Once upon an edit

One of the most frightening things I have ever done is hand over my manuscript to an agent or publisher to read through. Eek!

Haven Wakes and I have been through our fair share of rejection but it doesn’t get any easier to say, “Hi, here’s my baby. Are they good enough?” which is exactly what a writer does every time they submit their manuscript.

So when Burning Chair Publishing said, “Yes. Your baby is not only good enough but we want to give them a home,” it was the best feeling in the world.

Then the word ‘edit’ is mentioned. Reality kicks in and trips you up in your happy dance. You land in a pile at the feet of your muse who tuts and pouts because this is where her counterpart, the editing elf steps in.

The ability to write and to edit are often portrayed as two very different things. The first is whimsical and carefree, while the second is dry and disciplined, and never should they be done at the same time, oh no, that would be disastrous.

Here’s the thing. While I fully allow the muse to rule while I’m writing, and the elf keeps me on track while editing, I also know that the two can work well together on occasion.

Elf

Now, we need to show that the main character has developed and changed throughout the course of the novel.

Muse

Ooh, ooh, maybe he could dye his hair sparkly blue to signify the new magic in his life.

Elf

He doesn’t have time to dye his hair, and even if he did, he’s a twelve year old boy. He wouldn’t want sparkly blue hair. What we need is to show him in his old life but acting in a new way.

Muse

How exciting. I know just how we could do that. If we bring…

I’ve had a similar conversation with my publisher about how to improve my manuscript too, ‘conversation’ being the key word. From the outset, they had ideas on how to get the best out of Haven Wakes from character development to plugging plot holes to writing up the rules of magic in the world of my novel.

The editing process went like this:

  • Burning Chair’s initial thoughts on how to improve my novel.
  • I made changes and emailed off the amended copy.
  • Si carried out a developmental edit, looking at the manuscript as a whole and in detail too, and reported back to me with suggested changes.
  • I made the changes I agreed with, re-writing a number of chapters and adding in a new one.
  • Pete carried out a copy edit, to pick up inconsistencies in the manuscript (such as how I signified a thought instead of speech).
  • I made more changes.
  • Next, my manuscript was put into e-book format and forwarded to my wonderful beta readers. Their responses, after a few weeks, resulted in more discussion and a number of tweaks that I can honestly say improved Haven Wakes even further.

Throughout the whole process, Burning Chair made it clear that this was my book so the final decision was with me on any changes made.

My muse and elf have both had their say as Haven Wakes has been edited and re-written. They actually make a good team (although the elf would rather the muse sat down during their sessions instead of pirouetting around the room).

Haven Wakes has now arrived at its final stage – ready for all that technical formatting malarkey that I don’t know anything about really – and will soon be available to order. I can’t wait to have a copy in my hands. I may even join my muse in doing a little dance.

You can download the first eight chapters of Haven Wakes here.

2 Replies to “Once upon an edit”

  1. My muse and elf or their equivalents seem to rotate, no idleness in this house. I get so far then I have to edit and this is repeated I tend to edit as I go. it’s the student in me, I think. This means – honestly I don’t know. I have finished poems, flash and short stories but not a book. I am enjoying reading how this all works in the publishing world. I am learning a lot from reading about your experiences. Looking forward to seeing the final version.

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