It’s that time again–revisions! On Friday I went to my editor’s office and got a brand new marked-up manuscript just covered in pencil. She warned me that she’d done a deep edit, and boy she was not joking. Not that that’s a bad thing. I mean, it feels like a bad thing when I turn the page and one of my paragraphs has been chopped up and reassembled via copyediting marks I don’t totally understand yet, given the aversion to revising to which I’ve already bravely admitted, but as soon as I make the changes and read the paragraph anew, 99.9% of the time it is so much better.

When you go through an edited manuscript, you notice stuff. Like how often you repeat words in the space of a few sentences. I have to say, I often repeat words for emphasis, but that emphasis only works when you’re listening to the cadence of the prose in my head, which you hopefully aren’t because that would be totally weird. So unless I sit down with every person who buys my book and personally read it aloud to them, the repetition that is sometimes intentional will just sound really lousy and amateurish. And it’s not intentional a lot of the time anyway.

You also realize how often you give more information than anyone needs. My editor told me that one of her goals in this line edit was to tighten things up, and already I can see that much of what she excised has been absolutely unnecessary. Who really needs to know that a certain character is “glowering” at the narrator “from the other side of the room.” Just glowering is perfectly fine, thanks. My editor can see these where I cannot, and the book is better for their removal.

There isn’t much that my editor said to cut or change that I decided to keep as is, but there are a few parts I’m willing to fight for, mostly out of vanity. That might mean salvaging them, putting them somewhere else where they fit better and make more sense, or that might mean obstinately digging my heels in and saying “I like it the way I wrote it.” I think my editor will understand; after all, like she said, it’s my book. Granted, these are not huge changes that she’s suggesting and I’m ignoring. I would never brush aside something big that needs to be fixed in deference to my own brilliance. My ego’s not that out of control.

I just hopped over a tiny change that my editor made to the end of the first section of the manuscript. I decided not to do it because, although it was a small grammatical difference, it made what I thought was a difference in the meaning of the sentence the way I wrote it. But I do try to understand why my editor changes something every time I don’t agree with it, and so I made an alternate change–the difference of only a punctuation mark–that, I think, makes the point of the sentence more clear to the reader.

In general, I’m wary of ignoring my editor’s suggestions. I don’t like to do it, and I don’t often do it. I have no idea how much other writers choose to not change something because they disagree. The last time I did revisions, I did everything I was asked, although sometimes I did what was asked in a different way than was suggested. The farther along I get in doing these revisions (I’m over halfway done now! w00t), the closer I get to the end, which my editor warned me she’d tweaked a little. I haven’t looked at it in depth yet, because I really do like to go in order, but I glanced at it and while I’m not sure I agree with the reason behind the change, I’m willing to seriously consider it, because saying “I like it the way I wrote it” seems, I don’t know, somewhat inflexible to me. All that said, I know why I structured the end the way I did and I’m confident in that knowledge, so while we might have to have a conversation about it, I’m sure that at the end we’ll be able to reach a compromise.

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