How to Survive Editing a Novel

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It has happened, dear reader.  It has finally happened!  I was toddling through my day yesterday, minding my own business and being occupied with getting stressed at all I had to do at work, when it happened.  An email notification popped up on my phone, and I automatically opened it, assuming that it was yet another reassurance from a cruise company that NOW was the time for me to run away AND save money (not a bad sell, actually).  But, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, it was not that at all; it was an email from my publisher.  More specifically, an email from the editor, complete with a manuscript absolutely dripping with red ink notes.  Do you know what that means?

IT’S EDITING TIME!!!!!  Duh duh DUHHHHH!

I love editing, I really do.  There’s something about the challenge of trying to tighten up the story, move parts around so that everything flows better, and take out unnecessary words while adding just the right ones that gets me excited.  Although, I’ll admit, I had to remind myself that when I opened up the email – what if the editor hated it?  What if the story was awful and I’d have to start from scratch?  *GASP* What if I was a horrible writer?!?!?

Just as I was about to spiral into an existential crisis of impressive proportions, my eyes zeroed in on key words in the message: “fun”, “enjoy” and, most importantly, “believable.”  Immediately my existential crisis morphed into a giddy whirl, and stayed that way for the rest of the day.

So where do I go from here?   What’s the editing process?  It varies for each writer, but I personally am a very linear writer.  Although ideas come to me randomly, I tend to go step by step through the story so that I can connect all the pieces, which is exactly what I did when working on Hart & Seoul.  I have that same mentality for the editing process, which is outlined below:

  • Have the nerve to open the file from the editor
  • Do an initial read through over all the notes to get a sense of what the overall changes are going to be
  • Get Thai bubble tea to fortify myself (preferably Kokee Tea)
  • Begin editing by working on grammar (it’s easy and I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that I’ve made progress – yay me!)
  • Take the biggest thematic problem and see how I can weave it more into the story, which will impact the smaller critiques along the way
  • Have a home made cookie to refortify myself before delving into the smaller details of the story
  • Repeat as necessary

Editing shouldn’t be rushed – you want the best quality work to be presented to your readers, and racing to get through the edits only makes more work for you in the long run.  But at the same time, it’s important to stick with a schedule so that you don’t get distracted, or worse, discouraged.  Celebrate the fact that you actually have something to edit!  Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Ellen Oh, who was talking at a local high school’s book club.  She told everyone that the hardest thing to do is to actually finish a book, how so many gifted writers are not published simply because they did not complete a story.  But if you are passionate about your work, believe in it and don’t give up, you will be published – and she’s absolutely right!  My book, if nothing else, is proof of that; it took a lot of rejections and pep talks to get me to this point, but here I am, about to begin editing a story that will be published in just a few months.

EEEEEECK!!!!!!!

Before I go off to actually begin editing, I wanted to share another update: next week I’ll be going off on a grand adventure to several AMAZING countries.  This is technically a trip that I’ve been planning for two years, but it oh so conveniently will include one special country that I need to visit for research for my next writing project.  *HINT HINT HINT*  I’ll be sharing everything on Instagram, so feel free to click on the link in the sidebar to join in on the adventure.

While I’m traveling, my blog posts will be sporadic, but I’ll be posting updates and news whenever I can.  And hopefully I’ll have a cover design to share with you soon.  I’ll admit, I have no idea what they will come up with, but they did ask me for some ideas, and I have a feeling that the artist is going to do amazing things.

Now, I must go and submerge myself in all that cyber red ink – see you on the other side!

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