Friday, May 30, 2014

The Dark Deliciousness of Working with Editors by Kat Ross

Before I found a publisher, I had some vague notion that the process involved an experienced editor coming along with a magic pen and basically fixing all the mediocre things in my manuscript. I mean, yes, I expected to do some rewriting. Delete scene here, add one there. Everyone complains about the hideous pressure of rewriting under deadlines, so I wasn't completely naïve. But I guess I imagined that my editor would also be more like my high school English teacher, smoothing out awkward sentences and polishing my story until it shone.

Well, I soon discovered that's my job. I was going to have to whip this puppy into shape alone.
Oh boy.

 photo dogcupcakes_zps91d3431a.gif
I'm still new at all this, so maybe some editors leap into the trenches. Mine (who is wonderful, by the way) just sent me my manuscript back with notes in the margins. She didn't order me to accept every single suggestion, just what I agreed with. As it turned out, I agreed with basically everything. And it was a ton of work. I had to murder characters that I adored, and develop others who were necessary but half-baked. I slashed and burned entire chapters that I had slaved over for weeks. By the end, my head was spinning  a little and I wasn't entirely sure what I'd done, but I felt pretty confident that it was a lot better than what I'd started with. Having an intense deadline looming over me helped, because I couldn't afford to agonize or second-guess, I just went with my gut and didn't look back.

And I think that's how it should be. The beauty of a good editor is that they have the perspective to view your story from a distance (which, when you've been living with something for so long, is not a vantage point that's available to you anymore). A good editor will point out the big stuff, as well as the small stuff. They'll gently break the news that some of your favorite material isn't really serving any purpose in the narrative. They're like an architect, helping to fine-tune the blueprints to your dream house.

But the sweat that goes into hammering those boards together? That's all you.

Kat's debut, Some Fine Day, comes out July 1 from Strange Chemistry. You can find her on Twitter and her website.


  1. I feel your pain, sister! :) When the first email arrived from my editor, I glanced at them and said, "Huh. Not so bad." And then I read them. LOL - big changes were requested but it only took a few sentences to say what she wanted, which just happened to resonate throughout the whole book.

    But your novel SOME FINE DAY sounds awesome, so I'm sure all that sweat was worth it. Can't wait to read it!

  2. Truth! :) And I freaking love that dog video!

  3. oh, thanks guys! yes, Kym, exact same reaction with me! and then I was like, actually, to do this RIGHT, I have to really roll up my sleeves and write many thousands of new words!

    and Margo...I know. that expression is just priceless. I can SO relate, lol!