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editor_at_workI have a secret weapon.

While it’s true I’m the one who dreams up characters, weaves together plot threads, writes 80,000 words, and then rewrites most of them multiple times, my story is not nearly ready until it’s spent time in the hands of my amazing editors.

Since I’ve recently finished the editing process for my next novel Dance Over Me (releasing in September), I’ve got plenty of examples of my secret weapon of great editing in action.

First, a little background. I wrote this particular story in 2010 as a single point-of-view general fiction story with a strong romance thread. It was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest, under consideration by a big publisher for months, and then rejected by multiple others before being set aside to collect dust as I wrote (and published) others including Catch of a Lifetime.

Once it was picked up by Bling! Romance, the managing editor instructed me to pull that romance thread to the surface in order to meet reader’s expectations for our imprint. I was also told to shake the dust off by removing repetitive actions and a few other things.

So while the story is still told from just the heroine’s point of view, I dug deeper into the hero’s motivation and fears … then found places to weave in his character arc in addition to ramping up the romantic elements in every chapter. I also made a list of specific actions for each character and fixed those on every page so only the antagonist smirks and only the hero winks and so on.

The revised and updated manuscript was officially submitted to the publisher and then went to my fabulous general editor. Just days before Christmas, I received back Connie’s red-lined gift and an email of her additional thoughts.

While I tend to hyphenate words that shouldn’t be hyphenated, still insert commas where they don’t belong, and appear to pick variant spellings over the more common usage, my secret weapon quotes Merriam-Webster and the Chicago Manual of Style rules. In addition to fixing those problems, she tweaks the wording here and there on almost every page to improve the flow. There were also a few spots where I needed to bring clarity to either the timeline or the large cast of characters so readers won’t get confused.

This time around, she was also blunt enough from a reader’s perspective to point out a few remaining romantic weak spots, especially with the ending. Honestly? It stung for a moment (or ten) that this story still wasn’t good enough. But she was totally right! And it would be even worse if readers felt disappointed when they finished the book because that reaction doesn’t build a writing career or the positive word-of-mouth necessary to sell more books and get another contract.

Thanks to my secret weapon, I knew exactly where to add or expand a few additional scenes before sending it back for her to check over my changes.

And thanks to my secret weapon, I know that readers are going to fall in love with Alex and Danielle (Dani) in September.

What about you? Do you have an unsung hero or two that help make you look good in your work? Do you have someone in your life with an objective perspective who you trust to speak truth when you need it?

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2 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: The Power of Great Editing

  • January 18, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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    Aw, thanks! And thanks for matching me up with Connie in the first place. She polishes the words until they sparkle in true Bling! fashion.

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