So I’ve written love letters to editors (The evil secret to ALL WRITING – editing is everything) and taken my red pen to the first page of many novels. Three favorites:
- The Red Pen of Doom guts THE NOTEBOOK
- The Red Pen of Doom impales FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
- The Red Pen of Doom puts a stake through TWILIGHT
And here’s a little secret I’ve never talked about before: authors have randomly hired me to bleed red on their pages. It’s a crazy amount of work–and an insane amount of fun.
Just like editing (a) the first page of a famous novel or (b) dissecting the latest blockbuster, structure is the most interesting, complicated and entertaining aspect of writing to wrestle to the ground. How is it built? Where are the setups and payoffs, the reversals and revelations?
Now I’m going to do this random editing thing, at least this one time, in an organized, non-random way.
September 1 to January 1.
Four months to go from the spark of an idea–or a half-formed WIP-thing from NaNoWriMo sitting around–all the way to something complete, with strong bones, big muscles and sharp teeth.
If you’ve already written a 145,000 epic about elves with lightsabers riding spaceships, and want somebody to proof your masterpiece, I’m not your guy. I’m a different Guy, who’ll send you to one of the many great line editors and proofers out there. Those folks are golden and worth every digital dollar you send by PayPal via the interwebs.
Story editing (or developmental editing, just to add more syllables) is a different animal that works best when you get in at the very start, like an architect drawing blueprints long before the men and women in hard hats start hammering and sawing. Have you ever spent six months slaving away to write 6.52 gazillion words only to hold them over a trash can, knowing starting over on page 1 is easy than trying to perfect that hot mess? Then you know what I’m talking about.
Sentence by sentence, the words in flawed drafts are just as pretty. It’s always the structure that’s toughest to fix, like a building that falls apart when you nudge one brick.
Things in the works may keep me busy for next four years. May not do this again. Might do it next September. YOU NEVER KNOW. So I’d like to make this count and do it right.
Up for it? Get in touch via secret emails and we’ll chat.
More posts for your amusement and possible education:
- The Mother of All Query Letters
- 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys
- Writing secret: Light as air, strong as whiskey, cheap as dirt
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.