We do a lot of editing at Browne & Miller. We are not afraid of writing multiple editorial letters, of discussing a character’s motivation at length over the phone, or trying to get our clients to ease up on their favorite writing quirk – typically dashes or ellipses. We’ll admit that we’ve been accused of putting our authors through the ringer, but we have a list of award-winning writers to show for it. J  But, as Anna pointed out in her post, arriving at the point where high-fives are enthusiastically exchanged over the state of a manuscript, either between agent and author, or author and editor, takes work. So, since Anna brought up the topic of revisions in her post, I thought I would add my two cents. 

 

All Unquiet Things went through two rounds of revisions at Browne & Miller before we started submitting to editors.  The first involved a long-ish editorial letter focusing on big-picture elements and the second was more of a final clean-up and tightening. So, really, very similar to the process that Anna is now going through with Francoise. Going through the exercise or revising with your agent, I think, prepares an author – especially a new one – for the work they’ll be doing with their editor and that’s a good thing.  As Anna mentioned, it does take a village to raise a wonderful book and we want our authors to be able to navigate the input and suggestions from all village elders with ease.

 

I believe that it’s my job – and the function of any editorial input – to help authors become better at what they do. With that in mind, I want any editorial suggestions I give to get a writer thinking. It is never my intention to write for them or to impose my ideas on their work.  I also make sure to talk through my thoughts and comments with an author before I pass along any suggestions in writing.  We like the Browne & Miller village to be a happy and productive community.  And we like our authors to work with editors who feel the same way.  The scenes Anna added after mulling over Francoise’s comments really did make All Unquiet Things even better – the secondary character in question became that much more alluring and the layers of the mystery were made even richer. 

 

Anna made a great point when she said that she could keep editing within an inch of her manuscript’s life.  Letting go and letting go of the idea of perfection is a necessary part of writing.  There is no manuscript out there that couldn’t stand some more fine-tuning. The same goes for books. The rumor is that David Sedaris regularly does readings with a pencil in hand, editing as he goes based on audience reaction.  But there is a line between working on a manuscript or proporsal and working them to death. I’d like to think that the idea is for authors to leave the revision process having learned something and excited about writing.

 

 

 

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