I am a perpetual editor. Even a quick email to a friend gets edited once or twice before I press send. It’s difficult for me to say that a draft is finished. Therefore, as can be expected, I started editing my new passage the moment I pressed send. Even though I’d done a quick edit as I wrote.
I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to offer a sample of my editing. I already have the author’s permission (yay!), and you’ll be able to see my style of editing, my comments, and the author’s revision post-comments as well (it’s really convenient, being the author).
To aid in the editing process and work on objectivity, I didn’t read the sample at all between writing it and now (pre-edit). My goal is to treat the writing as if it’s someone else’s. Here’s the email Author Me would have sent to Editor Me:
Hi wonderful Editor Rochelle,
I was wondering if you could look at this 600-word short scene from my work in progress, Amazing Novel. A few things I’d like help with:
- Are the stakes high enough?
- Do you get the feeling that Jenny is still in love with Liam? That she’s worried the summer won’t be long enough and is afraid to pursue the relationship if it will jut be a fling?
- How am I doing with showing instead of telling?
- I can’t decide if I should have her overbearing mother be more involved. What do you think?
Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy.
And here’s what I would have sent back (click for larger image).
Whenever I line edit, I’m far more likely to use the comments feature than to change things. Except grammar. (But since I have decent grammar, you don’t see any of that here…)
Here’s the email I would have responded with:
Dear Author Rochelle,
Love the premise! This summer-fling water fight is great, and I enjoyed the metaphor of the balloons. One shattering, and the second one surviving a little longer, until fate took over. (It would be nice if it didn’t break at all… but that’s just because you had me shipping them.) The fate of the second balloon had me holding out hopes for Jenny and Liam.
A few things to note to answer your questions:
- I pointed out a few places you could show better. If this is the turning point in your novel, or has any special significance, you could show us the whole thing, like a slow-mo replay.
- As far as stakes are concerned, I would like a little bit more about their relationship. Do you have a place you could slip in some backstory? Show us what happened before, and why she’s scared of trusting him again? Could you have some dialogue conflict between Jenny and Liam, maybe with some undercurrent of what’s happened before?
- Along those lines, I don’t feel like we know enough about Liam here. He’s attractive, I get that, but I don’t see his motivation at all. I know it’s hard since he’s not your POV character, but why is he pursuing Jenny? Even if you never actually show us, Liam can come to life if you understand him and his motivations better. That should help raise the stakes, too. Is he scared? Overconfident that she still loves him? Worried about the short summer too?
- If you include more conflict between Liam and Jenny, I don’t think you need her mother to be involved. Since she never makes it inside, the distant threat of wetting new hardwood is enough to get Jenny into the main action, which is the most important.
Take a look at my edits (attached), and let me know if you have any questions about it. Can’t wait to see your revisions!
Tune in to my next post to see what Author Rochelle comes up with based on these revisions.