Thursday, June 16, 2005

Editorial Notes

I'm fortunate to have a great editor and a great agent. They are two people I feel like I just click with, especially for the first book process.

But when it came to hearing the feedback on Down For Whatever (formerly Same Script, Different Cast), I was scared crapless.

I'd heard horror stories from other author friends who said the editing process was going to be a battle. That it was a constant back and forth, ongoing arguing and debating, about what stays and what goes; what expands and what shrinks. So I prepped myself for the possibility of a not so fun time with editing and revising the manuscript.

Fortunately, it was painless. It was cool, actually. While there were areas that my editor saw needed strengthening, overall he found the manuscript I submitted in good shape. In fact, the parts of the book I thought would be changed (like slang, like pop culture, like race and ethnicity stuff) were left intact. Quite the contrary from what I expected. I guess all experiences are different.

For those of you who want an idea of what an editorial letter might include, below you'll find an edited version of my editorial notes. Deleting names so as not to give anything about DFWs plot away. Happy reading... and editing.

From editor:

"Here at long last are my editorial notes. The manuscript is in good shape, there were just a few spots to revise. Nothing that's going to be too hard for you to handle so with that in mind, let's get started...

P. 28: "And let's not talk about the lack of a sex life..." Again, why no sex between them? _____ is hot. _______ is hot. What are they waiting for? What gives?

P. 69: Even though you go into details later, give us a little backstory on _______ on this page. Try to flesh him out. Right now all he is is a name. That tells us nothing about who he is or why we should care about him being introduced to the story now.

P. 174: "That figures..." After this, get us into _______'s head more. Give us some backstory. Let us know his relationship with his brother... were they close growing up or not? If they were close, did that change when ______ came out? We need to know why we should care about the family dynamics.

P. 176: 3rd paragraph. It's better to SHOW the reader, rather than to TELL things to them. Let's see this scene unfolding between _____ and ______. Better than just running through what happened.

P. 243: "I think I'm falling for______. It's different than anything I've felt for someone..." After this, get us into his head more. Let us know more about his feelings for ______. Compare/contrast to previous relationships or tricks. What's so appealing about ____ now, since he's been afraid to get close to someone before?

And that's it, Fred. Send revised pages first. Disk later. If there are other spots in manuscript to address these points, feel free to do so. Need in a month."

And that was it. Well, just a few short examples of suggestions. There were many more I didn't list here. My editor was timely with everything. I was timely with getting everything back to him. I thought that was the end. Let the galley printing begin.

Then came the copy editor notes (grammar, punctuation, word choice, story and character consistency, etc...) about a month later. Now, I thought if one area I was an expert in was grammar.

Not even close.

The copy editing process... that's a whole 'nother game. More on that later... But the lesson to be learned... no manuscript or piece of writing is perfect. Even when you think it is. Even when it's about to be published. You always think of or see something else...

Happy editing!

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