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February 17, 2010

10 Things I Learned Through Line Edits...

I just finished my first round of line edits, yesterday.

All I have to say about it..."WOW."

Wow, as in, I have the utmost respect for editors and line editors now, especially after they go through MY manuscript.

There are some things I learned through this phase:

1. I am wordy. Oh, yes...very wordy. Those sneaky extra words. Devilish little imps. My editors vanquished them with the mighty pen (ok, digital pen...mouse, trackball, and the delete button). There are quite a few of those pesky words I never realized were unnecessary. Which brings me to #2...

2. I write the way I talk. Well, not really. I tend to write out the contractions rather than use them, but I speak more in contractions...UNLESS I'm being formal, in which case I will speak out the full words and not use contractions. Still, when writing, I write how I think, so a lot of those pesky words sneak in when they aren't necessary.

3. FELT is not a good way to describe what a character feels. It's not descriptive. LOL. One thing I was doing was going through the manuscript and telling what the characters were experiencing. When this was pointed out, I changed it to be more character specific and used the word 'felt'. Apparently, this is a "not good" thing to do.

Example: Not good: She felt the blow strike her face. Good: Pain exploded as the blow connected. (Still could be improved, I'm sure...but it's not using "felt"!)

4. It might have made sense to me when I wrote it, but going back through it during edits, I realized there were a few "What the hell?!?" moments. When the editor comments, "Umm...what was is this suppose to mean?" and I read it and come up blank, this is an indication that I definitely need to change it.

5. Regional slang doesn't make sense to people from other parts of the country. An example of this is "Make bank", (i.e. "Josh works as a local DJ." "Wow, bet he makes bank!") Heck, I grew up with this phrase here. I know what it means. Alas, people from other states might not. Apparently, this can be jolting and knock people from the story, even if you're writing about characters from the region and in the region the story is set in. A lesson for me in this was to limit the use of these regional slangs to more recognizable ones.

6. What I learned in grammar school doesn't necessarily mean it's right or used by the publishing house. LOL. Each publishing house has their own set of rules in regards to how things are done. Even if it irks you, causes you to cringe and want to beat your head into the desk, do it their way. There's a reason for it.

7. Spelling - same thing. Publishing houses have a set guideline for how things are spelled, i.e. grey vs gray or blond vs blonde, etc.

8. If I had to be an editor, I'd be bald. Really. I'd have pulled my hair out halfway through editing.

9. Sometimes, you need a little back story to explain why a character feels/does/says a certain thing. Key phrase there was "A LITTLE".

10. I absolutely adore my editors. They could have just ripped the story apart in editing but they were great in explaining WHY they'd marked what they did and even gave little bits of advice to make it better. I was able to understand why I was making these changes as I applied the changes.

Before, I was afraid to go through editing. I'd heard horror stories from other writers, but going through them myself, I have to say I absolutely love the editing process. It's hard work - writing a full length novel was easier - and even as I wanted to pull my hair out, burst into tears, or throttle someone, I loved it.

Am I insane?

More than likely since I'm a writer. LOL.


Wendy Marcus said...

Thanks for sharing your journey! It's a learning process, for you and those, like me, who have yet to experience it. For the record, I don't know what 'make bank' means! (I'm in NY)

Isobael Liu said...

Thanks, Wendy!

And that's what I meant. Something regional here, well known and used often, doesn't mean it'll be understood somewhere else and using it in writing should be limited or not used at all, even if the characters using it would normally use it because they're from the area it's being used. It's too limiting and while *I* think it's a good idea, if my readers are going to get confused and it knocks them from the story, then I have to agree with my editors and cut it.