Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

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WilliamMJones
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Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by WilliamMJones » May 23rd, 2010, 6:16 am

I have never been published, so I'm not really sure what kind of editing gets done after submiting to an agent. Also, I'm a little unsure of the editing I'm doing now.

First, what kind of editing should the first rewrite include? How much time do most people spend worrying about the story arc, and how much is about word choice, grammer and spelling?

After you get an agent or an editor, and they work with you to edit, what changes are usually made? Will it be the actual story, or the smaller stuff like grammer and word choice? How different will your novel look after editing it with an agent/editor?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer.

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Holly
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by Holly » May 23rd, 2010, 7:46 am

Good morning and good luck to you.

Remember, you are in competition with thousands of other writers. Many of those writers are professionals. Picture thousands of anxious people in line at an airport counter, all hoping to buy the same few plane tickets. This is the real answer to your question.

Agents don't edit. They sell to publishers. An agent might suggest edits, but don't count on it. Your work should be in final shape when you submit it to an agent.

I just finished my first novel, too. I don't know what other people do, should do, or will do, but I am killing myself to make sure my novel is as close to perfect as I can get it. No spelling errors. No weird grammar glitches. Story structure and POV changes that make sense. Character reactions and dialogue that sound like real people. A plot that rolls along. I read my pages aloud, read writing blogs, joined a good online critique group, asked other writers for feedback, and paid an editor/writer friend to read it (she's not a good match -- she's an academic type who reads and writes nonfiction and literary fiction, while I write sci-fi/fantasy, but still, she made invaluable comments). When I start to query, I will know that I did everything I could.

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Quill
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by Quill » May 23rd, 2010, 10:35 am

Bully! That's the spirit! You said it, Holly, one needs to go all out. Great advice.

That's what I'm doing, too. And it takes time. I am learning my craft as I go, ever plowing new info and increased skill into my work-in-progress, doing everything I can to enrich it and bring it up to publishable -- nay, stellar -- heights.

It needs to be rock solid and shine in every aspect, Mr. WilliamMJones, before you query.

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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by bgannon » May 23rd, 2010, 10:37 am

I don't think it matters what you address first as you start to edit and revise, as long as it all gets covered. I focus on the story first, because I find it harder to be objective about plot, character etc. than with grammar and word choice. I'm planning to do the serious copy editing last, because as I add and remove scenes there's going to be fresh copy anyway.

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 23rd, 2010, 10:45 am

The basic answer is that the kind of editing that takes place varies from person to person and project to project. Some agents do a ton of editing, some don't. Some editors will do a ton of editing, some won't. It depends on the intent and abilities of the individual, and, even more importantly, what the story needs. If the story needs something major, they'll ask for something major in revisions.

The trick, as the others said, is how difficult it is these days to get published, and how much competition there is. Agents and editors don't want to guide a writer through everything. The book should be as perfect as you can make it. The less they have to do the easier it is for them to acquire it (and to trust the abilities of the writer). The more editing a books needs, the more an agent or editor has to be absolutely wowed by the elements that don't need work.

They're not looking for raw diamonds. They're looking for gems that are already cut. Maybe some polishing will still need to be done, but the less cutting and shaping required the better.

Best of luck,
Bryan
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by polymath » May 23rd, 2010, 12:53 pm

Marshall Lee's Bookmaking: The illustrated guide to design/production/editing exhaustively covers how it all goes with a manuscript once out of an author's hands and when it comes back for revisions, rewriting, copyediting approval, and typesetting proofreading, etc.

I have the 1979 Bookmaking edition, obviously published prior to the digital age. I cherish it for recording how it went before and comparing and contrasting with how it goes now. The latest edition includes digital editing/publishing processes, and is getting out of date.

Prefatory commentary in The Chicago Manual of Style covers copyeditors' roles and interactions with authors during the publishing process. Chapter 2, "Manuscript Preparation and Manuscript Editing"; subchapters "Introduction," "The Author's Responsibilities," and "The Manuscript Editor's Responsibilities."
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by izanobu » May 23rd, 2010, 7:03 pm

How things look after an editor buys your book and gives you the edits depends on the book and the editor. It could just be line stuff, it could be scene tweaks, it could be "fix the ending so that guy doesn't die". All depends. Copy editing is another stage a sold book goes through, I think someone already posted a good link about that. The key also is to pick your battles. You don't have to take every change an editor suggests, just be prepared to explain why you didn't think that worked, or why you went with something a little different. Copy editors vary as well, some will try to mark up every single thing which often kills voice and tone in fiction, so you have to be prepared to read through the marks and kill the ones that mess with your intent.

As for self-editing, that depends on the writer and the project. My normal editing goes through two steps. First I send the novel or story to a couple of trusted first readers. Once they get back to me with comments, I go through and fix anything they point out that I agree with. Then I go through and fix typos, misused words that spellcheck won't catch, etc, to make the manuscript as clean as I can. Then I send it out and start something else :) So I guess technically I'm a three draft writer. (If my first readers tell me a story just flat doesn't work, I send it out anyway and then redraft the story using the idea again. That's why I call them "trusted" first readers :) I probably wouldn't do this with novel length work, I'd likely just redraft the whole novel and trunk the first practice draft. ).

It's different for everyone, though. You just have to find what works for you through trying different stuff :) There's no one "right" way to write or edit.

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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by JustineDell » May 23rd, 2010, 7:58 pm

I think what everyone else has said has been pretty spot on.

My question to you is, do you have a beta reader? A critque group? Beta's and crit groups can help tremendously when considering the arc of your story, your overall plot, grammar advice, and they can do a final read-through for spelling errors and such.

Editing can drive you a little nuts (I've been editing an MS for almost 3 months now...grrr), but it's important. Other people can catch what you don't see.

No matter what, you have to do what feels right you. Good luck!

~JD

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WilliamMJones
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by WilliamMJones » May 24th, 2010, 6:18 am

Thanks for all the answers. I didn't think editors and agents had time for full rewrites, but in most writing blogs I've read that both offer at least a few changes. Nathan says they send an "editorial letter suggesting content changes." And I wasn't sure what kind of changes. Now I know it varies from one project to the next. Thanks.

Yes, I do have a few readers, including a high school english teacher, but no one more proffesional than her. I was thinking after I get imput from all of those people I'd find an online critique group, or find a critique partner here in the forums.

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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by Krista G. » May 24th, 2010, 11:47 am

Just wanted to throw out a number I once heard: You'll probably spend (at least) half as long editing a project as you did writing the first draft - and for many writers, it's more like two or three times as long:)
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JustineDell
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by JustineDell » May 24th, 2010, 1:37 pm

Krista G. wrote:Just wanted to throw out a number I once heard: You'll probably spend (at least) half as long editing a project as you did writing the first draft - and for many writers, it's more like two or three times as long:)
OMG, you are soooo right! I only spent 3 months months writing the first one, and have spent at least 4 editing it. Crazy!

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Sommer Leigh
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by Sommer Leigh » May 24th, 2010, 1:57 pm

I am not a published author yet, but I am working on edits and rewrites so I at least understand where you are at. I've taken a handful of advice from authors and my experience getting my degree and sort of threw it all together with some innovation and a lot of gut instinct and that's what's driving my edits. I wrote a post on my blog a while back about editing, and below is what I came up with. Granted this is my path and may not be perfect, but it is something. Also, I do a lot of my editing as I'm writing, and not everyone does that.

This is roughly what I did when I finshed-
1. Get some space.
Before you can edit, you must get some space first. That seems counterproductive, but trust me, your brain is hardwired to your manuscript right now and you will gloss over sentences and grammar problems because you know what you’ve written too well. I take some days off and I read.

2. Read for content first.
Prepare to rewrite. This is where you will realize you’ve got scenes that don’t matter, details that never come up again, and characters you actually don’t like very much. This takes a long time. I've read somewhere that you'll rewrite 3/4ths of the book after the first draft, so don't freak out when that happens. When I read for content, I did it in two parts: I sent my manuscript to beta readers to read and comment on, and I started reading the entire thing out loud. I was hard on my manuscript and listened to my gut and deleted a lot of scenes. One thing I plan to do that I haven't done yet (I'm doing another round of rewrites right now) is I plan to plot the novel out using notecards so I can get a truer feeling for my pacing. Not sure how helpful this will be yet.

3. Read for repetition.
Most writers have quirks they don’t even realize they’ve got until they’re editing. This is when a good writing program comes in handy.

Wordle. It will pick out all of your most used words and arrange them graphically with the words you use the most often being the biggest. Not only does it look cool, but you can see what words you use most often that you probably shouldn’t be.

Liquid Story Binder, the program I use, has a great feature that lets you bring up a list of every instance of a word or phrase so you can go down the list. This is incredibly tedious, but necessary.

4. Delete.

4a. Delete unnecessary modifiers. Your readers are super smart and will know when a situation is tense, romantic, scary, etc. Words like simply, suddenly, really, totally, very, supposedly, terribly, scarily, utterly, usually, mostly, probably, softly, irritably, tensely. If it ends in “ly” give it a critical eye.

4b. Delete clichés and hyperbole.

4c. Search and destroy all the extra “that” and “had” words in your manuscript. Chances are, there are a ton. It is definitely one of my quirks. Look for phrases like “I had noticed he wasn’t in class today.” And rewrite to “I noticed he wasn’t in class today.”

5. Use stronger verbs, fewer adjectives.
Keep your descriptions tight, short, and sharp. Give the readers enough to start the picture, but let a character’s defining traits come through in the things they do, the things they say, and in their mannerisms.

6. Check your transitions.
Pay close attention to scene changes, chapter changes, and chapter beginnings. Are they strong? Are they clichéd? Do they start where they need to start and end where they need to end? I notice that I often end my chapters about a paragraph later than necessary, using the last couple of lines to “summarize” my character’s feelings about what just happened. Bad Sommer! These are always the first lines to go.

7. Edit for grammar and spelling.
I put this last, but that’s not entirely right. I edit for grammar and spelling constantly, but it isn’t until the very end that I do a serious line edit for grammatical problems.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
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bcomet
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by bcomet » May 24th, 2010, 3:44 pm

Does anyone here use an editing program (track changes) on microsoft word? Do you know of a tutorial for how that works?
Thanks!

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Em!
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Re: Questions about editing, pre and post agent.

Post by Em! » May 24th, 2010, 3:55 pm

bcomet wrote:Does anyone here use an editing program (track changes) on microsoft word? Do you know of a tutorial for how that works?
I don't use Word at home, but maybe this will help? http://office.microsoft.com/training/tr ... 2359491033
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