Getting edits for your first novel is a little like waiting from the doctor for medical test results. You hope they will come back and say, “Everything is perfect; you have nothing to worry about.” But you also have this little voice whispering, “If something is wrong, I want to know. We can deal with it. Fix it.” The good thing about edits, of course, is that they are not life threatening. Even though it might just feel that way.
When my editor wanted to chat with me on the phone before sending edits, my first thought was he wanted to soften the blow on harsh edits. Smart guy. After he described my book as a “thinking woman’s cozy” and said “those characters just leap off the page” he could have asked me to do double the work. But as one of my writer friends said “I can see by reading just one of his sentences, the hours and hours of work ahead of you.”
They are not HUGE changes, but they are the kind of changes that will affect a lot of the book. After I make these suggested changes, I will go through the book and look at all the other “connecting” factors to make sure they are actually connecting. Make sense?
But here’s the clincher. I don’t mind the work. I am learning as I go. This is my first novel. I need to shut up, dig in, and learn from my editor. I know from my other publishing experiences, mostly in cookbooks, that an outside eye on your manuscript can do wonders. It is next to impossible to see your own work at some point. I’m absolutely certain these edits will make my book even stronger.
Also, my editor made it quite clear that if I felt strongly about any of his changes I should let him know and we would discuss. So as I dig in, his attitude comforts me. If there’s anything I’m uncomfortable about changing, he is open to discussion. Sometimes I need to stop and pinch myself.
Here’s what I’m working on:
1. Beefing up the mystery. (Because, well, I’ve written a MYSTERY.) This is really just a matter of a few tweaks here and there, ratcheting up the tension.
2. Adding more “crop” scenes in because after all, it is a scrapbooking mystery. I had way too much action happening away from the actual scrapbooking going down. (For those of you who don’t know “crop” is a term for getting together and scrapbooking.)
3. Rewriting the ending. Endings are tricky business. I welcome any advice, especially from a young, smart, genre-savvy editor.
Maybe some fiction authors get it all right before they turn in the manuscript. I tried my best, but I was definitely expecting edits—and really looking forward to them. So now that I have them, my mantra has become “Shut up, dig in, and learn.”
Updates to follow throughout the process. I think. Do any other fiction writers out there have similar mantras or thoughts?