Editing makes up a HUGE part of the writing process. Oh, if all we writers had to do was sit down and slap glorious words on a page. If only it were so easy. For those new to this profession, here’s a truth bomb. This job is rewarding but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Writing is tough.
Professionals only make it seem easy.
I recently turned in my ghostwriting project. My client has given me permission to share in some of the glory, so to speak. The Trap: Sex, Social Media, and Surveillance Capitalism is now LIVE. Yes, my client worked in the adult industry for twenty years. It’s a book about the pitfalls of adult entertainment (for performers as well as the audience).
Aaand the final ended up at around 91,000 words (though, believe it or not, it’s a super quick read for being such a deep book).
Sure, writing about this topic was tough. Writing with a partner, the research, making sure I held true to the client’s voice, etc. was enough to make me want to go live in a blanket fort with my old Barbies and tubs of frosting. All in all, though, the writing was easy compared to the editing.
For those who are new, who maybe don’t know this next part, feel free to skim down to the tips .
Editing is More Than Proofreading
Many new authors enter into professional publishing believing a few myths, which I shall now debunk. First of all, there are MANY types of editing/editors and the cost will vary. When I wrote my first 187,000 word ‘novel’ I:
was an idiot who was too epically stupid to know I was epically stupid
believed editors were only there to check for grammar issues, typos, punctuation, etc.
thought that I didn’t need to sully my hands hunting down typos because editors would catch all my boo-boos for me
You know the situation. A beta reader or editor says a precious part of your book has to go. You resist, strenuously. They fix you with an unforgiving eye and say: ‘kill your darlings’.
Sometimes we resist a change for good reason. The character/scene/description/flashback/whatever might be needed. It explains something, or adds resonance, or fills a gap in the story, though perhaps it doesn’t yet do its job. That’s fixable.
We also resist changes that will cause a hot mess, though we’ll probably make them when we’ve mustered the courage.
Those aren’t darlings.
What are darlings?
Darlings are things we cling to, with especial defiance, when we shouldn’t. They’re anything we’re keeping mainly because we like them, not because they are necessary for the book.
We all do it. We’ll do it on our first book and yea unto our umpteenth.
So why are darlings such a blind spot? Here’s my theory, from experience at both ends of the editing sword. Darlings carry emotional baggage.
We might keep a darling because it’s based on something personal.
We might keep a darling that’s totally invented, but it took a long time to draft or edit and because of that investment, it’s going in the goddarned book.
But look at those reasons. Are they about the reader’s experience? Or are they about us, the writer?
Anne R. Allen provides us with bad publishing advice new writers should ignore. Thanks so much for your advice, Anne. We appreciate it very much.
Social Media is both a boon and a curse to new writers. Online writing groups and forums are an excellent source of insider information on the publishing industry—stuff we once could only find at expensive classes and writers’ conferences.
But social media is also a major source of misinformation and dangerously bad advice.
I belong to a lot of Facebook writers’ groups where I see newbies ask questions that get a bunch of conflicting responses. Sometimes when I see misinformation, I jump in to correct it, but often I can tell that resistance is futile. There’s such a wealth of bad advice that I don’t know where to begin.
I know some people can only learn that fire is hot by getting burned. Nothing a more experienced person says will change their minds.
But if you don’t feel the need to jump in the fire, here’s some popular bad advice you can ignore.
Hey guys, Today Nancy Lin is here to help us with what might just be THE suckiest part of writing. But part of being a great writer, is also learning to be at least a good editor. We all need professional outside eyes on our work, and Nancy is here to help you get the most bang for your buck.
Take it away, Nancy!
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