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Tell Me – Ivan Ewert

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I am obviously biased about this one. My author, my company, my editing. Love this book.

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Beginning writers hate the word editing.

Working on FAMISHED: THE FARM cured me.

It was my first novel, and I didn't know all the rules. I handed what was essentially a draft copy to Jennifer Brozek of Apocalypse Ink Productions with scant time to spare on the deadline; then asked if I should get a beta reader in the door.

She was gracious enough to explain - gently, for which I'm grateful - that alpha readers would also have been a good idea.

I was lucky enough to get a deadline extension.

I polled my friends and got an enthusiastic response from two professional writers and two avid genre readers. As alpha readers, I asked them to point out any errors they found, but to focus on plot holes, characterization, and anything that simply didn't make sense.

It was like having quadruplets at an Easter Egg Hunt. "Hey! Look how many cool problems I found!"

It was embarrassing, to be honest; but invaluable. Partly because these were friends and volunteers, not full-blown editors. They weren't being paid. They were taking their valuable time to read through the work and offer their solicited advice.

Two of them I spoke with in person, the other two provided marked-up copies of the draft via email. Whether talking or writing back, I made a point of not defending, explaining or hand-waving at anything they'd found; because I knew they wanted to make my work better. That was key - listening, and refusing to defend the work as it stood.

The greatest surprise was that their points were often unanimous. When one person asked a question, I could always dismiss it. When three people told me a plot point was a problem, I learned to listen.

Sitting with their feedback and working out how to fix things became a pleasurable challenge. It wasn't a chore this time. It was a joy. Maybe even more fun than the original writing, because now I had partners in what passes for crime.

I sent it around a second time. One or two more issues, but overall? I passed ... which meant a round of professional edits (by the inestimable Lillian Cohen-Moore, whose work comes highly recommended) was painless, focusing on rules of style rather than questions on the fiction.

As for Jenn, I don't think she even read the initial draft - and in retrospect, I'm very glad of that. The manuscript was accepted. Because of editing, today I'm a published author.

Editing made my book better. It made my writing better. It made my publisher happy. It'll make my next book better. There's not a word in that list I don't like ... including editing.