I am currently on the island that is “book written, now edit.” It’s a lonely inhospitable place, but all writers go there at some stage in a book’s life.
I have seven books like that, yes, seven. Three fantasy, three young adult and one adult crime thriller. They are all in various stages of editing and readiness from bare bones first write up to ninth draft after two beta readers.
So, why on earth would I give my precious manuscript to a complete stranger to rip to pieces, again?
It is quite simple, no one can edit and proof read their own work objectively, you need fresh eyes and that is where your beta readers come in. But I have found that my work still needs a strangers view, one who has no vested interest in me, my writing or anything. The cold steel of a new pair of eyes.
I am in the middle of going through my Copy Editor’s comments on my longest work, a 140,000 words fantasy that is/was at 8th draft before they got it. There are big black pen marks on EVERY PAGE, every page! Can you believe that?
It is astounding quit how many mistakes that the writer does not see in their own work. I have found big trends, very big trends and this is both good and a relief because one simple fix does about 30% of the comments. I won’t make that mistake again. I would say that there are about 5 things that I have done, and will have done on all of the other 6 books that make up about 90% of the errors.
It is simply a question of attending to every comment, line by line and in the process find where words savings and cuts can still be made, this is the 9th draft remember.
I have also decided that the longest chapter that weighs in at a hefty 9500 words can be cut. I will be using an NLP technique for that and will post that in the next few days. It deserves its own post. The strange thing is that I have always known deep down that this long chapter can be cut, is too long, but yet I haven’t done it yet. I am ready now, I wasn’t before. – Work that one out!
So, my Copy Editor has done me a huge service and I can now progress my writing wiser and with a better understanding of my flaws so that hopefully I can stop them before they spread like the plague through my future work.
It really does pay to have a complete stranger, an experienced copy editor and not just any old stranger, look at your work. It will be worth it even though you may end up with 2 weeks work and a blinding headache. Trust me, attending to line by line corrections is tough. On 140,000 words it is really tough, but I wrote it, I can fix it and the finished product will be better and hopefully more attractive to an agent or publisher.