Editing the Undead

Cover art for Undead HeartWriting a novel is the entertaining part. The real excitement comes when it is time to begin the editing process. And i do mean process. Never kid yourself into thinking that one time past your eyes doth an edit make. You are also kidding yourself if you think you can edit while you are creating your novel. Baby steps, one at a time.

This goes for editing. You are not going to find plot holes and misspellings at the same time. You might but you will compromise both. I tend to break up the editing into to halves, the structure and the skin. When editing the structure, I am looking for plot holes, missing descriptions, making sure character names remain consistent and that all instances of foreshadowing are resolved. Remember that gun you talked about in chapter three better shoot something by chapter 30. For Undead Heart I had an issue where the ending was too abrupt. The pacing was way to fast compared to the earlier 2/3 of the novel. I had to add some more (about 25 pages) to flesh out the ending in a way that slowed the pace a little but not drag it out. This is all in the name of structure editing.

Once that is done then I go for the skin. How does it read? Is everything spelled correctly, are unique names spelled the same throughout,  is my grammar polished and poised to impress, do my descriptions confuse or clarify, is my dialogue natural sounding and easy to follow. This is the point I am at now with Undead Heart. All the plotting is done, all the characters fleshed out (no pun intended), the pace is right where I wanted it, so not it’s time for the polish. You cannot rush this. You can however, take more time than is necessary, at a certain point you have to put the dog on a leash and take him for a walk.

Another key part to my process is not doing this alone. I am fortunate to have my wife, who is brutal with the red pen and a high school librarian. She is also a voracious reader, averaging 2 books a week. Since Undead Heart is a YA novel this falls right in her area of expertise and her input is invaluable. She was the one who caught the pacing problems with the ending on her first read. Together we will get the prose polished to a silvery sheen and then cut out the heart of the vampires, sorry getting carried away. The point I am trying to make is just as you cannot give yourself a back rub you cannot edit your work alone. Get some extra eyes on those pages.

Anne R. Allen’s Blog recently had a post on hiring an editor, which incidentally lead me to this post, that has some excellent tips that you can read here. In addition there are some real helpful tips for avoiding scam artists. It is a sad fact of life that wherever there is a professional there is also the anti-professional lurking in the shadows to scam you out of your money. I have never used a professional editor. This is not because of some over-inflated sense of my abilities but a simple matter of never being able to afford one. That like all things may change in the near future. Right now for the undead it is just the dynamic duo of my wife and I. This will be our third novel together and our best one yet. Get a taste from the trailer here.

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