The Writer’s Learning Process

So now that I’ve finished up a few projects and can breathe again, I feel like I can actually take a few minutes and actually blog about something other than how I’m struggling to keep my head above water.

Over the past couple weeks I had to do a lot of revisions projects for some of my upcoming books. And it reminded me of how much I learn from my editors.

When I write a book, I go through the entire first draft without looking back. Then I edit the book after I’m finished, give it to Biker Dude, who reads through it and edits it and gives it back to me and I’ll read through it and edit it again. Then it’s off to my editor.

I’m one of those people that love to be edited. I like a strong, hands on editor, because I think a great editor means a great book as a result. Besides, there’s no way my eyes will see every mistake. I’m way too close to the book and by the itme the story has been with me for so long, I can no longer really ‘see’ the words on the page. I already know the story, so I’m skimming along and I might miss something. Plus an objective outsider isn’t going to be nearly as nice to my baby as i would be. Ruthless is oftentimes the best thing your ‘baby’ needs to make it better, know what I mean?

I have three editors, and every one of them is different. One is very detailed, digging hard into my world building and plot structure and characterization. One is lighter, discussing elements of story and romance, and line editing for typos and throughtout the story marking questions I need to answer. The third is a balance between the two.

I learn something new with every book that’s edited. Phrasing, grammar, structure, things to do differently next time. Every time I’m edited or copyedited I learn something that I hadn’t known, something I can use in my next book, whether it’s a bad habit I’ve picked up that I need to lose, or a turn of phrase I overuse and need to get rid of, or a new way of doing something that I hadn’t thought of before. The wonderful thing about being edited is what you learn about yourself as a writer, how much you can grow by having editors and copyeditors teach you. I like to think every book I write is stronger than the last one, and I have great editors to thank for that.

The key is to be open minded, and leave your defensiveness at the door. A lot of authors balk at editing, play the ‘but it’s my voice’ card and refuse to let an editor or copyeditor change them. Some things…yeah–it’s author voice and can’t be changed. A lot of it is simply lazy writing, and frankly, we can do better. For example, I start a lot of my sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’. A. Lot. Of. Sentences. Copyeditors have shown me the error of my ways, and now when I’m editing my own work I tend to notice that and try to fix it before I turn the book in. It was merely a bad writing habit I picked up and never bothered to correct. Now I do. Hopefully :giggle:

Now granted, I don’t agree with every editing suggestion, because there are some things I do chalk up to my own unique style of writing, which is my ‘voice’. But there are a lot of things I do that can be changed and strengthen the pacing and the structure. This is why the editing process takes time. Every sentence, every paragraph, every section requires careful evaluation. Because the bottom line is, we all want the end result to be a really good book.