LUCY BURDETTE: First of all, before I forget, our Jungle Red newsletter is going out this week. If you haven't already, sign up to receive very occasional news from our gang--fill in your email in the box to the right and hit send!
Now onto today's business. For the last two weeks I've been immersed in revising and editing TOPPED CHEF (coming next May!) For readers who haven't been through the process, this means reviewing my "completed" manuscript and incorporating (or at least considering!) the notes my editor has made. And by the way, I consider myself really lucky because I love her editing. She understands so well what I'm trying to do with the characters and the plot, and she's able to put her finger on the places where the story isn't completely working. This time one of the big questions was whether the way the victim was killed (public hanging in costume) fit with the motives of the killer. Pretty important to get that right!
I also see things that I didn't notice when I was sunk up to my eyeballs in the book. For example, in one of the scenes Hayley Snow and her Key West buddies are talking to her mother on Skype. I'd put her mom's new boyfriend at the kitchen table chatting away and eating Chinese food with everyone else. Second time around, it occurred to me that Hayley had never met this man--virtually or otherwise. So I needed to slow down, include an introduction and use the resulting tension to good effect.
How about you Reds? Do you like the revision process? Any horror stories or happy ending?
RHYS BOWEN: I'm really happy with both my editors. They make excellent suggestions but usually like what I do and don't try to change too much. It's in the area of copy-editing that I sometimes have gripes. Copy editors who don't ever want me to have an incomplete sentence, who put in too many commas or who add words of their own. I confess that I do need a good proof-reader as I type very fast to keep up with my thoughts and can't often see my mistakes. Like the time Katy Kellgren (whom I interviewed last week and who reads my audio books) emailed to ask whether I really meant to call a character Huge Beastly-Bottome. I didn't. His name was Hugo Beasley-Bottome. That had slipped through editors and proof readers!
HALLIE EPHRON: Laughing, Rhys! Reminds me of a salad I once tossed in a bowel.
Over and over I hear people say, "Too bad editors no longer edit books." I don't know what editors they're talking about. That's never been my experience. I love my editor at Morrow, Katherine Nintzel. Her eagle eye frees me to go over the top because I know she'll tell me when I should dial back the ick. She also keeps me from repeating myself. Like a heat seeking missile, she asks all the questions I don't want to hear but need to address.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:I love revising. LOVE. Oh, my goodness, it's my favorite. The story is all there, hurray! And I get to make it better.There are moments when you see the way to make it shine--that's such a treat. Moments when you realize--oh, THIS is what I meant! And that's so exciting. It's like when the real statue comes out of the piece of marble. The way the story was meant to be.
My editor is brilliant, too. She really sees the themes, and the big picture, and pushes me on motivation (the characters', not mine) and points out that I have too many people whose names begin with "S."
Rhys, the comma thing. Grrr. My battles are usually over hyphens. I love them. Copy editors don't.
JAN BROGAN: I live to revise. Or maybe I write to revise. LIke Hank said. It's where the fun and the magic happen. But you guys, I don't consider commas and hyphens revising. I consider that copy editing. Although certainly it needs to be done, it's not my happy time.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, I think you should have left Huge Beastly Bottome in!!! I can just see him...
I'm with Hallie on the "editors don't edit anymore." Mine does! Not only big thematic or structural edits, but lines edits. (I've had three top editors with US publishing houses in my career, and they have all edited.) My current editor's favorite margin notes are: "Cut." ""Tighten." "Too much sat nav." (referring to my tendency to give detailed descriptions of how the characters get from one place to another.) And her favorite: "Show, don't tell!"
And the thing is, she's always right. She's especially brilliant at seeing how to increase the tension in a scene.
I'm an obsessive self-editor as I write, and I think knowing that my editor is so good has allowed me to relax and enjoy the writing process a bit more.
So, back to Lucy's original question--I don't mind revision. It's usually fast. Because I revise as I write, I don't do endless drafts, and the editorial revision really gives me a chance to see the book as a whole.
HANK: Oh, my editor for the "TIME" series was SO terrific and SO polite. Her favorite was "please address." As in "The reader will not be clear on where Charlotte is. Please adddress." (So now I say that to Jonathan all the time. "The dishwasher is full. Please address.")
LUCY: Hysterical Hank! and does he hop right to? How about you JRW readers? Any glitches you wish had been caught in the books you've read? (Cartoon courtesy of Writer's Digest)