The Gift of a Brilliant Editor
In the past two weeks alone, Editor Adair and I have spent 8 hours in intense editing sessions. After she painstakingly goes over every word of a given chapter, making sure the pacing is fluid, the characters are authentic, and the wording is free of any dead skin, Editor Adair must then go back over her edits with me. Page by page, paragraph by paragraph, we talk over every beat. It can be exhausting, especially if the solution to a problem is going to be more than just cutting out a section. But mostly, it's exhilarating. It feels like this story can really be good. With just a little elbow grease, we can really make her shine.
It's hard to accurately convey how much of a genius Editor Adair is when she's got my manuscript in her hands. So, I though I'd just offer a few quotes that I remember from recent sessions. Adair is unafraid to tell you when something isn't working, but she somehow manages to make it sound like a compliment. It's very soothing.
"We don't need so much of Tess's reactions here. I don't think you give yourself enough credit that you've let the reader know how Tess would feel in a given situation." (Read: you are stopping the action with Tess's thoughts and we don't care what she thinks all the time)
"I think we need to take this out. The reader will think that part of your story is cool without you reminding them to." (Read: this sentence was a very thinly disguised way of calling attention to something you thought was cool about your own story.)
"Do you think that Tess would be so uninvolved in this conversation? Would she let Chris do all the talking?" (Read: no and no.)
"Every reader is different, but I think it's worth pointing out that when you give me a direction like north, south, east ... that doesn't really help orient me, unless I would have a map to consult." (Read: people aren't holding compasses when they read novels, Emily. How about a good, old fashioned, 'they set out away from the river'?)
I've not worked with anyone else to the degree that Adair and I have worked together. I'm resigned to the fact that, when I do hand over the manuscript to a professional editor, I will absolutely hate working with him. More than likely, I'll just smile, nod, and make no changes until I've consulted the real deal.
Here's to you, Adair! May your patience never tire, and may this manuscript bear fruit for all your hard labor.