Saturday, July 27, 2013

Editing -- The Sequel by Richard S. Keller

I'll bet you thought you'd never see Rich here on this blog again after last time when he wrote about Self-Promoting My Self Promotion. Or the time before that with Show and Tell, But Opposite. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but he's back. Color me crazy, but I have a major weakness for Rich's brand of humor.

It has nothing to do with the bribes.


Editing -- The Sequel by Rich Keller

Pat, thanks for giving me another chance to soil your pristine website with my words. I’m honored you made this decision with absolutely no influence on my part. By the way, I’ll pick up your laundry tomorrow and have that second coat of wax on your car by Sunday.

So, what’s new with you? Summer been okay so far? Been combining some needed relaxation with manic sessions of writing? Well, good…that’s good. Me? Oh, I’ve just been working on my manuscript Paradise Not Quite Lost for its Upcoming Publication From BALLOT PRESS!

I’ll wait until the standing ovation settles down. Um, you are giving me a standing ovation and not leaving the room, right?

The publication is a momentous event for me – ranking up there with my wedding, birth of my children, and Joss Whedon’s upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I feel there’s a layer of weight lifted from one’s shoulders when a company comes along and says they like your work so much they want to take a risk to see if the reading public enjoys it as well. However, the pressure doesn’t totally disappear, because there’s still work to be done. No, I’m not talking about the promotions, readings, interviews, and the required meeting with Bradgelina. The work I refer to is the return of your arch nemesis – editing.

You thought you were done with this part of the book writing process, didn’t you? Your critique group, personal editor friend, and over-critical mother all went through your manuscript with a fine tooth comb, and you figured you caught every grammatical error and content issue. Well, of course you didn’t. Similar to any decent week-old bowl of chocolate pudding, the first round of edits were just the rubbery skin you needed to pull off the top before you got to the slurpy part. Wait, let me read that again... Yup, good analogy.

Your group, editor friend, and obsessive parent cleared away most of the chaff. Now it’s time for the publishing house’s editor to analyze your manuscript for some fine tuning. Trust me, they’ll find stuff you didn’t even realize you produced while writing your werewolf/steampunk/romance/slasher book. And when they do, you’ll be shocked.

For example, the Ballot Press editor discovered my weakness for utilizing dependent clauses throughout the manuscript and putting an action sentence before a speaking part, thus burying the dialogue. She also pointed out my excessive use of ‘to be’ words, particularly the word ‘was’. Turns out ‘was’ became my crutch word throughout the book. I nearly fell off my chair when I did a search on the word and came up with 700 instances in a 90,000 word document. Sometimes I used the word two or three times in one sentence.

Hey, don’t panic – this is good stuff. The art of writing is an ongoing educational process. Each time you take your editor’s recommendations you’re learning something for the next essay, short story, or grocery list you write. Hence, your writing improves throughout your career, to the point you’re near perfection when, hands at the keyboard for your latest book, you die of natural causes at the ripe old age of 110. For me, the improvement process begins once I start to review what I’ve written in the sequel to Paradise Not Quite Lost.

The moral of this horror story – don’t argue with your editor on grammatical issues. You may think you’re in the right using ‘only’ to start every paragraph, but there’s a good chance it can be your first and last book with that particular publisher if you attempt to fight. Take their advice, make the changes, and you may be on this blog promoting your upcoming book. Just remember that Pat likes a little starch in her skirts and the checks should be made out to Cash.


Rich, congratulations on the coming release of Paradise Not Quite Lost from publisher Ballot Press. I hope you'll let us know when you get the cover art. I'd love to see it (and I'll even share on this blog for an extra car wash or two, but please do a better job on the tires next time).

Rich is working with others in his writing critique group to put together an anthology of short stories, essays, and poetry to be published toward the end of the year. One of these days I hope he'll let us know more about that project...and how many headaches they encounter along the way.

For more Rich Keller posts full of wit and wisdom and a truckload of snark, visit his website and his blogs, Cranial Burps and Richie on Writing.


Donna Volkenannt said...

Thanks for the good advice cloaked in humor. Love the chocolate pudding analogy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Rich!
I don't argue with my publisher's editor. I make all changes suggested.
And fortunately, I enjoy the editing phase. It's the first draft I hate.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Rich.

Rich - thanks for the reminder about how important it is to accept editing. Nobody writes a flaw-free book, and editors can be absolutely essential to fixing things the author might not even notice.

Anonymous said...

Editors are amazing. Still, I'm afraid to open my manuscript when it comes back from the editor.I have to prepare myself. Congratulations on your upcoming book, Rich.

Helenscribe said...

This really resonates. I've been so lucky with editors, but still
I have to brace myself for the onslaught every time. I grit
my teeth and open the package, read the remarks and mutter:
"How could I be so dumb?"

Joy V. Smith said...

I love your post--and your humor! I worked with two editors on Detour Trail. They--and I--kept finding typos and mistakes. Btw, I reread the book recently and found two typos and a mistake I made when correcting a mistake in one chapter! When you make a major change or correction, reread the whole chapter!!!

Teagan Geneviene said...

Patricia, it was a great idea to feature editing on your blog.

Rich, as an editor I thank you for understanding and accepting the field.
As a writer/editor, I’ll add one comment of my own – know when to stop. It applies to both editing and writing.

Jane Louise Boursaw said...

This is so cool, Rich! It's been fun riding along on the publishing train with you. It sounds like lots of caffeine and a good sense of humor is a requirement during the editing process.