Saturday, November 7, 2009

editing questions and answers

From: Donna Collier

That was an almost orgasmic response. It was indeed, very, very good. Please accept my apologies for the length of my response and hopefully, no questions are too stupid to ask?

Right now, I have three irons stirring in the fire and I want Sterling Editing to handle the appropriate one at some point. One of my irons is a novel that I have been working on for yonks. It is with an editor now (a friend of a friend). I have no idea how many red marks it will accrue or what type changes will be suggested. That one, already has a bunch of cooks stirring the pot - so may not be the best candidate.

From that novel, I want to write two more - using the same character. Well, at least one more, for sure. I haven't started the second novel yet (which is my second iron) but I have written a few notes about where it happens, who she meets, etc. Will having SE step in on the second novel defeat the purpose of making the character and the book(s) flow because I should have used SE in polishing the first novel?

The third iron in the fire is a fantasy short story for young adults. I had it critiqued and was told that I should query a publisher and ask if they would be interested in my growing the short story into a novel or even a book of short stories - based on that particular character. Several other people have said that they see it as a series. (Perhaps they are telling the truth) Anyway, I don't know of any publishers or even an agent who accepts a short story based only on an idea to develop it further. I believe this means I have to write the entire novel before I can send it to anyone?

I'm sorry I’ve taken the long way around to ask you all these questions. More > At what stage of the project does SE want the manuscript? 1.Completed and double checked by other editors so its good enough to go through Sterling Editing 2.several chapters done so SE knows what the author is aiming for chapter done and the book will grow as SE works with the writer.

Maybe other readers have a similar question.

At Sterling Editing we will edit whatever you want help with. I'll edit a short story for submission and publication. I'll edit a novel that's a mess--a developmental edit--or one that needs just a little soothing and smoothing and pointing to bring out its best--a line edit. I'll give you a developmental edit of a few chapters and coaching sessions on how to continue it. I'll be your mentor on a book length project for forty weeks or 100,000 words, whichever comes first. (All those rates are listed here.) I prefer to work on something that is burning a hole in you, that you will move heaven and earth to perfect, to get to the point where it says what you need it to say. I don't care what length it is or what stage it's at.

But you get to choose the project.

Judging by your comment, though, you're having a hard time deciding where your heart lies. This is just the kind of dilemma we deal with in coaching sessions. We begin by asking a lot of questions.

My first question would be: how do you feel about these works? Reading between the lines (not recommended for coaching--hence the questions--but this is a public comment and response so I'm just going to go with it), you sound a bit fed up of the novel. You sound as though it's been pulled this way by too many hands and that and you're no longer sure of its integrity.

If this is true, then you have a couple of choices. One, throw it away. Two, go back to your first draft, the one only you have touched, and read it: remember what drove you to write it, what thrilled you, what the core of the story is for you. Then put your hand on your heart and ask yourself: is this worth fixing? If it's your very first effort it might not be. It might be time to begin something new. Only you can say.

Regarding the series: sometimes a story can begin in medias res. If you want to write a series about one character, perhaps you don't need to begin at the beginning. Perhaps you could begin with what you currently believe is Book 2. Only you can say.

Regarding the short story: I don't think you've had very good advice. First of all, one queries specific editors at specific publishing houses. Second, it's usually an agent who does that. Third, in today's market, querying a book editor with a short story is almost always a waste of time. Whoever gave this advice might be a great writing teacher but it might not be wise to listen to them regarding the marketplace.

So, to recap: I will work with you on any piece of writing you are burning to make great--any piece of writing at any stage. Only you can say. For writers, the real trick is telling the truth, especially to ourselves.

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