Monday, October 3, 2011

The Value of Editing, Part 2

Good afternoon everyone.

Today I'm continuing with Part 2 of The Value of Editing. Part 1 is found here.

I should start out that what I'm about to describe is by no means common, that while lots of people provide the services I'm to describe, there is no one singular method or name for things. Everyone does things a little differently, and I want it made clear that it's entirely okay. What follows is my method, my thinking and an explanation of how I work. Should you consult other people, you may find different experiences. I say all this to help you make the best informed decision possible.

We start today with a few assumptions, for the point of explanation.

We assume:
  1. That you've got either a manuscript that you have or plan to finish.
  2. That you've made a plan, commitment or promise to yourself to get the manuscript started. 
And that would lead you to me. Maybe you've emailed me, maybe you've checked out my Rates & Services page and we've talked, or maybe you've found me on some social media and a conversation has been started.

Here you are writer, and you're wondering what the next step is.

The next step is that you retain me, and after payment gets all handled, we get to work. From that moment forward, the value of editing starts to become clear.

As Angeli Pidcock pointed out in "First Encounters of the Editorial Kind", the process is INTENSE. It usually starts with a series of conversations, assessing and diagnosing problems as well as the general start-state of the manuscript. From there, the process starts in sections (chapters, acts, etc) and the manuscript gets opened up, and rebuilt.

Whether the simple line edit or the more thorough substantive edit, the manuscript gets put through some rigorous examination. Ultimately, the goal is whatever the writer wants out of the relationship - I do not insist or demand that everyone set the same goal, I want instead people to benefit from the experience - I want their work to be better when we're done working it over.

So here now is valuable item number one - Know what you want as an end result. Do you want to see your book on store shelves? Do you want to just get it out in certain people's hands? Do you want to just get it off your hard drive and available for anyone to read?

When the manuscript changes, and yes, it's going to change, either by my suggestions and advice or by your own hand, that's a good thing. First drafts are called 'first' because they begin a series. Yes, the digital explosion has allowed first drafts, error-laden and thick with confusing clutter, to go straight to your readers, and that may be the path that many people take to publication legitimacy, but I cannot stress enough that if you want readers to stick with you for more than one reading, you need editing.

Editing is NOT a speedy process. Yes, the process can be expedited but as with any rush job, you're going to incur additional expense. Bigger pieces, pieces that need more revising, repair and correction as well pieces with more ambition (you want to turn your manuscript into a several webisodes with puppets, for example) take time. Here comes valuable item number 2 - This is an investment, not just of your work and financial expense, but also of time.

Your work gets made better. Sometimes that means things have to change. I would love to be able to say there's an exact percentage that must be changed or kept in order to craft a publishable manuscript, but I do not know of any number like that to exist. Evolution is not a static process.

If you're looking to evolve your work, if you're looking to get your manuscript to 'the next level' (a nebulous phrase, but I like it), then we should talk. I'll be waiting.