(This post originally appeared as a guest post at chapterhousepublishing.co.uk)
Book I, Part II: Tell Me What I Know
So, the other week I talked about learning less is more when I saw it on my page, there in the black and blue of track changes (every writer’s best friend). Now I’m going to talk about another way a really good editor can help you get the best out of your writing project.
Although this new series The Morgan Trilogy forms a companion piece to Guinevere, it’s rather different in tone. I’ve shifted from fantasy-romance to fantasy, but when I began writing The Witches of Avalon, I still had my mind in the ‘romance’ headspace, and I was preoccupied that this was my ‘thing’. I was afraid to let go of something that I knew worked and that I knew had been well-received by many readers and bloggers. The thing was, these elements weren’t such a prominent part of this new series, but until I settled in to the writing of it, I was still trying to fit them in. I’ve talked before about my inability to delete any of my own work and once again this stunted my own self-editing process. But I did not need to fear; along came the editor who told me what I already knew, to allow those elements to move into the background. Thing is, I would have been nervous removing them myself in case they were the ‘good parts’, but having a good editor you can trust tell you that this is the best thing for the book gives you the freedom to do it in the knowledge that it’s helping.
When I’m teaching students to write academically, I tell them to slice out anything that isn’t relevant. In fact, back through the mists of time when I edited my own academic writing, I was the queen of slashing out irrelevant crap. There I was with my biro crossing out everything that didn’t hit the point. So why do I find it so hard with my fiction writing? Is there something more affective about the process that means you need the stern but gentle guidance of an editor to steer you right? I think so.
The fact is, you always need someone else. I know that less is more. I know that those elements didn’t need to be so prominent in this episode. But I needed someone to tell me so, to point out where those cuts and changes could be made. So far, instead of the gruelling destruction of my self-esteem, I’ve found the process of working with an editor an incredibly empowering and freeing one.
Watch this space for my thoughts on Book II!