There is a
reason the number one rule for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is to
silence your internal editor and get going with your first draft. The primary
rationale being—editing is time consuming.
It is a
time-consuming task for the editor you’ve hired, whether for content editing or
line editing. And doubly time consuming when you are sitting in front of a
marked-up manuscript wondering How am I going to handle all this?
Because if you have a good editor, in the top of his or her form, you’re going
to be faced with a lot of decisions. That’s the mark of a good editor. They
ultimately leave it for you to interpret what will best serve your story.
will nudge you here and there with questions such as: Is this needed?
Comments like: I’m confused. How do we know this is supposed to happen here?
Some of my favorites start with a simple: Why? Then there are suggestions
for punctuation, especially, in my case, with dialog tags. Which leads into the
ever-popular passive verb usage issues of limp sentences. Easy things to blow
past on a first draft when you’re trying to get a daily word count in. Or, if
you’re a pantser, like me, you start with a concept and figure things out as
you go. The result is the same, more work later on. (Dangling prepositions:
did my content editing this time around, and I have to admit I was initially
stunned with her attention to detail. I didn’t harbor any allusions about my
manuscript being perfect, far from it, but that first impression was Wow!
It gave me pause. I had to come up with a system to manage it all. I settled
into marking all her balloon symbols with a XX in the text. XXs are easy
markers for edit searches to find. I’d mark up a chapter then go back to the
beginning and read through until the XXs came up, evaluate her comment, then
decide how to implement it to my advantage. Sometimes it was something easy
like spelling. The more compelling comments involved going back to previous
chapters to make the story’s continuity flow better; make a subplot clearer, cleaner;
or a character trait more detailed. The head-thumping moments came with the
catches that saved me from certain embarrassment. (Bless you, Misty.) Rarely
came the ones that I could classify and dismiss with an easy: Yes, I meant
to do that. I was, after all, paying for her expert advice.
was my ending.
avoided reading Misty’s comments of the last two chapters until I had written,
or rather, rewritten, my text. Waiting until I knew my manuscript in its new
and improved *74,400-word entirety was paramount. In the terms of Save the
Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, I had to refine my Final Image. I
ended up deleting a huge chunk of the last chapter and tacking on what remained
to the previous one. I enhanced sections with dialog from the principle cast of
characters, losing lesser ones. I tied up loose ends. I added support for my major
themes: preservation, family, forgiveness, and the legacy of Pippi
Will that be
enough? That judgement will have to wait for the next phase of manuscript
editing—reading the whole thing out loud. One can catch a lot of problems with
ever done? No. Must there be an end? Yes.
THANK YOU to Misty Urban.
at beginning of content editing.
Present errors are all mine.)