Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More on Editing

Yesterday's post sparked a few new questions and you know how much I love it when blog post take on a life of its own.

Carolynnwith2Ns asked:

I have a question. When you begin the editing process are your notes and revision-suggestions based on a first read?
I'm thinking that if you have not read the entire book at least once you may make note of, or question something, which happens later on.
Copy edits pretty much jump right off the page but the other stuff, like plot holes filled, questions answered, twists and surprises may be further down the line because that's what the writer is intends, even though as a reader you may feel a little lost as the story builds.
Great post. I love learning how you guys actually do your job.

Typically my revisions are based on the first read. There is one exception and that's if the client is brand new and I just took her on. In that case, I read the manuscript first just to see if I love it and after the client agrees to become a client I read it for revisions.

Your question about what happens if later on I discover the author has done what I wanted is valid and it is definitely something that happens. However, in some cases I might think that it should have happened earlier. For example, if on page 25 I note that the heroine should have kissed the hero right here, but she does so on page 27 I might say, "ah, I see she does it here. That works." or I might say, "this works too, but I really do feel like you might want to consider moving this up a bit."

My feeling when making revisions/edits is that I want the author to see my thought process while I'm reading. If something seems off to me, tedious, over-written or lacking I want her to know. Maybe she cleared it up later or maybe she disagrees, but I think she'd rather hear it from me than reviewers later. Or at least I hope so.

If the writer intends for twists and turns to happen down the road that's fine, but if the reader feels lost as the story builds that's not a good thing. You never want your reader to feel lost because you only, typically, lose a reader once.



Kathryn Clark said...

Great post. And I think that it makes sense to add comments as you go (that's definitely what I do with the people I beta for). Because most readers aren't going to go back through the book and say "Ah, I see what you did there!" More likely they'll read it once, and the first impression is the only chance that you get.

And personally, I think that there should never be plot holes in a story, regardless of whether they're explained later on or not. It might be the best twist in the history of publishing, but it's not going to matter if someone quits the book before that point.

I'm not saying that everything has to be revealed immediately - far from it, actually. But most of the time, all it takes is one character saying "I don't know why that happened" to keep me reading. As long as the author acknowledges that they're aware of the problem, then I'll usually assume that they'll answer my questions eventually. If there's no acknowledgement of the problem, then sometimes I wonder if the author noticed it or not.

Thanks for the post! I always love to see what the agents' side of things looks like!

Elissa M said...

I find "first impression" feedback extremely helpful. I like to know what's going on in the reader's head as she reads. It tells me if the pacing is off, if the plot is working, etc. As Kathryn says above, most readers aren't going to go back and examine the writing. They're either going to enjoy what they're reading or not. And if they're not enjoying it, they're not going to finish--or recommend it to another reader.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thanks so much for answering my question.
Now I see why, it really does make sense that editing goes on during the first read.
I have a stack of books I've set down "to read later" because somewhere the fishing line snapped and I swam away.

I deleted my earlier comment because expert that I am, I missed a typo. Shows you how well I edit the first time.