This blog post is coming to you late because I’m neck deep in pre-edits. Since I signed a contract for Darklight, I have had a checklist of things to get done for my publisher, Clean Reads. The most exhausting: pre-edits.
Pre-edits are an opportunity to clear away the proverbial brush. There are LOTS of things we authors do when banging out a first draft.
- Start three sentences in a row with the same word
- Use adverbs ALL OVER THE PLACE
- And use that insidious word “very” WAY too much. In fact, that word is so overused (without conveying any extra meaning) that my publisher makes no promises about what will happen if she sees it in a manuscript.
- Point of View violations
- Commas, commas, and commas
I can tell you right now: I LOATHE PRE-EDITS! I am slogging my way through the manuscript AGAIN. Trying to polish it up. (That’s what I’ve done multiple times over the past year, if not years).
Taking a calming breath, it’s important to understand that my publisher isn’t out to get me. Instead, she wants to clean up the stuff that can be easily sifted through out of the way. That way, my editors can focus on deeper, more important stuff. Like…
- Does the story evolve in a way that holds the reader’s interest?
- Are there too many points of view in the story? Not enough?
- Does the dialog balance the prose well?
Stuff like this helps take a “neat idea” and catapult it. Readers may not “know” all this writing craft, or how to name it. But trust me, readers can tell a good story from a great one. (And a badly written one as well).
So for the umpteenth time, I am walking through Darklight, scene by scene, trying to clean out obvious junk and give it a final buff before I ship it off. And considering its due in 48 hours, I even took this week off to focus!
As Baron Vladimir Harkonnen likes to remind us, he who controls the spice controls the universe. Well we are the ones in charge of the spice of our novel, and having good writing without clunky junk in the way is the path toward a universe of excited readers.