Writing anything, even an email, requires editing. Typos, unclear sentence formation, jumbled homophones…the pitfalls are innumerable. In fiction writing, it is often hard to decide when enough editing is done. Too little and you haven’t tightened enough. Too much and your writing ‘voice’ is lost. So how to edit the right way? Today I have newbie historical romance author Aarti V. Raman here, talking about her editing process. She has some awesome ideas about how to go over your work with a fine tooth comb.
Take it away, Aarti! 🙂
Winston Churchill, in his missives to his Chiefs of Staff, at the height of World War II, would only write two words: Action, Today! In my humble opinion, he is the best example of an editor: succinct, precise and visual.
I am in the process of editing my MS “Lucas: Book One of The Lords Of Devil Manor”, coming out with Knox Robinson Publishing (June, 2014) and it is, surprisingly a fun but uphill task. For one, it’s about 10000+ words in length. For another, typos are the bane of my life and I am diligently hunting down every one of those little suckers and eradicating them from existence. Like I said, fun and uphill.
I have no meticulous process that I follow, while making structural or line-edits (I am doing both now). But I do try and keep a few things in mind, anyway. A few key pointers, if you will.
- Language: In HR (Historical Romance, to the uninitiated) LANGUAGE is everything. Common slang that we take for granted today, did not exist then. While writing and editing HR, it is imperative to remember this rule, which can only be followed, if you READ a lot of HR because otherwise your language takes a lot of hits and the work becomes sub-par. You do not want that. So, for instance, “maybe” becomes “perhaps” and not necessarily “perchance”, which would be correct English. “Butt” will ALWAYS be “Arse”. And there is no such word as s#@t.
- Continuity: This rule also pertains to language, and can be applied to every MS you write. STICK to one default language. If you are writing UK English, stick to it. “Neighbour”, “candour” etc. If you are following US English, like I do, don’t veer. “Color, hasn’t, and ain’t” are allowed. Readers are critics. They will spot these snafus faster than you can say ‘Chicago Style Guide for Editing!’
- Rewrite: Now this is an extremely sensitive and subjective matter. I like what I write. That is why it is written in the first place. Also, I, thankfully, have a very clear sense of place, time, pace, plot and character before I begin the draft. Unless absolutely required (and usually at the publisher’s behest) I do not rewrite. But, that being said, when it comes to publishable MS like “LUCAS” I double-triple-quadruple check to make sure nothing more or LESS can be done. That each scene is exactly where it belongs, so the story is given the absolute, perfect presentation it deserves.
- Adjective/Adverbs: By the time, the book is accepted by a publisher, all the little flourishes of ‘Lucas said softly’ and ‘Annabeth exclaimed loudly’ should have been weeded out. Post-haste. But, if they aren’t, that’s what line-edits are for. Remove every extraneous word (especially adjectives and adverbs) and tighten your story. (Plus, this keeps it under word count too!)
These are just a few basic things I am trying to implement to really shine “LUCAS: Book One of The Lords Of Devil Manor.” And I will continue to find newer ways to make it work, so that you, the reader has the most enjoyable experience with it. That is what good editing does to a MS. Elevates a good book to a great one. I hope, my little pointers will be of some help to you.
Do wish me luck too.
Thank you Ruchi for having me at your spot, and till next time,
Aarti V Raman aka Writer Gal
Hope you liked this post. Do you have any tips to add? Leave them in comments below. We can all learn from each other’s knife wielding! 😉