Writing a novel can take a while. First, you have to have an idea, and then you have to plot it out. Some authors like to just sit down and start writing, but a little plotting is always good to do in advance. There are the characters to build and scenes to work, but for me the hardest part of writing is editing. Back in November, I wrote a Fortune Cookie Friday post on decisions; this is a follow up to that post.
Ernest Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” There are days that, after editing, I really wanted to get drunk. I find the process tedious, but it is necessary. When you write, you should just keep typing and let that creative muse flow through you. Don’t stop to correct minor typos, just keep going. Write as many scenes or chapters as you can and then go back and edit.
I recently finished my third revision on my young adult fantasy fiction, The Ruby’s Cell. I say third revision, because after writing my first draft, I had to go back and fix some minor mistakes, but knew it needed more. My second draft was better, but I wanted to add more plot twists and characters. My third draft was close to what I wanted, but I invariably made some minor grammar errors that needed fixing and it still lacked something that I couldn’t put my finger on.
Write drunk; edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway
Whenever I made a major change, I would go back and read it. This can be time consuming and over time, the whole thing can become a blur. That was when I decided I needed professional help. I don’t mean a therapist, though there were moments when the voices in my head seemed like they would take over. I meant I needed an editor.
I took some time at the end of last year to search for an editor in my genre that would not break my bank account. Luckily, my husband is able to support me financially and emotionally. You still have to shop around and look for the best bang for the buck.
After researching many editorial options, I settled on Susan Wenger with Editorial Department. Renni Browne, co-author of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, founded the company, and I was familiar with the book. The company has a varied selection of services that I could utilize besides editing, so I thought, “What the heck.”
It didn’t take long for Susan to edit my work and send me a version with comments in the margin. She was very thorough and confirmed much of what I thought needed changing. We agreed that I needed more back-story on my protagonist’s family and the people that lived around him. She also suggested other things that I never considered, like balancing the chapter lengths.
She even suggested some reading to help me in certain areas, like writing battle scenes. I wrote children’s stories with animals in the beginning, and there just wasn’t much need for knowing how to write a sequence with sword fighting or a barrage of arrows.
We had our thirty-minute consultation yesterday, and my head is swimming with ideas. Thanks to her, I feel confident how to continue my next revision. With some time and a little effort, this book will be worthy to submit to an agent.
Thank you, Susan and thank you, Editorial Department.