Hi my friends,
Today I want to share with you my thoughts on how to edit your manuscript.
A lot of people will teach you how to write, how to come up with ideas, how to develop a plot, how to write dialogue, how to plant your ass in the chair every day and write, and all that good stuff. But understanding how to approach the editing process is harder. And much more vague.
I’m already after two books. One published oversees, and this up and coming one, ASH’S FIRE, that you will soon be able to buy and read (Yay!) So for me, the editing process has become CRYSTAL clear. And as always, I share what I know. For free.
So here is my advice:
Part One: This is the single most important piece of advice I will EVER give you. Write it down. Here goes: DO NOT EDIT YOUR OWN BOOK. There is no such thing as self-editing. It’s an oxymoron. If you do it – you’re the moron. My dad, who is hilarious and cynical and a copywriter (not really, but he should be), came up with a phrase that goes like this: “I slept on it, and I’ve decided that I’m right.” Okay? Okay.
Part Two: Take your ego out of your body. Lock it in the safe. Lose the key. If you don’t have a safe – go out and buy one. Get a really good, thick one, with a complicated lock. Do Not give the key to your neighbor. Do Not pretend you didn’t memorize the code. Do Not tell yourself you might need your ego one day, better to save it. You will not need it. Ever again. If you hang on to it for even one more minute – you will hurt your book. Basically, you have to choose between the two: your ego – or your book.
Part Three: For your editor, choose the best you can afford. DO NOT skimp on this. Don’t you dare save on the editing, you hear me? Skimp on shoes for a year. It’s hard, but well worth it. Go find the editor who is FAR better than you in everything written. If you don’t pay her the big bucks you will not listen to her, and you will argue. So pay a lot. That will force you to listen. If you still don’t listen, go to your neighbor, wrench out of her clammy hand that key to your safe, go get your ego, and throw it into a moving dump truck. Now you’ll listen to your editor.
Believe me: your editor only cares about what’s best for your book. She really, really does. That means she doesn’t care about you. And that’s a very good thing. She will make your page look like the battle of Gettysburg, and you will bleed. But you have to take deep breaths and keep working. Because that is the ONLY way to make your book as good as it can be.
Part Four: Take a blank sheet of paper, a large one, and write on it with a fat, red marker: “My editor is my best friend”. Repeat on ten more sheets of paper and tape them to the walls all around your writing station. You will need to be reminded of this fact when you go over her corrections. I’ve already mentioned, and it is well worth repeating, your editor’s job is to improve your book, not to play nice with you. So if she erased that phrase you worked on for a full day, you do not go ballistic, you ask her to explain, and you LISTEN to what she has to say. I can tell you from multiple personal – and painful – experiences, that she will tell you to cut out whole chapters. And you will have to do it. So steel yourself. And keep reading that phrase on the wall. Remember that she is a saint for dealing with you and your ego (you think I didn’t see you pocket the damn thing, just as the truck drove past you? What do you think, I’m stupid?)
So words of hard-earned wisdom: If you don’t get your MS professionally edited, it will never grow up to be a book. And you will be so hurt by the world’s response to it, that you’ll feel as if that dump truck ran over you, twice.
Lots of love, and keep writing!