. It’s immersing myself into the entire book. If her comment says, “Not sure what you meant by this,” my response is, “Neither am I.” It’s not going to work if I look at a paragraph out of context and try to fix something. It means going back and reading the entire scene, or chapter, or ideally, the entire manuscript again. Given the 9 day turnaround, it would take a lot of effort. But the alternative is a piece of work that might not be the best it could be.
Can I always reconstruct what was going on in my head when I wrote a line? Or even a scene? I know when I’m writing, it makes sense to me, but maybe not to a reader. And three years later, not to me anymore, either. So it’s a matter of re-reading, getting a feel for the characters, and writing something that works.
If you try to fix something without knowing exactly where it stands in the book—what’s happening in the character arc—then fixes are likely to be disjointed. What’s happening in the scene? In the relationship between the characters? Would the heroine be wary around of the hero at this point, or has she begun to trust him?
Another issue – timelines. I normally keep track of when everything happens, even if it’s just “Day 1” or “Day 5.” But for some reason, I can’t find a file with these notations. I did find one day’s work that had “Fix Timeline” written at the start of Chapter 15. I can only hope I did so by the time I got to the rewrite phase.
Then there was the comment at the end of one scene: “What month is this?”
I had no clue. But I did discover a reference to hurricane season early in the book, which meant things were likely taking place between May and November. Not much help.
A good deal of yesterday’s writing time was spent dealing with chronology. This book, unlike most of the rest of mine, covered a lot more time. I see paragraphs that say, “In the four months since…” and have to figure out when stuff happened, and then go back and layer in a few references so the reader gets a feel for the overall timeline of the book.
And I’ll remember that I need to make sure I don’t lose track of time when I’m working on my next book.