The Editing Bell Tolls

As of midnight yesterday the first round of editing is complete. I’ve de-blooped the bloopers; ruthlessly rooted out repetition and purged purple passages. Those sentences and phrases that, at the time, sounded good came across as pretty naff when I considered what purpose they served or in what way they moved the narrative on. It was painful at times with my fanciful self at war with the ever practical and objective one.

What am I left with? At best probably half a book. That’s not a problem since I garnered enough research material to decorate two tomes at least, although things on the domestic front being what they are, it may be a few weeks before I can actually sort and integrate it.

Although this is the second book I’m preparing for publishing, for the first time I can really see the value a professional editor brings to the process. First time around it was all a rush of excitement and enthusiasm and a belief in my own editing skills. The result was OK but it’s definitely time for a second updated issue. This time, partly because I have a whiff of interest from a publisher, I’m nervous. I’ve come to realise how easy it is to miss the most obvious gaffes. You just don’t see them. You know what you’re saying and what you mean so that’s what you see and read be it ever so obscure to anyone else. Methinks a professional edit will be money well spent.

From the outset, I intended to have a modicum of humour in the way I presented the history of this shifting coastline – indeed the title strap line is “an incomplete and often irreverent history of the Holderness coast.”  Those of you who follow my blog (and by follow I mean actually read) will have met snippets from the book and will, I hope, understand  when I say that as you read the tales of the Naughty Nuns or Fat Willy you are definitely hearing my voice and my interpretation of history. I’ve never felt that history should be dull or boring but have I over-egged it? Other books the publishers have produced are quite po-faced, serious and on occasions rather scholarly…not words that apply to my offering.

I’ve struggled too to find a consistency of style. Once, way back, I wrote a newspaper column based on my antics as a self-sufficiency disciple.  In time, I pulled these articles together into a book and did the rounds of publishers with no success. However, one publisher gave me some feedback to the effect that he “suspected the book was based on a series of articles and felt stitched together as a result”.  In his opinion turning articles into books never quite worked. After I finished this editing round I do think it reads inconsistently…a little “stitched together”…almost, dare I say it, like a series of blogs rather than an integrated piece of work.

One bright light is that I’ve resolved the issue I had with structure that I mentioned in an earlier blog. I’ve ditched the chronological approach and moved into a more topic based one. Despite what I’ve written above, that does appear to help the flow and fluency of the book.

So back to the drawing board or rather the writing table and yet there’s one thing I am pleased about – I didn’t think the book so dreadful that I consigned it to the rubbish bin. Maybe that’s where it’ll end up but in the meantime, I’m on that so-called steep learning curve and there’s work to be done.

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5 thoughts on “The Editing Bell Tolls

  1. I find this really interesting. No, honest, I do!

    After staining the conservatory over the weekend (remember the lovely weather?) I will shortly move onto painting the stirs and landing – bear with me, there is a point to all this. . .

    Then (November?) I will start to edit my best seller (‘Oh yes it is, oh no it isn’t’). Much of what you said seems to be like a pigeon returning home. As I’ve been mulling over the forthcoming task your post pulls together many of the loose strings that I had been toying with. I see myself in the same situation.

    For a while now I came to the conclusion that a professional editor is a ‘must have’. I am open to suggestions on that front.

    I have also incorporated blog posts into my first draft. Will it seem ‘stitched together’?

    Perhaps if I dawdle and do a real good job of the painting I can put off the editing. . . at least until after Santa visits. 🙂 Does Santa go as far as France? Is it in Rudolph’s contract to cross water? Will they find mince pies if they get there? Oh, dear, too many imponderables.

  2. Congratulations. What an achievement.

    I’ve enjoyed your posts, and think you must have put together a good read. I suspect self-doubt is mandatory when you’ve been editing. After all, you are now in critique mode.

    What to do about it? I’m sure you know that The Stephen King method is to hand out his manuscript to his ‘trusted reader’ before it goes to the agent or publisher. A second, or third, opinion from someone you trust might be useful.

    • Thank you for the supportive comments. You’re absolutely right – the critic is a bit loud sometimes! I plan to “beta test” with several friends who I know will tell it how it is but I still think the use of a pro. editor is important so I’ll do both.
      I do hope you continue to enjoy the posts – it’s been fun putting it all together.

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