Editing

Somehow, I started editing. Actually, it came from my husband’s desire to hear my work. I read aloud to him sometimes before bed, he finds the sound of my voice relaxing. I ended up reading him the first chapter of Climbing Yggdrasil, making mental notes all the while about what did and did not work for me. It’s strange, but after just over a week of sitting there, the book feels different. I’ve managed to successfully disconnect from it.

He mentioned that one particular bit of conversations seemed unnatural, designed only to inform the reader and not actually something that two people in that world would talk about. This morning, I added the following note to my manuscript:

2014-01-06 11.53.34

This morning, I asked him about several bits of information I felt uneasy about; I go on about the solar system and various aspects of the Corporation that runs it, all the while worrying that this information is boring and redundant, as much of it gets revisited in a more active manner later in the book. I worried that I was telling instead of showing. He said he felt that it was interesting and informative, and I said I would have to think on it to see if I kept it in. Readers need an introduction to the fictional universe they’re visiting, sure, but I’d rather take them on a guided tour than hand them an informative pamphlet. I may need more opinions here.

The big thing for me, though, was showing my work to someone else. True, he’s my husband and bound to treat my work with care and respect, but I have trouble showing things like this to anyone. This was an important first step for me, as was finding problems with my manuscript without getting upset or sad. These are not depressing facts, these are opportunities for improvement.

I plan to continue reading my book to my husband and getting his feedback, taking notes on really obvious things that need to be changed, on things that I need to think about, on things that might require more opinions to give me a better feel how different readers react to them. This naturally brings me to an awkward part, asking others to read what I’ve written. I think I have less of a problem with the initial question of, “Will you read this thing that I wrote?” Now my issue is, “Yeah, it’s over 300 pages, are you sure you’re okay with that?” Is that something I need to simply get over and let people who want to read my book decide if that’s too much of a commitment for them? I’ve read that a lot of people do exchanges to make things fair, and I’m interested in looking at other writers’ work and providing feedback.

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9 thoughts on “Editing

  1. I’ve actually recently gone over this with my own story Darkness Concealed. I wasn’t hesitant to share it with anyone that both showed interest and I knew had writing chops (and thus is a good reader almost by requirement), but that’s mostly because I’ve trained my fear of what other people will think out of my mind entirely. I will note that typed in Word, not double-spaced and in 11 point type, it came to 184 pages, 103,259 words. It’s 40% bigger than your story.

    I have ended up farming out the story in three ways: whole cloth (here’s the draft, have at it), in a one-chapter parcel, and in 5-chapter segments as part of an ongoing trade. I have since gotten two full reviews back from whole cloth readers, I know of two more in progress, and first segment has also gotten a look-over. As a result of this I’ve come to several conclusions:

    People are going to flake. I handed the story out at the end of November to 7-8 people. Two of them read through in about a month’s time, one is going slowly with our 5-chapter idea, a third is doing a full grammar read-through (I don’t have the heart to tell her that I’ll be doing that as well), and the fourth is barely halfway through part 1 (of 4). The others I haven’t heard a word from.
    Multiple opinions help tremendously. While your vision for the story is what should have the last word, opening up to what others have to say will expose flaws unseen. I blogged on this recently.
    A big book is not going to scare away someone genuinely interested in your story. I had two people read through the entire thing and give articulated opinions on what they did and did not like, in barely a month’s time. One of them straight-up told me that despite all of my awkward wording he wanted to read the sequel.

    Going from these three conclusions, here’s what I’m going to do from now on (and my advice):

    I will solicit more beta readers than I need. Personally I think I only need 3-4 opinions to get a good consensus going, so in the future I’ll stick with 6-7 beta readers. If they all come back with something, awesome! But I’m prepared for the worst.
    Any long work I ever do will hit beta readers, no matter how confident I am in it. The feedback is too valuable.
    I will sell the story to any potential beta readers. If they are genuinely interested in it, they’ll read it all. I will not let length determine its “beta-ability” at all.

  2. I’ve always struggled with asking people for help for just that reason. I keep thinking that I should get into one of the writing communities that’s based on con crit circles, but then I shy away and hide again.

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