Let me begin by wishing everyone in the U. S., and all U. S. citizens abroad, a Happy Fourth of July! Have a safe and fun day.
I want to thank everyone for taking part in yesterday's blog. Just because a new blog post is going up, don't think we're moving on. We'll keep that one going for a bit to give everyone a chance to post and get some feedback.
Now for today's post. As writers, we have lots of different hats we have to wear, and I'm not talking about all the hats we wear in our every day lives -- parent, spouse, employer or employee, etc. No, I'm talking about all the different hats we wear as a writer. Just a few of them are: researcher, story teller, proof-reader, copy editor, market researcher, PR manager. Well, you get my drift. We are all better at some of these than we are at others. But to have a chance to succeed in this profession, we have to be able to move, if not seamlessly at least without too much trouble from one to the other.
Being our own editor is probably the hardest, at least to me, of all the hats we wear. This is when we have to step outside of our comfort zone and divorce ourselves from those 100k-plus words we've written and look at them with critical eyes. We have to keep reminding ourselves that our reader doesn't know what was in our head at the time we wrote that really great scene we love so much. No, we have to go back and make sure all the cookie crumbs are there to foreshadow that scene. Have we said enough or did we say too much? In short, we have to be more than objective as we edit our work, we have to be critical.
First readers are good resources to help with this. But, in the end, that final edit before we send our baby out amongst the strange agents and editors comes from us.
I guess I've been thinking about this a lot this past week because I've been in the edit process on several of my own pieces. I've been doing final edits on a short story that is about to be kicked out of the house to make the rounds. I've been looking at another short that has been out and back several times. Each rejection it's received has been very positive and the editors have asked me to send them something else. It's just that this particular story didn't fit what they are looking for just now. So I've had to look at that story and decide if I wanted to tweak it or send it out to other markets or just file it away for the moment.
Another project I'm working on is about ready to start making the query round of agents and editors. That means working up a query letter -- something I hate to do. I'd much rather just send the completed work, or at least a good sampling of pages and a detailed synopsis -- and synopsis. Actually, it means several versions of the synopsis because agencies and editors have different requirements. Some want a two or three page synopsis. Others look for 10 pages or so. Even others want every chapter, every scene, mentioned. This is one of the places where the researcher hat also has to come on, because the last thing you want is to send the wrong information to an editor or agent. And yes, this requires editing as well; not only for format but for content. Is there a sufficient hook in the query letter to get the editor to look at the enclosed synopsis and pages? Does the synopsis read in an entertaining manner or is it more "and this happened and then this and then this and the end"? Are the enclosed pages well-written, tightly plotted and is the hook firmly planted on that first page so they keep reading and wanting more?
Then there are edits to consider making on a novel that has been making the rounds as well. One editorial assistant, after reading the proposal, synopsis and first 100 pages passed. Why? It wasn't that he didn't like the story. No, it was the point of view that was wrong. For this particular genre, the editor he works with prefers first person over third. Sure, I could change it. It would be time consuming and I'd have lost about a third of the novel, maybe a bit more, that would have to be replaced. So my decision, after talking it over with someone else in the business who I trust, was to leave the novel as is and submit it elsewhere.
In the midst of all this, I have two more novels started -- very different in tone and voice -- and a short story waiting to be written. Did I mention being a writer means knowing how to juggle, at least in your head?
How do you handle the demands of editing? Do you have any secrets or tricks of the trade you use to make it easier?