There are not many things as thrilling and simultaneously terrifying as receiving your first round of edits back from your editor.
The past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure to work on edits for my upcoming science fiction/YA novel.
Yes. I said pleasure.
Because my favorite part of writing, I’ve recently discovered, is the editing phase. When the bones of the story are there, and you’re just trimming and adding layers. When you already know the draft is good, but you’re making it better. It’s almost a privilege—to have time and energy to exceed your own standards so your readers could have the most satisfying experience.
What’s more exciting: I’m taking another person’s edits and suggestions. This means the parts of my story she says are good, really are good. It’s not me patting myself on the back saying, Damn, I’m a good writer when it’s really a piece of crap. It’s someone I’ve never met telling me I’ve written something of worth.
And that, my friends, is pure gold.
On the other side of the proverbial coin are the scenes or sentences that *might* not be so worthy. The scenes that have no purpose and need to be cut. The sentences that don’t make sense—or worse—make your hero appear weak. The words that slipped through your fingers, that you didn’t really think about, but now are mortified made it to the final draft. And yet—for me at least—these messy clumps of scenes and words generally feel good to get rid of. The editor has her reasons, after all. She’s not slaying your precious dragon just for the sake of slaying.
And once you’ve read through all the edits and revisions requested by the editor, you get to rearrange. And THIS is the thrilling part. It’s almost like you’re recreating the story. What if we moved this scene up? Ooh, then that would change this aspect of the story, which would in turn affect the plot–and what?! You have a whole new story…but it’s the same. Same with character dialogue. “HE SAID THAT?!” Well, let’s have him say this instead. Wait. That would mean he’s actually a pretty nice guy, and means he would do this instead of that in the next scene, and now I’m not only mildly attracted to my own hero, I’m swooning. *insert heart-eyed emoji*
This isn’t to say I’m a good writer, but more to express how terrible a writer I am—and how lifesaving my editor is. (Or should I say—career saving? (or better yet—self-respect saving?))
I’m sure I could speak for most writers when I say: our books wouldn’t make it far without our editors.