Let's flap gums on editing for a minute. I've been at it a while and certainly have some expertise. I'll keep it exciting. And packed full of jokes, apparently.
John Jarrold is the developmental editor for V&V and he is a gift. However amazing this book was destined to be, he's already made it far better.
John's well known in the industry, having worked as an agent and editor with a ton of influential authors from the late 80s and still to this very day. A recent acquisition of his I enjoyed was 2019's The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan (which I've described as Avengers meets Bloodborne). It was this fact that convinced me he'd fit well with my story.
I sent him my manuscript. He did his initial run and commenting and edits and sent it back a while later. I've told you before that he told me he enjoyed it, and that he said other kind things that I'll save in my heart. I also mentioned that he ripped some of it apart, thereby kicking my heart in the nuts.
He's not the first to read this story. Two in my reading group have been through the entire story. That's three opinions besides my own to compare and contrast but John's carries the most weight. Partly because his is the most expensive. Partly because he's worked closest with the industry for the longest and I trust his judgment. Does that mean I'm blindly acquiescing to his every reaction? Not necessarily, but I'm considering them all very strongly. Here's a quick account of some changes he suggested and inspired.
-Story-level he had some complaints with one of my main characters, and after much heartache and consideration I realized he's right. The character was intolerable, despite the improvements he undergoes about halfway through. He's now been rewritten entirely. That required significant rewrites or revisions of more than eight chapters (about 40,000 words). It was the most intensive job John gave me to do, and probably most crucial.
-These suggestions are more sentence-level, and in the camp of copy-edits. He pointed out some bad habits I employ. I've fixed a lot, as the following image indicates. This will probably be the last thing I finish but luckily it doesn't require inspiration, only grind.
|wherein I isolate offending words/phrases and reduce their count|
-He's asked for some clarification of geography, history, and backstories. Those are all legit requests as well. I've taken for granted my god-like view of the map and all that has happened here and I don't want to prop a weak description up with a map not everyone will see.
I've broken this into a procedure. In short, by the time I rely on a location or creature or character or magic for the plot, they must have been properly introduced and foreshadowed. That can be as simple as referring to them three separate times before they appear.
-John stated at two points he's concerned about the number of POVs happening. In fairness, there are twenty-two total, of whom several die in their first and only scene. I've removed one already. But the placement and manner of his criticism didn't convince the count itself is the problem so much as how they negatively affect pace and rhythm. I believe I can improve it by fixing yet another character. This fellow gripes and complains and is negative as hell. When future events befall him, his fate won't draw tears from readers, as I'd prefer. It will draw relief. I need to make him sympathetic.
[update: Between drafting this news letter and posting it, I've come up with a solid game plan to fix him. There are only five scenes from his point of view. Here's hoping it comes naturally.]
None of the remaining edits are as intimidating as what's already been done. The only hurdle now is finding time to sit down and focus. Time is truly the most expensive commodity. I can't wait to duplicate my consciousness and double my productivity.
See you next month. By then I'll hopefully be reporting on the next step: copy-edits.