Just Write Cat

One Writer, One Journey

Developmental Editor, More Changes March 27, 2010

Filed under: Editing,You Can't Do It Alone — justwritecat @ 3:03 am
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Here is another post on working with a developmental editor – this time, the focus is on more of the changes he suggested I make. 

In addition to helping with the tension and pacing of the first chapter, the editor suggested I add a chapter (chapter two) that covered all the rules of the world I’d created.  Specifically, what are vampires in ‘my world’ like?  How do they become vampires?  Where do they get their sustenance, and does someone have to die in the process?  Do others know vampires exist?  Inquiring minds…

In my draft, I tried to present this kind of information throughout the story – on a need-to-know basis.  While I thought that was the best way to weave details throughout the story, the editor said readers needed to know right off the bat (no pun intended).  Readers would have questions right away, and deserved answers.  O.k. – I could see his point.  And while I prefer stories that tease you with information, clearly my readers need to know some essentials for the story to make sense.  With so many vampire books out there, it was important to establish how my world was different.

I was really nervous about devoting an entire chapter to world-building. I thought it would stop the fast pace of the opening (made better by the editor’s suggestions) and would be too – well, too boring.  But I gave it a try.  The first go around, I hated it.  I mean, I liked some of the writing…but it seemed like another book, another voice.  It wasn’t Joe talking (my book is in 1st person), it was me talking.  And that wasn’t going to fly.  So I gave it another go and found a way to present the rules of the world in his voice.  And I liked it.  So did the editor. 

My goal was to begin to present to readers my vision of a world where vampires existed.  In this world, vampires remain relatively hidden – so this is not a book where humans know about vampires (w/ a few exceptions).  Or a world where vampires have taken over – at least not in an obvious way.  And because there are so many vampire books out there, I had to be clear about the basics – how vampires are created, how they can be destroyed, common myths as to shapeshifting…that sort of thing.

This is an example of trying something I never would have considered.  So score one for the editor (well, two given the changes he suggested I make to the opening).  And given some of the feedback I received on my first chapter, the added chapter will help readers better understand the story.

Another change – getting rid of baggage, anything or anyone that did not contribute to the story.  At first I thought this would be really tough – especially getting rid of characters.  Turns out, it was rather painless.  In my heart, I sort of knew I had way too many characters…what I needed help with was knowing which ones should go.  The editor and I talked about this a bit, but most of the decisions were mine.  I eliminated three characters right away – none were missed.  Two others were more important – part of a subplot (which the editor said was a tangent that did not contribute to the larger plot).  So, one was deleted…the other, I killed off later in the book.  Heh heh, that was sort of fun in a perverse, all-powerful sort of way.  Very cathartic.

He also pointed out a few scenes that were going nowhere, or ‘nothing happening here’ as he was wont to write in his comments.  I shaved off about five thousand words by getting rid of those scenes.  We did banter about the autopsy scenes (my character is a medical examiner), which ended up staying with minor revisions.  I don’t think the editor likes to read those types of scenes, but hey – my guy’s an ME, so there’s gotta be an autopsy somewhere – right?  And they are not too graphic, not as bad as CSI.

Through all these changes, I felt pretty good about the revision work and the process of working with a developmental editor.  Now, when we started discussing aspects of my characters’ personalities, that became….heated.  And the experience not as pleasant – but that’s the topic for my next post!

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11 Responses to “Developmental Editor, More Changes”

  1. Bethany Says:

    World-building is definitely a must – how does this place work and all that, about which I was intrigued when reading your first chapter! Sounds really exciting. (So when do we get to read chapter two?!)

  2. justwritecat Says:

    Thanks for asking…chapter two should be posted within the week. I want to wait a few days, make sure I like what I have enough to offer it to readers. 🙂

    And I’m reading your blog right now…you’re very witty.

    Cat

  3. Andy Says:

    So how did you wind up getting an editor? Is that a post I missed somewhere? Are you paying one of those editors-for-hire, or a favor from a friend? Sounds like it’s working well for you. I think I’d almost dread that at this point, so sick of editing am I.

    I wound up inserting a semi-world building chapter at one point, and hopefully succeeded in mostly doing it on the sly, as the main point for the chapter was something else. I agree with you in the sense that, as a writer, it feels odd to do the info dump, but as a reader you are totally looking for it. So, it’s all about how you dress it I suppose.

    • Bethany Says:

      First of all, fancy meeting you here, broseph. And secondly, I wanted to know more about the editor development, too. Was wondering if you’d already done rounds of readers and moved on to a dev.ed. or no?

      • justwritecat Says:

        My (then) work-in-progress went through the rounds with a writing group, then to another editor who helped me with the first two chapters (all I could afford at the time).

        I pitched my story at the PNWA – three agents asked for a partial or full. So, I sent it out after a couple of revisions.

        You can laugh now.

        Clearly, that was WAY too early. All three agents replied with a ‘no, thank-you’. So, I revised again – a major revision. I sent it out again – and one agent said, no…but that if I was willing to work on it, she would be willing to read it again. She gave me some great feedback….so I figured it was time to work with a professional. Make the investment.

        So I did. There are two agents waiting for the revised manuscript, which is almost ready to send out.

        My next post will cover the negative side of working with the editor – it wasn’t all helpful. Because I feel even more confused with a couple of aspects of my story after working with the editor, I am considering attending a writing workshop to get help with those last few things that still seem confusing to me.

        But…my goal is to send this out to those two agents in April. I think I’ll make that goal. 🙂

        Cat

      • Andy Says:

        Yeah it looks like your reply recursion is set to only two levels? So this is actually a reply to your comment beginning “My (then)”:

        I had to look up PNW.
        It sounds like you’re pretty invested – both financially and time-wise in this, so I hope all that pays off. I looked into one of the local yearly conferences but man, those things are expensive. Are you a member of PNWA in general? I’m assuming you’re talking about pitching at the big conference – did you find it worthwhile?

        The editor in particular sounds like it could be a great boon, especially if it’s someone familiar with your target genre.

        I can’t say I’m not envious that you’ve got agents waiting for, from everything I’ve heard that’s crazy lucky for a new author. Good luck with April. I’ll be lucky to be through this edit pass by then.

        • justwritecat Says:

          Aha – changed the settings. Thanks to you and Bethany for letting me know about it!

          Catherine

        • Bethany Says:

          Andy. I think there’s a huge benefit to writing genre fiction. It’s much more easily marketed and therefore much more easily considered. I’m not going to be at all surprised when you get a lot of interest, but apparently you will be. 😛 Just don’t edit it forever. 😛

          And, Cat, I know this should go on the other blog entry but I prefer your original logline!

  4. Bethany Says:

    Lol – I’m still perusing yours, too. 🙂 And thank you!

  5. Bethany Says:

    Waa – I can’t post a reply to that thread anymore. I was thinking of changing my comment sections because we get off on tangents and then stupid wordpress wants to cut us off. (This is one of those tangents…what was I talking about…)

    • justwritecat Says:

      Why can’t you post to that thread? Does wordpress put limits on the number of comments?

      Hmmm….not good.

      Cat


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