Three lessons from the editing desk

March 26, 2014

Over the past week I’ve been battling with the revisions on a scene, and in finally fixing the problem, I learned a few lessons.

The scene in question was a chase scene, and when my editor first read it, he thought the first half was off. His feedback made sense to me, so I accepted it, and I quickly hacked out a potential fix to run past him. Lesson #1: Spend more time planning out rewrites. A little extra thought can save days of frustration when it turns out your plans won’t work.

So I got to the scene, and I started trying to rewrite it…but nothing worked. It was a chase scene, but my book is in a time that lacks cars, so I had limited options to make it feel like a proper chase scene. I tried everything I could to make it work with my editor’s suggestion and still retain that essential quality, but I couldn’t make it work. Lesson #2: Editors are not always right. I trust my editor a lot, so I tend to assume he’s right and I’m wrong, but sometimes that’s not the case. Usually it is though. He’s still got a ~90% average going.

I still needed to address the criticism though, because it was still valid. It wasn’t hard, though – instead of making a huge change, I really just needed to make a small change to the existing scene to address the specific criticism, and the problem was solved (hopefully). Lesson #3: When in doubt, try to make a small change before a large one. The story fit together before, and the bigger the change I tried to make, the more I broke something else. Smaller is better, if possible.

I realize these lessons are a bit hard to follow since I can’t release too many details about the scene (yet!), but there it is. Lessons straight from the editing desk. This post will make more sense when you read my book, so I’ll get back to work on that.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

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