WHAT I LEARNED IN ROUND ONE OF EDITING IS…
(Spoiler Alert: The answer is not to head-hop.) So, you’ve gotten the book deal. What next? The answer is almost always edits. Some people fear it; some people revel in it. Most of us just nervously await feedback and then frantically scribble once we have an editor’s requests in hand.
While a number of authors wait weeks, even months to hear from their editor due to overflow, I was lucky and got my edit requests literally the day I signed my contract. I then entered two weeks of non-stop spy hysteria and came a better writer for it.
Hysteria? Sounds intense. What were the requests? Surprisingly, not much!
*Cue “The Sound of Silence”* Ah, head-hopping. For those who don’t write fiction, head-hopping is a literary fallacy where an author hops from one person’s point of view to another throughout a single scene. When writing third person you walk a fine line between omnipotence and head-hopping. Thankfully, my editor over at NineStar Press provided me with an awesome link explaining head-hopping in further detail. If you’re curious, you can find that article here. Anyway, removing any instances of head-hopping was by far the longest and most intensive of the edit requests. I was guilty of head-hopping on all fronts. There were some parts where the cutting didn’t require losing much of the story. But, there were other instances where you could lose insight into how a character thinks or reacts to another. I feel these were the hardest to cut, but also the most necessary to cut. There were only a couple instances where I couldn’t make the edits, and they were almost always fight scenes. In this case, I left it up to the editor. I suspect all head-hopping will be removed, but I was struggling to identify which POV’s were the most important in those instances.
- LGBTQ+ Status
If you haven’t read my previous post, you may not know that NineStar Press is an LGBTQ+ specialized press. They focus on bringing a voice to those often placed in the margins. By definition, this means my novel has at least one LGBTQ+ identifying character. In Seven-Sided Spy‘s case, there are a handful of LGBTQ+ characters with a final tally of just over half the cast identifying somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. However, you wouldn’t have known that had my first draft gone to print! There are around 250 pages in Seven-Sided Spy, but in the original draft you didn’t know any of the characters were queer until page 149. I thought I was being subtle, turns out I was being non-existant, hahaha. So! The new draft was revamped and it’s now clear very early on that this book has LGBTQ+ representation.
- Favorite Phrases
Not a requested edit, but something I noticed while re-reading my work. Authors have favorite phrases, and it is the job of their inner editor to be relentless and weed the manuscript of them before sending it out. For example, I remember while editing my draft before querying publishers and agents I had a problem with the phrase “In that moment.” I don’t know if I felt like it added suspense or what, but I used it way too much. So before submitting I removed a ton of “In that moment”s from my manuscript. Now, fast forward a few months to my first round of edits with NineStar. As I am scrounging my manuscript for head-hopping that phrase keeps popping up “In that moment.” It was ridiculous. Every chapter had at least 2 “In that moment”s and that was after my pre-pub editing. If you feel you’ve done a good job editing your manuscript, still go back. Odds are you’ve got a few favorite phrases of your own.
Overall, editing was kind of fantastic. Even though it was a lot of work, I feel I learned a lot about myself as a writer. Now, we’re hard at work getting Seven-Sided Spy cleaned up and ready for release. You can find it online and in stores this January. I’ll be posting lots of updates between then and now, so keep your eyes peeled.