Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Digging Beneath the Blood-Stained Cement

I wasn't going to talk about editing today, but I received my notes for "Family Tradition" from my content editor, so it seemed apropos.

Now some writers are surprised when they get pages of comments from an editor after their story has been accepted for publication. "But my beta readers and critique partners gave me feedback," they argue. "I polished the story until I could see my reflection. Why does my manuscript look like it's bleeding?"

The answer is because a good content editor knows what to look for that even the most judicious CP may not be able to find. For example, they dig through the dirt (your story) and unearth plot and character inconsistencies. Then they hit cement. Being unable to go any further, they move on to other stories. But a content editor knows there's more work to be done beneath the cement. S/he breaks out the jackhammer and gets to work pulverizing the concrete to get to the story beneath.

Content edits can seem overwhelming at first. It takes me a day or two before I become accustomed to the red "comments" bleeding across the pages. Usually, I start with the easiest task, something like accepting and/or deleting punctuation and minor grammatical errors. Then I work on those edits that are the easiest to change, moving on to the more complicated ones. Finished, I turn them over to my CE.

And wait for another round...

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