Today my guest is editor Brittiany Koren. I had the pleasure of working with her when she was assigned as my editor for my first two Blackthorne, Inc. novels. In addition to editing for Tekno Books, she collaborated on five anthologies for DAW Books. She also created the White House Gardener series with author, Dorothy St. James, for Berkley Prime Crime. She recently started her own editorial business, Written Dreams.
And a brief update--Brittiany emailed me last night apologizing that her work schedule changed, and she won't be near her computer as often as she'd like today. But she's looking forward to reading and responding to your comments--it'll just be much later in the day than she'd hoped.
Thank you so much, Terry, for inviting me to be your guest. I’m excited to be here!
Most writers, in my opinion, submit their manuscript too early to publishers, perhaps thinking editors at publishing houses will help them with needed revisions. Unfortunately, in today’s marketplace editors don’t have that luxury, and a manuscript rejected because it is not well-written. Revising is an important part of the writing process. Here’s my recipe for a well-revised manuscript…
So, you just finished your first draft. Congratulations! Finally, after months of hard work it’s time to submit to a publisher. Wrong. Your manuscript has only the broad strokes at this point. It’s time for your first draft revision.
Think of your manuscript as a simple recipe of white bread. You have flour (characters), yeast (plot), salt (climax) and water (setting) combined in a ceramic bowl. That’s your first draft.
What’s a good period of time to let your manuscript rise? A week to a month. As a writer, you need time away to distance yourself, and forget. This gives you an objective point of view to do the next stage in the writing process. Revision.
No matter what type of writer you are, you may leave out important little details in that first draft that will more than likely come easily when revising the second draft. Using the bread recipe, these little details are like spices flavoring your basic white bread. Specific details added in about setting, characterization, plot, dialogue, tension, conflict, and timing are so very important in making a stereotypical character live and breathe in a world readers can relate to.
Okay, you’ve just finished your second draft, reading all the way through it, adding in great details that even you didn’t realize about the main character. You also added in wonderful details on setting, and maybe fixed a plot hole you didn’t see before. What’s next? Submission? Not yet.
This time take a minimum of 48 hours away from your manuscript. Your bread has had time to rise. Punch it down gently so it can begin to rise fully. In your third draft, be critical of the grammar, punctuation, transitions from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and chapter to chapter. Be critical every word your characters say is in their own voice. Be aware of how you’re “showing” and not “telling” the story to your readers. And be sure to spend the same amount of time on the middle and ending as you do on the hook and the first three chapters. Now, it’s time to bake.
Is it time? Close. Your first batch of bread has baked in the oven. It’s time to taste-test it to see if it’s any good. Your manuscript is ready to send out to your trusty First Readers, writers in their own right, who will give you an honest opinion. They may catch a few things you missed in earlier revisions. That’s great! But give yourself some credit. You got the manuscript this far.
Weigh your First Readers’ edits/questions carefully keeping in mind their own success in the field before changing anything dramatic in your manuscript. Thank them for their help. Now, it’s off to fix those pesky typos you missed, and bake another batch of bread.
Your recipe has been perfected as best you can make it. It looks great and tastes even better. You’ve spent countless hours on it, perfecting it, making it your own, and adding in your own blend of flavor. You feel confident you’ve given it your all. You have engaging characters, an interesting storyline, and a great conflict. The ending will give your readers pure enjoyment.
Yes, now it is time to submit your manuscript to a publisher. So submit it and forget it. It’ll be a while before you receive a response. But don’t sweat it. You’ve written a wonderful story. You’ve made the bread you’ve set out to bake, and someone out there should like it. Hopefully.
And if they don’t, that’s okay. Just try a new recipe. Perhaps with a different brand of flour or a little less yeast this time. Sometimes it takes a few tries before a recipe is successful.
Brittiany will answer any questions as soon as possible related to the blog post. You may contact her directly at Brittiany@writtendreams.com with any editorial questions not related to this blog post.
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