Sunday, June 8, 2014

When Your Readers and Your Editor Clash


In the middle of working on edits for my soon-to-be-released book, The Swimming Corpse, (Champagne Book Group) I bumped into a suggestion by my editor that left me puzzled.

While writing the book and passing it through various critique groups, several people suggested a few of my chapter endings ran on too long and ought to be more abrupt. When more than a few readers made the same suggestion, I cut short the chapters in question. That appeased them.

The book was accepted by the publisher and there it lay while I continued work on the third in the Blenders series. Then the edits arrived. True, I had used far too many duplicate and weak words, such as little, small, and felt. I overused and then. I went to work on those right away and found I enhanced the sentences in question.

I had to remove one long section which said editor believed didn’t enhance the story. I loved my words, but after much sighing and moaning, I deleted it and to my delight, the section won’t even be missed and the story moves much more smoothly.

But there were the chapter endings to contend with. I balanced readers against the experienced professional editor. What to do. During the first edit, I added more to one of the chapter endings, but left the other three indicated ones alone.

The edits came back for another round of corrections. All is well except for those miscreant chapter endings. After reading a thorough explanation of her reasoning, I succumbed and accepted her vast experience. Now I have to figure out how to expand.

However, before doing that, I consulted one critique group. They laughed at my dilemma. One of them said, “Well, we love your writing, you know that, so we were loathe to tell you to extend the chapter endings. We thought your first version chapter endings went on far too long, but then you chopped them off too abruptly and left us hanging. I know we approved, but we didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

They really talk like that, “loathe to tell you...”

“We’re neophytes at this. We may read and know what we like, but we won’t know exactly what we like until you finally have it edited and published.”

So much for my critique group. They help with overall story line and proofreading, but they leave it up to me to write the story my way–and my editor’s way. After listening to her advice and suggestions, it is my hope that the new versions of chapter endings will meet with everyone’s approval.

An addendum: For those who self-publish, I hope you have as good an editor as I have. As great as I think my writing, she manages to find the bits and pieces that need adjusting, the small, little things I felt were appropriate and then had to remove to make the story better.

Veronica Helen Hart's books are published with both Champagne Book Group, Calgary, Canada, and Double Edge Press, Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania. She is most appreciative of her editors. Two books will be released this summer: The Reluctant Daughter and The Swimming Corpse. You can read excerpts from all her books at www.veronicahhart.com.



4 comments:

Big Mike said...

Have to remember. readers who love your work hate to hurt your feelings. Editors, if they're good, don't have that obstacle. They're paid to be blood butt honest, no matter what. That's why, except in the rarest of cases, what they say should be accepted with a smile, perhaps sometimes a sigh cause ya know it means you've got to work harder.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Veronica Helen Hart said...

Big sigh, Big Mike. I want them to be honest, and they're good about finding plot faults and typos. They're good about telling me when they want something changed, and if three or more make the same suggestion, I usually study the question, and often redo the passage. But I get not wanting to hurt my feelings. I'm not afraid to "hurt" someone's feelings if I believe what I have to say will improve the writing. Both Bob and I learned a long time ago that we critique the writing not the person, so we don't feel hurt by the other's comments. Tough life here. My main point is to trust the editor.

Liz Fountain said...

One of the best pieces of advice about critiques I heard in a writing workshop was that often, the critique group or partner will point to where "something" is wrong. But they won't necessarily be right about what is wrong or know how to fix it. That advice helps me a lot, both to welcome criticism and to keep my own "author" head on straight.

Thanks!

Allison Knight said...

After a lot of books, I've discovered editors are usually angels in devil's clothing. Which is good thing. It's so easy to read a self-published with no or a poor editor. That's one of the reasons I like Champagne Books so much. They hired good editors (even if they are delighted to cut and clash all those wonderful words you wrote.