Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words 6/2/2009

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Big Changes Required

Editing is a mix of making sure the story is the best it can be without imposing your personal voice on the author’s voice. Like a sculpture where you take stuff away until the art of the marble is there. And sometimes that means telling the author a HUGE chunk of their story needs to be rewritten.

This happened with prolific author C.E. Murphy, and she shared her feelings on Magical Words 6/2/2009 in “A Conversation with my Editor”:

I think most telling about the process is in her comment (6/3/2009 at 1:06 am) to Faith, David where she wrote:

y’know, I really didn’t feel like she was asking for something huge. Maybe because I wasn’t comfortable with how the beginning of the book fit with the rest of it,

She knew something was wrong with the book; it had been eating at her on some level. I’m betting the editor coming back with the reason and a solution was something of a relief (after getting over the shock of needing to rewrite 20% of her manuscript to fix the issue). I don’t normally ask for big changes from my authors when I edit, but the few times I have, they have been really happy when they responded after a couple days – usually with “I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure it out”. Once it was a nearly immediate “THAT’S IT!!! Thanks.” – and I didn’t hear back from the author for two months.

First hint: Take a couple days after getting the editing letter back to mull on the issues.

Second hint: Ask questions.

If you notice Ms. Murphy asked questions and discovered a deeper problem. The editor didn’t gel with the main character. The romantic element being front-loaded into the novel kept the main point-of-view character’s relationship with the reader from fully forming. The problem wasn’t so much about the romantic elements existing, but the room they took away from other elements.

Again the Magical Words link is: