I’m in the middle of editing the manuscript for Frontier Resistance, and I’m finding it an interesting process, the second time around. It’s not enormously different, but it is less confronting and less daunting.
I’ve spoken at a few events about my first book, and I’ve usually described the manuscript acceptance notification as “interesting.” There’s a couple of reasons. Firstly, there’s elation. Someone actually LIKED my story! In fact, they liked it enough to want to publish it. That’s a fabulous feeling, exhilarating and mind-blowing all wrapped up together.
Then there’s the next bit of the notification. It’s the bit that tells you all about your weaknesses as a writer, and what needs to be improved. One phrase from my first acceptance springs to mind “Like StarWars, but not in a good way…” For me, that moment is always a bit like someone asking me if I could just move my child’s navel 2cm to the right, or perhaps change the colour of their eyes.
Once I get into the editing process, though, I can see the value of having someone who isn’t afraid to tell me what the issues are. I’m too close to my own work to be able to see the weak points in the plot, the typos and the bits where I “tell” rather than “show,” (a particular weakness of mine) and use way too many adjectives, which I’m sure you’ve already noticed.
This time around, I’m working on making the “showing” better, and tightening up the plot, trying to ensure that there are no inconsistencies so that the “big reveal” moment is actually big and revealing and not completely unbelievable. It’s a tricky process, and I have to make sure that I’m really thinking about what I’m doing. I also run the changes past my chief test reader. Fortunately, she has an eagle eye, and is very familiar with the story so that when the manuscript goes back to the editor, it should be in better shape than it was. Which is, of course, the whole point of editing.
When I look back at that first editing process, I’m astounded at how much I learnt. It appears that I’m learning more this time around. I’d thought that I had the show vs tell thing under control, but I didn’t, or more correctly, I did, but not all of the time. Learning to tighten up my prose has resulted in me leaning too far in the other direction occasionally, and allowing it to become too sparse, but I’m guessing that it will continue to be a bit of a balancing act, dependent on what I’m writing at the time.
Anyway, enough of that. As I wrote, the postman delivered the paperback proof of Frontier Incursion, and I should really go and look at it properly! It’s planned to be available in March, and then Resistance will be out shortly thereafter.