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Truth be told all a writer really wants when she sends her work to the editor is this in reply: Sweet Merciful Heavens! This is perfect as it is! I recommend you get to work on the sequel immediately.
That is NOT what she gets or what she needs, I’m talking about what she WANTS.
Contrary to the type of editing done on college essays, editing a novel isn’t just about punctuation and grammar. It’s about whether or not the manuscript says what the writer means it to say.
Did the writer fall so deep into the writer-rabbit-hole that she forgot little details like:
o Does every scene start out so the reader knows where it is taking place? While you’re writing it, you always know where the scene is so it is easy to leave out that little detail. But the reader shouldn't have to work too hard to figure out where the action is taking place. It's like forgetting to tell your family where you hid the sour cream cheddar potato chips, except you don’t do this on purpose.
o If it is necessary to know who is talking in dialogue, can the reader tell without too much effort? (We’ve all had to count back on dialogue haven’t we? That was Ron, that was Harry, Ron, Harry, okay.)
o Are there enough beats or too many? Beats are little bits of action tossed in to help with the visual, Stephanie wrote while trying to tug the end of one of her six scarves out of the wheel of her chair.
o Is action sequential? Did I forget the hero stood up two times in the last paragraph, but never sat down between them?
o Did anyone in the novel change names/eye color or accidentally disappear?
o Is there too much detail anywhere? Or not enough?
o Did the writer start telling the story instead of showing? This is a big no-no.
§ Tinker tore open her visa bill with the edge of a dirty salad fork. She groaned. I have got to stay off of Amazon! Holy cow how many times did I order pizza last month?
§ Tinker tore open her visa bill. She had a serious problem with math and never seemed to realize that all the little things would add up over the month. She bought books on Amazon about every other day, not to mention little things that caught her eye. She ordered pizza at least twice a week.
§ Can you tell which of the above is showing and which one is telling? I thought so.
Obviously these are important and necessary changes to the betterment of a story. I’m always amazed at how beautiful my editor can make my book. You’d never guess that she looks and sounds exactly like Godzilla. Okay, not really, she’s actually quite lovely, but after she’s tromped all over my manuscript it feels like she’s Godzilla-ed my Tokyo, if you know what I mean.