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Bob Nailor

Eight Shades of Editors

It is one of every writers' nightmares - the dreaded revision. Creating a novel is rather simple and almost anyone can do it.
Not everyone can write and tell the tale in the manner necessary to make it a good read or in other words, well written.

Enter in the editor. Okay, Editor #1. The rough draft editor, the person who should review your latest work-in-progress is none other than you. Please, pul-lez, never, ever submit the first pass for somebody to review and/or edit. Also, don't send it to a publisher.

Again, the first editor. This is you. You should go over the work, making sure every word shines and every word you've typed is exactly the word you want. Superfluous words, let alone should they be "fluff" words to up the word count, diminish your story's impact. Make sure your writing is tight.

After you have gone through the story at least two or three times, even more to make it better, it is now might be ready to allow others to test read. That would be Editor #2. No, we are not at "beta" reader mode, yet. I said TEST. This is a close WRITER friend who knows what to look for while reading. If that person has questions or is unclear of certain passages fix them. At this point, I might add, you've made changes, so once again, you, now Editor #3, do a complete edit of the book to make sure it all fits and is logical. Exactly what does this mean? You make sure that any name changes wasn't just in the area you corrected, but was carried throughout the book. Sometimes, adding a clarification paragraph can throw off the story's concept. Make sure everything is copacetic.

Now you send it to a professional editor. We'll call this person Editor #4. This is the entity you will pay to rip your story apart and correct the blatant errors you missed. You're not paying this person to give you hollow praises and gush how great a book you've written. This person will mark your manuscript with red and several other colors, just to show you the mistakes. Really? Do you want to pay big bucks for someone to tell you how great the book is? Let the readers who buy the book give you those laurels of praise.

You've received the corrections from the editor. Once you gain equilibrium and can breath, review the comments and corrections. You paid for them. Don't ignore them.

It is now that you notice the first comment and you can't believe what you're being asked to do.

Rewrite the story in 1st person.

Your mind goes into hyper-drive. You've spent the last 14 months creating this masterpiece and now you need to totally rewrite it in 1st person point of view? Is the editor crazy?

This is something many writers seem to forget. The POV (Point of View) can make or break a story. Some stories need that internal closeness of first person, while others can fly on the winds in 3rd person. Sometimes it is the genre, other times it is the story's setting.

She held her breath. The sound of creaking floors moved closer. She was dizzy and frightened. Goosebumps coiled up her spine.
I inhaled. The sound of creaking floors edged closer. My legs started to collapse and I realized I'd forgotten to breathe. Fright held me frozen and goosebumps gripped my spine.

Now exactly which one of the above sentences grabs you and makes you feel you are in a situation of fear. Yes, both of them describe basically the same thing, but one is more intense and involves you.

You rewrite the story, grudgingly. As you work your way through the novel, you suddenly realize you are more involved in the story. You are the story and it is coming alive. No longer are you telling, but are now living the experience. The rewrite moves quickly and you are finished. BUT, you must once again do a second pass of edits. Yup! You are Editor #5

Now onward to Editor #6 which is a group. The difference this time, you send it out to not only your test reader but also to the "beta" readers. You get this input and finalize your novel.

Now Editor #7 steps up to bat. One FINAL edit. That is you reading it aloud to anyone who will listen - if only yourself. You now know if it is ready for publication either via an agent, a publisher or even yourself. That would be Editor #8... if you're lucky enough to get feedback from the agent or publisher.

A good editor, a professional editor, will help you to attain the best out of your novel. Of course, there is one simple rule: This is your book, you decide what changes will be made. The caveat? If there is a disagreement between you and publisher, in other words, if the publisher demands something, then you have the right to pull the book from their hands. It is always YOUR book.

Editor changes are, as my one editor friend says:

These are my suggestions. Nothing is cast in stone. Take'em or leave'em, your call.

One final note: Each editor can either 'do it all' or be a specialist who handles certain aspects: spelling, grammar, punctuation, story line, plot development or several other aspects. Decide what you feel is important to get the best out of your story from an editor.

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