Every author, no matter how experienced, needs their work viewed by a professional editor who can spot the flaws we writers are blind to. The old adage, "not being able to see the forest for the trees," I believe was written specifically for writers. We are too close to our work - our baby - to recognise its faults. Honestly, what parent doesn't see the sun shining from their child's rear end, when that said rear end needs desperate cleaning?!
Nor are we like Mozart - well maybe someone is, and good luck to them - who could pen an entire symphony from scratch, without a single correction and have it performed the next day to worldwide acclaim! The rest of us humble mortals must drag that precious idea from our fevered minds and find the right words to convey our story to the world - minus all the corrections, deletions, scratchings, and rewrits that are a normal part of any writer's life.
Recently, I had my manuscript viewed by a publisher, who helpfully sent me a three page report outlining what they loved about it and suggestions where it could be improved. They then gave me the option to resubmit.
I'd be a dumb bunny not to take them up on the offer, as such free editorial advice is invaluable.
To briefly summarise, these were some of the issues in my manuscript:
- create tension between the two main protagonists that can be sustained throughout the length of the book. It heightens the emotional journey and gives the reader greater connectivity with your characters. In other words, if you're writing a romance book, don't make your two leads fall in love too quickly. Make them suffer!
- get rid off anything which doesn't enhance the character or journey of the protagonist, even if it means "killing off your darlings" - that favourite chapter, scene or paragraph. If it doesn't make any difference to the book, leave it out!
I've now removed two chapters.
- tighten up paragraphs. If it can be said in one sentence, don't add another three. As they say, less is more.
I've now tightened up at least a hundred.
- you can have more than one climax in a story, but leave the best one for the end, where all questions are finally answered and all loose ends are neatly tied up.
That's the gist of it.
So, until the end of this month, I'll be working on those issues and resubmitting my manuscript.
I'd love to know if anyone else has received good editorial advice from a publisher, and acted on it.