Friday, April 29, 2016

Getting Editor Revisions

by Robin Caroll

It’s the same for me every single time I turn in a manuscript. I hover at my computer, checking email every 3 minutes for a note from my editor. Doesn’t matter if it’s an editor I’ve worked with several times or a new one. Doesn’t matter if it’s a publishing house I’ve partnered for several books with or if it’s my first with them. I’m literally waiting with baited breath for editorial feedback.

And when it finally comes, I have the same sensations as I always do: excitement to see how the first person besides me feels after interacting with my characters; dread to maybe confirmation I’m a hack; and energized to make my book the best it can be.

Even after close to 30 books, I still manage to go through the same emotions…and then the same steps to deal with all of them.

When I get my edited manuscript back, I scan through it and read all the comments quickly. Then I let myself vent. Usually to my husband.

“What does she mean this phrasing is awkward?” and “The pacing isn’t off in this scene!” and “How can she not see the hero’s motivation? It’s so obvious!” are all things I have vented. Just a few of the many. And my husband, being the good man that he is, nods his head, hugs me, then takes me out to dinner. Which also helps move into the next step…

Take a Day Away From the Manuscript
Since the family and I go out to eat, it’s easy enough not to go right back to the file when I get back. I force myself to ignore the manuscript (and revision notes) for 24 hours to let my subconscious work through what I read.

When I return the next day, the comments make a lot more sense than they did the previous day. For some reason, the first read of edits usually feel like personal attacks. After that, they feel more like good insight and suggestions.

Remember We’re Partners to Make the Book the Best Possible
When it’s time to start revising, it helps me to remember that my editor and I are working together to put out the best version of my story as there can be. If I’m unsure of her comments, I ask. I’d rather be clear on what I need to do. It's my editor's job to tear apart my manuscript like the pickiest critic ever and find every nitpicking detail anyone could even think about causing a pause in the reader’s experience. It’s my job to polish until it shines. How to do that? Here are my tips:

1-Start Simple
Complete the easy stuff first. Word choices. Active vs passive. The little things the editor pointed out that I can fix in less than a minute. Once I get those done, I always feel so productive.

2-Fix Character Issues
Yes, my precious “babies” have issues I need to fix. After the simple stuff, I work on the character issues the editor has pointed out. I created these people, so I should be able to step into their skin and smooth out roughness that the editor pointed out. Which finally leads to…

3-Fix Plot Issues
Once the easy stuff is completed and then the characters are shining, I move on to the last stage: plot issues the editor has found. Sometimes that means stripping apart my timeline and rebuilding. Sometimes I need to weave in more, or sometimes cut. A lot.

When revisions are all said and done, I usually take a day to let the story “rest.” The next day, I read it through, making any final changes before saving and sending. But once it’s done and gone, I move on. Because, after all, I’ll be getting line edits soon!

I’ve learned that the harder I work on a book, the more satisfying to hold the final product in my hands. Every time I work with an editor, I learn and grow as a writer. Hopefully, my craft improves from each editor's insights. And it’s time to start on the next book, as deadlines loom!


Torrents of Destruction
As a white water rafting guide, Katie Gallagher must battle the forces of nature on a daily basis. When sabotage becomes apparent on a weekend rafting trip, Katie must determine who she can trust—and who has their own agenda.

Hunter Malone has a mission on a business adventure trip on the Gauley River, a mission that didn’t include a spunky guide who could handle the class-five rapids better than he’d ever imagined. But can she handle the truth?

Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin's mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage--two aspects Robin weaves into each of her 25 published novels. When she isn't writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty-five+ years, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons--in the South, where else? She serves the writing community by serving as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, RT Reviewer's Choice Award, Bookseller's Best, and Book of the Year.


Heidi McCahan said...

Thank you for sharing your response to revisions. I'm just getting started in this business and wasn't sure if my own similar reaction to such revisions was the mark of an immature writer or a common reaction. I feel encouraged by your post and appreciate your insights on how to respond effectively, particularly the reminder that writer and editor share a common goal: to produce the best work possible. Blessings!

Robin Caroll said...'s okay to have any reaction, because everyone's different. I have one friend who LOVES revisions...another who literally cries when the email comes. It's all about finding balance and being able to work with your editor. Hope you have an amazing weekend!