Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Tracks" prepares for prime time.

My next novel and first fantasy endeavor, "Tracks", is now going through its editing stage, courtesy of Champagne Books' editor Sharon Cassiel.  She has ferreted out the usual suspects - word usage, passive phrases, and consistency.  It is always a great thing when an editor catches some small detail that tells you they've combed through the novel - several times.

I'm pleased to say that "Tracks" is doing quite well, having no great issues to address.  Ms Cassiel is the first editor I've had to point out some story tweaks in so far as character relationships and what might be done to improve them.  Invaluable stuff.  So what does an editor go after?  Well, here's some generalities based on her work with me so far:

1. The major sticking point is excessive use of certain words. Yes, the book was ran through some professional-strength software to sniff out repetitions - resulting in a "top ten" list that also advises me what a tolerable level of usage is expected. Didn't know I used so many exclamation marks (grin). Other offenders include "all" and "as". It's the small stuff that gets you. Even with my own albeit humbler program to catch repetitions, quite a few things slipped through. This will take the bulk of my time to remedy (I've a two week deadline).

2. Passive sentences. Not a lot of these, but boy are they loathed when found. Little past-tense lovelies like "might have been" and such still survived the initial weeding.

3. Consistency. Things like calling the same town by two similar but not equal names ("Two Rivers" vs "Three Rivers"). Using "Mother" and "Mom" instead of settling on one or the other.

4. Story issues. The big bugaboo as far as I'm concerned. Fortunately, no killers here, but I did have the fore-mentioned character relationship changes to work in.

The takeaway here is to pay attention to all of this early on in order to avoid paying the piper later. You can't be perfect - especially when dealing with over 80k worth of text, but anything helps. Too much of these issues and you might not pass muster with being accepted. Also keep in mind that every editor sees things differently. I had one book where the editor didn't like contractions in internalized observations. This particular editor has a differing opinion, and one must roll with the tide as the release date approaches.

There are also specific publisher "house rules" that have to be abided by - such as single spaces between sentences and particular characters to denote a time break (not to mention page formats).

My adivce for anyone weathering the editorial storm is to be flexible, and above all stay professional.  Odds are your editor knows more than you do (grin).

For those who are wondering, here's the blurb for "Tracks":

Vincent’s sister is swept away by a steam locomotive riding rails that vanish along with her. Ten years later he rediscovers those tracks, and heads down them to bring her back.

The above picture is a tentative cover I suggested - I'll see the actual one come January.  The book is scheduled for release in March of next year.  I'm proud to say that no wizards, fae, vamps, wolves, or dragons were injured in this novel.  Why?  Because this fantasy didn't include them or any other European trope. 




Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Two Rivers vs Three Rivers? I can relate. I spelled Monro three ways in my first book. Must be the Yogi Berra syndrome. We've come to the fork in the road and taken it!

(The exclaimation point is just for you.)