Sunday, April 26, 2009

Revisions of a first novel: scaling the peak of Mount Edit

Hi! I’m Jasmine. I write contemporary romance, with a sweet & sensual slant. Think modern day damsels and prince charming in a tool belt. My first three novels are due out this year, and I’m delighted to be contributing to the Pen & Muse!

I’d like to talk about editing. Oh yes. When I was younger, much younger, I think I imagined that an author wrote a novel, touted it around a bit, and then it got accepted and everyone was happy. Magical fairies made copies of the book, painted a pretty cover, and it appeared it shops via teleportation.

Obviously, this isn’t the case. Once a novel is accepted, the author works closely with an editor to revise all the little niggly things that can make or break a book. Plot holes. Punctuation errors. Grammatical mistakes. Boring dialogue. Etc.

For example, when I started to work on my first published novel, Stranded (click here for more info), I had no idea how much passive voice I used. Passive voice = was, were, etc.

Loads. Truthfully, bucketloads. My wonderful editor Mary used a firm but encouraging hand with my work. She highlighted all the “was” and “were” in my raw manuscript and asked me to look at them closely. Some pages seemed so full of highlights that quite, frankly, I’m surprised she had the strength to continue! However, once the passive voice had been revised out, you would not believe how much better it read. I felt part of the action, and now so would the readers.

An editor is invaluable. An editor guides you through the revision process, improving your work. Sometimes this means shortening it. I deleted the whole first chapter from Stranded. I actually wanted to cry a little bit when it was suggested, but you know what? It helped. Massively. The story now begins where it should, where the action happens. So, when you find yourself worrying about cutting, don’t. Listen to your editor. She knows what sells and what won’t. She knows what’ll hook readers. Don’t fret. Go with the flow. If you really feel very strongly about something, it can be discussed and maybe put back in later.

It’s a scary process. You write and rewrite, over and over, fret, get stressed, shout at your partner and your pet cat (or in my case, pet python), and then when you finally submit the revisions to your editor, you worry about what she’ll think.

In short, I think editing is sort of like having a child. It’s never truly over. You’re always editing current work, post-contracted work, or friends’ work.

But it’s all worth it when it’s done. When your editor emails you and tells you how impressed she is. THEN you relax. Or do you? Of course not! Then the dreaded muse is on your back again, chucking characters and plots through your mind, gnawing away until you write.

But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Thanks for listening, and I hope to talk to you all again soon! ♥


www.jasmineaherne.com
Stranded: released May 09 - www.pinkpetalbooks.com
Between the Lines: released June 09 - www.wildhorsepress.webs.com
Uprooted: released Nov 09 - www.pinkpetalbooks.com

4 comments:

  1. Great post, Jasmine! Welcome! I really enjoyed your article! Editing a novel isn't one of my strong suits, hopefully in the future it will be.

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  2. Jasmine, I love the concept of Mount Edit. And as someone who has been on the other side of the street, I can tell you it sometimes looks that way to editors, too!

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  3. There ya go! We got two sides of the coin! :)

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  4. Nice to meet you, Jasmine. Your post makes lots of good points. For me editing is easier than writing from scratch. I enjoy viewing something I've already written and finetuning it just so. Working with an editor on a deadline is another story. A good editor is both a guardian angel and a devil's advocate. Good luck with your writing, Jasmine!

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