Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Let’s dive right in, shall we? First off, let me share with you the very first thing I do when I receive edits from any editor, not just Jamie. I ACCEPT ALL CHANGES. If you’re familiar with Track Changes in Pages (or Word, for those tied to the PC), you know what this does. I do this because I do not consider myself a grammar queen and most of the changes are just that, grammatical. In this I trust editors implicitly. I’d probably trust a gorilla, for that matter, because grammar just isn’t my thing. Got that? After accepting their changes, I am left with all of their comments and questions, and this, I have found, is where I learn my weaknesses. . .

* Calling Carl and Cryer “the doctors” and then having a conversation as if Cryer is a medical doctor instead of a dentist (page 5–9). OK

* Shiny’s last name: is it Portman or Portley (or Portly)? OK

* You have a few favorite words and phrases: pooched, huff, mulish. . . I’m not a huge stickler on duplicate words but when it’s something distinctive like mulish (which I love, btw), I think less is probably better than more. Have a look, see what you think. OK

The “OK” helps me remember what issues I have already addressed. Very helpful when you have a laundry list of small details. I am not listing everything that Jamie gave me, mostly because it gives too much away about the book, but you get the context of the tweaks she is asking me to take care of within the manuscript.

The next section showed problems that were a little more far reaching and generally took longer to address. One of my favorite tools to ease this process is to bring up the Search box in Pages. when I type in a name--we’ll use “William” for this example--every instance in which William is found in the document is listed. I can then go through this list, find and make note of the places where he is interacting with LaTisha, then fix the problem of her addressing him as “boy," a problem Jamie makes note of in the list below. . .

* Why does LaTisha repeatedly call William a boy? He’s forty-six and she’s sixty, which doesn’t seem like that large a gap; I could see it if he were in his twenties … even his early thirties.
* Why does Aiden come in to the diner (for the first time ever), sit down at the counter. . . (can’t copy the entire section because it spoils the plot!)
* There are times when I wonder how that restaurant manages to stay in business, as little staff as they’ve got and as much as those staff have got goin’ on. In the opening scene, LaTisha “fires” Hardy and. . .
* How does the. . .between Carl and Eugene—in which Eugene claims Carl is. . .
* Telling, not showing. You’ll see in the beginning some places I highlighted in grey that are textbook telling statements. Then I quit doing it because I see that to a certain extent, that is LaTisha’s voice. She’s a chatty gal and she tells everything. However, I do think she’s got a sassy, distinctive voice without the telling statements, so when you reread keep your eyes peeled. (And I will, too, next time around.) They’re not everywhere, but sometimes they just kinda jumped out at me.

These latter problems, especially if they involve tweaking the plot, are where I truly rely on Jamie’s eagle eye. These are the huge problems that I know must be addressed and fixed OR ELSE, and this is also where a writer must trust the editor’s professionalism. Plot problems can unravel any book, or at the very least, seriously dent the believability factor of a story.

We've covered the easier issues, next week we'll take a look at the final section of the letter, The Denouement, where Jamie relays to me how she is perceiving the story.


  1. I think this is the first time I've found a post where an author talks about edits and the best routine she found to handle them. And between you and me, accepting the grammar changes without question sounds very sensible. :D

    Thank you for this post, Dionne. I'll be looking for your next one.

    Anita Mae.

  2. Thanks for dropping in, Anita. I'm glad you have found this useful and hope you will come back. As a young writer, I thought it was so cool when an author would give a peek at things "behind-the-scenes." I'm glad you think it's kinda cool too!



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