My work for the next few weeks focuses upon my ‘structural edits’ for my July publication. I submitted my manuscript in the middle of December which was my editor’s first chance to read the entire story. She has a rough outline of the story from my proposed synopsis but submission is their first meeting. This encounter is my first reader, as I don’t use alpha or beta readers for my work, I know many authors do. So, submitting a completed project is bitter sweet for me; I enjoy the relief that it has been sent but am nagged by the possibility that the story is different to her expectations.
My mind rarely switches off from a project until I receive some snippet of feedback. Hence the reason why my brain throws up little extras, in relation to plot lines and details, which I note down in case I need them at a later date. After which, my brain becomes distracted by a bright sparkly new idea – my Christmas 2024 book!
My July manuscript now returns containing my editor’s queries which appear in a designated column created by the ‘tracking’ feature of a word document. This feature enables questions, amendments and additions to the manuscript to be recorded and dated alongside the original text.
Every author creates their own system for tackling structural edits. I used to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, but now take it in a ‘step by step’ manner much like any other process of writing. My first job is to whiz through the entire manuscript, all 395 pages of this project, and make a note of every query/comment made by my editor. A simple handwritten document that becomes my checklist over the coming weeks. I then create the solution for each of her queries – some queries are repeated throughout the manuscript as they are linked by topic, character or situation. Linked queries are great when they’re answered/corrected by the insertion of a few details which answers every associated comment.
Page number Editor's Query/comment My solution
23 Why doesn’t she read the Because they aren’t her
book club choices? genre choice, she feels
they’re too intellectual for
her, she’s rushed for time.
I always know the answer to each query but clearly, haven't written the scene details as clearly as I could. It’s a slow process, which I try to approach in a methodical manner so as not to muddle or overwhelm my thinking. At this stage in the editing process, I can change details as many times as I wish. It’s amazing how quickly you can tie yourself in knots with minute detail if you need to move entire scenes or address a time frame issue – urgh!
Thanks to the tracking system and its automatic use of various coloured fonts you can spot everything you’ve entered, moved or deleted - which help should you change your mind or make an error that knocks your time frame out of sequence.
I’m not a fan of editing; I like the writing process. I’ve trained myself to find a working system that motivates me to complete my edits. Now, I enjoy seeing the book take shape, via editing, slowly making its way towards being a finished book which my readers are eager to read. It has taken me a long time to reach this stage of appreciation for the editing process but it’s now bearable. I’ve learnt to couple the editing stages with smaller writing projects so I don’t deny myself the joy of writing fresh words each day.
So that’s me, I’ll be working through each page until my deadline nears on 19th February. I usually aim to finish a day or two beforehand, so will reread before delivery back to my editor. After which, I'll return to focus on my Christmas 2024 book.
Nothing kills the enthusiasm for reading than ploughing, dragging, coaxing your way through a book you aren’t enjoying. Each page is hard work. I should know, I’ve encountered two this month. My fresh start to a New Year has been totally marred by two one-star reads! I’m not one for naming names but I can’t even bring myself to record them as completed reading on my Goodreads account. Seriously, what a dire start to my reading year!
Many readers will ask ‘why did you plod on rather than ditching each book at page 100?’ to which my answer always is – I wanted to. I wanted to reach the end of each story and attempt to figure out what I wasn’t enjoying, didn’t like or simply what the attraction might have been for other readers, who clearly enjoyed them. Both books have a plethora of five-star reviews. Sadly, neither were for me. I’ve previously read and enjoyed other books by both authors, to which I’ve given five stars reviews. Was it the topics, the characters, the point of view or the delivery of the story? The truth is - a combination of each.
Experience has taught me that some books switch pace and interest after page 100, and I can name several books where I’d have ‘missed out’ had I shelved them early on. Sadly, not these two. Though it wouldn't do for us all to like the same titles.
I was delighted to reach the final page of each – which isn’t why I read. I’ve spent a life-time reading for pleasure, to relax, for escapism, for entertainment and education. Thankfully, my third reading book of the year is a cracker and yes, I’m in awe of the author’s talent.
I’m a little late to the party but still, ‘Happy New Year’ to you all! I’m hoping you had a great festive holiday, in one way or another. I returned to my desk full of enthusiasm for my current project – book four of my Lakeside cottage series. The characters are doing their own thing and I’m literally capturing their antics upon the page - that’s it, or so I tell myself. It took a few days to get back into the swing of things but I’m continuing with my daily writing pattern.
Last night, in order to aid my own creative streak, I took myself off to Kenilworth to attend an evening of poetry and music at The Tree House bookshop. A monthly meeting of likeminded people, who come together and share their talents in whatever form they wish. It was a delight to sit back and listen to others perform, in a relaxed and welcoming environment. For further details contact: GwynethBox
In recent years, I’ve realised that I’ve surrounded myself with a fairly narrow band of creatives, mainly novelists. So this year, I’m actively trying to expand my circle and return to the creative realms jogging alongside poets, musicians, potters, artists and songwriters as was my tendency a decade ago. Last night, reminded me of previous evenings spent at open mic events held at a local abbey, before I was published.
Here's hoping for a 'happy and healthy' 2024 filled with brand-new sparkling ideas!